Vinny continues his first-time journey through the Wizarding World with Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.
After thoroughly enjoying Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, I was excited to move on to year two with Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. I didn’t know how much of a treat I was in for.
Spoilers, but most of you have seen it.
Faster, with more magic.
Though ultimately structured rather similarly to its predecessor, Chamber of Secrets starts at lightning speed as Dobby appears a mere three minutes into the film. Regardless of how much the first film established, and the first film is essential to continuing, Dobby’s character still feels like lunacy when you first see it.
These early sequences set the tone for much of the film, which is noticeably more comedic than the first. Radcliffe, along with other young members of the cast, noticeably improve their performances. This helps the comedy move along. Characters are constantly throwing looks at each other, and it really changes the feel of the film. All of the uncertainty the cast and crew must have felt during the first film has dissipated.
With the general world established, director Chris Columbus is finally able to let loose. This doesn’t even feel like Home Alone or Mrs. Doubtfire Columbus, but straight up Adventures in Babysitting Columbus. The potential for action and comedy is nearly unlimited in this film, and the veteran director takes full advantage of the budget. Some of this credit has to go to J.K. Rowling, the film’s writer Steve Kloves and editor Peter Honess, but Columbus captured the pace and insanity so effectively. This movie has one of the funniest physical comedy bits I’ve ever seen, and the star of it is an owl. There are puke gags and literal bathroom humor. Things just, well, keep happening in this one. There are almost no scenes without a gag or impressive special effects, most of which hold up quite well. This is movie where a flying car appears before the ten minute mark, and it isn’t even the focus of the film.
Same World, New Angle
It is the little things that make this one special, as the basic plot points remain very similar to the first.
In Stone, we go to Diagon Alley. In Chamber, we go to EVIL Diagon Alley.
In Stone, we find out a professor is a bad guy. In Chamber, we find out a professor is a bad guy, but one not related to that other bad guy or that bad guy whose name we can’t say.
In Stone, Ron is nervous. In Chamber, Ron is nervous, especially around Hermoine.
Even the climaxes feel very similar, though the varied specifics keep it from feeling repetitive.
Regardless of this, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets finds ways to inject humor and energy into every scene and, by doing so, starts to feel less like a children’s film. Yes, it still is simplistic in many ways, but the constant weaving of new details over old scenarios shows that it isn’t likely to be as the story moves on.
The characters grow up in a very genuine way.
I can’t wait to continue the adventure.