Everyone has that one big cultural touchstone they missed out on. I have friends who shrugged off Pokemon, or Star Wars, or the Marvel Movies. They just never got on the train with everybody else and now they feel weird and out of the loop whenever those things come up in conversation. My pop cultural blindspot is Harry Potter. But not for any longer. To celebrate the release of the next chapter in the Harry Potter canon, I have decided to go back and watch all the Harry Potter films, none of which I have seen before. Hopefully, by the end of this eight part series, I will go from someone who couldn’t give less of a shit about the students of Hogwarts to someone who loves them as much as everyone else seems to.
This week, welcome to part 2, where things get more mysterious and way more ridiculous.
So we begin with– Two Hours and FORTY Minutes?!!!!! Fucking shitting me?
Ok, ok, fine. It’s long, but we will give it another chance. But I better not see this kind of behavior next time.
We actually begin with Harry at home with the Dursleys, living in the attic, which is a pretty good step up from the room under the stairs. Also, THAT WAS AN OPTION THE WHOLE TIME? He could’ve just been living in the attic and not underground like a CHUD? Why was– but if– never mind. Moving on. Harry is told not to disturb the Dursley’s party, but when he retreats to his room, he encounters a –OH HOLY FUCK!
WHAT THE SWEET SHIT IS THAT?!
JE-sus, Christ, give a guy a warning next time. That thing is Dobby. He is a house elf. I do not like him.
Dobby tells Harry that he must not attend Hogwarts this year. When Harry says he still plans on it, Dobby pulls an Edward Norton in Fight Club and starts beating the ever loving shit out of himself.
Interlude: On his desk, Harry has a book entitled “Which Owl?” I love this.
So when the Dursley patriarch tells Harry that he won’t let him go back to Hogwarts if he doesn’t stop making noise, Dobby gets an idea. A terrible idea. A terrible, horrible, AWFUL idea.
Dobby wrecks havoc in the Dursley house because Dobby is a dick. the Dursley’s lock Harry in his room and bar the windows, buuuuuuuut that night, Ron shows up in a flying car (yay, Ron) and jailbreaks him. They head off to the Weasley house, where we meet my new favorite character.
Ron’s mom is fantastic. Her rapid quick switching between screaming at Ron and casually talking to Harry is the best. Character find of the century. But before we can get too in depth into that, Ron’s owl flies smack into the window carrying mail. One of the letters is for Harry, which raises a troubling question.
How do they know where he is? Like, are all wizards being tracked? Is there some sort of NSA Project Oversight shit going on in the wizarding world? I’m legitimately curious about this.
But anyhoozles, the Weasley family and Harry are all given school supply lists, so it’s off to Diagon Alley. This time through Floo Powder. Floo Powder works as follows. first you step into the fireplace. Then you state your destination, throw the powder down down, burst into flames, and show up somewhere else.
Not only is that insane, it doesn’t make any sen– Oh wait, I get it. “Floo.” Like “Flue.” As in the type of Flue a chimney has. It’s a pun.
But when Harry goes to teleport, he mispronounces his destination and because Floo travel works the same way as Siri (I’m sorry, did you mean–) he winds up in a much more dangerous and seedy part of Diagon Alley. It’s all good though, Hagrid finds him.
After shopping, Harry and Ron head to Platform 9 3/4 which hasn’t gotten LESS suspicious. Ron’s family gets through alright, but when Harry and Ron try, they bump into the wall and can’t get through.
A Railstation employee notices them and tells them to leave which– wait, YOU NOTICED THAT?????!!!!!!!!! THE TWELVE PRECEDING PEOPLE WHO DISA-FUCKING-PEARED, NO, NOT IN THE SLIGHTEST, BUT YOU NOTICE THESE TWO????????
A-hem, sorry. Harry and Ron steal the flying car and take that to Hogwarts. They get there and immediately crash into a murder-tree.
Because OF COURSE Hogwarts has a murder-tree.
They get in marginal trouble, but immediately run into everyone else (yay, Hermione) and settling in to life at Hogwarts again. The next day, Ron’s owl shows up and just slams right into the table while carrying a letter.
Ok, I lied earlier, Ron’s dumbass owl is my new favorite character.
The letter just sorta screams at Ron a bunch, and then we move on. I’m not gonna lie, the only reason I mentioned this scene at all is so I could talk about Ron’s Owl.
Back to school we are, where we meet Professor Lockhart, the new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher.
Ok, so I’m not gonna make a joke about how Hogwarts keeps picking terrible Defense Against the Dark Arts teachers, because A: Even I know that’s hacky but also B: I want to ask the question what the hell even IS Defense Against the Dark Arts? What happens in that class? Because from what I’ve seen so far, it mainly seems to be unleashing a bunch of horrifying shit on your students and telling them not to die during it.
I wonder why they have trouble finding a good teacher for such a wonderful class.
While in detention, Harry starts hearing a spooky voice talking about murdering and eating and all sortsa fun stuff. He follows the voice for a while but loses track of it at a horrifying sight.
Someone has paralyzed a cat and hung it from a torch next to a message written in blood about something called the “Chamber of Secrets” being open. So we’ll get to “Chamber of Secrets” in a minute because first I want to ask a different question:
Whose blood is that? It’s sure as shit not the cat’s and the movie never explains where all this blood came from and that distresses me. That is a lot of blood. Like, A LOT of blood. Why does no one seem to care whose blood that is?
Oh also, there’s a trail of spiders leading away from the crime scene. Fuck, I hate spiders. I really hope this is the last time we’ll see spiders in this movie.
The next day, Hermione asks Professor McGoneGirl about what the Chamber of Secrets is, and she reveals it’s a mysterious and dangerous place that people should avoid at all costs. I would like to make the following point:
IF YOU DON’T WANT PEOPLE TO GO LOOKING TO OPEN THE CHAMBER, DON’T CALL IT THE CHAMBER OF SECRETS!!!
What, was “the Chamber of Look At Me Look At Me There’s Totally Something Cool In Here” taken? Like, call it something different. Like “The Chamber of Tax Law” or “The Chamber of Professor Snape’s VHS Collection of ‘Friends’.” You know, something boring to prevent people from going looking for it.
Oh good, now we get more fucking Quidditch.
During the game, the big scary murder ball (I think it’s called a Bludger or something?) comes straight after Harry and tries to murder him. It winds up breaking his arm, but don’t worry, he still catches the Golden Snitch and wins the game.
While he’s waiting in the hospital, healing up, Harry begins to hear the murderous voice again. But this time, it’s clearer he’s picking up the thoughts of some sort of murderous creature, a demonic, hideous beast that only lusts for death and destruction. When he looks around for the source of the thoughts, he runs right into…
I FUCKIN’ KNEW IT!!!!
I knew that little fuck was up to somethi– Wait, those weren’t Dobby’s thoughts Harry was hearing?
Are you sure?
It would make perfect sense.
Fine, whatever, apparently, Dobby is just there to tell Harry to please go home and leave Hogwarts. Harry says no, Dobby fucks off.
Meanwhile, a student has been paralyzed by the beast haunting the school. Classes still proceed as normal though. Jesus, Hogwarts could use a Lockdown drill now and then. Hell, I don’t even think they have fire alarms.
Harry arrives at dueling class, where he and Draco Malfoy duel. Malfoy shoots out a snake, but Harry talks it down since he can speak snake. This scares the ever-loving fuck out of everyone else since only the truly evil are said to be able to do that.
Oh also, Hermione gets paralyzed by the creature.
In the flooded girls bathroom, Harry discovers Moaning Myrtle the ghost, who is pissed that someone threw a book at her. The book is a diary of an old Hogwarts student named Tom Riddle. Upon opening the diary, Harry is greeted with a magic flashback.
In the flashback, we see Tom verbally accost a young Hagrid, blaming him for opening the Chamber of Secrets and sending some sort of creature he was keeping out into the woods.
Back in the present, Harry is immediately convinced that Hagrid is behind everything. Oh, you mean like how last movie it was totally Snape trying to steal the Philosopher’s Stone? Jesus Harry, stop jumping to the first conclusion you stumble across.
So Harry decides to find Hagrid’s mysterious creature by… following the spiders.
I don’t like this.
Harry and Ron enter the darkest part of the forrest and stumble upon– OH FUCK!!
SWEET JESUS FUCKING FUCK I HATE THIS SO MUCH.
Ok, ok, powering through this scene: The giant spider isn’t the Chamber of secrets monster and Harry and Ron run away pursued by SO MANY SPIDERS and this is legitimately my worst nightmare.
After visiting Hermione, they discover a clue she left them revealing that the monster in the Chamber of Secrets is in fact a Basilisk.
…a big fuckin’ snake.
Harry says this makes sense because spiders naturally flee from the Basilisk. Right, but why though? WHY are spiders afraid of this thing? No? We’re just gonna move on and pretend that makes sense? Ok.
But now that we know what was in the Chamber of Secrets, the name pisses me off EVEN MORE. Just call it “The Chamber of the Big Fucking Snake” no one’s gonna go around trying to sneak into that thing. “Hey, Brad, you wanna go sneak into the Chamber of the Big Fucking Snake?” “No thanks, Ted.” “Why not, Brad?” “Well, Ted, if we go sneak into that, dollars to donuts we’re gonna find a big fucking snake and that doesn’t seem like a fun plan for the rest of my evening.” “That’s a good point, Brad, why don’t we just go throw pebbles at ghosts instead.”
Pictured: the Chamber of the Big Fucking Snake
But uh-oh, because we discover that Ron’s sister has disappeared. My notes at this point just say “Oh No, not Whatshername!” so you can see I’m really broken up about this.
So it turns out that the door to the Chamber of Secrets is in the girls’ bathroom and holy shit, what the hell is up with Girls’ Bathrooms at Hogwarts. First there was a troll in one, then there was a ghost, now there’s a giant snake beast in one? Holy hell, if I was a lady at Hogwarts, I would have to seriously consider holding it for all nine months of school.
But Harry, Ron, and that charlatan Professor Lockhart head down into the Chamber to… I dunno kill the snake? That seems to be the plan. Lockhart tries to magically lobotomize Harry and Ron, but it misfires and causes a cave in. This separates Harry meaning he has to go this one alone. He enters the Chamber and discovers Tom Riddle, who is revealed to be behind everything.
It turns out that Tom embedded his consciousness into his diary, hoping that if he was ever struck down, someone would find the diary and resurrect him. And someone DID strike him down because it turns out TOM MARVELO RIDDLE is an anagram for…
I AM LORD VOLDEMORT
I mean, his full name is THOMAS MARVELO RIDDLE, but I guess “Lord Voldeshamort” isn’t as menacing of a name.
Riddle manipulated Ginny into opening the Chamber and leaving the blood message which STILL doesn’t answer the question of WHOSE BLOOD IS THAT?
So this is a weird contingency plan, right? What if someone found the diary before the real Voldemort had died? Would there just have been two Voldemorts running around, one of them sixteen years old? God can you imagine having to deal with yourself frozen at sixteen years old? That sounds like the literal WORST.
But anyway, Riddle calls out the Basilisk, and it looks like Harry is fucked.
But all of a sudden, Dumbledore’s Phoenix breaks in and scratches the Basilisk’s eyes out. Well that was fortunate. Now the beast can only navigate by sound, even though smell is how real snakes find prey and no one ripped out the thing’s tongue.
Harry sneaks around a bunch trying to figure out what to do until he discovers that the Phoenix also brought him a sword. Ok, we are approaching Phoenix ex machina levels on this one.
Harry stabs the ever-loving fuck out of the basilisk, killing it. unfortunately, he also catches a fang in the arm. A fang that is apparently full of poison. If it has poison fangs, why even bother with the death stare? Whatever, fine.
Harry uses the fang to stab the shit out of Riddle’s diary and kill the embedded memory. Ginny recovers but it looks like Harry is about to die. But, I shit you not, the Phoenix cries in Harry’s wound and heals it fully. My notes at this point just say “Is there anything this fuckin’ bird CAN’T do?”
So everything turns out ok! Except Dobby shows up again. Turns out he’s Lucius Malfoy’s house elf. Harry manipulates Lucius into accidentally releasing Dobby from service and Dobby leaves hopefully to be NEVER SEEN AGAIN.
He never comes back, right Harry Potter fans? Please tell me I’m right.
Everyone gathers in the dining hall and Dumbledore announces that all exams are cancelled. Wait, can he do that? Because I’m sure those exams were necessary to balance everyone’s grades. And what if a student was counting on the final exam to raise his/her grade in the class? Is this how every movie is going to end? With Dumbledore doing something that seems nice on the surface but is actually a massive dick move?
I also enjoyed this movie and it was a fun second chapter, but I would say it was a dip in quality compared to the first. The first felt new and fresh, while this seemed like a placeholder chapter until more story stuff could be revealed later. Also, having the main villain turn out to be a trumped up version of a “break glass in case of emergency” panel didn’t help. The characters progressed and we got a little deeper into our villain’s main history but it felt overall unnecessary.
Again, fun movie, I would’ve liked some character arcs as opposed to just plot developments. It’s also possible that the things in this movie will be made majorly important in later movies, making my complaints irrelevant. We’ll see.
Next week, we get the one I’ve been told by some is “the best one” so I’m excited.