And hey look: I just reviewed Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets as well!
At least Scooby Doo had the good sense to keep its running time below an hour and a half -- at 161 minutes Chamber of Secrets is too long by an hour. This is mostly due to the fact that, like the first Potter picture, Chamber of Secrets isn't so much a movie as it is a book-on-film. In other words, rather than taking the essence of the novel and making a movie out of it (as Peter Jackson did so masterfully with The Fellowship Of The Ring), writer Steven Kloves seemingly loaded the book up in Microsoft Word and then selected "Save As [Screenplay]".
No doubt the reason they opted to preserve nearly every paragraph of the book is because kids would howl if any major scene was omitted, even those irrelevant to the overall story (as many are). But this is essentially my beef with both the Potter films and books: they can't decide if they are for kids or adults. J.K. Rowling fills her stories with tons of backstory and exposition to lend credibility to the narrative, but then resorts to cartoon logic at seemingly random moments. (In one scene, Harry and his friends encounter a seemingly bottomless pit and gamely leap into it without a second thought.) Now, I have no objection to "cartoon logic" movies -- heck, Iron Giant is one of my favorite flicks -- but inconsistency drives me crazy. Rowling oscillates between the historical style of J.R.R. Tolkien and and logic-free style of Lewis Carroll.
Also! (I'm on a roll, now.) At one point I swear Harry Potter said "I only know one spell!". And Ron Weasley goes through the entire year with a wand that doesn't function. I thought American schools had gotten lax, but apparently in England you can be in your second year of a Witchcraft and Wizardy School and still not know your ass from a leaky cauldron.
(Okay, I think I'm done ranting now.)
(Nope, apparently not.)
And another thing! What the hell kind of middle name is 'Marvolo'?!! Funny how we never heard it until Rowling needed to do some ridiculous anagram mumbo-gumbo!
Many critics have said that Chamber of Secrets is "Better than the first film". That's true, but also damning with faint praise. I liked the first Potter movie, but that was largely because it was the first film -- like Star Wars: A New Hope, The Sorcerer's Stone is not great, but at least it's new. But Chamber of Secrets ain't no Empire Strikes Back, that's for sure.
The third Potter book is my favorite, so perhaps there's hope for this series yet. But Prisoner of Azkaban has 435 pages, so if they film #3 as they have #1 and #2 (i.e., using the novel as the screenplay) the film is going to be seven weeks long. Frankly I doubt I'll see it and find out, since I found this film to be such a yawner. Chamber of Secrets isn't terrible, but it's about as far from spellbinding as a movie about magic can be. Posted on December 03, 2002 to Movies