Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002)

If you create a user account, you can add your own review of this DVD

Released 10-Apr-2003

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by
BUY IT

Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Fantasy Menu Animation & Audio
Main Menu Audio & Animation
Listing-Cast & Crew
Featurette-Year One at Hogwarts
Theatrical Trailer
Featurette-Game Preview (6)
Deleted Scenes-19
Gallery-Photo
Gallery-Certificates
Featurette-Required Reading
DVD-ROM Extras
Featurette-Conversation with J.K. Rowling and Steve Moves
Featurette-Build A Scene (Dumbledore's Office);Tour Dumbledore's Office
Interviews-Cast & Crew
Gallery-Production Sketches
Game-The Chamber Challenge; The Forbidden Forest Challenge
Game-Colin's Darkroom; Tour Diagon Alley; Spellcaster's Knowledge
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 2002
Running Time 154:21
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (73:25)
Dual Disc Set
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4,5 Directed By Chris Columbus
Studio
Distributor

Warner Home Video
Starring Daniel Radcliffe
Grint Rupert
Emma Watson
Kenneth Branagh
Robbie Coltrane
Richard Harris
Jason Isaacs
Alan Rickman
Maggie Smith
Julie Walters
Case Gatefold
RPI $44.95 Music John Williams


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
Arabic
English for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    One of the most popular movies of 2002, indeed, one of the most popular movies of all time, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets is to be released on DVD in R4. Both a critical and commercial success, this magical movie is beautifully presented on a smashing DVD!

   2002 was a great year for Hollywood with no less than four films (Spider-Man, Lord Of The Rings: The Two Towers, Star Wars: Attack Of The Clones, and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets) all earning a place in the all-time Top 20 Box Office movie list. Considering that there are some movies in this list that started taking money starting back in the 1970s, like Star Wars: A New Hope, this was quite an achievement. Appealing to 'kids' of all ages, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets grossed over US$860 million worldwide, whilst also managing to please most Harry Potter fans with the adaptation.

    As with its predecessor, Chamber of Secrets is based on the Harry Potter children's fantasy book by J.K. Rowling. As I observed in my review of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, both the Harry Potter books and movies have been exceptionally successful. It is estimated that there are over 20 million Harry Potter books in print, in 40 languages. As a movie, Chamber of Secrets has understandably dispensed with a few of the book's subplots and rather focussed on the action, suspense, and mystery elements of the book. Film, after all, is a visual medium, so I find this script to be a great adaptation. The down-side to this approach is that we don't have any in-depth character exploration, and we also lose out on some of the humour of the book, such as much of Rowling's witty self-parody of the best-selling author, Professor Gilderoy Lockhart.

    The plot for Chamber of Secrets is much darker than the first movie. For example, in this movie a child is killed, and messages are written on a wall in blood. While I likened the first movie to being "a bit like 'Tom Brown's School Days' with broomsticks", this one is a bit like Agatha Christie writing a Scooby Doo Mystery cartoon. The plot is a fairly straightforward detective mystery, but the magic lies in the expert story-telling, and the film's well-crafted execution.

    The story opens with Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) back with his selfish and mean-spirited relatives. Harry is visited by a house elf, Dobby (a brilliantly 'realistic' CGI character), and warned not to return to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry for his second year of tuition. Harry ignores this warning, and is reunited with his friends, Ron (Rupert Grint) and Hermione (Emma Watson). Soon, however, the three become aware of evil and mysterious forces that are threatening the school and its students. The three courageously set about solving the mystery of the Chamber of Secrets, in order to challenge the dark forces, and save the school.

    With a lot of the exposition and explanations covered in the first film, the second moves at a much greater pace. While it is longer in length, it actually feels much shorter. As with the first movie, Chamber of Secrets boasts wonderful production values, and the set/costume design, art direction, cinematography, and visual/sound effects are all top notch. The acting performances from the younger actors have improved noticeably from the first movie, and once again we are treated to a brilliant supporting cast of renowned British actors, including Kenneth Branagh, John Cleese, Robbie Coltrane, Maggie Smith, Julie Waters, Alan Rickman, Jason Isaacs, and the late Richard Harris.

    Chamber of Secrets is a wonderful escapist family movie, and I thoroughly recommend it.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

    The transfer is close to perfect, and is a pleasure to watch.

    Thankfully, the transfer is presented in the movie's original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1. It is 16x9 enhanced.

    The image is wonderfully sharp. For example, consider all the fine detail contained in the classroom scene at 46:43. There are many dark scenes, and the black level and shadow detail are terrific. A good example of this is the shadowy scene at 58:30. There is no low level noise.

    The colour is beautifully saturated, and the skin-tones are all accurate.

    Looking at the largest file on the disc, (containing 26,464 frames of the movie), I found an impressive average bit rate of 7.259 megabits per second. I saw no problems with MPEG or film-to-video artefacts. Tiny film artefacts appear very rarely throughout, and a fleeting example can be seen at 39:16.

    Occasionally, some scenes seemed to display very slight edge enhancement, but considering the amount of green screen work in this movie, I could be wrong.

    English, Arabic, and English for the Hearing Impaired subtitles are present on the DVD, and the English subtitles are accurate.

    This is an RSDL disc, with the noticeable layer change placed at 73:25. Sadly, it is slightly disruptive, as it occurs whilst a character is speaking.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    Chamber of Secrets was a wonderful aural experience at the cinemas, and it is a real home-theatre gem when it comes to sound.

    While released theatrically with DTS, Dolby Digital 5.1 EX, and SDDS soundtracks, there is only one audio option on this DVD, a wonderfully immersive English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s) audio track. While it is not described as being so, as with Philosopher's Stone, I assume that this is EX encoded. The audio displays a great range, from shrill, high-pitched squeals and screaming, to low, guttural sounds that almost made me think that the foundations of my house were collapsing.

    The dialogue quality and audio sync are excellent.

    The musical score is again provided by the great John Williams, who, in terms of his work, has added Harry Potter to the very successful franchises of the Jaws, Star Wars, Superman, Jurassic Park and Indiana Jones movies. Williams has crafted some variations on his original themes that really tease out the emotion in every scene.

    There is strong directional surround presence throughout, and the rear speakers are used very effectively and aggressively to carry the score and provide ambience. There is often an intense soundstage on display here, with split-rear effects, and panning between speakers. The spatial characteristics of the surround mix are obvious in many scenes, such as when the Cornish Pixies wreak havoc at 35:30.

    This movie also has one of the heaviest and most aggressive LFE tracks that I have ever heard. My subwoofer happily plummeted to unheard of depths, such as the deep, guttural sounds at 13:58.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    This 2-disc edition comes loaded with extras, and fortunately they are far more accessible than those included on Philosopher's Stone. Unless stated otherwise, all extras are presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, with Dolby Digital 2.0 audio.

Disc One

Menu

    An animated menu, presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, 16x9 enhanced, with Dolby Digital 2.0 audio.

Cast & Crew

    Text information, similar to the movie's credits.

Year One at Hogwarts (1:57)

    Presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, 16x9 enhanced, with Dolby Digital Stereo Surround audio, this seems to be a theatrical trailer for Philosopher's Stone with a new voice-over.

Theatrical Trailer (2:08)

    The trailer for Chamber of Secrets, presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, 16x9 enhanced, with Dolby Digital Stereo Surround audio

Disc Two

EA Game Demo

    Six short preview scenes taken from EA's Chamber of Secrets PC and Console game.

Additional Scenes (17:00)

    There are 19 extended and/or deleted scenes, presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, 16x9 enhanced, with Dolby Digital Stereo audio. These can be played separately, or all together. A few of these would have added to the exposition of the story and to the development of the characters, so it is a shame that some weren't restored to the DVD version of the movie in a Special Extended Edition.

Gilderoy Lockhart's Classroom

Extra Credit

    DVD-ROM extras, which include games, e-newsletters, screensavers, puzzles and Internet-related activities for kids.

Conversation with J.K. Rowling and Steve Kloves (16:12)

   An interesting discussion of the novel compared to the finished movie script, the characters of the story, and the creative and working relationship between Rowling and Kloves.

Build A Scene (16:41)

    Includes interviews with the director and crew, production sketches and designs, and behind-the-scenes footage. This featurette is a look at the creative and logistical work of the film, ranging from set design to the visual effects.

Tour Dumbledore's Office

    Much sharper than the tours included in Philosopher's Stone, this allows one to navigate around Dumbledore's office using the DVD remote, and have a bit of a sticky beak.

Interview with Students, Professors and More

    The interviews are divided between the children, and the adults. One can play these separately, or all together. In these snippets, the actors mainly discuss their characters, and how they've evolved from the first movie.

Gallery of Production Sketches

   A series of stills.

The Chamber Challenge

   A kid's memory game, involving a tour of the chamber.

The Forbidden Forest Challenge

    Another kid's memory game.

Colin's Darkroom

    A series of photographic stills

Tour Diagon Alley

    This is by far the best of all the 'tours'. Rather than navigating around still images, Diagon Alley is teaming with locals as one moves about using the remote.

Spellcaster's Knowledge Challenge

    A simplistic multiple-choice test, relating to the spells that appear during the movie.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets is to be released on DVD in Region 1 in mid-April 2003. The two versions will be identical, except for the NTSC/Pal transfer and the region coding. (Update: The R1 was released, and the two versions are the same).

Summary

    Chamber of Secrets is a much better film than Philosopher's Stone in a number of ways. If you liked Philosopher's Stone, then I recommend you add this to your collection as well. If you didn't like it, then this edition might pleasantly surprise you.

    One thing I must say is that I tip my hat to Warner Home Video, as they have really listened to and have been very responsive to R4 consumers. There were a few things that were disappointing with Philosopher's Stone: the image was a little grainy at times, and there was some mild shimmer and pixelization; the extras were almost impossible to access; the 'tour' extras were out of focus and hazy; and worst of all, R4 consumers were initially denied a widescreen version of the movie. However, with Chamber of Secrets all of these issues have been addressed: The image is beautiful, the extras are easily accessible, the 'tours' are now in focus (indeed the back-cover even notes the original problem, by describing these tours as being "crystal-clear"); and finally, we have been treated to a wonderful widescreen transfer that is 16x9 enhanced. *happy sigh*

    The video quality is excellent

    The audio quality is superb.

    The extras are plentiful.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Brandon Robert Vogt (warning: bio hazard)
Friday, April 04, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-535, using S-Video output
DisplayGrundig Elegance 82-2101 (82cm, 16x9). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationSony STR DE-545
SpeakersSony SS-V315 x5; Sony SA-WMS315 subwoofer

Other Reviews
AllZone4DVD - Magalie S
Web Wombat - James A
DVD Net - Amy F
Jeff K's Australian DVD Info Site - Jeff K
DVDAnswers - Pete R

Comments (Add)
Looks better than the US one... -
The Sunh-Herald DVD offer -
The packaging sucks big time - JediDude (read my bio) REPLY POSTED
Agree - matty