on May 21, 2016
Just as the first three Harry Potter books are the best of the novel series, the first three Harry Potter movies represent the best of the films series. After that, both the books and the films turn excessively dark and pretentiously wordy, adding nothing new of wonder to the world created. The first three books and films, however, are an imaginative delight. Chris Columbus directs the first two films and produces the third. Under his direction he creates a glowing and richly detailed world that is lavishly faithful to Rowling's books, giving you the same wondrous yet homey feeling of hanging out with your friends Harry, Ron, and Hermione in the Gryffindor common room.
"The Philosopher's Stone" takes its sweet and glorious time introducing us and Harry to the wizarding world, but the second film, "The Chamber of Secrets," may be the best of the "Columbus Trilogy," as it launches us into a dark mystery from Hogwarts' past and contains the brilliant Polyjuice Potion scene. Alfonso Cuarón directs the third film, "The Prisoner of Azkaban," which is the best of the novels but the movie strays a little too much from the story. It fails to provide important information about the Marauders while inserting pointless scenes with shrunken heads or the Whomping Willow killing harmless birds. It's quirkiness for the sake of being quirky and that's never a good thing. The film also suffers from looking also overly processed and contrasty. Still, the climactic scene with the Time Turner is brilliantly executed (no pun or spoiler intended) and more than makes up for Cuarón's hubris. All three films represent a great achievement in cinema and will remain timeless family classics.
on May 28, 2013
I read this book aloud to my children. It was won a number of literary awards, including: 2008 Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Children's Literature, 1999 British Book Award, 1999 Smarties Prize, and 1999 Booklist Editors' Choice.
At the start of the book, 12 year-old Harry is eagerly awaiting his return for his second year at Hogwarts. The Dursleys are hosting an important dinner for Mr. Dursley’s boss and his wife, Mr. and Mrs. Mason, and Harry is supposed to remain out of sight so as not to embarrass them. Upon his return to his room, he finds a strange elf named Dobby who has come to warn Harry not to return to Hogwarts. When Harry finds out that Dobby has been stealing the letters from Ron and Hermione meant for Harry, he is furious. Dobby makes trouble for Harry and uses magic to send Mrs. Dursley’s dessert crashing to the floor and a furious Mr. Dursley forbids Harry from ever returning to Hogwarts. He installs iron grates over the window and takes away his magic books and wand and locks them up in the cupboard under the stairs. Poor Harry! Good thing that Ron and his twin brothers steal their father’s magical car and use it to tear the grate from the window and rescue Harry!
Harry stays with the Weasleys until school starts, and Dobby tries to prevent Harry from getting aboard the Hogwarts train by sealing the magical passageway to Platform Nine and Three-Quarters. The quick-thinking boys use Mr. Weasley’s car again to get to Hogwarts, although not without consequences!
The newness of Hogwarts still hasn’t rubbed off for me. I found it just as magical as the first book in the series, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. In this installment, we are introduced to the new Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher, Gilderoy Lockhart. The women all swoon over this man, who has authored many books that recount his magical escapades. The book is a bit darker than the series debut, and Harry keeps hearing a chilling voice who whispers murderous words. Victims are becoming petrified, essentially turning into statues, and it seems to have to do with a Chamber of Secrets that was opened many years before. The key lies in a mysterious book that falls into Harry’s possession, which was owned by a Hogwarts student named Tom Riddle.
My kids and I absolutely loved this book! It was filled with so much excitement, and it was the highlight of our day to read this at bedtime each night. Even at such a young age, it is easy to see that Harry is becoming a very powerful wizard. I love the whole “good versus evil” tone that Rowling has created.
As was with the first one, I love how Rowling ends off the book with such a touching scene between Dumbledore and Harry. Dumbledore always offers Harry sage insight and treats him with such warmth and love, and I couldn’t help getting misty-eyed.
My Review: If I was stranded on a deserted island and could only choose one book series it would be Harry Potter - hands down. For people who know me, that's not all that shocking. I fly my Potter geek flag high. I adore it and love the fact that Rowling jump started me back into reading back when my kids were small and I thought I had no energy to read. Her writing is addictive to read and she has the art of bringing her readers into her magical world seamlessly. I've read the entire series several times and enjoyed all of the movies too.
For those of you who have only watched the movies? You're missing out. Sure they were amazing but some of the smaller plots were left on the cutting room floor - namely Peeves and the Headless Hunt to name just two in The Chamber of Secrets. This unabridged e-audiobook version was the perfect way for me to get reacquainted with Potter while walking on the treadmill or driving to work. The narrator also did a fantastic job with accents and inflections of these highly popular characters.
As usual this second book in the HP series is filled a wonderfully magical feel with vibrant and infamous characters. We have the usual cast of characters as well as the addition on Gilderoy Lockhart who brings some humour with his fascination with ... himself. I also enjoyed that we get a glimpse into the past of one of Harry's friends and how s/he influenced the Chamber of Secrets. Overall, the characters themselves are well-rounded and as you progress through the series (and even within each book) you see their development as they struggle with normal tween/teen angst and a whole lot of extra Dark Lord worries t'boot.
While this book was my least favourite book in the series I still think it's a great read that pulls readers into Rowling's magical world where she vividly tells her story with humour, suspense and heart. Readers get a better look at the link between Harry and Voldemort and we see the relationship between Harry and his friends strengthen after the horrible treatment he received from his Aunt and Uncle as well as new new issues at Hogwarts this year.
Whether you're 9 or 99 years old, if you're into fantastic world building, characters that come to life, stories about the strength of friendship, the courage to stand up for what is right, the enduring love of a mother and the fact that family is made up of not just blood but also by bonds of friendship then you've got to pick up this series. No matter what age you are, I'm certain you'll enjoy Harry's world. Just make sure you read them in order!
My Rating: 5/5 stars
**This book review can also be found on my blog, The Baking Bookworm (www.thebakingbookworm.blogspot.ca) where I share hundreds of book reviews and my favourite recipes. **
on March 28, 2014
The second book in the Harry Potter series begins with Harry going to Hogwarts School for the second year. Thanks to Dobby, Harry and Ron are unable to get into Platform 9 ¾ and manage to get to the school using a flying car. While the boys get into a load of trouble for this unconventional entry, they have had fun, blissfully unaware of the danger that they could have got into.
This year, there is more to study while the rumour is that the Chamber of Secrets has been opened for the second time in fifty years. A great sense of curiosity and the need to resolve unsolved mysteries leads Harry and his best friends Ron and Hermione into yet another adventure to kill the Basilisk that lies way under the school.
Gilderoy Lockhart – what a realistic character. He’s handsome and women drool over him especially considering the number of his heroic achievements. Along with that is woven his obvious vain nature - simply superb!
Dobby – the house-elf so reminds me of Casper, the friendly ghost. I keep imagining Casper every time I read about Dobby – so cute, so loyal and so painfully helpful.
Then there is Ginny who is terribly conscious of Harry; Tom Marvolo Riddle – as evil as he is handsome; more of Quiddich, Malfoy, Snape, Fred & George.
Then there is Fawkes, the phoenix – totally fascinating. Imagine being healed in an instant by the tears of the phoenix from nothing less than a snake’s venom! I like!
This book made me look forward to the third one eagerly.
on May 22, 2004
About 6 months after purchase and on the third usage the DVD developed the noise which is evidently hitting a small, but significant fraction of these products. I wrote to Amazon hoping that they might have a longer warranty than the 3 months offered by a few manufacturers. I would have been comfortable if they didn't.
However there was no sympathy. Instead a form letter stating that the product could only be returned within a month, and indicating that the (defective) product could only be accepted if in perfect condition (!!!???) even within this month and also advice that I sell the (defective) product!
It was clear that the outsourced customer service couldn't parse my 3 sentences of simple English.
A second message to Amazon was clearly misunderstood with an insistence that I include the original order number (which is supposed to be optional) and which I included in the first letter thus making it possible for any supervisor using a half competent computer system to follow the chain of events (I'm logged into Amazon when I'm writing these things, there have to be links and easy searches!)
But they couldn't. And it's clear by the canned text added that the second letter was also misunderstood and I was subjected to more irrelevant paragraphs which referred to my problem in the vaguest of terms while promising fevered concern! Amazon has created a situation where they are going to lose customers. I hoped but did not expect Amazon to replace a DVD which distorted due to manufacturing flaws (it was properly cared for,) but after 2 letters I had failed to reach anyone who could even grasp the situation.
Thus I write here hoping it will be reviewed by someone who reads English and actually cares enough about the company to know they have a serious problem. This new system may reduce the number of settlements the company makes because customers give up in frustration. But those customers and their friends will not be back. We want someone who can read email.
As I stated earlier, the second book in the series has become my least favourite. Which should translate into my least favourite movie as well. But it doesn't. More on that later.
With Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets we are treated to our three favourite Hogwarts students coming back, or at least trying to come back. Which brings up the absolute best part of the movie, the introduction of the best house elf ever, Dobby.
Volumes could be spoken of Dobby. His character, what he represents, how he (and every house elf) applies the codes of servitude they labour under, and the true magical might his kind truly possess. J.K. always hinted and implied many things about this secret history and how it worked and came about. Due to obvious time limitations, we only get a small taste of this storyline and theme here. But every inclusion of Dobby in this film, whether slightly comedic with horrific undertones or showing bravery in the face of mortal danger, made him a favourite of mine. He is the loyal friend who inspires loyalty. We can all learn so much from Dobby. And the little guy packs quite a wallop.
Also this movie does a very good job of transferring Draco to the big screen. What started as vile jerkiness of in the first book became outright villainy of the worst kind in the second book. And Chamber follows suit. Hearing Draco's dripping racist diatribe and hoped for next victim is sickening, and Tom Felton who did not impress me much the first time around, really brings the nasty here. I really hated him. That's how good Felton is.
One moment towards the end struck me as odd. I am not against scary fights with giant monsters with much dangers, but for a movie designed to be for younger kids, the snake versus sword battle seemed to be pushing the age range here. Maybe this is my old man self talking, but this ending would have scared seven year old me into a week's worth of nightmares. Maybe it is just my dislike of snakes.
Chamber of Secrets is the last film in the series directed by Chris Columbus. His child like touch was required to launch these adventures of our favourite boy wizard, but as the story is about to turn a bit darker, different hands will take charge. And then the ride gets even more interesting.
With one wand, I give J.K. a lot of credit, she upped the ante quite abit here. With the other wand, I have to declare this was my least favourite of the seven.
So begins my disjointed look at Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling, the second book in the series. The one that I read that J.K. had some of the most stress over, worried it would not work another time. It does, but with some catches.
J.K. takes a big risk here by bringing the terror of racial lynching to our characters lives. For most books, just bringing up the topic by having a vile person spout slurs would be considered daring, with a dash of after school special morals thrown in to make it all better by the end. This does not happen here. The viciousness of the topic is brought up and permeates the entire book, and it's stench sticks around right to the bitter end of the series. No pat resolution is offered. And combined with the uncertain terror of these racial attacks, which are designed to kill, J.K. is telling her audience the awful truth. Hatred exists, no matter what special abilities you possess, nor how rich you are, this virulent strain of nastiness can infect anyone.
To push the issue further, J.K. subtly slides into the story the concept of slavery. Dobby's antics as an enslaved house elf are sometimes played with light comedic outcomes, but his self-torture because of perceived disobedience is heartbreaking. The hows and whys of the house elf's history is never explained but only partially referred to, but their power to topple their unjust wizard owners is obvious. But they stay subjugated. Of the uncounted multitudes of house elf's shown throughout the series, only one, our friend Dobby, is happy with being liberated. Despite Hermione's efforts later in the series, this reality does not change. No easy answer for this problem.
The final good part that really stuck to me was not revealed till the end. The alienation of Ginny from all those around her, unnoticed by everyone, becomes a major point at the conclusion. A first year student, with plenty of older siblings, all in her house, but she is still so alone. A magical diary talking back to her, giving her a much needed soothing, is very much the equivalent of caring strangers on the internet. Ginny seeks solace where she can find it. And that is sad.
As for the bitter medicine of criticism I must now dispense, it relates to how J.K. has to shape the plot. With every book she has to find ways to extend the story to fit over the course of a year. Results here are mixed, but the majority of the time her ideas work and work very well. In this instance, she concocts a ridiculous plan to trick information out of Draco by using Polyjuice potion. The plan is over the top in bad Ocean's 12 style, and when Hermione states the potion takes a month to ferment, my eyes rolled. A convenient way to allow time to pass by. My one sore spot in an otherwise glorious series.
Now that Harry, Hermione, and Ron have saved the day again, the stage is all set for a more mature tale to inhabit the series. With age comes more danger and intrigue and family history to explore. And Hagrid getting a well deserved promotion.
on May 26, 2004
This movie is great-especially when you have read all the books and want more Harry Potter fun! Th cast is wonderful and Alan Rickman is awesome as Professor Snape. But the 2nd disk is difficult to use(that is why I gave this boxed set 4 stars). Once you get to the brick wall before Diagon alley you must find the combination so you can even see the "never before seen footage". I found help here from a review on Amazon so I could actually figure it out! Once you get to the deleted scenes they are fun to see-especially the extended sequence with professor Snape. This is what helped me:
Hit "Diagon Alley" and enter on your remote.
Next is finding the correct bricks.
left, up, up, enter
down, down, enter
Next you need to go to the bank.
Highlight the sign "Gringotts" and hit the down arrow key on the remote to highlight the key. You will need that for the bank.
Hit right and then enter on the remote. The vault is now open and you can exit.
Next you need school supplies. Highlight "Ollivanders" and enter. This is where you purchase your wand. Eventually you will get the wand upon trying each box. Once you find it, you can leave the store.
Go to the main menu and hit "classrooms" and from the next screen choose "Potions." Then highlight the mortar and pestle and hit enter.
There are three potions you will need to make when asked.
Sleeping Potion: Asphodel and Wormwood
Alternative Name for Aconite: Monkshood and Wolfsbane
Cure for a boil: Snake Fangs and Porcupine Quills
Next you need to get the right key for the door. This is the room with the flying keys. You need to hit:
right, up, up, right, enter
This will have you select the small key with the broken wing.
Next you have to choose the right potion from seven of them.
Choose the yellow bottle (right, right enter).
From that point, you will get to the mirror of Erised and the Sorcerer's Stone. Highlight the stone and hit enter. Now you can see the hidden clips! There are tons of other hidden things on this disc. You just have to play around with finding the items.
There is also another hidden part on Disc 1.
When you get to the main menu, hit right arrow on the remote to highlight the owl and enter. This gives you your own invitation to go to Hogwarts!
on December 6, 2011
chamber of secrets is still a great fantasy movie but it shares to much in common with the first and marks my first worries about the series. Its only the second movie and it already seems as though there is a formula to these films. Basically there is some sort of mystery at hogwarts, harry investigates, solves, and triumphs. There are a few new characters and the director/writer plays a few tricks on the viewers and trys to make you think its someone else but its everyone knows the villian wont be the obvious characters and that the viewer shouldnt really try and guess because you know its going to be some random curveball, but thats ok because we watch these movies for the fantasy characters and elements and harry potter definatly serves up plenty.
on March 28, 2011
Kids will enjoy reading this book as the characters were very good. The book ended very well . My favourite part is the Quidditch scene and very helpful in real life. Don't tell me you haven't been head to head with a house elf that says 'Harry Potter must not go to school this year' and would gladly break every bone in your body to enforce that. Or maybe you're in a game of Quidditch and a die-cast steel, magically enforced ball is baying for your blood and bone. And definitely don't tell me you didn't spend last year saving the Philosopher's Stone from a teacher named professor Quarrel who wears a turban concealing the face of magic Hitler whose name rhymes with mouldy-wart and turns to dust on contact with you . The characters were so believable you think you would see them on the streets of London and cast a spell to open a door just because they can do it. I have read this book many times and I think future generations should read it and try to replicate the magic with their science as it would be great. This book should be a timeless classic for years to come.