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Archive for July 24th, 2011

Last week I revealed how I had seen Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone for the first time. Just a week later thanks to ITV (they seem to be showing the whole series) I have now seen the second movie Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. So how does it compare? 

Harry Potter returns for a second year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. When students start turning up in a petrified state the finger is pointed first at Harry and then a member of staff. Harry and friends set to work solving the mystery and saving the school all the time dealing with the politics and class struggle within the School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

Taken on its own merits I actually think it is on a par with the first film, but when put into context it does however suffer for having a very similar plot to the first. I’m sure this isn’t a problem for the younger viewers. As previously mentioned I have already seen The Prisoner of Azkaban, and found that it worked as a stand alone movie, I don’t think this second movie would have held my interest had I not seen The Philosopher’s Stone last week. Like an episode of a long running TV show the movie has to balance its stand alone story, character development and ongoing story arc. On the whole the balance isn’t bad but it does take a long time to get to the main underlying plot, once we get there the other elements are relegated or even largely forgotten. The problems the first movie had with the expression on the passage of time are sorted out pretty well and the year in which the movie is set is relatively clearly defined.

The young actors have grown into their parts and are far less wooden the first movie and take centre stage. This results is that some of the older cast members are given less to do, this is a shame as Snape (Alan Rickman) and Hagrid (Robbie Coltrane) remain the best characters. The addition of Kenneth Branagh as Professor Gilderoy Lockhart is welcome comic relief as he plays a complete buffoon to perfection. The one character who doesn’t work for me is Dobby the house elf, he is clearly one for the younger viewers, I found him really annoying, with too much Jar Jar Binks not enough Gollum. The Quiddich match is an unusual part of the movie. It doesn’t have a huge amount to do with the main plot but is a fun addition in its own right a little like the pod race in Star Wars: Episode I is feels shoehorned in but actually fits well. The scene also helps develop the relationship between Harry and Draco Malfoy (Tom Felton) that will clearly be important to the plot later on in the series. Despite having a similar budget to the first movie the effects are a little more polished and in the fantasy context of the movie add to the storytelling not detract or distract it.

In conclusion the best bits of this movie are probably better than the best bits of the first movie but on the whole it has nothing new to offer that we didn’t see last time. The story is going to have to develop further and introduce some surprises if it is going to keep my interest for another six movies. Having already seen part three, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, I am now interested in seeing it in context of the other films.

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