Plot: What’s it about?
The second year of Harry Potter was bound to happen and especially after the first movie grossed over $320 million in the U.S. alone. Was there any doubt? The strong showing at the box office proved that Potter was no fluke and the mass market appeal wasn’t limited to pages in a book. No, as time has shown “Harry Potter” will likely go down as the most successful movie franchise of all-time, besting that of Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Star Trek and James Bond to name but a few. Who knew that a boy with a wand could be so popular? It’s hard to classify Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets as a sequel in that by the time the first movie came around, there were four of the seven books already in print. And as director Chris Columbus (who also helmed the first movie) said “The first movie opened on a Friday and we were back to work on the second one on Monday.” Now the second installment wasn’t nearly as financially profitable as the first, but by looking at the IMDB it still raked in over $260 domestically – hardly a failure by any means. Now that the kids are in their second year at Hogwarts, Harry’s beaten Voldemort again – what else could happen?
It would seem that just getting to Hogwarts would be easy, but Dobby, a house-elf is trying his darnedest to not let that happen. There’s danger at Hogwarts and Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) must not go else his life might be in danger. Well, Harry’s a determined boy and after he and Ron (Rupert Grint) miss the Hogwarts Express (the magical train that takes them to Hogwarts), they climb inside Ron’s father’s flying Ford and head there that way. Only in a world of witches and wizards does a flying Ford make any sense! Once at Hogwarts and having survived the wrath of the Whomping Willow (a tree that nearly pummels them to death) the school year can truly start. We meet a slew of new characters in this film including Ginny (Bonnie Wright), Ron’s younger sister and what will become a standing joke, a new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher played by Kenneth Branagh. The main focus, as the title suggests, is the mysterious Chamber of Secrets. Students are becoming petrified with fear, we meet a young Voldemort who goes by the name Tom Riddle and it’s up to Harry, Ron and Hermione to get to the bottom of things else the Chamber of Secrets might spell disaster for everyone!
Having read all of the books, it’s hard to adequately summarize the movie because there’s so much that’s there, yet not at the same time. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets does actually contain a number of references that will come into play later on down the line, but I won’t spoil it for anyone who hasn’t read the series of books. Yes, there is more action and there is a bit more humor and it’s clear that the cast gelled during the first production. Granted, the Harry Potter films haven’t actually produced the best acting out there, but when you consider that the kids had zero acting experience (and you consider their ages), they did alright. Looking back, this was probably my least favorite Potter film but I still hold it in high regard. This was the last film that Chris Columbus directed, and from this point forward the series had several other men behind the camera. It’s also noteworthy that this film came out nearly a year to the day after the first feature and it would be 18 months until the next installment Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban – widely regarded as the best in the series to date. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets delivers more of the same that the first installment did and fans of the movies and books will be happy that there’s more to the film (13 minutes more to be exact) after all these years.
Video: How does it look?
As with the first installment, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets is shown in a 2.40:1 HEVK 4K transfer that leaves little to the imagination. The film looks razor sharp, color balance is very strong and contrast is amazing. Don’t believe me? Take a look at Dobby, the CGI character who we see throughout the movie. Look at the detail in his face, the hairs in his ears and skin. The CGI effects are a bit better in this film than the first, like the howler envelope and the use of Dobby. Splendid! Warner has created a new 4K master that really brings out the depth, detail and color in the film and their effort certainly shows. There’s no doubt that the Harry Potter films are one of the jewels in Warner’s crown and these 4K versions offer a lot of incentive to own them in 4K.
Audio: How does it sound?
The previously-released DTS HD Master Audio soundtrack has been replaced by a new DTS X track. Dialogue is very crisp and clean and the most noticeable difference between the first and second films is that Harry, Ron and Draco’s voices have all dropped about three octaves. In some scenes you can hear the “crack” of their voices. Naturally when working with children on the cusp of becoming adults this will happen, but it’s clear to hear in some scenes in the audio. Surrounds are also used to great effect, notably during the final scene with the serpent. As always, Harry Potter has a strong soundtrack to accompany the action on screen and again, fans will appreciate this atomspheric track.
Supplements: What are the extras?
As is the case with all of these 4K discs, you get most of what was included from the Ultimate Editions, minus the DVD special features. The Ultra HD disc has no stand alone supplements, rather the second disc houses the supplements.
Disc One (Ultra HD/4K)
This disc contains no supplemental material, it’s the movie only.
Disc Two (Blu-ray/Movie)
- The Chamber of Secrets Revealed – If you watched the above 80 minute documentary, there’s really no reason to watch this. This features some behind teh scenes footage, brief interviews and shows its age with the dated material.
- Screen Tests – Screen tests for Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, and Rupert Grint. Awww, they were so adorable!
- Deleted Scenes – Nineteen total, these vary from a “true” deleted scene, to others that are simply extended or alternate versions.
- Floating Cake
- Borgin & Burkes
- Exiting to Knockturn Alley
- Flying Car Over London
- Harry Finds Kwikspell Letter
- Harry Meets Colin Creevey
- Dark Arts Exam
- Rogue Bludger
- Harry Meets Justin Finch-Fletchley
- Harry Overhears Students
- Harry Sits with Hedwig
- Harry Runs into Hagrid
- Ron and Hermione Question Harry
- Polyjuice Preparation
- Crabbe & Goyle
- Ron Remembers Tom Riddle
- Harry Tells Ron About Hagrid
- Harry and Ron Use Invisibility Cloak
- Finding Flying Car in Forbidden Forest
- Trailers and TV Spots – The official theatrical trailer, a teaser trailer and a slew of television spots are featured.
Disc Three – Special Feature
- Creating the World of Harry Potter, Part 2: Characters – This installment is aptly-titled “Characters” and that’s about as appropriate as can be. We meet a slew of new characters in this film and some we’ll see again and others – maybe not. This hour long documentary takes a look at the different characters in the series and gives us some insight as to their past, present and in some cases, future.
The Bottom Line
Ok, so maybe Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets isn’t the most highly-regarded film of the 8 movies. But it’s still an integral part of the franchise if, for no other reason, than giving us a peek at one of the horcruxes (though we didn’t know it at the time). It was a worthy successor to the first and does serve its purpose. The 4K offers a substantial upgrade in terms of picture and audio quality, though we do lose some of the bling from the Ultimate Edition.