Welcome to this blog of my film reviews. Some have been drafted carefully on paper, others I have sat and typed. I'm going to make it clear right now that I don't expect you to agree with my (re)views, or to like my style of writing. However, I want my views to be just out there and open, as a person who wishes to express himself from deep within. Feel free to comment and debate with me, but I do ask that you are civil and not harsh, as any comments which are basically swear words and insults will automatically be deleted. Also any text that is in orange (and often bold) is a Hyperlink to either a source, or a previous post for background reference.
Tuesday, 16 November 2010
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
As Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) begins Year Two at Hogwarts, Slytherin's legendary Chamber of Secrets is opened, and the monster within leaves animals, ghosts and Muggle-born students petrified. Determined to find out the identity of Slytherin's heir (the one behind it all), Harry, Ron (Rupert Grint) and Hermione (Emma Watson) begin an all-out investigation full of mystery and peril, and climaxing with shocking discoveries and the prospect of almost certain death.
A year older than in the first film, and more experienced as young actors, Radcliffe, Grint and Watson display more confidence in their performances in this film than in its 2001 predecessor, with much more boldness and energy, standing out/being more memorable than a year previously. The supporting cast are also excellent. In the final film completed before his death, Richard Harris brings a strong air of wisdom and authority to the role of Professor Dumbledore; Robbie Coltrane is heartwarmingly gentle and kind as Hagrid; Kenneth Branagh is deliciously over-the-top as the vain Professor Lockhart; Alan Rickman and Jason Isaacs are cold, calculated and menacing as Professor Snape and Lucius Malfoy respectively; and Dame Maggie Smith is firm and authorative, but fair, as Professor McGonagall.
Loyal to the original 1998 novel, the film has a darker feel to it than the original in its grittier narrative, which peaks during the climactic trip into the Chamber of Secrets. The animal skeletons, shed skins of the Basilisk (Slytherin's monster - a snake of at least fifty feet in length) and rats give it a real sense of danger, and makes it feel like such a place of peril and death. The fact that the Chamber is a network of caves and tunnels, hundreds of feet below ground means that everything is grimy, dimly lit and compressed, creating a real feel of doom and gloom, which is only fitting for the dark and suspenseful climax.
The film (like its source material) also plays successfully on man's biggest fear - fear of the unknown - especially if you haven't read the book before (I'd read it five times before seeing it a week into its cinematic release by the way). The fact that we don't learn of the one behind the attacks, or the creature responsible, until the final half hour of two and a half hours, builds up a vast amount of tension throughout, as all you know is that it is a truly terrifying creature as even the spiders and Acromantula (carnivorous spiders, as large as cows) flee from it.
Loyal to the source material, this is a beautifully designed and well-created second installment that fully utilises some of this nation's finest acting talents, and is exhilarating, very entertaining and has some moments which will make you jump, particularly when viewed on a big screen.
Stars: Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, Richard Harris, Robbie Coltrane, Kenneth Branagh, Alan Rickman, Jason Isaacs, Maggie Smith, Christian Coulson, Bonnie Wright, Tom Felton, Gemma Jones, Miriam Margolyes, Toby Jones, Robert Hardy, John Cleese, Shirley Henderson, David Bradley, Julie Walters, Mark Williams, Richard Griffiths, Fiona Shaw, Sean Biggerstaff, Hugh Mitchell, Julian Glover, Harry Melling.
BAFTA nominations: Best Visual Effects (Jim Mitchell, Nick Davis, John Richardson, Bill George, Nick Dudman), Best Production Design (Stuart Craig), Best Sound (Randy Thom, Dennis Leonard, John Midgley, Ray Merrin, Graham Daniel, Rick Kline).