Monday, February 24, 2014

"Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets" (2002)

Well, it only took five months, but we finally got the next Harry Potter movie out of the library.  I'd also only seen this one on DVD one time, ten whole years ago, and Cowboy hadn't seen it at all, so this was quite fun for both of us.

Except for the spiders.  As Ron said, "Why spiders?  Why couldn't it be follow the butterflies?"  What is it with giant spiders?  Enough with them already.  Why doesn't anyone do giant butterflies?  I think they'd be quite menacing too, with their giant wings causing huge winds and such.  Please, someone write a fantasy book involving giant butterflies!  I would totally read it.  They could be like dragons, only not meat-eating.

So, once again, the best part of this movie for me was the casting.  Specifically, Kenneth Branagh as Gilderoy Lockhart.  The returning cast were lovely again, but the bright spot in this movie for me is Branagh.  He made me grin every single time he was on screen, and he made me laugh aloud with glee more than once.


One of the things I enjoy most about Branagh is how he always looks like he's so tickled to be acting in a movie, like he can hardly believe his good luck to be taking part in such an adventure.  That is never more evident than in this movie, where he smirks and flourishes with relish.  My favorite scene in the whole movie is his wizarding duel with Severus Snape, which goes so magnificently badly for Lockhart.

Another great casting addition was Jason Isaacs as Lucius Malfoy.  He's so sneeringly superior, and also clearly enjoying the chance to be menacing and snide.


As for the rest of the movie, I'm happy to say the special effects are much improved over Sorcerer's Stone (2001), particularly in the Quidditch game.  The green screen was no longer so painfully obvious there.  I did feel like the flying car sequences went on too long, and the need to re-introduce people to the wizarding world made the beginning a bit draggy.

So anyway, fun movie, but again nothing stellar.  It's better than the first movie, just like the second book is better than the first.

20 comments:

  1. I love this series so much! I think it's movie 4 where things start to get more serious, darker and deeper into the story. I feel like the first three are lighthearted and simply fun to watch. They do have some excellent casting. I want to be friends with Emma and Maggie Smith. Just for a day. :)

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    1. I think #4 is my favorite of the movies, though #3 is my favorite book. Definitely gets more serious as they go along! It's the third where they finally ditch the robes and start wearing modern clothes most of the time, but still more romp-ful, you're right.

      Wouldn't it be fun to have the Invisibility Cloak and a time machine, and go hang out on the sets for these?

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  2. This is my favorite book and I love this movie! I love the whole series actually : )

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    1. I love the whole series too, though my favorite book is Azkaban. Largely due to my deep and abiding love for Sirius Black and for escaped-prisoner stories, and wrongful-imprisonment stories. Sirius is basically just Edmund Dantes with magic. Swoon.

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  3. I would like to watch Harry Potter one day but am not allowed yet. Looks good though

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    1. One day, you will enjoy them! They progress from stories for kids to stories for adults -- it's quite cool.

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  4. This is my favorite movie and my second favorite book. Goblet was my all-time favorite book. I love how you feature Kenneth Branagh and Jason Isaacs. They were my two favorite additions to the cast. I'll never be able to take Branagh seriously again after playing Lockhart though.

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    1. Well, I think that's the brilliance of casting Branagh as Lockhart -- he takes himself So Very Seriously with all his Weighty Shakespeareanness. And I've never been able to take Branagh completely seriously anyway, as he always has that twinkle of "isn't this fun?"

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    2. It's funny -- after we watched "Chamber", we also took out "Dead Again" (which I recommend highly) and "Henry V" which deserved its Oscar ... I also recommend VERY highly "Much Ado About Nothing" where he had a lot of fun being Benedi*k ...

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    3. Oh yes, I love Branagh's version of "Much Ado." I like that equally well as his "Hamlet," if not more. And "Dead Again" is twistfully delightful. I've only seen "Henry V" once, but it was magnificent.

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    4. Love his Henry V ... but I prefer (ducking for cover) the Franco Zeffirelli/Mel Gibson Hamlet (and I apologize if I'm repeating myself --- I may have said that in another post). I know the Gibson Hamlet's not complete, and Zeffirelli has a history of clipping dialog, but I honestly thought I was going to fall asleep with Branagh's. The only part I really liked was Gerard Depardieu as the French envoy. :)

      (Side note: I love the scene in "much ado" when Richard Briers and Denzel Washington (who was lovely as Don Pedro) are trying to gull Benedi*k and he falls off his chair. When he wants to, Branagh has a deft touch with comedy ...)

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    5. I like the Gibson and Branagh versions pretty equally. I actually prefer Branagh in comedy -- Benedick is still my favorite of his characters. That bit where he's eavesdropping is priceless!

      (But, alas, for me Depardieu's scene is my least-favorite part of that whole production. Unnecessarily crass, IMHO.)

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  5. I got into the books about four months before this movie came out, so I was delighted about the casting of Branagh -- to be honest, I've always thought he was really stuck on himself, so the thought of him playing a character that is totally egocentric made me laugh. This movie is terrific. It moves at a much better pace than the first because it doesn't have to establish the entire wizarding world. The films only really improve as you progress through them (except for 3, I think they botched 3 in a lot of ways, but it's my favorite book so I'm bitter at their casting for Lupin and what plot points they cut out). And yeah... Jason Isaacs is fab.

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    1. I got into the books because the trailer for Azkaban was so enchanting, so I missed seeing the first 2 in the theater, then went back and watched these after I'd read the books.

      And yes, I think part of why Branagh is having such a great time playing Lockhart is that he's lampooning his ultra-important-Shakesperean-dude persona. I actually didn't like Branagh much for years and years, until I listened to his commentary on Hamlet (all four hours of it) and discovered that he's not nearly as pretentious as I'd thought.

      Three is my favorite book too, and I agree it's not a great movie adaptation. I think 4 is possibly the best movie version of a book, though not necessarily the best movie. I haven't seen any of the others since they were in the theater, so now that we've finished Sherlock, I'm hoping we can watch one a month or so and see them relatively close to each other so I can compare. I know I liked this one better this time through than I did the first time -- it had good pacing overall, and kept the story pretty intact.

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  6. There are things that I really enjoy about this film and you've pointed them out (the Snape vs Lockhart duel and Jason Isaacs). But other than that... meh. I know I've mentioned this to you already but I really struggle with the Harry Potter films. I actually think that they're pretty faithful to the books as far as movie adaptations go but they just never pulled me into Harry's world. When I watch the LOTR films I can really feel the passion and love that's gone into them but the Harry Potter films just feel so workmanlike and uninspired to me - like they're ticking boxes. Do you understand what I mean?

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    1. To me, even the later HP films have a very "made to entertain kids" feel, I agree. Whereas all the LOTR films have a "made because we love this world" feel. A very different thing.

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    2. True. BTW Your butterfly comment literally made me laugh out loud! :D

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  7. That duel between Lockhart and Snape is one of my favorite parts from the movie too! And I agree that the flying car scene was a little too long. As for the movie itself, I enjoyed it more than the first, but I think the later ones are a lot better. :)

    -James

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    1. Yes, they do improve as they go along. Which is nice -- much better than starting out swell and then trickling off.

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