Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002)

Warning: this review contains SPOILERS from the second Harry Potter movie.

I feel like Chamber of Secrets raised the stakes a bit, what with Hagrid being sent off to Azkaban (which I presume is some kind of serious prison), and Dumbledore being pressured into resigning - even though things worked out perfectly in the end. And compared to The Philosopher's Stone, this movie was more tense, the mystery a bit deeper (it had me guessing for a long time). And darker, too - which can be attributed to the snakes and spiders motif.

Speaking of which, this movie had two really creepy monsters that I really liked. The first is the giant spider ("wait till you see the big one!"), Aragog. This is going to sound crazy, but I think this scene was actually creepier than the Shelob scene from The Return of the King movie. I think a lot of that comes from the multitude of spiders (of various sizes) in that scene. One humongous fantasy spider isn't entirely believable, but throw in a veritable army of them, in a dark forest, after showing what appear to be real spiders (at real size) elsewhere in the movie (and just prior to this scene), and you've got me squirming. I admire Harry's courage, but I think my reaction would have been closer to Ron's in this particular scene.

The other creepy monster is the end-boss, the Basilisk. He was really cool. Rather than just being a cheesy CG giant snake, he actually managed to be intimidating! Those sharp teeth, and that mean looking face. That confrontation was pretty exciting.

Jumping back, I just have to say, Dobby is insanely obnoxious. I don't care if his intentions are noble; he's a menace. And I can't forgive him for keeping Harry's friends' letters from him. I was romanced by the class at Hogwarts in the first movie, to the point of wishing I could be a student there myself. So when Dobby got in the way of Harry's friendships (what I wouldn't give for the opportunity to be friends with Hermione!), as well as his returning to Hogwarts, I perceived that as a direct threat. Anyway, Harry can handle himself against those who would plot against him - that much is clear.

It was also slightly melancholic to see our protagonists return to the school as second-years. I was really captured by the novelty of the school being this new and exciting environment in the previous movie. Now that they're settling in, welcoming a new batch of first-years (Ginny Weasley is cute, but she doesn't have the charisma that Emma Watson brings to the role of Hermione - which is just as well), the wonder is slowly wearing off. I guess I'm just afraid of them growing towards the point where I am inevitably going to have to leave them (two and a half hours to a year is too fast a rate to experience life).

I can't figure out whether this movie didn't have enough of a focus on Hermione, or if it's just that my addiction to Emma Watson is causing me to have unrealistic expectations. The latter is highly possible. My heart broke when she turned up petrified, though. I didn't like that they effectively took her out of action before the final confrontation, even if I was pleased at how that confrontation turned out.

I loved that the entrance to the Chamber of Secrets was hidden in the girls' bathroom. That's definitely where I'd hide a Chamber of Secrets. It's the one place in the whole school you're not allowed to go, even more so than the forbidden corridor with the giant three-headed dog. I think it's telling that you always have stories told from the perspective of the male characters. Like, Harry goes back to bed and sometimes you follow him to his bedroom, but when Hermione goes to bed, she leaves Harry and Ron and you don't get to see her until the next morning - the camera stays with the boys. Gotta preserve that feminine mystique (and women wonder why men don't understand them...). For once, I want a story that follows the girl into her own personal chamber of secrets...

Emma Rating: Incredibly Cute

"It is not our abilities that show what we truly are - it is our choices."
- Dumbledore


  1. Love it. My favorite thing about The Chamber of Secrets (book, I suppose?) is when the rumor is that Harry himself is Slytherin's heir, and everyone's scared of him. And it sort of gives you a glimpse of the life Harry could have had, since when the original scenario occurred when he was a baby, there were rumors he was destined to be a powerful dark wizard.

    I like to imagine Harry would have brought a semblance of dignity to the dark arts, and total worms like Malfoy would have been ostracized under his regime.

    And the whole pure-blooded thing irks me off to no end, because even if you're the most vile and selfish person on the planet, you'd need to have half a brain not to realize how many powerful half-bloods and muggle-borns there are. All decency and kindnesses aside, pure-bloodedness simply serves no advantage. Of course, that's exactly the point, that the underlying character traits which cause these individuals to be evil in the first place are likewise what blind them to the potential of half-bloods and muggle-borns. In other words it's not a coincidence.

  2. Yeah, that Draco is a real creep, and it's clear in this movie that the apple didn't fall far from the tree.

    You have to wonder what an honorable villain would be like. I mean, what makes a villain a villain? Is it because he has evil ambitions, or is it because he's a nasty human being? It's nice to have enemies that you can actually respect. But then it's easier to hate people who aren't respectable.

    Hermione may be Muggle-born, but she's easily the best witch/wizard in her class. She might not have the pure talent that, say, Harry Potter has, but when it comes time to cast a spell, who can you count on?

    I just remembered that Hermione was in the girls' bathroom when she was attacked by the troll in the first movie, so we've actually been in the girls' bathroom in both movies! I hope this is a recurring theme. =3