Friday, June 19, 2009

Top Films: Chamber of Secrets

For the most part, the second Potter film is much like the first. It stays true to the plot but cuts and condenses things (even more than the first.)

Some of the changes are just annoying: Hermione gets a lot of the lines spoken by other characters in the book. Presumably this is to give the actress more to do, since the character has a smaller role in this story. We also never get to see the history professor explain the legend of the Chamber. He is the only ghost professor and apparently doesn’t exist in the Harry Potter world as the movies present it. One of Rowling’s more interesting ideas: the Deathday Party is also cut.

However, the change that threatens to ruin the movie is what they did to the Basilisk. Snakes are scary. The Basilisk in this movie is (a) not a snake and (b) not particularly scary. For one thing it is too big. In the book, the monster is said to be at least 20 feet long. That is the size of a King Cobra, the world’s largest poisonous snake. The Basilisk in the movie is about sixty feet long, which wouldn’t be terrible, but whoever designed it got the length to width proportion all wrong. It has lost its serpentine creepiness and although large, it seems short for its size. Also, the head is nothing like a snake head, which is the creepiest part of the snake. This looks more like a dragon that has lost all of its legs.

All that is rather nit-picky. Especially since the heart and the message of the book pretty well survived.

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