Note: I was unable to rent the extended version through Amazon video so I missed out on 20 whole minutes of movie.
How in the world was this a 2hr 40min movie and still miss so much of the book? I’m already not a huge fan of Chamber of Secrets for being too much like Sorcerer’s Stone to begin with. But the movie cuts out so much of the plot that makes it less clever than it actually is. The scene where Lucius Malfoy is dealing in dangerous magical artifacts? Gone. The scene with Nearly-Headless Nick’s death day party? Gone. And then the phoenix tears are immediately explained when they’re used, making it seem like they can just make up any old thing to address a problem and call it good.
I know this is a magical world. But it’s a magical world with rules. If Fawkes was just an owl or any other bird, Harry dies. He lives because of phoenix tears, which is explained when he first meets Fawkes. Not when he’s on the verge of death!
Then, at the end, the house cup is entirely neglected. And Lockhart’s fate is entirely neglected. I’m positive we’re going to start the movie of Prisoner of Azkaban as if Lockhart never existed. The scene where Harry and Draco are chasing the snitch all over the outskirts of the Quidditch arena and the scene where Harry’s hanging out of the side of the open door of the Weasley flying car never happened in the book for good reason! The flying car scene is just needless action, but the Quidditch scene makes Draco look like a competent seeker when he’s not. He’s a bad seeker. The snitch was right next to his head and he didn’t notice. BECAUSE HE’S A BAD SEEKER.
Just like the movie of Sorcerer’s Stone, Chamber of Secrets is full of unforced errors. It didn’t have to be a bad movie, but they slip up and miss things that even someone like me, who’s only read the book once, will notice and it makes the whole thing look sloppy. Because that’s what it is; sloppy.
Here’s my white-hot take on Chamber of Secrets: this is the exact same book as Sorcerer’s Stone. They both start with Harry being abused by the Dursley’s. Then we have the arduous process of getting to Hogwart’s. There’s some weird stuff that happens throughout the school year. It culminates with Harry Potter in mortal danger against a shadow of Voldemort at the end of the school year. Hundreds of points to Gryffindor, they win the house cup again. Hogwart’s needs another Defense Against the Dark Arts instructor.
Of course, this novel fleshed out more of the wizarding world, and the characters within it, but it’s very disappointing that this novel follows so closely to the pattern of the first book. I’m not bored by any means, but I’m bothered.
When I was a kid, I was into Inspector Gadget for maybe 10 episodes. Then I figured out that every single Inspector Gadget episode followed the same formula. MAD is doing bad things, Gadget goes to stop them, he’s worthless, Penny saves the day. When I recognized that pattern, I instantly could not stand Inspector Gadget any further. I’d seen everything that series had to offer.
I know Harry Potter can’t continue in this manner, or else they’re going to be spending much more time goofing off in class. I know the novels get longer as the series goes on. But I hope The Prisoner of Azkaban shakes things up somehow.
Bear with me here. The movie is an abbreviated version of the book. This is easy to understand. But the changes they made to the already thin plot gave it significantly less impact. I don’t get it.
The whole hook of the plot is that Snape is a bad dude and obviously trying to kill Harry. The movie gets across that Snape is mean, but it fails to make the case that he’s evil. It makes Potter look paranoid that he suspects Snape as the one trying to get the Stone. Throughout the movie, the two barely interact.
This makes the whole red herring reveal less meaningful. Harry barely interacts with Snape, and Quirrel is a background character. Quirrel is basically a background extra. The turban, the stutter, the fact that he’s teaching Defense Against the Dark Arts, none of this explained at all! And I really don’t know what to make of Quirrel’s fate. I guess the filmmakers wanted to make it less gross than boils and blisters.
Here’s the part I’m really unhappy about. They cut the potions test from the gauntlet and sent Hermione away to take care of Ron. They don’t explain that each of these tests were put in place by Hogwarts faculty. Then they cut the one that’s put in place by Snape, and solved by Hermione where Harry was stuck. Maybe they felt Hermione got her time to shine with the plant trap. But Hermione’s whole character in the book is that she’s smarter than Ron and Harry. It feels like the movie really did her a disservice here.
There’s other notable absences. The centaurs in the woods are drastically reduced in number. Malfoy is an annoyance rather than a real menace. I don’t even think they explain what the Sorcerer’s Stone does. This was the 2 hour, 38 minute extended edition. I’m sure I’d be even less impressed by the theatrical cut.
I hope the next seven films are significantly better. This one may have captured the look and feel, but it missed out on the substance of the novel.
The Dursleys did it to themselves. I get it. Having a baby dropped in your lap is probably a big inconvenience! But jesus christ, Harry was their nephew and they treated him worse than a dog! You know how you drive someone away from your family and the mundane world and deep into the dark world of magic and monsters? Treat your nephew like garbage for his entire life!
It’s not cheating, but I actually saw the first Harry Potter movie when it was in the theaters. I vaguely recalled the plot and the major characters. I was under the impression that Hogwarts and the train and diagon alley were all on another plane of existence, but now it’s obvious that the wizards are part of the mundane world and this stuff exists in these weird pocket dimensions.
What is up with Neville Longbottom? He’s bad at everything. But in the confrontation between him and Ron, Hermione, and Harry, he was right! Harry might have innate skill, but there’s a whole school of skilled wizards at Hogwarts. The staff should’ve been able to handle actively protecting the Stone. They froze him! I don’t recall seeing an apology either. If Neville turns heel, I won’t be surprised.
Overall, there was a lot of worldbuilding and a simple plot, but I’m interested in continuing, even if it wasn’t the Summer of Harry Potter. I kind of get the school age kid appeal of it, but I hope there’s a lot more to it in the next six books because the school stuff isn’t going to keep me going.