Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets - 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray
- Street Date:
- November 7th, 2017
- Reviewed by:
- Bryan Kluger
- Review Date: 1
- November 27th, 2017
- Movie Release Year:
- Warner Bros.
- 161 Minutes
- MPAA Rating:
- Release Country
- United States
Portions of this review also appear in our coverage of the Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets Ultimate Edition Blu-ray, where Aaron Peck wrote about some of the Bonus Materials and film. This review features new Vital Disc Stats, Video, Audio, some Bonus Material and Final Thoughts sections.
The Movie Itself: Our Reviewer's Take
If Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone was the get-it-out-of-the-way first chapter in the series that had to set everything up, then Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets is the one where the filmmakers could finally let loose and just tell a great story. Superior in all respects to the first film (which was wasn't bad in and of itself), Chamber of Secrets is more fun, more fanciful, and more engaging. Although I wouldn't call it the best Harry Potter movie, it certainly steered the series in the right direction.
Shot back-to-back with Sorcerer's Stone, Chamber of Secrets features most of the same creative personnel as its predecessor. Director Chris Columbus returns, as does screenwriter Steve Kloves and all of the cast. But if the huge weight of tackling the very first big-screen Potter left Columbus and Kloves a bit too focused on cramming in every last magical cranny of Rowling's text, with Chamber of Secrets they are, if not completely liberated, than certainly far more confident to move beyond a simple carbon copy of the book in celluloid form.
The narrative twists and turns of Chamber of Secrets don't get anywhere near as dark as Rowling's later installments, but the movie still tones down the family-friendly excesses of Sorcerer's Stone to positive effect. As Rowling would continue to do with each of the installments in the series, Chamber of Secrets repeats many of the same basic scenarios and thematic motifs from the first story, but adds new layers of depth by revealing new secrets. Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) will learn a host of new powers, but he'll also get into more trouble -- Rowling is particularly adept at using magic as a counterpoint to adolescence. Likewise, Harry's relationships with Hermione (Emma Watson) and Ron (Rupert Grint) will grow more intertwined and more rich with emotion, offering tantalizing hints at future complications to come. Rowling also fleshes out the roles of the adult characters, integrating them into the story to surprisingly resonant effect, particularly Robbie Coltrane's Hagrid and Richard Harris' Dumbledore, both of whom will eventually become mentors (of very different kinds) for Harry.
Even better, Columbus and his team of filmmaking wizards finally begin to let a bit of darkness creep into the visuals of Chamber of Secrets. Though the sets are the same as the first time around (a nice benefit of the back-to-back shooting approach), there are more dark corners hiding at the edges of the frame, with new director of photography Roger Pratt painting his shots with a grimier palette. There is also a more palpable sense of danger to the action, with the surreal visions that haunt Harry being more visceral and frightening than anything seen in 'Sorcerer's Stone.' Even the recycling of the same action setpiece -- the famous Quidditch match -- is more suspenseful and far better executed in terms of special effects.
Having said all that, Chamber of Secrets is not a perfect film. Its 166 minutes are packed with so many superfluous bits of Rowling's text that many of the book's most meaty dramatic scenes are left feeling rushed. Although I continue to find it admirable that Columbus and Kloves recognized that for diehard Potter cultists, even the smallest details matter, it would seem that with Chamber of Secrets the filmmakers still hadn't quite learned that even in the world of Harry Potter, sometimes less is more.
Still, in beginning to introduce the richer, more complex themes that would dominate later installments in the series, Chamber of Secrets is the first film in the franchise that genuinely got me hooked. Sorcerer's Stone was a perfectly solid set-up film, but for me, Chamber of Secrets is where the Harry Potter series truly takes sail.
Vital Disc Stats: The Ultra HD Blu-ray
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets comes with a dual-layered UHD66 Disc, a Blu-ray Disc of the film, and a second Blu-ray Disc with all of the Bonus Materials. The Blu-rays are Region A Locked. There is an insert for a Digital HD copy as well. The discs are housed in a hard, black plastic case where two of the three discs are stacked on top of each other. There is a cardboard sleeve, too.
The Video: Sizing Up the Picture
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets casts its spell onto 4K UHD with a 2160p transfer and HDR encoding. This is a brand new 4K scan from the original negative and you can tell so much love and time went into this transfer, because it looks excellent. In the 2nd year of Hogwarts, the stench of Voldemort is slowly creeping around the hallways and staircases of the wizard school, so a bit of color change takes over the screen, but it's only subtle. In fact, all is rather light-hearted and well lit for most of the film by either lanterns or candlelight.
This of course changes as the movies progress into darker territory. Colors with HDR are exquisite and have many different shades in each scene. For instance, whenever the kids enter the chamber of secrets, you'll be able to distinguish the many different shades of green, dark blue, and gray as the water reflects the light on the stone walls. It's quite engaging in that way. Colors also stand out in the bookcases in the backgrounds with many leather bound earthy colors that simply pop. Other wardrobe colors look rich and beautiful. Detail is upgraded here, too, even in the heavier visual effects scenes. When snow falls to the ground, you'll be able to catch each snowflake as it moves across the screen. The big snake in the Chamber of Secrets also shows it's many scales perfectly here with great textures in its massive body.
Other close-ups that reveal makeup blemishes and individual hairs look great, too, including the introduction of Dobby the elf, who is completely CGI, but never the less looks real with all of its pores and wrinkles showing up easily. Wider shots never go soft either, but rather showcase the many intimate details in the backgrounds of paintings and stone walls. Black levels are deep and inky and the skin tones are always natural. There are no issues with any video noise, banding, or aliasing here, either.
The Audio: Rating the Sound
This release comes with a DTS:X track and sounds quite good. The overhead immersion makes every sound flow smoothly as things zoom by, whether it be a magical spell, a Quidditch player, or spiders. Let's talk about those spiders, though. There is a big scene in the movie where giant tarantula looking spiders attack our trio of students. They fall from the tall trees surrounding Hogwarts and are out for blood and flesh. Hearing these giant arachnids fall down on the overhead speakers is truly terrifying. Each thud packs a hefty punch with great bass that rattled my insides. Their legs that crawl quickly across the cars and landscape made me feel like they were literally on top of my house. Needless to say, my blood pressure went up during this scene, due to the incredible sound design.
When the kids finally enter the Chamber of Secrets, the echoes and reverb from being in a cavernous underground room sounds fantastic and creates that large deep space in the soundscape. When the action hits in this big room, the sound levels skyrocket, but never into rocky territory, making each moment heart-pounding.
Of course, the Quidditch match adds all of the bells and whistles of the ambient noises too and has that Golden Snitch flying effortlessly around all speakers. The score always adds to the suspense element in each scene and the bass supplies hearty heft in the bigger action sequences. The dialogue is always clear and easy to follow, and free of any pops, cracks, hiss, and shrills.
The Supplements: Digging Into the Good Stuff
HD Bonus Content: Any Exclusive Goodies in There?
There are no extras on the 4K UHD Disc, but all of the extras from the Ultimate Edition are imported over on the Blu-ray Disc.
In Movie Experience - This is the same type of picture-in-picture offering that is offered on 'Sorcerer's Stone.' It pops up during the movie (theatrical version only) giving you details about the film, storyboard comparisons, movie stills, and commentary. This feature, while a little sparse at times, offers up some good info on the franchise for Potter fans.
Creating the World of Harry Potter, Part 2: Characters (HD, 80 min) - These new documentaries are true gems from Warner Brothers. At a full 80 minutes, this feature documentary delves deep into the world of the characters found populating 'Harry Potter.' Featuring just about every major face involved with the making of the films, this is a documentary that will help you understand everything you wanted to know about anyone in the films. Interviewees speak open and honestly about their lives that have been basically controlled by this franchise. Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, and Emma Watson have spent the better part of their young lives portraying these characters. They know them intimately, and they let us in on what it's like. I wish I could stop the review right here, and just say this is why you should buy this set and continue to buy these sets as they come out.
Screen Tests (HD, 12 minutes) - Early screen tests for the big three, Rupert, Daniel, and Emma. They're so young! It's hard to believe we've been following these kids for a decade.
The Chamber of Secrets Revealed (HD, 13 min) - Where there's true and honest documentaries, there's also, promo fluff. That's what this is.
Deleted Scenes (HD, 17 minutes) - There are 17 deleted scenes available here. If you're wondering where they extended footage for the film came from, it's here.
Trailers and TV Spots (4 min) - Some are presented in HD while others in SD. Again, I say, why do people care or want to ever watch old TV spots for anything if it isn't the actual trailer?
Behind Hogwarts (HD) - Behind Hogwarts is split into a few different special features.
A Conversation with JK Rowling and Steve Kloves (16 min) - This featurette takes a look at the author/screenwriter relationship and how they mesh the two together.
Build a Scene (17 min) - This is a great little peek into the set design art form and how a scene for the movie is put together by the crew to give it that authentic wizardly look.
Interviews with Students, Professors, and More (19 min) - More interviews with the cast members, but nowhere as revealing as the ultimate documentary.
Gallery of Production Sketches - All the 'Harry Potter' concept art you can handle.
Additional Scenes (HD, 17 minutes) - I have NO idea why they included the same deleted and extended scenes that are on disc two. This time they are only in SD. Why even include this extra when it's presented better elsewhere on this disc?
Game Preview (HD, 3 minutes) - An advertisement for the video game that was released in conjunction with this movie.
Lockhart's Classroom (HD, 4 minutes) - Here you can learn all you want to know, in four minutes, about the bafoonish attention hog that is Gilderoy Lockheart.
Spellcaster Knowledge (HD) - This is a simple trivia game that uses clips from the film.
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets is a great second entry in to the Harry Potter franchise and goes into darker territory with the ever growing threat of he who will not be named. There are some excellent suspenseful moments here, but things are still kept on the lighter side, since the kids are still young. The new 4K transfer is the best this movie has looked yet and the DTS:X sound will pump up you blood pressure. It's that good. There are no new extras, but all of the extras from the previous release are on the Blu-ray version in this set - not the 4K UHD Disc. This is great sequel in the series and comes highly recommended.
- Ultra HD/Blu-ray/Digital HD
- 2160p HEVC/H.265
- English DTS:X
- English: DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1
- English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, Polish
- In-Movie Experience
- Behind the Scenes
- Deleted Scenes
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