I am a huge fan of the Harry Potter books and (yes, I’m a geek) I’ve probably read them hundreds of times. Having purchased the box set of films, I’ve decided to have a Harry Potter rewatch (until we get to the last two films, which will just be a watch as I’ve not seen them), to see if I can learn to love the films as much as the books (doubtful, but I’ll try).
Up next is Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, which has always been my least favourite book of the seven. I don’t know why, but I don’t find it as enthralling as the rest. Still, with seven books, there’s bound to be one that’s less loved than the others.
Despite not loving Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets as much as the other books, I did find myself quite enjoying the film.
The Weasley’s house is exactly as I picture it in my head, a bit like a cake with too many layers that’s still holding on to its structure, just about. Inside, it’s as cluttered and homely as I always imagine it to be, although if there’s one thing that doesn’t live up to my imagination it’s Mrs Weasley’s clock, which in the books is clearly a clock that can be carried around, and not a grandfather clock.
I also loved Harry’s journey by floo powder to “Diagonilly”. That moment makes me laugh out loud every time, and it’s done really well. As do the Weasley twins, whose brief appearances in this film make me love them as much as I do in the books.
Kenneth Branagh is brilliant as the arrogant yet clueless Professor Lockheart. His look is spot on, as is the scene at Hogwarts where he lets the pixies loose. Branagh continues to be great throughout, going from full of himself to angry to losing his memory flawlessly. This is definitely one of the best acting jobs of the Harry Potter series, and he’s got some serious competition, even in this film. Jason Issacs is suitably mean as Lucius Malfoy, while Shirley Henderson’s simpering and sulky Moaning Myrtle is as good as she is in the books.
Harry and Tom Riddle’s final showdown is kind of creepy and poignant at the same time, and I enjoyed watching the interaction between the two, especially knowing what will happen next time the pair meet.
Knowing how Harry will interact with Dobby in the future also made seeing scenes between the two characters interesting. A good base is set for the two, and I’m bound to need to grab the tissues for their final encounter towards the end of the films.
The most terrifying part of the film for me (arachnophobe that I am) was the encounter between Harry, Ron and the spiders in the forest. I remember seeing Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets at the cinema, and having to sit in one of the rows closest to the screen because the place was packed. When Aragog, and then his children, appeared, I actually shrank back in my seat. They still have the same effect on me, even though I’m watching on a much smaller screen.
The same can’t be said of the Basilisk, which I found distinctly unscary. I felt it was a clumsy puppet that looked a bit ridiculous flailing around.
Also disappointing in this film is the lack of interaction between Harry and Ginny, which is not only important in the telling of this particular story, but also sets the foundations for the way the two interact in books to come.
As in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, I found the Quidditch matches really boring to watch even though I love reading play-by-plays in the books. I think dragging them out makes them unbearable. Additionally, although the Harry Potter stories are all about suspending reality, I found myself distracted in the Quidditch scenes – wondering how on earth the stands didn’t collapse as Dobby’s rogue bludger smashed away at their foundations. It’s a silly thing to focus on, but something the filmmakers should have been paying more attention to.
Also annoying was the clumsy exposition, found mostly at the beginning of the film i.e. “Why, Harry, you’ve never travelled by floo powder. Let me explain it to you in a slightly patronising manner so the viewers can understand what it is.” Luckily it didn’t carry on throughout, otherwise it would have been grating.
Overall though, I enjoyed Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. In the same way I’ve come to love the book (although still not as much as the others) I’ve come to love this film, which definitely has more positive points than negative ones.