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Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets (4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray Review)

You’ll remember back in March that Warner Brothers began the format jump on its acclaimed and super popular Harry Potter series. That batch of films, you’ll remember, started with the back four films, to coincide with the 4K Ultra-HD release of the first film in the prequel series in in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.  They promised the rest of the films in the hugely successful franchise later in the year and here we are with almost two months to spare. The remaining four films, the first four years at Hogwarts, will be out on 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray on November 7th. This review will focus on 2002’s Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, the second film in the series.

Film 

In the second film based on the wirzarding series by author J.K. Rowling, young wizard Harry Potter and his friends, Ron and Hermione, facing new challenges during their second year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry as they try to discover a dark force that is terrorizing the school.  Oh and they might just be trying to find out who this Tom Riddle fellow is.

When it comes to the movies, I look a The Chamber Of Secrets differently than I do the books. With Rowling’s novel, it had an interesting premise but rather felt like a boring retread of the first book. The film, however, feels like an improvement and a big event compared to the first one. It manages to get right everything building up to a much more action packed and intense finale that feels far more satisfying than the last film.  Maybe its just the filmmakers and actors more comfortable in their shoes.

There is a mystery afoot in this sequel and it brings a bit more of a sense of dread and menace than before. We meet Malfoy’s dad, who is played by a scene chewing Jason Isaacs. There are also some more fun imaginative things to add like the flying car and giant spiders.  Chamber is still a very kid friendly and a good compliment and build on what came before with a slight edge over into darkness.

Its not perfect, however. The film is really, really long. This is especially troubling for a movie that is supposed to be a kids and family friendly one.  Clocking in at two hours and forty one minutes, it is the longest film of the entire series.  Which is crazy because it is maybe the shortest book of all of them. Oh, and I guess I should mention that the series’ Jar Jar Binks makes his debut here (Not to return until Deathly Hallows in the movie universe), Dobby the House Elf. He’s super kid friendly, but I think he’s pretty serviceable.

Overall, I think I like Chamber of Secrets more than most. Its a very accurate adaptation of the source book and just runs through the universe established in the prior film with much more confidence and gusto. This would be Chris Columbus last directorial effort in the series, but after the first two books, its a good decision to switch hands for the next film as things would be changing and taking a turn. Looking back, Columbus might be the most under appreciated contributor to the series, but ducking back in to his work, one can see he did a marvelous job in bringing JK Rowling’s world to life.

Video 

Encoding: HEVC / H.265

Resolution: 4K (2160p)

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:01

Layers: BD-66

Clarity/Detail: While it carries a similar look to the first film, upon comparison with the standard Blu-ray of Chamber of Secrets, its an upgrade for sure, but one that I’m not sure is that bit of an upheaval that a novice would be able to tell. Motion, details, blacks and the overall look is better, as it does carry that autumn look again, but the other one will trick people with being brighter and looking rather sharp.  Here is a more natural and full look. Where I could easily tell a difference at one point, was early on at the Weasley house, you could just flat out tell on Mrs. Weasley’s hair and clothes, but at the same time,  I could see a common dabbler not really getting it or maybe even noticing completely. Overall, yes, this looks better, but its a marginal jump.

Depth:  This features a nice looking image with good depth of field and some rather nice motion that has no blurring or jitter issues.

Black Levels: Here’s where the improvement mostly lies with these; the natural lacks. They are rich and bring a bit more of a “darkened hallways” look to the film. It also helps to bring out the best in other colors and sharpness while also holding onto goo details. No crushing witnessed.

Color Reproduction: HDR once again is left to things that are lights or fire that glow. This makes nighttime exteriors of Hogwarts (And the Weasley house for that matter) look gorgeous. Hair comes on strong with theses colors as well as some clothes like that of purple. Yellows, reds and the blue of the sky are once again strong.

Flesh Tones: Skin tones are natural and keep with the same sheen from start to finish on the film. Facial details come on strong from close up and medium shots and do have some good moments really far away. Freckles, sweat, lip texture, make-up, dimples and more come through with good clarity.

Noise/Artifacts: Clean

Audio 

Audio Format(s): English DTS:X, English Descriptive Audio, French 5.1 Dolby Digital, German 5.1 Dolby Digital, Italian 5.1 Dolby Digital, Spanish (Castilian) 5.1 Dolby Digital, Spanish (Latino) 5.1 Dolby Digital, Portuguese 5.1 Dolby Digital, Catalan 5.1 Dolby Digital, Polish 5.1 Dolby Digital

Subtitles: English SDH, French, German SDH, Italian SDH, Spanish (Castilian), Spanish (Latino), Portuguese, Polish

Dynamics: Man, I’m gonna feel like I’m on repeat with these damn reviews, but when you’re doing a movie franchise that is set in rather the same place with the same sort of tricks every time, that’s going to happen. Once again, the DTS:X track brings a whole new magic to watching the film. Its presented without worry of any speaker or being forgotten or any effect sounding unfulfilled. The biggest highlight for me was the end battle with the basilisk. Its one you can show of your sound to your friends as it roams, things crash loudly and it has some little intricacies and good speaker interplay.

Height: When appropriate, the ceiling speakers will accommodate, as per usual, quidditch matches are where they get some activity.

Low Frequency Extension: The basiliks sliding on the ground, magic bursts, engines humming and things crashing all beat down with the subwoofer.

Surround Sound Presentation: Rear and side speakers get really involved in the action with distinct contributions as well as some great ambiances. Hogwarts is a place come to life and well planned and programmed for your speakers in this mix, whether it be motions or standing pat.

Dialogue Reproduction: Dialogue is crisp and captures all bits of diction from the actor’s delivery.

Extras 

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets comes with the Blu-ray edition (2-Discs) and an UltraViolet Digital Copy of the film.  All of the supplemental material is on the Blu-ray edition, which is the same 2-Disc special edition that has been available for a few years.

Blu-ray Disc 1

Extended Version

In-Movie Experience

Blu-ray Disc 2

Behind The Story

  • Creating The World of Harry Potter, Part 2: Characters (HD, 1:20:03)
  • Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets Revealed (SD, 13:02)

Additional Footage

  • Screen Tests (HD,11:53)
  • Deleted Scenes (HD, 17:02)

Teaser Trailer (SD, 2:06)

Theatrical Trailer (HD, 2:11)

TV Spots (SD, 9:01)

Summary 

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets is an improvement over the first movie in a more marginal sense, but an improvement nonetheless.  It also marks the last one as “kids” as things would start getting a bit more serious and adult each further step of the way. With its 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray debut, it too has improved in the video and audio department, as well as giving you all the extras you had before for a smooth upgrade transition. Fans, you know you’re picking this up, so I don’t need to tell you either way.

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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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