Friday, August 14, 2015

Paper to Popcorn #3: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets book vs. movie

//DISCLAIMER: JK Rowling is no longer reviewed or promoted by following her repeated transphobia//

Welcome to Paper to Popcorn! Paper to Popcorn is not be your typical book vs. movie comparison. The focus is on retellings, although there will be some features of movie vs. the source material. Each chosen book/movie combo will battle it out in a showdown to prove which one is the best on its own merits. Posts will feature reviews of both the film and book, rating scales, a brief outline of differences between the two, and characters, and ultimately a victor will be chosen.

This week I'm featuring Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets book vs. movie

The Book

Title: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Author: J.K. Rowling
Publication Date: July 2, 1998
Publisher: Bloomsbury Children's Books
Pages: 360
Add to Goodreads
Review for book 1

All Harry Potter wants is to get away from the Dursleys and go back to Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry. But just as he's packing his bags, Harry receives a warning from a strange, impish creature named Dobby - who says that if Harry Potter returns to Hogwarts, disaster will strike.

And strike it does. For in Harry's second year at Hogwarts, fresh torments and horrors arise, including an outrageously stuck-up new professor, Gilderoy Lockheart, a spirit named Moaning Myrtle who haunts the girls' bathroom, and the unwanted attentions of Ron Weasley's younger sister, Ginny.

But each of these seem minor annoyances when the real trouble begins, and someone--or something--starts turning Hogwarts students to stone. Could it be Draco Malfoy, a more poisonous rival than ever? Could it possibly be Hagrid, whose mysterious past is finally told? Or could it be the one everyone at Hogwarts most suspects... Harry Potter himself.

Book two picks up just as Harry is preparing to return to Hogwarts. His summer has been miserable with the Dursleys and he hasn't heard from his friends in months! Miserable and lonely, Harry meets a new character who I'd honestly forgotten was such a nuisance early on - Dobby the house elf. Thus begins the delightful second chapter of Harry Potter.

I. Love. These. Books. Honestly, I could end my review there, but I won't. Harry Potter is such a rare exception to my usual reading preference! I don't usually care for humor in books. You might think that makes me cold hearted, but I just really prefer other aspects of books more than jokes and silly situations. But what J.K. Rowling does with this series blends humor along with mystery, action, and adventure so seamlessly that I found myself laughing out loud on multiple occasions throughout the Chamber of Secrets and being totally charmed by it! Her writing is so unique and amazing!

Hermione is much more likable in book two, thank goodness. She is still a little goody two-shoes for my taste, but her redeeming qualities far outweigh the annoying ones. At least she breaks a few rules this time! Harry continues to learn more about himself and his connection to Voldemort, which is really interesting to read the second time around, knowing what will happen later on and being able to piece it all together. Ron continues to be a hilarious character who I always feel a little sorry for (hopefully he gets a new wand soon)!

Ginny, though... I know that she grows a lot through the series, but good grief she's dumb in this book. I can't help feeling that she acts much more immature than Harry, Ron, and Hermione did in their first year at Hogwarts, but maybe being the baby in the family will do that to a person. Professor Lockhart is so repulsive! I was right there with Ron and Harry gagging every time the man opened his mouth! Rowling definitely has a gift for bringing characters to life! As always, Dumbledore makes me smile and Draco makes me cringe... I could go on and on about all the other characters, but I'll stop there.

Reading this book again makes me wish (again) that I had read them as a child - before seeing the movies. Even though I had forgotten a lot of the details, I can't imagine what it would have been like experiencing the story for the first time by reading the books with no clue about what the Chamber of Secrets was! If, like me, you missed out on this one as a child, I highly recommend you give it a try now! You'll regret waiting so long.

Characters Terrible Just okay Pretty good Really good Amazing!
Setting Terrible Just okay Pretty good Really good Amazing!
Writing Terrible Just okay Pretty good Really good Amazing!
Storyline Terrible Just okay Pretty good Really good Amazing!
Cover Terrible Just okay Pretty good Really good Amazing!
Overall Rating 1/5 2/5 3/5 4/5 5/5

The Movie

Title: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Director: Chris Columbus
Actors: Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint
Release Date: November 15, 2002
Runtime: 161 minutes
View on IMDB

Youthful wizard Harry Potter returns to the screen in this, the second film adaptation of J.K. Rowling's wildly popular series of novels for young people. Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) and his friends Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint) and Hermione Granger (Emma Watson) return for a second year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, where Headmaster Dumbledore (Richard Harris), Professor Snape (Alan Rickman), Professor McGonagall (Maggie Smith), and Hagrid the Giant (Robbie Coltrane) are joined by new faculty members Gilderoy Lockhart (Kenneth Branagh), a self-centered expert in Defense against the Dark Arts, and Sprout (Miriam Margolyes), who teaches Herbology. However, it isn't long before Harry and company discover something is amiss at Hogwarts: Students are petrified like statues, threats are written in blood on the walls, and a deadly monster is on the loose. It seems that someone has opened the mysterious Chamber of Secrets, letting loose the monster and all its calamitous powers. As Harry, Ron, and Hermione set out to find the secret chamber and slay the beast, speculation is rife that one of the heirs of Salazar Slytherin, the co-founder of the school, opened the chamber as a warning against the presence of "mudbloods" (magic-users of impure lineage) at the school -- and that the culprit may be fellow student Draco Malfoy (Tom Felton). Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets featured Richard Harris' second and final appearance as Headmaster Dumbledore; he died less than a month before the film was released in the United States.

The Chamber of Secrets has always sat in the middle of the scale for me as far as Harry Potter movies go. I do feel like it adds a lot of information to the overarching plot of the series, so it's very important in that sense, but the film itself is just... strange somehow and I can't quite put my finger on it. They do retain a kind of whimsical child-like quality that I attribute to their being directed by Chris Columbus, and I think that's okay since the characters are only twelve at this point.

One area I faulted The Sorcerer's Stone was its cinematography, mainly in the CGI department. Luckily, by 2002 they seem to have worked out a lot of the kinks, although it's by no means perfect. There are some awkward Dobby moments where he's very obviously not actually standing on anything. Quidditch has gotten a huge upgrade and no longer looks like a video game and the basilisk was very convincing! There were some pretty terrible CGI aspects though - the spiders come immediately to mind. I still can't quite figure out, though, why the graphics aren't of higher quality, especially considering Lord of the Rings was being released around the same time and holds up MUCH better than this. But it's still a huge improvement over the first movie.

The actors also seem to improved some in the year from the first film's release. Daniel Radcliff, Rupert Grint, and Emma Watson are still really overacting, but it is toned down a bit from The Sorcerer's Stone. Jason Isaacs (Lucius Malfoy) is one of my favorite love-to-hate actors in The Chamber of Secrets. He's so despicably bad that I can't help but give him high marks! (See what I did there?) As always, Alan Rickman and Maggie Smith are my absolute favorites, at least at this point in the series.

Like with the first movie, I had some problems with the way this one was translated onto the screen and felt like some things were left out that didn't necessarily need to be, although I can appreciate time restraints. Overall, though, I felt like it was adapted pretty well. The music was obviously perfect, as it will remain throughout all eight films!

Movies one and two are probably the lowest on my list if I were to rank the Harry Potter series, but they're necessary to get to the really good ones. Just as twelve year olds experience growing pains, so did the films have to work through their issues in the early years. They're still fantastic, magical films and you should see them if you haven't already!

Cast Terrible Just okay Pretty good Really good Amazing!
Cinematography Terrible Just okay Pretty good Really good Amazing!
Screenplay Terrible Just okay Pretty good Really good Amazing!
Performances Terrible Just okay Pretty good Really good Amazing!
Music Terrible Just okay Pretty good Really good Amazing!
Overall Rating 1/5 2/5 3/5 4/5 5/5

Noteable Differences

  • In the book Harry eavesdrops on Lucius Malfoy doing questionable business with Borgin, but this is not in the movie. 
  • There's a crazy train chase scene where Harry almost falls to his death in the movie that is not in the book. 
  • Several scenes with Professor Lockhart are left out of the film.
  • Nearly Headless Nick has a huge "death day" celebration in the book, but it's completely left out of the film. 
  • Professor Binns, the ghost teacher of History of Magic, is not in the movie. 
  • In the book, the potions book Hermione needs for the polyjuice potion is in the restricted section (because it contains such dangerous potions) and they need a note from a teacher to check it out. Hermione also steals ingredients from Professor Snape. In the movie the book is in the main library and it isn't said how the ingredients were acquired. 
  • Only Harry and Draco duel in the movie, but in the book all of the students are paired. 
  • In the book Professor Lockhart throws a big Valentine's Day party to boost morale and Harry receives a singing Valentine, but this is left out of the film. 
  • Throughout the book Ginny acts very strange and jumpy, but in the movie she acts mostly normal. 
  • The size of the basilisk is greatly exaggerated in the movie. 
  • In the book the statue of Salazar Slytherin is full size, but in the movie it's only a (really weird) head. 
  • The basilisk fight is a lot less dramatic in the book than in the movie. 
  • The way Dobby receives the sock from Lucius Malfoy and is freed is slightly different in the movie. 

The Bottom Line

While the book is pure magic (just like it's predecessor), the movie has always seemed like it was (only very) slightly off somehow. Perhaps it would be more exciting for a child watching it for the first time. The bottom line is I don't love Chris Columbus' directing style and the movies definitely get better with director number two. Because of that, combined with still-iffy CGI and semi-ridiculous performances from our child stars, the book comes out on top, yet again!