Warner Bros. | 2002 | 174 mins. | Rated PG
Released just a year after Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, 2002’s The Chamber of Secrets finds the young wizard back at home with his Muggle family on summer vacation, locked in his room, anxiously awaiting his return to Hogwarts. Though Harry’s uncle has insisted he is no longer allowed to study magic, locking him in his room to make sure he can’t leave, and Dobby the house elf warns him that “great danger awaits” if he returns to the school, Harry remains unmoved. Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint) and his family arrive in their flying car to rescue Harry and take him back to their home. As a result, Harry is able to return to Hogwarts as planned.
As the school year begins, things seem normal enough Quidditch is played as usual, and a famous author named Gilderoy Lockhart (Kenneth Branagh) is the new Defense Against the Dark Arts professor. Though Lockhart has many fans, no one can possibly love him as much as he loves himself. Branagh is great in this role, perfectly capturing the equal parts narcissism and cowardice that make up the characters personality. At the same time, the rivalry between Potter and Draco Malfoy (Tom Felton) is re-ignited.
Soon terrible things begin to happen. It seems an old school legend, called the Chamber of Secrets has been opened, which is creating havoc amongst the student body. For students not from pure blood wizard families, the myth has potentially deadly consequences. Things become very serious when several students, including Hermione (Emma Watson), are found Petrified. Many believe Harry is behind the attacks because he always finds the victims, and he speaks parseltongue, as did the Chamber’s creator Salazar Slytherin. The diary of a former student, and a clue left behind by Hermione, put Harry and Ron on the trail of the person and hurt mudblood students.
Maggie Smith, Richard Harris and Alan Rickman reprise their roles as the elder Hogwarts wizards. Their presence gives the film class, yet their full range of acting abilities is hardly explored. I hadn’t seen this film since around 2003, and was shocked at how truly haggard Richard Harris looked; of course, the actor died just a couple of weeks before the film was released.
There’s little question that The Chamber of Secrets is a better film than the first installment. Daniel Radcliffe and the other young actors seem more at ease with the camera and their characters. Director Chris Columbus and his crew achieved the perfect look and feel for Harry Potter’s magical world. The art direction, creature creation, costume design and makeup are fantastic. The plot is well-developed, but it feels slow and hurried all at the same time. I think the sheer size of the novel, and a desire not to divert from what J.K. Rowling wrote on then page, may have resulted in that feeling.
Like the Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone Ultimate Edition, Chamber of Secrets comes to DVD in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. The image is fairly sharp, with objects appearing well defined and crisp. Softness does creep into the picture on occasion, but it’s never a distraction. Digital anomalies, such as haloing or edge enhancement are non-existent. The movie does have a slight level of grain, but this only serves to give it a more film- like appearance. Colors are well defined. The various hues throughout the film are balanced and vibrant. Black levels are deep and rich, while shadow detail appeared appropriately heavy but not overly so.
The audio is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1. The soundfield is active and involving throughout the movie. It uses all five channels effectively, creating a fairly immersive environment. Music displayed solid stereo imaging, while effects came from all around the spectrum. Environmental ambience sounds realistic, and the film’s action sequences came across as vivid. Elements panned neatly from side to side and front to back. The surrounds kicked in often, to add some extra punch. Dialogue consistently sounded natural and warm. The score sounds vibrant, with clear highs and rich low-end response. Effects came across as distinct and accurate, and they also displayed solid dynamic range. Bass response appeared nicely deep and taut, and the track as a whole provided a pleasant viewing experience.
Fans will appreciate the special features:
DISC 1: Theatrical Version
DISC 2: Extended Version with 13 Minutes of Footage Not Shown in Theatres.
• Deleted Scenes
• Lockhart’s Classroom
• Photo Gallery
• Certificates – Peruse Gilderoy Lockhart’s achievements.
• Required Reading – Find out what text books you’ll need for Lockhart’s Defense Against the Dark Arts class.
• Extra Credit
• Behind Hogwarts
• A Conversation with J.K. Rowling and Steve Kloves – The author and screenwriter detail how the books are brought to life, and the changes that happen in the process.
• Dumbledore’s Office
• Build a Scene – Building a scene as magnificent as Professor Dumbledore’s office takes more than wood, plaster, nails and paint. It takes imagination.
• Tour Dumbledore’s Office – A self-guided tour of Professor Dumbledore’s office, one of the most fascinating rooms at Hogwarts.
• Interviews with Students, Professors and More
• Students – Put yourself in the interview chair as the stars answer questions about making the film.
• Professors and More – Enjoy personal moments with the professors and others as they discuss their characters: Prof. Gilderoy Lockhart, Lucius Malfoy, Prof. Pomona Sprout, Molly Weasley, Arthur Weasley, Prof. Albus Dumbledore, Rubeus Hagrid, Prof. Severus Snape, Uncle Vernon Dursley, Aunt Petunia Dursley, Argus Filch, Prof. Minerva McGonagall.
• Gallery of Production Sketches
• The Chamber Challenge [Game]
• Tour the Chamber of Secrets – What are you doing here? This place isn’t safe. Begin your journey down the dark corridor for the self-guided tour of the Chamber of Secrets.
• The Forbidden Forest Challenge [Game]
• Colin’s Darkroom
• Tour Diagon Alley – Welcome to the self-guided tour of Diagon Alley, where you can find all your supplies for the school year. Explore the many shops, such as Flourish & Blotts and the Magical Menagerie.
• Spellcaster Knowledge Challenge [Game]
• EA Game Preview
• Creating the World of Harry Potter, Part 2: Characters – Running around 80 minutes, this documentary allows viewers to explore how the cast and creative team of directors and designers take the characters’ descriptions on the page to the actors’ performances on film. Part 1 is on The Sorcerer’s Stone Ultimate Edition [NEW]
• Screen Tests of Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson [NEW]
• Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets Revealed – 2002 HBO First Look special
• Trailers and TV Spots
Digital Copy of Theatrical Film
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