“Funny, the damage a silly little book can do, especially in the hands of a silly little girl.“―Tom Marvolo Riddle, Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets.
The sophomore installment of Potterverse was still directed by Chris Columbus, who directed its predecessor. Unlike the first one where the set up of the whole potterverse was built, we were brought directly into the thick of things, which might’ve confuse new watchers. Filmmakers assume that viewers had their Magic 101 and now ready to venture to the more advanced How to Live with Magic 201. Our understanding of magic now expanded as we saw our first magical household (‘The Weasley’), learned that wizards have other means of travel (‘Floo powder’ and enchanted car), some can actually be an animal whisperer (‘Parseltounge’) and there are such things as Celebrity (the very vain ‘Gilderoy Lockhart’) in the world of magic. Despite the possibility of taking these expansion to a new level of grandeur, sadly the film as if loosing its steam and became nothing more than a dull repeat. Which was sad because I particularly fond of getting to know the odd antics of the Weasley clan.
Viewers are treated to a slightly darker territory as we now know who is the dark nemesis. Voldemort (or what was left of him) flee Hogwarts at the end of the first film, and this time the grave threats come from the memory of his youth, through the interference of Draco’s father, Lucious Malfoy (Jason Isaacs). The elder Malfoy sneaked an old enchanted diary, kept by Voldemort himself during his time in Hogwarts, into the possession of young Ginny Weasley (Bonnie Wright). The film delved into the past but not necessarily integral to later development. The main focus on the second film, seemed to help Harry established himself. Throughout the first two films Harry is facing somekind of identity crisis for not really knowing who he was and his origin. As he arrived in Hogwarts he started to piece together the information of his past and decided what kind of person he wanted to be. Especially in this book where he was condemned for being a parselmouth (which was Voldemort signature) that lead him back to the moment whether he truly belongs in Gryffindor (remember the Sorting Hat thought he’d be perfect as a Slytherin). It is interesting to see the message Rowling trying to convey in the books, which was you are who you choose to be. I think in general (later in the franchise especially) ‘choice’ become a recurring theme in the series.
CAST. The young cast are still mediocre, though i am particularly fond of Ron (Rupert Grint) comical gag and the snottiness of Draco (Tom Felton). I feel Daniel Radcliffe was still too bland and limited, while i did not find Emma Watson really improved from the first film. The older casts (like Coltrane, Smith, and Harris) suffer from very limited screen time. Most of the allotment went to Gilderoy Lockhart, Moaning Myrtle, and Dobby who is a key character in this particular film. Branagh in particularembodies Lockhart egomanical vanity so well, though sometimes it felt borderline annoying. Moaning Myrtle is a pleasure to watch, Shirley Henderson squeaky voice is a perfect pitch for Myrtle (although i never imagined her sounding like that at all!). Richard Harris died a few weeks before the release of the film. Looking back, i think Harris portrayal of Dumbledore gravitas and graciousness remains unmatched.
PAGE TO SCREEN. Just like its predecessor, Chamber of Secrets was very loyal to its source material. Some of the book fan biggest let down was probably the scene’s of Sir Nearly-Headless Nick’s 500th Death Day party being omitted. In retrospect i understand since it did not held any significance for the development of the main plot, but i understood it was one of those moments in the book that fans are dying to see (yours trully, included). I guess being too faithful is not a good thing either. Reflected on the lengthy duration of 160 minutes, being the longest film in the franchise, despite adapted from the 2nd shortest book in the series. On a more positive note, i love how they portray parseltongue, which actually sounded kinda hot, in yours truly fangirl opinion. The production design really shows its brilliance towards the ending of the film. The set for Moaning Myrtle toilet was better than i ever thought it would be (look at how they reveal the entrance to the Chamber of Secrets!) and the Slytherin secret chamber is even better. It was eerie and creepy and green tinged (i suspect from the infestation of moss and other damage due to all the excess water).
Colombus probably tried to duplicate the success of the first film. Though sadly it lost the touch of marvel and whimsy that he failed to replicate and maybe not going far enough to bring the darker theme that started to exists as the series progresses from one installment to the next. There were still brilliant moment though, but i was never particularly enchanted like i did in The Philosopher’s Stone.
PS. Rupert Grint made this face about a dozen times throughout the films. It’s a Ron face! Funny everytime!
HARRY POTTER AND THE CHAMBER OF SECRETS (2002)
GENRE Fantasy, Children, Adventure
DIRECTOR Chris Colombus | PRODUCER David Heyman | WRITER Steve Kloves | MUSIC John Williams | CINEMATOGRAPHER Roger Pratt | EDITOR Peter Honess | DISTRIBUTOR Warner Bros Pictures | COUNTRY United States, United Kingdom | BUDGET $100 million | RUNNING TIME 160 minutes | RATING PG for some scary moments, some creature violence and mild language | RELEASE November 15, 2002
STARRING Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Tom Felton, Robbie Coltrane, Richard Griffiths, Richard Harris, Kenneth Branagh, Alan Rickman, Fiona Shaw, Maggie Smith, Julie Walters, Harry Melling, Tom Felton, Warwick Davis, Matthew Lewis, Oliver Phleps, James Phelps, Bonnie Wright, Jamie Waylett, Josh Herdman, Devon Murray, Toby Jones, Jason Isaacs, Gemma Jones, Shirley Henderson, Mark Williams, Sean Biggerstaff, Christian Coulson, Robert Hardy
DID YOU KNOW? Hugh Grant was originally cast as Gilderoy Lockhart but was forced to withdraw at the last moment because of scheduling conflicts. I think he would nailed that part as well as (if not better than) Kenneth Branagh.
This post has been the part of Harry Potter Appreciation Month at KaramelKinema. Dobby is hoping you enjoy the post :)