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Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Ultimate Edition) [Blu-ray] by Directed by Chris Columbus
Review by Charles Mohapel
Warner Home Video Blu-ray  ISBN/ITEM#: B002GJT4YQ
Date: 22 February 2010 List Price $49.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK

Links: IMDB.com / Show Official Info /

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Ultimate Edition) [Blu-ray] begins with Harry preparing to return for his second year of classes at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, but other parties think differently. These other parties include his Uncle Vernon Dursley, a nasty Muggle if there ever was one, and Dobby, an ill-treated house elf in servitude to a family hostile to Harry and his friends.

Director: Chris Columbus

Writers (WGA):
J.K. Rowling (novel)
Steve Kloves (screenplay)

Cast:
Daniel Radcliffe ... Harry Potter
Rupert Grint ... Ron Weasley
Emma Watson ... Hermione Granger
Richard Harris ... Professor Albus Dumbledore
Maggie Smith ... Professor Minerva McGonagall
Robbie Coltrane ... Rubeus Hagrid
Alan Rickman ... Professor Severus Snape
Tom Felton ... Draco Malfoy

Sitting back and watching the 161 minute long Theatrical Version of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Ultimate Edition) on Blu-ray is still a wonderful way to savor this film, but the 174 minute long Extended Version is even more fun. None of the additional material is extraneous, but was most likely cut by Director Chris Columbus in order to move the film forward.

No matter which version you watch, make sure you watch to the very end of the film - there's a hilarious final scene of Gilderoy Lockhart's fate after the end credits.

While it would be nice if the "In-Movie Experience with Director Chris Columbus" were also available for the Extended Version, this interactive featurette makes you feel like you're in the editing room with him and Film Editor Peter Honess. All in all, it's a wonderful featurette for all ages.

Warner Bros BD-Live requires a BD-Live Enabled Blu-ray Disc Player but is another cool featurette.

"Creating the World of Harry Potter Part 2: Characters" is the second of the eight comprehensive featurettes scheduled to appear exclusively in the Ultimate Editions of each of the eight films. Spanning the first six films in an artistically cut montage featuring cast and crew, some date back to Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, while other vignettes are very recent. What I enjoyed was that we were able to hear what the actors had to say about their roles, as well as their thought on their fellow actors in crucial scenes. With a running time of 80:03 this featurette was just right and without a doubt, this was my absolute favorite piece.

"Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets Revealed", an international TV special broadcast in 2002 is a wonderful peek behind the scenes during filming of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.

One thing I noticed while watching the 19 deleted scenes was that when you add up the times on Disc 2 (Blu-ray), they total 17:04 (a few more seconds on Disc 3 (DVD). Quite obviously Director Chris Columbus and Film Editor Peter Honess were judicious in trimming this down to the additional 13 minutes found in the Extended Version.

While the Teaser Trailer, Theatrical Trailer, and the seventeen TV Spots were fun, none particularly stood out from they crowd, but the cumulative effect was that they made me want to watch the movie yet again - and this was soon after I had watched both versions again.

Watching Daniel Radcliffe's screen test where he interacts with Director Chris Columbus (off camera) was priceless and you could already see that Radcliffe was a diamond in the rough. The screen test with Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, and Emma Watson reading from the script for the first time as a trio was special and you could already see the beginning of their chemistry even back then.

Looking at the nineteen deleted scenes, my three clear favorites were "Floating Cake" from the beginning of the film, the grand entrance of Lucius and Draco Malfoy into "Borgin & Burkes", and "Harry Finds Qwikspell Letter" where Harry finds a letter addressed to Argus Filch, the foul-tempered caretaker at Hogwarts and gives it to him. Filch's reaction was priceless.

"Lockhart's Classroom" is an interactive feature geared towards younger viewers but it has some interesting and entertaining facts for older viewers.

The instructions for "Extra Credit" tell you to insert this disc into your computer's CD-ROM for Extra Credit features, but in my case I can't tell you what those features are. Unfortunately for me the version of InterActual Player (2.4.8.409) on the disc is incompatible with the copy of Vista Home Premium SP2 on my PC and caused it to crash when I attempted to install it. After verifying that my PC had the latest Intel graphics driver, I attempted to access this content on my PC but received an error message and I ceased to attempt to play it. I'll make an educated guess and say that I probably didn't miss much of interest to me, but you may find something you really like here.

In "Behind Hogwarts", "Conversation with J.K. Rowling and Steve Kloves" provides an absolutely wonderful insight into the collaborative process between the author and the screenwriter and their mutual respect. "Dumbledore's Office" can be either enjoyed in a relaxed manner or you can take advantage of the interactivity included.

"Interviews with Students, Professors & More" was another of my favorite featurettes since we get to hear the actors speak about their characters and their fellow actors, sharing their wonderful insights.

The "Gallery of Production Sketches" is a lovely collection of concept sketches from the film.

Both the "Activities" ("The Chamber Challenge", "The Forbidden Forest Challenge", "Colin's Darkroom", and "Tour Diagon Alley") and "Spellcaster Knowledge" are interactive, but are primarily geared towards children, as is the Game Preview of "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets" from EA.

Exclusive to the Ultimate Edition is "Creating The Characters Of Harry Potter", an absolutely gorgeous 48 page mini-coffeetable book filled with color photos, as well as black & white and color concept sketches and concept paintings from the first six films. My favorites are of Harry Potter, Lucius Malfoy sitting in front of the fireplace at Malfoy Manor with his dogs at hand and a snifter (probably filled with fine cognac) in his right hand, and finally the three Death Eaters in everyday clothes and wearing their masks and robes.

Last but not least among the goodies to be found in the Ultimate Edition are two Ultimate Edition Character Cards (Card No. 3: Rubeus Hagrid, Card No. 4: Severus Snape). These are gorgeous sepia-toned photos measure 4 inches by six inches and are printed on a special heavy stock of a type I've never seen before the first two Ultimate Editions.

I purchased the 2-disc Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Special Widescreen Edition) on DVD in 2003 and it was great for its time, but the 3 -disc (2 Blu-ray, 1 DVD) Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Ultimate Edition) [Blu-ray] absolutely blows it out of the water, both in terms of vastly superior audio and video, but also in terms of all the wonderful extras in the box. I ended up donating the 2-disc Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Special Widescreen Edition) to a charity.

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