Monday, August 4, 2014

Harry Potter 2

An irregular but ongoing series of posts continue as I watch the Harry Potter series for the first time. And so, having excitedly gotten into the series and committed to seeing it all, we (my gf and I) move without hesitation into:

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

My gf said that she very nearly gave up on the series after this movie, and I can understand why. Like a number of sequels this one seems to confuse expansion with forward momentum. It's pretty much another Harry Potter story rather than the second part of an overall narrative, and though it's nice that it's stand-alone one wonders if it's really necessary. It does broaden the world of the series, introducing new characters (a flying car, a CGI elf, and an effete new teacher played with gusto by Kenneth Branagh) and realms around Hogwarts (including a forbidden forest chock-full of giant arachnids, the grandfather of which is voiced with lovely weariness by Julian Glover).

And the story does send Harry and Ron and Hermione back through many of the same plot points as the the first, with a twist: Harry receives warning that he mustn't return to Hogwarts, the platform on track 9-3/4 rejects him, nemesis Draco Malfoy becomes Harry's counterpart on Slytherin's Quidditch team, etc. And an engaging mystery drives the thing through some well-directed setpieces. But with everything feeling carefully reset at the end there's a feeling that this whole story could have been skipped over. That the production design and music feel less intricate only adds to the overall feeling of sequelitis.

I'm pleased to read that the filmmakers also thought this movie was a bit rushed; it seems director/producer Chris Columbus extended the production time for each movie going forward after this (which must have been a relief for John Williams, whose packed schedule around this time accounts for Chamber's less ambitious score). Quite excited for the third film, which I am assured is where the series well and truly takes off.

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