Ain't It Cool News (


It is better than the first HARRY POTTER film, however it still has an excruciatingly awful ending that just never seems to end and that serves no point other than to add an extra twenty minutes to a film that could have been, should have been, twenty minutes shorter.

I’ll get to that ending problem after a great deal of praise. You see, these movies are absolutely superb children movies. Infinitely better than those non-animated Children films we’ve seen of late. There’s genuine chemistry between the kids, they aren’t just saccharine brats, they’re well developed kids with a great deal of character… independent and different characteristics ta boot.

As is often the case with second films, they improve upon the original simply because they’ve already established the universe that the characters exist in, now they’re free of introducing all the characters again and can just throw them into adventure and further good times, further develop and add to the characters and expand the world they occupy while continuing to embrace us with the familiar that we enjoyed the first time out.

The true magic of these Harry Potter films, and this one in particular, are the amazing cast members they assemble. I mean, once you get past the miracle of finding children this good.

Daniel Radcliffe has an air about him. He feels like someone with a destiny, emotional baggage from a history he has been discovering. In this episode, he’s moved past the wide-eyed OHMYGOODNESS of turning every corner with a huge goofy grin. This time, he kinda has the hang of things. He understands the basic magical order of things. He’s still very humble and a bit afraid of the ‘amazing’ things he can do. However, I can’t help but notice that when he kicks ass… it is all either luck or extra-natural help from beyond guiding him. I mean, he goes running into the CHAMBER OF SECRETS, where there’s supposed to be this huge deadly monster thingee, and first thing he does is drop his wand into a puddle. LAME! I mean, that’s so Jamie Lee Curtis in HALLOWEEN of him. I mean, just because you see a still body, doesn’t mean you drop the BUTCHER KNIFE and turn your back on it. I mean… This kid is about as bright as a dying ember at times. At other times, he’s a friggin founding member of the Hardy Boys.

Having not read the books, and having no clue what is to come, all I can think is that if Harry ever actually paid attention in classes, he might be able to really kick some ass without having to GET LUCKY. I mean, Hermione…

Yes, let’s talk about the impossibly cute and inquisitive and smart Hermione Granger. Emma Watson is simply way too good in these films. She completely has that, over-achiever thing going for her. She’s obviously way smarter than both Potter and Weasley. I mean, throughout the film she’s constantly… well.. let’s face it. Hermione is the Velma of the Mystery Gang, but cuter. She puts in the time to not have to be lucky, but right. I loved the whole “half-breed” sub-plot of muggle/magical types and their spawn. That really was something I wasn’t expecting to be broached here. But BRAVO! Way to go.

Then there’s Rupert Grint. Is it just me, or is the character of Ron Weasley the genetic fictional descendant of Ralph Malph from HAPPY DAYS? I mean, Grint has a more than a passing resemblance to Don Most, he has that same “wimp factor” thing going, except he has far superior comic timing, and giving him a broken wand… CLASSIC! However, I just couldn’t help, but wonder why Harry wouldn’t just throw Rupert 3 of his gold coins, which he has apparently a mountain of to get a new one. I mean, what the hell? Give a brother a hand!

Richard Harris’ final turn as Dumbledore carried a sadness today. This time out, I felt he wasn’t nearly as saccharine as he was the first turn… There was a winsome sparkle of magic in his eyes. The scene with the birth of the Phoenix was something truly lovely. His voice has this warble-y warmth that cuddles to the ears like a pair of muffs on a chilly day. He will be missed.

Maggie Smith as Professor McGonagall is very strong this time out. When she is asked by Hermione to explain what the Chamber of Secrets is and if it is real… Well, the story she tells is told with that perfect, “It was a dark and stormy night…. …as we got out of the car there was a BLOODY HOOK on our door!!!” sort of flair.

I wasn’t a particular fan of Robbie Coltrane’s Hagrid this time out. He really didn’t have much to do. His ummm… “exit” scene was very nicely done, but mostly he’s just kind of wasted this time out. Most of his comedic and mysterious touches are handled by Dobby the House Elf this time, but I’ll get to him in a bit.

The intensifying of Tom Felton’s Draco Malfoy in terms of his hatred and jealousy towards Potter was a bit overdone to me. I think he has all the absolute right snobbish self-important twit ticks that his character seems to need, but it’s spread like my nephew spreads ketchup on his plate… TOO MUCH EVERYWHERE.

Also back is Alan Rickman as Professor Severus Snape. He rules. Just flat out, Alan Rickman is the gab-blamed mudderwonking bomb in these films. You can tell he wants to be evil and good all at once. Like a stud that’s become a gelding. You know he wants to just whup arse up and down every hall of Hogwarts, but he seems like he’s always concerned that he’ll forget something or get caught. The scene between him and Branagh’s Gilderoy Lockhart is just classic.

However… As good as any of these original cast members are, the best elements of HARRY POTTER & THE CHAMBER OF SECRETS falls upon the new blood. Specifically three characters that outshine everyone else. Gilderoy Lockhart, Dobby the House Elf and Lucius Malfoy.

Let’s go in order of appearance shall we…

Dobby the House Elf is a wonderful lil bugger. His self-abuse reminds me of Moriarty in disturbingly odd ways. In fact, if it wasn’t for the fact that Dobby is much cuter, you’d think he was Adam Sandler pulled out of PUNCH DRUNK LOVE. Except, I actually dig Dobby more. Dobby is my hero, I think Dobby is just cool. He is very very CG, but that just seems to be the look of the ILM CG these days. It feels very illustrated living, as opposed to flesh and blood living. There is a bit of Scrappy Doo to him, especially there towards the end, but the character animation work on him.. the devilish expressions and the looks of worry are just very very good. Watch him be a devil at the Dursley’s house at the beginning. When he first spotted that cake… I squealed with glee. The look on his face was just EXACTLY correct. In a second I knew what he was up to. And when he’s trying to blackmail Potter… EXCELLENT!

Next is Kenneth Branagh’s Gilderoy Lockhart. Ok, just fantastic. I mean, wow. I’m a Branagh fan (with the exception of the excruciatingly slapdash hunk of gunk called MARY SHELLEY’S FRANKENSTEIN) and was curious ever since that very first review of Potter… all those months ago started talking about this being a brilliant work of self-parody. He plays Gilderoy as a pompous, snobbish, arrogant, showy, narcissistic, effete puffed up Pomeranian and had Fran Drescher shown up petting him and cooing over him… I’d have been just tickled as pink as Branagh’s knickers in this flick just had to be. The film is worth seeing, altogether, just for his fantastic turn.

Lastly we have Lucius Malfoy played by Jason Isaacs. He’s Richie Rich’s Daddy basically. However, nothing ever so bland. Lucius Malfoy’s character look is simply perfection. I loved the subtle tiny things that Jason was doing with his face. The sneer, the scowl, that weird Elvis-like lip snarl. That long white hair, that Hyper-Nazi feel to his character and his little Aryan bastard he has. I love that we have a villain here that is more akin to Lex Luthor in the John Byrne world than Valdemont’s JOKER-esque turns as a maniacally mad man. I get the idea that Lucius is gonna do some really nasty bad things before all of this over.

Ok… So what’s this one about? Well you Potheads already are familiar with the basic story, but frankly I rather giggled as it all played out because I recognized some very similar parallels to the old Larry Todd Underground comic book… THE FORTY YEAR OLD HIPPIE. And I wonder if J.K. Rowling in her earlier days happened to stumble across some issues during her herb research years. You see, in THE FORTY YEAR OLD HIPPIE comics there was a plotline about THE POTTY MONSTER. Essentially there is a POTTY MONSTER in the film that is paralyzing and petrifying students, kitty cats and others. Now in that comic it was actually a sludgie poop monster, and in this it is a Larry Flynnt photo spectacular of a snake. I mean, longest damn snake that anyone has ever planted. I just kinda ponder how something like that could possibly sneak around Hogwarts. I mean… Man… It’s HUGE!

How’s the action? FAR BETTER than in the original. The Quidditch match is exhilarating. The flying car stuff is spectacular. The final battles are awesome. The spider things… very cool. The only thing that really doesn’t work for me in action areas is the Tree thing. It’s just a badly designed tree. I don’t like the look of the tree, and it moves like a Fleischer no boned toon. It just didn’t work for me.

My favorite twist in the film is the CURSE OF THE DEMON twist that Harry Potter pulls on Lucius Malfoy… and it also has my biggest problem with the film. The movie should have ended right there. It was a great capper, wasn’t overly cutesy. Just real good.

Had the film ended there, I’d have walked away just singing the praises of this family film and just happy as Lardass in a pile of cherry pies, but NOOOooOOOoOOOoOOoOOoOOO…

It doesn’t end there. They have to continue with what felt like 20 minutes of excruciatingly self-congratulatory pats on the backs and clappings and hugs and presentations, and huge entrances and laaaadeeedaaas…

Now just like last time, where I was enraged at Dumbledore just arbitrarily awarding points for disobeying Hogwart rules therefore further encouraging the misbehavior that they allegedly attest to disapproving of. This time, this time it is many times worse.

What is HOGWART’s? It is a SCHOOL right? A place of higher learning for the future witches and warlocks and wizards and whatnot. Well, at the end, Dumbledore as he’s once again heaping buckets of sugar on the dragging ending of the film, he decides to announce as a reward for two characters kicking ass and the safe return of everybody everywhere… He CANCELS EXAMS!

Cancels Exams?

At a school?

When there is no more danger?

Because everybody is happy?

Total and complete bollocks. Nope, the train stopped with Dobby and I got off. LOATHE THAT! Now, I understand in the book, the exams were canceled due to the on-going menace in the school. Now it is a reward for the entire school. You’re just gonna exempt the whole school from midterms? I DON’T THINK SO! YUCK! EWWW! PATOOOIE!

Why is everyone and their brother (literally) cheering Harry hugging Hagrid? Hagrid is just a groundskeeper… right? I mean, in these films he seems to completely ignore every character except for Potter and his brood and Dumbledore. Why would anyone else care for the verge clipper? I mean, would Springfield ever applaud Groundskeeper Willie? I don’t think so. In fact, I’d go so far as to say absolutely not.

As for the return of Hagrid and Hermione… Frankly I don’t think we needed to see it. We knew the potion was ready and we heard Dumbledore order the release of Hagrid. End of story. But noooooOOooOOOoooo… Ok, show Harry and Ron eagerly bedside as the potion is administered to Hermione… show her waking up to hug Harry and shake Ron’s hand, but no more award banquet bullpucky.

This is a minor nitpick in an otherwise magical film. Nothing else felt drawn out or lame, just the ending. Nearly every aspect is greatly superior to the original for me.

Now I took my lil Sister Satan and nephew Kublakhan to this. He’s 2 1/2 years old, and he was entranced. When the mummified hand clutches Potter he literally levitated 18 inches straight up. CLASSIC! The flying car thrilled him, as did the train. He was riveted by the Quidditch match and was scared, but happy with the Spiders and the end battle. HOWEVER, literally the moment after Potter kicks butt… He fell asleep, opting for the back of eyelids than the remainder of the film.

Smart kid.

BTW – there is a funny lil gag at the end of the film, after the end credits, so stick around, you should like it!

Next we have Alfonso Cuaron. I’m curious to see what is going to become of this series outside of Columbus’ hands. Both of these films have been very nicely crafted and told. Both of the films have been Chris’ best work to date. Watching someone like Cuaron handle this… I just can’t wait to see what he does, what aesthetic he brings. I mean, I take it we won’t see any… ahem… action in the next one, because these are kid movies, right? We’ll see, I’m very curious.

Readers Talkback
comments powered by Disqus