“But Dobby has come to protect Harry Potter, to warn him, even if he does have to shut his ears the oven door later….Harry Potter must not go back to Hogwarts.”
—Dobby, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, page 16
Previously on Adapt or Die: Harry Potter Edition:
And we’re back! This review will be on the movie adaptation of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, a conclusion you should have come to upon reading the title of this article.
I plan to post one once a month
That was me lying to you. I mean, I’m still going to do one for each book, and I’ll do my damnedest to finish one through six before Deathly Hallows Part 2 premieres, but I obviously did not do one a month. I’m predicting that most of them will be done in June. School was just overwhelming and terrible, so I didn’t have time to do one article a month.
I would also like to take this opportunity to apologize for this article probably not being as thorough as the last one. You see, I reread the second book back in December (or was it January?) and re-watched the second movie in May, so there may be gaps in my memory. I’ll do my best to fill those gaps with skimming and information I can find on the internet.
If you haven’t either read the book or seen the movie, I’d suggest you do at least one of those things before reading on. As always, I will do my best to mark spoilers, but I might slip up. For information on grading and spoilers see here.
Harry has returned to the Dursleys’ house, where they have graciously given him Dudley’s second bedroom so he no longer has to sleep under the stairs, after his first year at Hogwarts. The new school year is fast approaching, but he has not heard a word from any of his friends. One night when the Dursleys have company, Dobby the house elf appears in his bedroom, warning him not to go back to Hogwarts. After a series of obstacles, Harry finally arrives at Hogwarts. Shortly thereafter, it is revealed that the ultra-secret Chamber of Secrets has been opened by the heir of Slytherin, and a monster has most likely been released to kill all the muggleborns in the school. Once again, Harry, Ron, and Hermione have a series of adventures as they try to uncover the truth about the Chamber of Secrets and what happened the last time it was opened over fifty years ago.
I usually start with the biggest flaw in the movie, but again, this particular Potter film doesn’t really have one, so to casting we go.
Daniel Radcliffe as Harry Potter: Daniel’s eyes have not turned green since the last film, though they are this weird sea foam color on the movie cover. Fortunately, I still don’t care what color his eyes are. I thought his acting had improved quite a bit since fist movie. He was also starting to get his deep man voice in this one. There’s not a lot to say, but I’d like to review all the main kids for each movie if only to show how they’ve changed.
Rupert Grint as Ron Weasley: He was obviously taller than Harry in this one. I still think he’s the best actor of the trio. His squeaky scared voice is very good, and again, his facial expressions are excellent. He acted the “eat slugs” scene very well also.
Emma Watson as Hermione Granger: Emma’s acting also improved. She didn’t sound like such a know-it-all all the time. Her hair is still very bushy in this one, which is good. Of course, her part is smaller than it was in Philosopher’s Stone.
Richard Harris as Albus Dumbledore: In my last article, I said that I wouldn’t review the adult actors in every film unless they changed dramatically, so why, you may ask, am I reviewing Richard Harris again? Because Richard Harris was an amazing Dumbledore, and in my opinion, he was the best Dumbledore. I’m putting him in again because this was the last movie he made before his death, may he rest in peace.
Kenneth Branagh as Gilderoy Lockhart: He’s fantastic. He sounds so fake and full of himself, just like Lockhart should. I love how he smiles like he’s always expecting someone to take his picture. He also does a great job of revealing that he isn’t really a great wizard without actually saying it. He’s great at the end too.
Christian Coulson as Tom Riddle: He’s very good, and not bad to look at either. His acting was very good, though it was pretty easy to tell (or maybe just because I already knew) that he wasn’t exactly who he seemed to be.
Bonnie Wright as Ginny Weasley: Isn’t she cute? I almost added her to the casting section of Philosopher’s Stone simply because she’s adorable in the first couple of movies. She doesn’t have a huge role in this film, but she does have an important one. The scenes she does have, she’s okay in. She certainly looks like a Weasley.
Toby Jones as Dobby (Voice): He does a great job with Dobby. I love Dobby, and Jones captured him perfectly. Hats off to the animators as well; Dobby looked great.
Tom Felton as Draco Malfoy: He’s as wormy as he was in the last one, and I think his acting has also improved, like the other kids. He did a good job. He says “mudblood” just perfectly.
James and Oliver Phelps as Fred and George Weasley: I debated putting them in the last article. Their part is a lot less in the films than in the books, I’m noticing. I’m only grouping them together because they almost always appear together, and it’s very difficult to find separate pictures of them. James and Oliver do a very good job as the twins. Their appearance is a little off, as the novels describe them as being shorter than Percy and Ron, but the Phelps twins make up for that with their portrayals of Fred and George. They get the mannerisms and personalities just right, even if they are taller than they are supposed to be. They even dye their hair Weasley red for the movies
Chris Rankin as Percy Weasley: Where are the glasses? Percy is supposed to wear horn-rimmed glasses. Sigh. Oh, well, not a huge deal, I guess. It’s not like they got rid of Harry’s glasses. Anyway, Chris definitely has the pompous thing down. Percy doesn’t do a ton in the movies, but I think he does the most in this one. He matches the other Weasleys, and he’s tall and skinny like he’s supposed to be.
Matthew Lewis as Neville Longbottom: I probably should have added him to the last article, but I didn’t. He does a good job and is appropriately bumbling.
Jason Isaacs as Lucius Malfoy: I think he did a really good job. He looks very sinister, and Isaacs actually looks like he could be related to Felton.
Shirley Henderson as Moaning Myrtle: Despite being in her thirties at the time while playing a teenage ghost (the transparency thing might’ve helped with that), Shirley does an excellent job. I love the part where she talks about how someone threw a book at her. “Fifty points if it goes through her head!” She also looks the part.
Mark Williams as Arthur Weasley: I love Mr. and Mrs. Weasley. I already talked about Mrs. Weasley in the last article. Mr. Weasley has a really great dynamic with both his kids and his wife in this one. He’s great.
I’m sure I missed some (or most) of them, but oh well. Feel free to point them out in the comments.
Nearly Headless Nick’s Deathday Party
In the book, Harry, Ron, and Hermione attend Nearly Headless Nick’s Deathday Party instead of going to the Halloween feast in the Great Hall. They don’t really want to go, but Harry promised Nick, so they do. Nick is humiliated by ghosts from the Headless Hunt, and Harry and company leave after being disgusted by all the rotting food and being very hungry themselves and just uncomfortable in general. This is where we are first introduced to Moaning Myrtle, rather than in the girls’ bathroom. Peeves is also there. It is also after the Deathday party that the trio discovers Mrs. Norris’s paralyzed body, whereas this happens after Harry’s detention in the movie.
His eyes are as green as a fresh pickled toad,
His hair is as dark as a blackboard.
I wish he was mine, he’s really divine,
The hero who conquered the Dark Lord.
—a dwarf, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, page 238
A dwarf comes to deliver a singing valentine to Harry. Harry tries to get away from him because he doesn’t want to get a singing valentine in front of all the first years, including Ginny Weasley. The dwarf catches him, however, tearing open Harry’s bag and scattering its contents in the process, and delivers the valentine. Malfoy is there to hear it and snatches up Riddle’s diary from the pile of Harry’s things that fell out of his bag. Percy tells him to give it back, but he refuses, so Harry uses his future trademark “Expelliarmus” to disarm Malfoy and get the diary. Percy says he’ll have to report that, and Malfoy outs Ginny as the sender of Harry’s valentine.
It is in Harry’s next class that he notices that the diary is the only one of his books that isn’t covered in ink from when they fell out of his bag. Spoiler This leads to his trying to write in the diary to see what will happen. In the movie, he just decides to write in it for no particular reason. When he does write in it, Riddle actually tells him a little of what happened when the Chamber was opened before instead of saying that he can’t tell Harry but he can show him like he does in the movie. He shows Harry in the book as a way to prove that he is telling the truth and to get him to think Hagrid was responsible. End Spoiler
In the book, there is a scene where Harry and Ron try to ask Ginny if she knows anything about the Chamber of Secrets, but she gets interrupted by Percy before she can answer them. This leads to Percy thinking she was going to tell them that he had been “snogging” some girl.
Silence in the Common Room (Ending Spoilers)
There’s a short scene towards the end with Harry, Ron, and the twins sitting in the common room together in silence after learning that Ginny has been taken into the Chamber of Secrets. This is also when Harry and Ron decide to go to Lockhart to tell him what they know about the Chamber.
Small Changes That Don’t Really Matter
“There is not a shred of evidence that Slytherin ever built so much as a secret broom cupboard!”
—Professor Binns, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, page 152
In the book, Aunt Petunia makes pudding instead of cake like she does in the movie. Unless what she had in the movie wasn’t really cake but some weird British pudding thing. If that’s the case, never mind.
In the movie, Uncle Vernon falls out of the window while he’s trying to keep Harry from getting into the flying car. He doesn’t fall out of the window in the book.
In the book, unless I missed it, Harry does not fall out of the flying car on the way to Hogwarts. I’m sure the filmmakers did this to make that part of the movie more exciting and it doesn’t alter the plot. They also apparently like making people fall out of things (see above change).
The movie shows that Harry has detention with Lockhart helping him answer fan mail, but it doesn’t show what Ron has to do. Ron has to polish trophies for detention in the book, and thus recognizes the name T.M. Riddle on the diary because it was on a trophy or a plaque or something.
There’s no mention of Filch’s Kwikspell letter that Harry finds in the book.
Justin Finch-Fletchly’s part is diminished.
The Gryffindors have Herbology with Slytherin in the movie and Hufflepuff in the book.
Professor McGonagall tells the story about the Chamber of Secrets instead of Professor Binns because Professor Binns isn’t in the movies.
In the book, the Polyjuice Potion changes Ron’s and Harry’s voices along with their appearances, but in the movie, it only changes their appearances. They still sound like themselves. This was probably done to make the audience connect more with Ron and Harry while they were transformed because they could hear Ron and Harry speaking even though they looked different. It doesn’t make a huge difference in this particular film.
Ending Spoiler When Harry and Ron find out that Ginny is in the Chamber, they are hiding in a wardrobe in the book, but they are hiding around a corner in the movie. End Spoiler
Ending Spoiler In the book, Harry struggles to speak Parseltongue when he’s trying to open up the sink to get into the Chamber. He speaks English the first time he tries it. In the movie, he immediately speaks Parseltongue. End Spoiler
Ending Spoiler In the end of book, when Harry tricks Lucius Malfoy into giving Dobby clothes, he does so by putting Tom Riddle’s diary inside his dirty, nasty sock and giving it to Lucius, knowing that he would be disgusted and throw the sock, which he does after removing the diary from it. Then Dobby catches it and is thus “presented with clothes.” In the movie, Harry puts his sock inside the diary and gives it back to Lucius, who then tosses it to Dobby. Harry motions for Dobby to open it, and when he does, he finds the sock. While this doesn’t change the outcome, it makes a lot less sense. How did Harry know that Lucius would toss the book to Dobby? What if he hadn’t? In the book version of events, it’s pretty likely that Lucius will toss a disgusting sock, and Dobby actually has to catch the sock, so Lucius didn’t mean to give it to him. He purposely gave him the diary in the movie. It makes more sense in the book. It just does. End Spoiler
What They Did Right
As I said, he was very nicely animated, in my opinion at least. Ending Spoiler They also did a great job on the scene at the end when Dobby is freed and defends Harry by magically throwing Lucius Malfoy across the hall. End Spoiler There was applause in the theater I was in when I first saw the movie.
The Flying Car and the Whomping Willow
The flying car was just right. The Whomping Willow scene was also very good. Rupert had great facial expressions in this part. It was realistic in my opinion.
The Howler looked great. I loved Mrs. Weasley’s voice and how it changed when she addressed Ginny. Rupert and Bonnie both had great facial expressions in that scene.
Hermione’s Transformation (Minor Spoiler)
I thought that they did a good job with Hermione’s Polyjuice transformation into a cat. I liked it.
Follow the Spiders (Spoiler)
Aragog was very well-done, as well as the whole spider visit/attack. It was really tense, and Rupert was really good with the whole fear of spiders things. Aragog is really creepy as well.
The Ending (Do I Even Need to Say “Spoiler”?)
First off, Branagh does a great job of portraying Lockhart sans memory after his Obliviate charm backfires. He is really spacey and amusing.
The Basilisk looked really good in my opinion, and so did Fawkes. The chase scene was good. The only thing that looked weird was how the sword materialized in the hat. It looked like Scotty was beaming it up. Anyway, I also really liked how it looked when Harry stabbed the journal and Riddle started to lose pieces of himself. Fawkes healing Harry also looked really good, as well as him carrying everyone out of the chamber. “It’s just like magic!” as Lockhart said.
Final Grade: A
I’m giving this movie an A because I gave the last one an A, and I think this one was adapted better, but that’s just because of what they did with the ending of Philosopher’s Stone, however, it’s not quite A+ material. Again, it is not the most entertaining in the series, but it is very true to the book. It also seems to flow better than the previous film. The characters were, again, spot on, and the acting of the younger cast was much improved. This will probably be the last movie in the series to receive an A.
“You shall not harm Harry Potter!”
—Dobby, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, page 338