15 Thoughts While Re-Watching “Chamber of Secrets”
Welcome to Week 2 of MuggleNet’s Harry Potter movies series re-watch! We will be diving into Chamber of Secrets – which, complete disclaimer, I actually liked least out of all eight movies, until this time around – and y’all have a front seat to the rambling thoughts I had while re-watching the second movie.
(Before we get started, here’s a handy link to the first entry in our movie re-watch series, in which Creative Team staff member Aaron Schwartz took you down that particular rabbit hole.)
1. First things first: puberty
Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, and Rupert Grint hovered around 11 years of age when they filmed Sorcerer’s Stone. They were close to 13 by the time they got to the filming of Chamber of Secrets. Boy, do the boys’ voices start cracking like crazy from the moment Ron breaks Harry out of the hellhole that is the Dursleys’. Every time I watch CoS, I know that’ll happen, but I always forget when, and then I spend a good five minutes cooing and aww-ing over how adorable they sound, only to have to rewind back so that I don’t miss how fantastic the entire Weasley clan is.
2. Dobby is still hit-or-miss for me.
Unpopular opinion: I can’t stand the movie versions of house-elves. While Dobby is supposed to be annoying and frustratingly unhelpful, the movies don’t do much except ramp up his annoying qualities until he’s a squeaky, one-dimensional, Claymation-like figure who exists only to keep moving the plot forward. (Don’t even get me started on the movies’ horrible treatment of Kreacher.)
3. The Dursleys are extra despicable.
In direct contrast to the warm and nurturing Weasleys, the Dursleys are extra despicable. Throughout the entire series, JKR consistently emphasizes the importance of familial love, trumpeting it over financial success and wealth, and she’s conveniently able to pit the Dursley duds against the welcoming Weasleys. However, I never realized just how awful Vernon and co. are in CoS: They are downright gleeful after realizing Harry has no magical sway over them, and Vernon’s sneer as he’s barricading his nephew into his miserable room makes my blood boil. Ron, Fred, and George’s flaming red hair and ridiculous knit sweaters literally breathe life into Harry’s dreary, gray existence, and I can’t help but tear up when Harry finally tumbles into the Ford Anglia.
4. Molly Weasley’s living room clock is boss.
Source: Harry Potter Wiki
Of all the elements that distinguish the Weasleys’ magical house from the Dursleys’, the living room clock is my absolute favorite. And it’s as exactly as I imagined it when I first read the books. Those little tablespoons, stamped with pictures of the Weasley boys’ faces, matter-of-factly tracking from “LOST” to “HOME” make me giggle with happiness. Their apprehensive faces give me so much life, especially when the camera pans over to the actual boys, whose faces fall into those exact same expressions once Molly swoops into the kitchen, demanding to know where they’ve been.
5. Oh, Professor Lockhart, you giant turd.
Kenneth Branagh is magnificent as the horribly cheesy, incompetent Professor Lockhart. His flowing robes, his luscious hair, his ever-present, toothy smile, his blustering persona, his wide-eyed confusion after Ron’s wand backfires – man, the casting director was spot on with this one. The set director and artist must have had a blast with creating Lockhart’s portraits; I’m just sad we never got to see the one of Lockhart in hair curlers.
6. This is not Alan Rickman at his most flattering.
Source: We Heart It
Oof. When Snape slams down the Muggle newspaper reporting a mysterious, flying car in the sky, berating Harry and Ron – he’s a bit puffier than normal, and his wig is awfully centered. Man, costume department, how is it possible to mess up that gorgeous face? *sadly shakes head*
7. Lucius Malfoy is a silver-haired fox.
YUM. (Truth: Every time I try to type “Lucius,” my fingers automatically type“luscious.” Because yes.) My favorite Lucius is the Deathly Hallows Lucius, with his rumpled blonde hair and vulnerable face. But I’m down with any version of Jason Isaacs, really, who reveled in his role as the snobby, classist, privileged butthole.
*small voice* Dat smooth timber of a voice doe.
8. Draco Malfoy, on the other hand…
Second unpopular opinion: I’ve never gotten the appeal of Tom Felton/Draco Malfoy. (Admittedly, though, I’m a staunch Ron Weasley/Rupert Grint fangirl.) I did, however, totally forget how scowl-y and widow’s-peak-y Tom Felton was in the first two movies, so I very much enjoyed his campy acting, aside from wanting to punch him in the face every time he said something awful to either Ron or Hermione.
I did ache a bit, though, at the Polyjuice scene, when we finally get to see Malfoy as an actual person, not just Harry’s nemesis. His pocketing of a fellow Slytherin’s present aside, he seemed much smaller and vulnerable than I remembered him to be, a neglected son and a bit of a loner. Aw, Draco, baby.
9. Rupert Grint’s facial expressions are the best.
Let’s take the Howler scene, for example. (I’m going to steadfastly ignore how eye-roll inducing the producers’ decision to add in a raspberry at the end of Molly Weasley’s Howler was.) Rupert Grint goes from silly to apprehensive to terrified to embarrassed in a span of 60 seconds or less, and the audience is right there with him, wanting to shrivel up into a ball of secondhand trauma, nervous laughter and all.
Let’s also take the throwing-up-slugs scene. The look of abject misery of Ron’s pale face is amazing. Those slugs are disgusting, and I really can’t imagine the slugs tasting good (apparently, they did; the prop slugs were flavored chocolate so that Rupert could get through the scene), but I crack up like crazy whenever I hear Ron go “That’s disgusting” all faintly.
10. The camera work is pretty nifty for a pre-Alfonso Cuarón installment.
Chris Columbus gets mad kudos for bringing JKR’s excellent series to life. However, he had to contend with the giant responsibility of satisfying every fan’s imagined version as well as creating a world that seemed at once familiar but also fantastical. The end results, while a bit stuffy and by-the-book, laid down the foundation of Potter-ness that permeates every single incarnation of JKR’s wizarding world.
Anyway, getting back to my main point: Columbus didn’t swerve much from the outlines he set for the movies, so when the camera tilts and turns to mimic the unnerving quality Harry feels when he hears the Basilisk rumbling and hissing behind the walls, as well as the nightmarish reality of Ginny under Tom Riddle’s diary – that immediately jolts the audience from their comfortable viewing. That deliberate camera work is astounding.
11. A boneless arm is the grossest arm ever.
EURGH. Even as I type this, I shudder. Lockhart’s spell that unfortunately turns Harry’s broken arm into that thick slab of squishy flesh – EW. Well done, props and special effects departments, but EW.
12. The brewing Polyjuice Potion scenes are amazing.
Some of the best scenes in CoS were the ones where the trio brew Polyjuice Potion in the haunted first-floor girls’ bathroom. Hermione is awesome, as always, taking charge of the whole thing, and Ron…
*swoon* Oh, Ron. Twelve-year-old Jasmine realized that boys are indeed cute, thanks to the image of Rupert Grint, with his shirtsleeves rolled up, casually leaning against one of the bathroom stalls. This is a visceral memory.
But: I still don’t understand why the producers cast 30-something-year-old Shirley Henderson as Moaning Myrtle. Seriously. Why. She was perfect as Jude in Bridget Jones’s Diary, but she was atrocious as the quivering, hysterical Moaning Myrtle in CoS (and she verged on perverted in GoF). Her over-the-top pigtails didn’t help matters at all.
13. Aragog is TERRIFYING.
Before this re-watch, the last memory of Aragog I had was him splayed on his back, dead, utterly unable to harm, while Harry – high on Felix Felicis – and Slughorn – high on the anticipation of acquiring some venom – mourned the giant spider’s death alongside Hagrid in HBP. I’d totally forgotten the CoS scene where he’s alive and terrifying, clicking his pincers, promising Harry and Ron inevitable deaths because they’d voluntarily walked into his family’s territory.
HOLY CRAP, WTF, NO, ABORT, ABORT. I don’t have arachnophobia, per se, but MAN. Hagrid’s immunity to fear and naïve trust in everybody and every animal is a special skill only he has. I absolutely agree with Ron: “Spiders?! Follow the spiders? Why not follow the butterflies?”
(Upon reflection, out of the whole series, CoS is the most Halloween-y of them all. The icing on the cake would’ve been Nearly Headless Nick’s deathday party, had been included in the movie.)
14. The Basilisk looks like an animatronic dinosaur.
Source: Harry Potter Wiki
This opinion is probably due to my marathoning of Jurassic Park, but the Basilisk’s head totally looks like the T-Rex’s from those movies. I mean, that connection totally amps up the ominous and scary qualities to the creature, but a little niggling thought in the back of my mind was “Where did its limbs go?!”
Additionally, I love the scene where Harry climbs up the wall of the Chamber, scrambling to find purchase on the jutting wall, because it reminds me of when my cousin used to imitate him and climbed up on all the furniture in the house to get away from his sister, who was acting like the Basilisk.
15. Hermione’s awkward handshake with Ron at the end of the movie
My absolute, OG OTP is Hermione/Ron, so that scene at the end of CoS, when Hermione bursts into the Great Hall, conscious and beaming, running down the length of the room, to reunite with her best friends, makes me scream with joy.
I remember being peeved when I was younger that Hermione hugged Harry, only to shy away and decide on an awkward handshake with Ron. But now, I just choose to see it as the beginning of their adolescent courtship, the first signs of simmering soon-to-be unresolved romantic tension.
What are your thoughts when re-watching the second movie? Leave them in the comments below!