Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets

Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets (2002)
Warner Home Video
Extras: Deleted Scenes, Games, Tours, Interview, Photos and much more

The second installment of the Harry Potter series is now coming to DVD, once again prepared as a spectacular 2-disc release by Warner Home Video. Countless families are already eagerly awaiting the DVD release of this movie, and we had the chance to give it an early look to see what it holds for you.

Without the lengthy exposition that was necessary to establish the first film, "Chamber Of Secrets" immediately dives into the story of the movie. Harry is whisked away from his abusive uncle’s home by his friends, the Weasleys, in the family’s flying car, and before long he finds himself back at Hogwarts for his second year of education. But almost immediately after the new term begins, a bloody writing is found on the walls of Hogwarts, indicating that someone has opened the chamber of Secrets and that many will die. And in fact, a number of students suddenly turn up petrified with no immediate cure at hand.
All the while, Harry is hearing a strange voice throughout the corridors of Hogwarts, seemingly the voice of the horror that now roams the school, trying to find new prey. Together with his friends it is once again up to him to solve the mystery of the Chamber of Secrets and to put an end to the danger that faces the entire school.

Bringing back the characters from the first film once again, "chamber of Secrets" is once again a masterpiece of family-friendly fantasy. It is very well acted and even though surrounded by accomplished veteran actors like the late Richard Harris, Kenneth Branagh, Alan Rickman or Maggie Smith, the young main cast of the film handles this film with bravado once again.

The movie is presented in a 2.35:1 <$PS,widescreen> aspect ratio on this DVD in a transfer that has been <$16x9,enhanced for 16x9> TV sets. The image is absolutely clean and not a hint of a speckle is visible anywhere. The transfer also reveals a very high level of definition with all the intricate details of the picture fully intact. From the pores in the skin to the most subtle textures of stone or fabric, everything is rendered beautifully on this DVD.
Colors are vivid and vibrant without ever being oversaturated. While the movie makes very good use of atmospheric and dramatic lighting, the color schemes are always perfectly reproduced. Skin tones are naturally rendered also, and even the computer-generated images that can be found in the film aplenty are nicely integrated with proper densities, shadows and colors.
The transfer has a solid black level that creates deep black. Shadows never break up but are solid and create an image full of visual depth and shadow detail. Only the slightest hints of edge-enhancement are evident in a few selected scenes but for the most part the movie is free of the distracting ringing artifacts that come with it usually.
The compression has been handled flawlessly and not a sign of artifacting is evident throughout. In a word, "Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets" is a beauty to behold and offers a reference quality video transfer.

The audio on the disc comes as a <$5.1,5.1 channel> <$DD,Dolby Digital> track in English and Spanish. You will find the original theatrical Dolby Digital EX mixes on this DVD, complete with matrixed audio information to feed a rear center channel. The audio is aggressive and extremely active, making the best of the format’s capabilities. Sound effects are whirling through the room at times, atmospheric effects take over the entire room and directional effects can be easily pinpointed through their placement. It is a beautiful track that is engaging and engulfing at all times.
The frequency response is very wide and the audio contains very good low end information that can rumble your house. The dynamic range of the track is equally impressive, ranging from the slightest whisper to the most explosive scenes – all of them flawlessly reproduced with marvelous clarity. The music is also nicely integrated and John Williams’ score adds the right amount of adventure to the mix with subtle cues and clues that underscore the events on the screen.

One minor quibble is that the menu animation is way too long and goes completely overboard. It takes minutes until you reach the actual main menu after inserting the first disc, somewhat defeating DVD’s elegant design to give people instant access to material.

On the first disc you will also find a minimalist cast and crew listing and the movie’s theatrical trailer, as well as a 2-minute clip that serves as a recap of what happened in the first film, during Harry’s first year at Hogwarts.

The menu structure and contents follow very much the template established with Warner’s previous release of "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer Stone." I know that a lot of people complained about the light nature of the special materials on that disc, and those same people will most likely feel the same way about the release of "Chamber of Secrets." I have always found the contents and presentation absolutely appropriate for the film and its target audience and I am pleased to see that Warner is once again taking the same route.

Most of the extras on the DVD consist of little games and activities that allow you to explore the world of Harry Potter in much more detail than the film could offer. I also decided not to go into too much detail regarding these extras, as exploring and uncovering them is the biggest part of the fun. Photo galleries, certificates, and interview segments can be found here, as well as a tour through Dumbledore’s office and other locations. Most impressive is a collection 19 deleted scenes which are easily accessible this time. Some of these scenes are interesting, others are of notably less importance but it is clear why they all have been edited out of the movie in order to restrain the movie’s already significant running length.

The second disc is filled with these extras, gimmicks and games and will offer entertainment and room for exploration for many hours. Their quality is very good and technically, once again, Warner shows that they are capable of creating top notch releases.

"Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets" manages to capture the same tone and feel as the first movie and as such it makes for great family entertainment. The story is nicely paced and offers some nice surprises for those unfamiliar with the book that served as the source for the film. The movie vastly benefits from the fact that it doesn’t need a lengthy exposition and from the first frames we are dragged into the world of Harry Potter once again, eager to see how he deals with the constant obstacles thrown his way while experiencing the magic of Hogwarts with its glorious imagery. Just like the first one, "Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets" is required viewing for any family – muggle-born or not.