Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets UHD Blu-ray Review
Not to be rude or anything, but this isn't a great time for me to have a house elf in my bedroomHarry’s second year and he can’t wait to get back to Hogwarts feeling is is far more his home than his relatives. But why has he not received any mail from his friends? His questions are answered when Dobby the House elf materialises in his room trying desperately to dissuade Harry from coming back with portents of doom. His antics nearly work as the Dursley’s banish Harry to his room and it is only a timely rescue from Ron and his invisible flying car that releases him. Once at School things really become sinister, warnings written in blood tell that the Heir has returned, the Chamber of Secrets has been opened and that death awaits the muggle born wizards. No one is safe as more and more students are literally petrified. The governors decide to close the School for the safety of the students when an unlikely alliance between Professor Gilderoy Lockhart and Harry discover the hidden entrance to the Chamber wherein the monster that has been terrorising the school is being led by an evil once thought dead. Chris Columbus again directed and his treatment presented a functional family film. It follows the book very closely removing much of what was deemed to be superfluous; the Quidditch matches for example are reduced to one game, lessons and teachers are filleted and in some cases changed. However, the changes were small and many agreed that it was a very tidy follow up.The interpersonal relationships were well handled, particularly that of the framing of Hagrid and the treatment of Dobby. The cast, now more comfortable in their roles hit the ground running, and we, the audience, are familiar enough that this worked fine. There is a huge cast of students and staff and the film picks and chooses whom to linger on, meaning that many of the back stories to these very likable characters is lost. This is especially true of Percy Weasley a character that has a huge role to play later in the series and his near omission here had significant repercussions on his character. The story, though complex, flows easily and the final standoff between monster and Harry is very well seen, with the final protagonist playing out almost like a whodunit. Yet the bond that forms with Dumbledore and Harry seems that much weaker as presented in the film compared to the book. This is a shame because it is a vital and integral part, particularly with the films to come. His heart to heart with Harry in the hospital bed was lacking the necessary dialogue to really bring meaning. The film then, despite the fantastic, was actually quite ordinary, and much like the first outing, lacking in any real style or panache; it was time for a change….
Picture QualityHarry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets was shot using Panavision Panaflex cameras on 35mm film and has been scanned, cleaned up and finished as a 4K Digital Intermediate by Warner Brothers for this release. It is this 4K DI that has been used here for this Ultra HD Blu-ray. The film is presented with a 3840 x 2160p resolution and in a widescreen 2.39:1 aspect ratio, the disc uses 10-bit video depth, a Wider Colour Gamut (WCG) and High Dynamic Range (HDR), and is encoded using the HEVC (H.265) codec for HRD10.
A quality upgrade
This presentation is a significant step up over the Full HD Blu-ray; detail is far sharper bringing out much more in skin textures (Dumbledore’s beard, Hermione’s freckles), background sets (the Weasely’s kitchen, Dumbledore’s office), while crowd scenes benefit from the extra resolution (Great Hall, Diagon Alley). But the detail is only the half of it, with HDR and WGC the pallet really comes alive, the oranges of the reflected fires in the corridors, rich colouring of the wizards robes, the greens of the quidditch pitch; all are far more vivid. The blacks hide better shadow detail, there is nowhere near as much crush, while the high end is spectacularly bright; the diary flashback is blinding. CGI is better integrated, and the source is clean. A quality upgrade.
Sound QualityThe English DTS:X surround track is terrific with plenty of opportunity given to the overhead speakers to envelope the surround experience. The flying car is a good example, as is swerves mid-air to avoid the train, or when it crashes into the Whomping Willow and its branches wrought their destruction. Likewise, the Cornish Pixies as they create their havoc in the class room. But for sheer creepiness, for me the best scene is Aragog’s lair, when the spiders are crawling all around the room and dropping in from the ceiling! The score too makes full use of the surround environment and beings so good bass to the fore. Indeed, bass is exceptionally well placed, adding significant punch to the low end, all the afore mentioned scenes have some tremendous LF effects, while the beast moving through the walls, really sounds like it is in the walls! Dialogue is always clear and precise and sounds good and natural.
ExtrasThere are no extras on the UHD disc, and this 8 disc set does not contain any Blu-rays with extra features – a somewhat peculiar commercial decision by Warner. So if extras are your thing, you’ll have to hold on to your old Blu’s.
Ultra HD Blu-ray Verdict
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets is part of an eight disc set released by Warner containing all films in 4K.
This disc, courtesy of a new 4K scan and clean-up, is presented as native 4K and looks far superior to the dated Blu-ray: detail, colouring and black and white levels are all significantly improved. The DTS:X surround track is a triumph, with plenty of opportunity to showcase the immersive surround experience; Aragog’s lair being the stand out. Indeed this is the best way to see and hear the film. The only fly – no extras at all, no Blu-ray, nothing.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £49.99
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