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Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

We started the evening at Emily and Ellen’s house, because they were kindly hosting a pre-party/my birthday party. There was way lots of food - I took a super rich chocolate fudge cake, Ellen and Emily baked gingerbread cupcakes and fudge, Manmeet took pitas, hummous, and tzatziki, and Cheryl brought spinach dip from her family’s secret recipe. It was pretty fun - several of the guests resolutely refused to dress up, but Manmeet and I had our costumes on and Ellen and Blake printed out Hogwarts badges to wear on their sweaters.

We had been warned in advance to get to the theatre early, and I’m glad we did, because even with how early we got there there were so many people ahead of us in line. Wow. It’s been a while since I did the full geek thing, and the last movie I saw this lined up on opening night was Star Wars Episode I. So we’re standing there, and there’s a gap in front of us because it’s where the doors to another theatre are, and people keep trying to sneak into the gap in front of us, and I wasn’t having any of this, because I am the Alpha Geek (or at least, at this theatre I was the Alpha Geek) and people have to do what I say or else!

Well, maybe that’s what they thought, anyway, because I got really into the whole costume thing. I had my stripey green and white scarf, my robes with the Slytherin patch on them, my Hogwarts baby-tee, and my cargo pants which have a special pocket for my Vampire Bat familiar and another special pocket for my wand (it was a chopstick). I even went so far as to paint my nails green with a silver stripe down the middle. I was standing there looking grouchy and hollering at people to go to the back of the line, so I figure maybe people thought I worked at the theatre or something, or maybe they just thought ooh, she’s Slytherin, we’d better not mess with her. Bwahahaha!

My bossiness worked (Ellen and Manmeet thought I ought to have a prefect badge) because all 8 of us ended up having front row centre seats (well, not really front row, because then you have to crane your neck way back, but you know how in a Silver City you go in and you have to go down for the first few rows and up for everything else, well, we were at the very front of where you have to go up - I happen to think those are the best seats in the house). Once we had secured our seats, we had a chance to take a look at some of the other people that had come in costume. A group of about 4 or 5 people were all wearing Harry glasses, and one Harry posed with me and Manmeet for a picture. There was a really good Gryffindor head boy and head girl - his mom had made the costumes and I was really impressed by how good the stripey scarves were; she also made stripey ties. There was also a Quidditch team who came in and sort of “flew” around on their broomsticks in front of the screen while we were waiting for the movie to start.

So first we get the trailers. When we were waiting in line we were discussing what trailers we would get, and I was hoping for LOTR and Bond, but Manmeet said that we would probably just get a bunch of lame stuff and she was, for the most part, right. There was something starring Jerry O’Connell and a CG kangaroo, something starring Hugh Grant and Sandra Bullock (I’m going into convulsions even writing about it) and something where this girl goes to England to find her father (Colin Firth) that Manmeet thought looked exactly like the Princess Diaries. It looked really dumb, anyways. There was a trailer for the Wild Thornberrys movie, but since I don’t watch the cartoon and didn’t even know if there was one I think I can give it a miss too. Then there was a Disney thing, and for a moment we thought we might have to see it because it looked like the Jungle Book, but then we saw that it was actually Jungle Book II, so everyone in the theatre went back to gabbing.

Then the little New Line logo came up on the screen. Everybody cheered, or at least the geek crowd cheered. Because you, my faithful readers, are all good geeks, you know that that means we got the LOTR trailer, and it was very good, and now I’m having even more trouble waiting until the 18th. We all agreed that it was silly that they showed Gandalf in the trailer though, we thought that (for people who hadn’t read the book) it would have been cooler for them not to know that he comes back.

Anyway, on to Harry Potter. I thought it was pretty good. There was a lot of complexity lost from the book, but because I’ve read the book I couldn’t tell if there were some parts that only made sense if you had read the book. There were some pretty good action sequences, such as Harry and Malfoy’s chase after the snitch during the Quidditch game (I think Gord was humming the Star Wars theme during this part). Right after Ron got the Howler, the projectors gave out or something. I bolted for the bathroom (because actually I had had to go since before the LOTR trailer, even though I went before we sat down in the theatre), and so did pretty much every other member of the audience. The projectors were out for maybe 5 or 10 minutes, and people were kind of starting to get rowdy, but eventually the projectors came back on and we got to watch the rest of the movie.

Kenneth Branagh was very good as Gilderoy Lockhart, and his clothes were really gorgeous. The guy who played Lucius Malfoy was very not like how I pictured Lucius Malfoy, but oh well. Moaning Myrtle was kind of irritating, but on the other hand, that’s how she’s supposed to be. All I can say about Moaning Myrtle’s lavatory is, apart from the opening to the Chamber of Secrets, if all womens’ lavatories were built like that there would be no more standing in line. I bet that bathroom was bigger than my whole apartment. The other actors who appeared in the first movie were just as good as they were in the first movie. Rupert Grint (Ron) is really, really good at making his voice crack exactly when the scene calls for it. That brings me to my next point, which is that if the projectors don’t break down in the middle of you watching this movie, you might want to take a bathroom break when Ron and Harry go into the dark forest after the spiders, because you won’t miss anything except an action sequence involving lots of big, gross, hairy spiders.

I liked the scene of the wizards’ duel, because it was pretty much exactly how I had pictured wizards having a duel - the fighting stances and the angle of holding one’s wand taken pretty much straight from fencing. I also liked the duelling table, or whatever you want to call it - it had the full phases of the moon on it, and was pretty cool. The final scene in the Chamber of Secrets was okay. I was pleased to see that Harry didn’t seem to automatically know how to wield a sword, but I was pretty convinced that the final death blow he dealt the basilisk wouldn’t have actually slowed down an animal that size that quickly. Manmeet and I have been watching the LOTR special features all week, and we had just finished watching one about the weaponry. She seemed to be of the opinion that why would you go to all that trouble to decorate the blades and put elvish writing on the hilt when it’s just going to be used in a fight scene, but I think the props department that provided Godric Gryffindor’s sword could have taken some lessons from the LOTR armourers. For a sword that’s supposed to be 1000 years old, it was much too bright and shiny. It looked like it was aluminum, or stainless at best. The blade was plain except where the owner’s name was stamped into it with something that looked like a really standard MS “Calligraphy” font. Maybe this wouldn’t have stood out at me so much, except that we had just finished watching this thing on these really obsessively accurate looking movie weapons and I happen to have been hanging around the SCA long enough to have some idea about what medieval weaponry looks like.

Anyway, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets gets 4 pints. It wasn’t nearly as true to the book as Philosopher’s Stone was, and it just can’t really compare with the obsessiveness that is Peter Jackson. I do like the way the world of Hogwarts is brought to life (and I just looove the moving portraits), though, and I enjoyed the darker tone of this movie. Oh, and I think we’re making some progress with Manmeet, because we got her to go to the premiere of a geek movie in costume and she enjoyed herself.

Score: Four pints

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