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Fun with Franchises: Final Thoughts on Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

All right… we’ve watched the film, talked about it, had fun with it, and then we went and listed our favorite images from the film yesterday. Now all that’s left is to finish up with what we actually thought about the film as a whole.

This is our space to go over what we liked and didn’t like about each film we watch for Fun with Franchises. We talk about specific things as we get to them during the articles, and we’ll mention our general thoughts during them, but we don’t really ever get to sit and do broad strokes during the articles. So this is why we do these Final Thoughts. We get to take a step back and talk about the films as a whole, rather than discussing specific scenes or images. We’ll talk about how we felt about the film, how we liked it as a film, how we liked it as a member of its franchise, and where we think it falls within that franchise.

Again, it’s not very complicated, but it is a place to find out what we actually thought about certain movies, since, while we’re having fun with them in the articles, it may get difficult to tell sometimes. Because we’ll just rip things to shreds for fun, even if we love them.

So here are our final thoughts on Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets:

Final Thoughts on Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets:

Colin:

I’m getting less nit-picky as the franchise progresses. Why? I guess it’s because there’s less exposition needed by now. The plot can move along at a better clip and we can enjoy more of what’s happening. Of course, that also means it’s pretty imperative to start from the beginning to get all the right impressions. But anyway, less nit-picky with this one, and I’m pretty nit-picky. More so than Mike, anyway. He’s just a happy guy.

This plot does feel a bit disjointed. Not getting through the barrier, getting in trouble at school, hearing the voices and stuff…and the sad part is that it’s all put together for you, right in front of your very eyes. You have to remember that this is essentially a mystery written for ten year olds, so they have to leave all the clues out in plain sight and even devote whole paragraphs to them when they seem mundane. In a movie, where they’ll do an actual close up on the clue (Lucius giving Ginny the book, etc.) it gets tedious. Obvious hints, mail time, paintings that move, magic…is this Blues Clues?

Some of the story is completely unnecessary, like going into the forest and getting chased by spiders. When they come out, all they “know” is that Hagrid is innocent — fucking really — and that spiders don’t like the monster. Two things they…already knew. And how badly did they botch the ending? Anti-climactic much? As I pointed out, they messed up the order of events in the final scene with Riddle, in a way that kinda made it worse in my opinion. And then the movie’s just sort of over. Hooray, nobody died, everyone’s back to normal, and the threat that 99 percent of the school was unaware of has been neutralized in an encounter that failed to raise your pulse.

And while I said I was less nit-picky with this story than with others, you can notice some [sort of] small but consequential inconsistencies in this film. Obviously, the more we progress through the franchise, the harder it is to reconcile certain plot points with random exposition. For instance, in this film we see Dobby apparate out of the hospital wing. Hermione makes a point of reminding us several times in the series that you can’t apparate at Hogwarts. Harry Potter nerds have been quick to come up with an explanation ex post — that the rule doesn’t apply to house elves and that they can come and go as they please. But the no apparating rule is a school defense; considering that we find out that there are house elves who are obligated to serve their evil masters — and even some that are evil themselves — doesn’t this seem like a gaping hole? How later on, Voldemort and his cronies are stymied by the no apparating rule? Hey, evil guys! Send your house elves to open the front door! But no, none of this is addressed because Rowling and the filmmakers just thought it’d be nice to have Dobby disappear for that scene.

I don’t love this story (clearly) but there were lots of positives with the film. The acting has gotten better, and they’ve gotten some of the humorous bits right. Plenty of badassery on the part of Snape, Lucius, Dumbledore, McGonagall and obviously Flitwick. There was less annoying CG to be pissed about, and what little there was felt MUCH better than it did in the first film. Kenneth Branagh. And we always like the sets. I tend to keep quiet when Mike posts a transitional shot of Hogwarts looking gorgeous, but it really does. Usually, I dislike shots that reestablish the same setting, but Hogwarts looks GOOD.

Anyway, the story, meh. The plot development is a plus, and it sets us up for better films to come. But all in all, still weak compared to what’s coming up.

My Final Thoughts:

This has always been one of my least favorite movies of the franchise. This and Half-Blood Prince. Just because the storytelling in these two was always the worst. Plus, in this one, the whole plot is pretty marginal. And if the first movie didn’t have the set up aspect to it, it might be the worst. Because that climax is awful. And this one — a whole movie spent killing a horcrux that we don’t even know is a horcrux. They kill four of them in the last movie. Five if you want to combine the two parts.

However, upon watching it this time, I did enjoy it more than I thought I would. It’s definitely still a good movie. I just — the spiders, the car, it’s still too childish for me. It needs the tonal change they give it in the next one. But I think they did a lot better with the filmmaking and storytelling here. It looks a lot better, there’s more camera movement, and they’re getting the tone down better. At least, in terms of jokes and stuff, like Colin said.

So, I enjoy the film, but I’m pretty sure it’s down with Half-Blood Prince for me as weakest in the franchise.

Though, when I think about it in terms of grand scheme — killing a horcrux and not knowing it is a good idea for a plot for a second movie. The problem is — tonally, this is just off. I think the thing is that this movie is less than the sum of its parts. Since there’s the Quidditch match, which is pretty impressive — them flying through the underbelly of the stadium, that’s pretty great. And then going into the bit of Hermione and “mudbloods” — I like it. It brings an added depth to the character that sadly isn’t furthered. Because it’s not like the Malfoys got any less racist over the course of the films. But whatever.

And then I also like that they actually do set up Ginny in this movie. This is the movie where we see Ginny has a thing for Harry. So the real issue with this franchise not setting up that relationship is that they completely ignored it after this until Half-Blood Prince. (Or, I guess… Order of the Phoenix, but that needed more to really qualify). The other thing that’s kind of weak is that they don’t go into what Ginny is thinking or feeling during all of this. That’s so much more interesting than some of the other shit they have in this movie.

The stuff with Diagon Alley is a bit too drawn out. And the spiders — honestly — to not have to go over everything — the real issue with this film is that it tries to maintain the magical wondrous tone of the first one while dealing with inherently darker material. It just doesn’t work. It’s disjointed. They indulge a bit too much in the child stuff and skip over the heavy characterization stuff. So that’s why this is always going to be most people’s least favorite movie of the franchise. (I can’t imagine it not being in almost everyone’s bottom three.)

I like it, it’s just — you can tell it doesn’t really work because of how stark a contrast Azkaban is and how well that works. So it’s probably my least favorite film of the franchise.

Also, one last thing to point out — I wrote that entire rap in one sitting. It started with the “hassa hassa” line and I just went from there. So proud of myself for that one. It turned out awesome. I was laughing the entire time I did it because it was so funny to me and because I just kept finding perfect comparisons. That was actually so good I may not be able to do it again, because I don’t know if I’ll be able to achieve such perfection as I did there.

– – – – – – – – – –

Due to our inability to find anything worthwhile, there will once again be no post on Sunday, and Monday is where shit is gonna get REALLY good, as we start Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, and from now until the end of the year, there will be a post going up every single day.

(See the rest of the Fun with Franchises articles here.)

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