Release Date(s)2002 (November 7, 2017)
Studio(s)Heyday Films/1492 Films/Warner Bros. Pictures (Warner Bros.)
- Film/Program Grade: B
- Video Grade: A-
- Audio Grade: A
- Extras Grade: B-
Having completed his first year at Hogwarts, and survived the initial attempt of Lord Voldemort to return, Harry Potter is forced to spend an unpleasant summer back at home with his Muggle uncle and aunt, where he receives no contact from his friends. But Harry learns that a house elf named Dobby has been intercepting his mail in the hope of discouraging him from going back to school. Dobby warns that someone is planning to kill Harry there, but the young wizard is unafraid and soon returns (through no small difficulty) with his friend Ron. When they arrive at Hogwarts, they meet a new professor in the form of Gilderoy Lockhart, and sinister things begin to happen. Harry starts to hear the voice of a strange monster that is attacking students, leaving them literally petrified. It’s revealed that the last time this occurred at Hogwarts, the mysterious Chamber of Secrets had been opened. Now that it’s happening again, Harry, Ron, and Hermione must find this Chamber and stop the monster it hides before someone is killed… and the school is closed forever.
Building upon his own original film, director Chris Columbus’ adaptation of the second novel in J.K. Rowling’s popular fantasy series begins to expand the cinematic magical world, adding Dobby and the extended Weasley family (including Ron’s little sister Ginny), as well as Professors Lockhart (played with relish by Kenneth Branagh) and Sprout. The film also expands the roles of some of the other Hogwarts students and gives us our first look at the mysterious Tom Riddle. Chamber’s story and pacing is quite similar to the original, though its young cast is obviously aging before our very eyes. Otherwise the film is solid, with another mystery to be solved and new magical dangers to be braved. It’s worth noting that Columbus originally wasn’t planning to direct this sequel, but returned when Frank Oz declined. Cinematographer Roger Pratt (Best known for Tim Burton’s Batman) took over for John Seale behind the camera, and John Williams once again provides the score.
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets was shot on Super 35, like the film before it, with VFX rendered digitally in 2K resolution and printed back out to physical film. For this Ultra HD release, a new native 4K scan of the original camera negative was completed along with a subsequent HDR10 color grade. This is the Theatrical Version of the film (running time 160:58), presented in its 2.39:1 theatrical aspect ratio. There’s a nice but light wash of film grain evident, with an increase in fine detail and texturing over the regular Blu-ray image that is modest at times (particularly in VFX shots) and truly impressive at others; it varies a bit from shot to shot. The HDR enhances both the brights and shadows very well indeed, though the blacks occasionally look a tad gray in VFX shots. The film has a warm push to its color palette in many of the Hogwarts scenes, but the hues are all rich and vibrant – noticeably more so than is apparent in regular HD. Crystal, glass, and gold and silver accents, in particular, gleam brightly in HDR. Again, this 4K image is not quite as good looking as some of the later films in this series (which benefitted from nearly a full decade of advancement in post-production technology over the early films), but it’s an improvement upon the first film in 4K (see our review here) and notable improvement over the standard Blu-ray.
Primary audio on the 4K disc is offered in a new English DTS:X object-based mix of excellent clarity and dynamic range. It’s similar in tone to the regular Blu-ray’s DTS-HD lossless mix, but sounds just a little bit more open and natural, with smoother panning and a tad more precision in the surround staging. The height channels are used to complete the atmospherics overhead and are quite lively during the film’s requisite Quidditch match, as well as the scene in which Professor Lockhart is teaching the students to round-up Cornish Pixies. Additional audio options include English 2.0 Descriptive Audio, German 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, and 5.1 Dolby Digital in French, Italian, Castilian Spanish, Latin Spanish, Portuguese, Catalan, and Polish, with optional subtitles in with optional subtitles in English SDH, French, German for the Hearing Impaired, Italian for the Hearing Impaired, Castilian Spanish, Latin Spanish, Portuguese, and Polish.
Warner’s 4K Ultra HD release is a 3-disc set. It contains the film by itself in 4K on the UHD, plus a movie Blu-ray with both the Theatrical and Extended Versions of the film in 1080p HD. This is the same disc that was released previously in the Ultimate Collector’s Edition Blu-ray set for this film, and it includes the following extra in HD:
- In-Movie Experience (Theatrical Version only)
There’s also a second Blu-ray, all of extras and again the same bonus disc that was included in the previous Ultimate Collector’s Edition Blu-ray set, called Creating the World of Harry Potter Part 2 – Characters. It offers the following features (some in HD and some in the original SD):
- Creating the World of Harry Potter Part 2 – Characters (80:03)
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets Revealed (13:02)
- Screen Tests: Daniel Radcliffe (7:57)
- Screen Tests: Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, and Emma Watson (3:55)
- Deleted Scenes (19 scenes – 17:02 in all)
- Teaser Trailer (2:06)
- Theatrical Trailer (2:11)
- TV Spots (17 spots – 9:01 in all)
That’s everything created for the UCE edition box set, though obviously you don’t get the hardcover book or swag. Not here from the original Blu-ray release are the A Conversation with J.K. Rowling and Steve Kloves interview, 2 Lockhart’s Classroom clips, a Behind Hogwarts clip, 7 Students clips, 12 Professors and More clips, and Year One at Hogwarts. Most of these omissions are pretty trivial stuff, but the interview is missed. Once again, the original DVD release featured some extremely elaborate interactive games, hidden features, and ROM content that’s not here. You do, however, get a Digital HD code on a paper insert in the packaging.
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets is a straightforward but solid sequel, though this series really hits its stride with the third film. In the meantime, Warner’s 4K Ultra HD release offers genuine improvements in image and sound quality over the previous Blu-ray. This is certainly the best way to experience this film at home, so it’s well worth a look. Note that this title is also included in the Harry Potter 8-Film Collection 4K Ultra HD box set (available here on Amazon), but be aware that the Collection does NOT include the Creating the World of Harry Potter bonus Blu-rays – only the films on BD and 4K.
- Bill Hunt