News Archive - 2nd Quarter 2002
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News Archive – 3rd Quarter 2002

by ClaireSep 30, 2002

Third Review of "Chamber of Secrets"

Story filed: Sept 27th, 2002.  Source:

Movie news web site has been sent this review of Harry
Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by someone calling themselves "KGB". 
It’s another doozy…!

"Warning: This movie lives up to Secret part of its title. Big
secrets are revealed, big twist ending. In A Nutshell is safe zone but
Review contains major spoilers. Do not read Review if you aren`t already
familiar with major twists and turns from the book, movie script or any
other reliable spoiler source. In a nutshell: COS rocks the house.So-so
franchise starter gets an awesome follow-up.

What`s good? COS is anti-Sorcerer`s Stone. It`s dark, tought-provoking
anti-fairytale tackling heavy issues such as racism. Yet Stone fans won`t
be alienated for the movie also provides clever humor, stunning action
and eye candy and improved acting. What`s bad? Next sequel is due in 2004.
2 years of waiting. Damn. Have you seen COS trailers? Trust me, you haven`t
seen anything yet. To get the best stuff you must see the movie. Review
is about the best stuff so if you don`t want to be spoiled stop reading


“You Mudblood!” is the line that sets the tone of the movie for COS deals
with pure-bloods vs “Mudbloods”(extremely offensive racist name for Muggle
-born wizards ) , a fantasy take on racism/Nazism. While Stone was a fairytale
where Hogwarts was an escapist place, COS is anti-fairytale that destroys
illusion of escapism as we learn that negative things of Muggle world
such as racial bigotry exist in wizarding world poisening minds of Hogwarts
youth. There are students who are pure-blooded wizards (Ron, Draco), others
have Muggle parents (Hermione) or are half-bloods (Harry). Racial purity
doctrine is adopted by young students of Slytherin House whose founder
Slytherin had very Mein Kampf-ish ideals. The legend has it that Slytherin
made a secret chamber containing a monster that will be released and kill
all Muggles when Slytherin`s rightful heir arrives to school. Indeed,
an unknown evil force that calls itself Heir starts turning one by one
Muggle student into a stone.

The movie handles this heavy topic well. There`s tension between young
Slytherins and other students and Draco`s “little Nazi” antics are creepy.
Also, the movie doesn`t have a feelgood ending where young Slytherins
admit they were wrong and embrace Muggle pupils. Nope. When the movie
ends you know that these kids still believe in superiority of pure blood
and that they hate everyone else.

Since half of schoolchildren are potential victims, including Muggle-born
Hermione, Harry&co race against time to find the murderous Heir. But
things get complicated when an incident during the spectacular wizarding
duel reveals that Harry possesses a rare gift only Slytherin had. This
convinces other students (minus a fistful of loyal friends) that Harry
is the Heir and they begin to boycott him.

Popular jock Harry`s sudden loss of fandom ties nicely with B plot that
revolves around fame-hungry professor Lockhart who has many “wise” things
to say about fame. Much to my surprise hyped Kenneth Branagh, who plays
Lockhart, has nothing to do with A plot.

But Harry believes that the Dark Side of Slytherin heritage is strong
with him cause the talking hat from the first movie wanted to put him
in Slytherin House, but when Harry begged him not to he decided Harry
should be Gryffindor. I expected the Dark Side thing to be red herring
but I was wrong. Harry carries great darkness in himself and the explanation
is chilling. Think Farscape..

Almost everyone believes that Harry`s the bad guy while Harry&co
think that Muggle-hating Draco is the Heir. Disguised as Draco`s goons,
Harry and Ron extract a major information from the little Nazi – that
he isn`t the one. Looking for new evidence Harry finds an old spellbound
diary which takes him to the past when Chamber was opened for the first
time. What he sees in pensive makes his skin crawl : one of his friends
opened the chamber!

The movie mixes serious moments and clever humor. For example, when Muggle-hating
pure-blood Draco calls Muggle Hermione “a Mudblood” , her pure-blood friend
Ron stands up to him and tries to curse him in Hermione`s defence (“Eat
slugs, Malfoy!”). But the serious situation gets unexpectedly humourous
resolution when Ron`s broken wand backfires the curse on him. It`s a cerebral
humour that makes a point that cursing isn`t the best solution but also
doesn`t make kid-spewing-racial-insults less disturbing. Another example,
the scene is wizarding duel between Harry and Draco. Duel is hilarious
– Snape kicks Lockhart`s ass, kids kick each other`s asses with different
spells. But when Draco casts a “snake” spell revealing that Harry can
talk to snakes (which only Slytherin could) the funny scene gets a creepy

The movie gets darker and darker as it progresses and once Harry walks
through Chamber`s door, comic relief is left on the doorstep. Showdown
with the Heir is simply magnificent. The Chamber is wonderfully creepy
place with snake figures and giant statue of Slytherin`s head. The climax
is visually like one of stories from Greek mythology : there are a damsel
in distress, a young hero who gets mythical sword, a phoenix with healing
powers who fights on his side, an evil beastmaster and a beast, a giant
snake. It mixes stunning action pieces with cerebral stuff that gives
you goosebumps like the moment when young Heir reveals his true colors
(“…past,present,future”, anagram).

Heir is formidable yet tragic villain. He appears in only 2 scenes but
the movie makes a great use of it. He shows both deceiving innocence,
real vulnerability (when talking about his sad life) and Dark Side. His
background is well-explained so we see what pushed a brilliant student
over the edge and made him embrace his ancestor`s Kampf. He isn`t “genetically”
evil, however, it`s the tragic events from his past that made this half-blood
teenager reject his Muggle heritage and, ironically, become wizard version
of the Baddest Muggle Adolf .

There`s disturbing similarity between Heir and Harry. They have almost
identical background and share the same rare gift among other things yet
their choices set them apart. Still, Harry`s creepy “link” with Heir remains.
The movie solves many mysteries but also makes new ones. For example,
why is Harry destined for the sword that belonged to Gryffindor, the founder
of Gryffindor House? Is he the Heir of Gryffindor, perhaps? Hopefully
sequels will pick up this thread.

Surprises don`t end here but you`ll have to watch the movie to find out
what else is in store. I loved how they explained why the cat, children
and ghost wound up petrified, not dead like they were supposed to. Not
to mention who masterminded the opening of Chamber and who did it. Phew,
so much about the plot. What new and improved effects are like, you can
see in trailers. Again, best stuff is kept under the wraps.

Child actors do a good job this time. Harry is no more wooden but shows
different emotions and the actor gained charisma with age. As for headline-making
broken voice I thought it was cool to see kids maturing on the screen
from movie to movie which is how it is in real life. Perfection wouldn`t
be so appealing. Ron is resident comic relief who has different style
of acting (physical comedy) than Harry but they work excellently. Also,
we get to see more of his family (father, mother, ambitious eldest brother,
his elder twin brothers resident pranksters and kid sister who looks like
young Alyson Hannigan and has serious crush on Harry). Hermione is less
over the top but kick-ass attitude is intact. Yet even the feisty know-it-all
screws up big time (kitty, kitty,kitty). Draco`s role is expanded and
his butting heads with the leading 3some is priceless. We also meet his
creepy father, a former dark wizard, who is up to nothing good. Other
colorful characters include paparazzo boy Colin who stalks Harry with
his camera, teenage ghost Moaning Myrtle who mourns her own death and
slave Dobby whose noble attempts to save Harry almost get the boy wizard
killed or, worse, expelled (he appears in only 3 scenes so any comparision
to Jar Jar makes no sense).

Of course, COS isn`t a perfect movie. Dumbledore is still Stoned Sorcerer
and although I haven`t read the books I suspect he should be like Ian
McKellen`s Gandalf. But the movie belongs to the leading trio, Draco and
Heir who do excellent job and get good support from papa Malfoy, Lockhart,
Ron`s family members, Colin, ghost girl, Snape,etc.

I can`t make any boxoffice predictions but I think that this movie `s
going to be enormous hit on video and DVD for there`s cerebral stuff that
requires repeat viewing and concentration not to mention quotable lines
and rewindable moments such as flying car, crazy willow, violent quidditch,
spectacular duels, diary coming to life, Harry and Ron`s physical transformation
(and Hermione`s meow screw-up), Dark Forrest, and, most of all, the powerful

Highly recommendable."

Second Review of "Chamber of Secrets"

Story filed: Sept 23rd, 2002.  Source:

Pop culture blog site claims to have got its hands on an
advance DVD of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.  Here’s an
excerpt from its largely complimentary review (click the above link for
the full review):

"First, Daniel Radcliffe got big. Real big. But I want to send a
message very loudly and clearly to the usually thickskulled boltheads
over at Warners: FANS DON’T CARE. You must keep Radcliffe as Potter! I
know 12-year old’s who are bigger than him with more hair on their chests
than Sophia Coppolla (that’s a lot), so I don’t want to hear any more
BS about fans not "believing" in him for movies 3 & 4. Give
the kid a year off and then bring him back for the other films.

But at first, the transformation that Radcliffe has undergone since the
first film is a bit startling. He’s taller, his voice is almost baritone,
and his posture is more assured and… well, "adult" than before.
Smartly, director Chris Columbus (whose non-Potter work I hate) uses this
maturity to enhance the theme of the second book: that Potter is older
now, no longer a Hogwarts newbie, but a seasoned (if still curious) wizarding
student. Another director might have had Radcliffe play the part in one
of two opposite extremes, as jaded, sullen teen or awkwardly bright-eyed
neophyte. Both directions would have been wrong, and the Potter/Radcliffe/Columbus
combination proves itself more startling natural than even the first film.

Likewise, Rupert Grint as Harry’s pal Ron Weasly is "all growed
up", but dammit if this kid isn’t still hilarious. Unlike so many
child actors out there who play to the camera in a mugging, "hey,
Mom look at me!" way, Grint is completely natural even when he is
clowning around in the fantastical setting of Hogwarts.

Emma Watson as Hermione Granger, the third of our heroic triptych, was
somewhat given short shrift in film 1, with her final scene cut and forced
to wear an abominable wig. Not so here. Hermione is a big player, and
she gets to goo and gush over Kenneth Branagh’s Professor Lockhart, tug
on the heart strings when recovering from a basilisk attack, and show
her mettle when defending her mixed "Mudblood" heritage to the
Hogwarts bullies. Her range is fantastic, and I am certain a promising
film career is guaranteed for Watson.

At the opposite end of the spectrum we have the annoying little Tom Felton
as chief bully Draco Malfoy, who apparently hasn’t dropped his set yet,
and squeaks noticeably beside the other actors. Felton is more of the
child actor school I mentioned previously, very aware of his performance
and completely unconvincing. Since you’re supposed to hate him, I suppose
one could say "who cares?" but I’d like to see a better actor
take up the role of the menacing and smarmy Malfoy some day.

Richard Harris sleepwalks yet again through his performance as headmaster
Albus Dumbledore, looking more like a constipated Alzheimer’s patient
than the charming, winky-eyed grandfather-figure of the books. There is
about as much chemistry between Radcliffe and Harris, or Harris and (Hagrid
actor) Robbie Coltrane as there is when mixing argon and xenon (that’s
not a lot.) Recast this old fart already!

Hagrid isn’t used to much effect in this film, and I don’t recall if
that’s because of the source material or if it was a script choice. Either
way, I found myself wondering "where’s Hagrid?" during a number
of points. Maybe that will be tightened up a bit in the final cut? Anyway,
Coltrane is great, and his performance surpasses the previous film, if
that were possible.

Newcomer Bonnie Wright, who plays Ginny Weasly (pay attention to her
in this film!), does a great job as the lovestruck First Year, and pulls
off her pivotal role like a seasoned pro. Again, Columbus has cast a great
child actress who doesn’t act like a child actress.

Other quick summaries. Alan Rickman as Snape: excellent, but underutilized.
John Cleese as Nearly Headless Nick: annoying; someone finish the decapitation
already. Maggie Smith as MacGonagall: she looks confused, as if she’s
not sure how she got on the set. Jason Isaacs as Lucius Malfoy (Draco’s
dad): does a good impression of Snape, but I’d rather see Snape do Snape.
Do we really need two of them? Kenneth Branagh as Lockhart: good, and
not as hammy as Loveless in Wild, Wild West or the doctor in Frankenstein.
A little too much screen time, I think. (Branagh’s a lot like fellow Shakespearean
actor Patrick Stewart: when they do humorous genre work, they tend to
go overboard. I much preferred Branagh in Conspiracy.)

All right, on with the film itself. There’s been a lot of hype about
the effects. With some exceptions that I will point out later, they are
about on par with the first film, although there are certainly more of
them. The quidditch match is more rough-and-tumble, and Columbus pulls
out all his Speilberg mimickry, using such annoying tricks as "edit
the hero out of danger" (remember Indiana
Jones & The Temple of Doom
?) Still, it’s great to see this very
unique sport played out on the big screen, and watching irritating Draco
get swatted around a bit is always fun, fancy new broom notwithstanding.

The quidditch match, along with the flying car sequence that opens the
film, are nonetheless still very obvious greenscreen effects. Critics
of the first film’s quidditch game, who said it looked like Harry was
flying in front of a movie screen, will repeat their gripe this time around.
I’m not sure who did the effects, but perhaps instead of increasing the
effects budget they should shop around for a new F/X house?

There are some wire effects here, nicely done and which don’t invoke
either Matrix or Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Harry is more physical
this time, and by all accounts he did his own stunts (but with CGI-added
faces all the rage, who knows?) The best F/X by far are those used for
Aragog, the giant half-spider, and Slytherin’s basilisk. Much improved
over the goofy troll in Film 1, but still not as advanced as, say, the
from Lord of the Rings. However, the effects also have a more cartoonish
look to them, which makes the film much more accessible to youngsters,
and let’s remember that the film is technically a kid’s film.

A scene where Lockhart, an inept magician, turns Harry’s harm to rubber
by accidentally removing the bones in it is unsettling, but dashed with
a sense of humor. I don’t know why, but it grossed me out a bit. Still,
a good effect and a nice combination of CGI and prosthetics.

AICN’s alleged "review" falsely reported that Dobby the House-Elf
invokes memories of Jar Jar Binks. Hogwash. Dobby’s screen time is minimal,
and while the voice actor was a bad pick (sounds like your local elementary
school’s cafeteria lady), the character is not annoying. Trying, perhaps,
but not annoying; and that’s exactly how I recall Dobby from the book.
Dobby will not be universally reviled like Jar Jar, and comparing the
two is like comparing Harry Knowles to Jessica Alba. (I’ll let you figure
out which one of them is the irritating one.)

The ghost "Moaning Myrtle" is a bit annoying, but if you have
a sensitive side you may feel more pity than annoyance at this character.
I’m overall disappointed with the ghost effects in general; just using
transparent actors floating around seems a bit of a cop out. I think I
had expected the Bloody Baron, Peeves and Myrtle to be more ghoulishly
inhuman than the way ghosts are portrayed in this series, perhaps more
like the animatronics in Disney’s
Haunted Mansion
. But everything else pretty much matches what I envisioned
from the book.

As for the score, there were some bits taken from the first film (unless
they were re-scored?), but I definitely heard some new cues and a menacing
new theme for the baddies. John Williams is putting together another great
CD-seller here. The finished product is going to be great.

The story involves mysterious messages and grim voices hinting at some
terrible thing about to be unleashed within Hogwarts, a place previously
considered to be the safest wizard haven known. As "mudbloods,"
— magical folk who are half-nonmagical — are being turned to stone,
Harry begins to investigate. Because the mystery involves the "Heir
of Slytherin," Harry is drawn into conflict with the evil class house
of that name, as suspicions abound about who the Heir is and what is kept
in "the Chamber of Secrets." Harry, who can speak to snakes,
is even suspected himself. Soon thereafter, we learn with not a small
dose of melodrama, that this Chamber of Secrets has been opened, causing
Dumbledore and the other teachers to fall into a panic that only steels
Harry’s resolve in solving the puzzle.

Chris Columbus is certainly doing well as the Potter films’ director,
and it will be a shame to see him replaced on the next installment, but
he does exercise some of his more mundane habits in this film. Primarily
this means formula, formula, formula. Columbus is a formula director,
the whitest slice of vanilla white bread you can get short of a Mormon.
As a result, the pacing of the film, the sequence of events, the camera
movement and lighting are all virtually identical to the first film. This
is not a direct result of the source material, either; it’s just the way
Columbus works best, in a safe and calculated environment. It’s not a
slight against the film, but viewers of the first will find the surprises
are well-telegraphed, and the build up to the climax is clearly identical
to the first film.

The climax, however, is outstanding. I am still confused by the ending
of the first film (I really need to go back and read the book, I guess),
but this one ends with a bigger bang (actually, a few of them!), and more
coherent plot closure.

Okay, SPOILER WARNING! (Highlight with your cursor to read.)

The final battle between Harry and the serpentine
basilisk is amazing, and the effects are almost as if another F/X house
came in to do the sequence. This basilisk is not a goofy "troll in
the dungeon" thing, but a very realistic and nasty bugger. The confrontation
with Tom Riddle / Valdemort is much, much, much creepier and cerebral
than the ending of the first film. The role of Fawkes the phoenix is a
bit drippy (literally, heh heh) but the kids in the audience are going
to cheer when he revives Harry. Again, almost as if Columbus is mimicking
Empire Strikes Back, the ending has a much more cliffhanger feel to it
than before.


Overall, the film is faster-paced (a slow second reel is actually welcome
after the rollercoaster start), much more menacing, but with enough fun
and magic to suit both the young fans and the old ones. I think they’ve
really captured the spirit of the books here, which continue to break
bookstore records by selling to a huge array of readers. The other great
accomplishment in Chamber of Secrets is that it immediately rekindles
our familiarity with the characters, making it feel as if we know them
much more intimately than from just one previous film. As a result, we
care a lot more about the characters, and that really drives the plot.

An amazing adventure ride for all ages. I’m excited, and you should be

Baby on the Way for JK!

Story filed: Sept 20th, 2002.  Source: The
Leaky Cauldron

We’ll add our congratulations to the many winging their way to Jo Rowling
and husband Dr Neil Murray following today’s announcement of her pregnancy! 
A little sibling for Jo’s first daughter Jessica, 9, is expected in the
spring of 2003.

Potter 5 ‘really is getting there’ says JK

Story filed: Sept 19, 2002.  Source: CBBC

JK Rowling has spoken exclusively to Newsround and has revealed that
the new Potter book, the Order of the Phoenix, isn’t as far away as people

here for the FULL interview

She says she’s getting there: "I have a beginning, a middle and
an end – you could read it all the way through and I know a lot of Harry
Potter fans will say just give it to us.

"But I’m a perfectionist and I want a bit more time to tweak!"

The Order of the Phoenix will be as long as The Goblet of Fire and there’ll
be plenty of new things to keep fans engrossed.

There’ll be a new female Defence of the Dark Arts teacher and a new sorting
hat song!

Don’t believe what they say!

She also said people shouldn’t believe everything written in newspapers
and on websites about how far off the book is.

She says she’s never had writer’s block in her life and admits she’s
loving the writing.

Court case relief

JK has just won a court case against an US author who claimed JK has
stolen some of her ideas. 

She said: "I’m so relieved. This court case has dragged on for a
few years – I’m a really happy woman today!"

[Note: This refers to the case of author Nancy Stouffer, who claimed
that JK Rowling stole her ideas for Harry Potter from Stouffer’s book
"The Legend of Rah and the Muggles", which includes a character
called Larry Potter.]


Story filed: Sept 10, 2002.  Source: The
Leaky Cauldron

BURBANK, CA (September 9, 2002) – For the second consecutive year The
WB Television Network and Warner Bros. Pictures will give viewers an exclusive
first look at Harry Potter as the opening episode of the new comedy  
FAMILY AFFAIR will include an exclusive look at the second installment
of the Harry Potter film series, "Harry Potter and the Chamber of

During the one-hour premiere of FAMILY AFFAIR on Thursday, September
12, 8:00 p.m. EST, The WB will air the world premiere of the first full-length
trailer for the movie, which will be released in theaters in North America
and in the U.K. on Friday, November 15.

"We are thrilled to offer our growing number of family viewers the
exclusive opportunity to get a look at one of the fall’s most anticipated
feature films, ‘Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets,’ " said
Jed Petrick, President & Chief Operating Officer of The WB. "Harry
Potter’s huge fan base of kids, teens and their parents should drive viewers
to the premiere of ‘Family Affair," a new series that’s in one of
the most difficult time periods on network television."

"We are very excited to be presenting the first look at our trailer
for Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets on The WB," said Dawn
Taubin, President of Domestic Theatrical Marketing, Warner Bros. Pictures. 
"The WB brand is synonymous with young adult and family audiences,
making the network the perfect outlet to share this exhilarating footage
with Harry Potter fans throughout North America."  

Last year, The WB presented an exclusive look at a scene from "Harry
Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone" and achieved its best Friday night
ratings of the season.  The film has grossed nearly $1 Billion worldwide
to date.

In " Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets," young wizard
Harry Potter (DANIEL RADCLIFFE) and his friends Ron Weasley (RUPERT GRINT)
and Hermione Granger (EMMA WATSON) face new challenges during their second
year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry as they try to uncover
a dark force that is terrorizing the school.

Warner Bros. Pictures presents a Heyday Films/1492 Pictures production
of a Chris Columbus film, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, starring
Directed by CHRIS COLUMBUS from a screenplay by STEVE KLOVES, based on
the acclaimed novel Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. ROWLING,
MICHAEL BARNATHAN and DAVID BARRON are the executive producers. 
ROGER PRATT is the director of photography; STUART CRAIG is the production
designer; PETER HONESS is the editor; and JOHN WILLIAMS is the composer. 
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets will be released in North America
and the U.K. on November 15, 2002 by Warner Bros. Pictures, an AOL Time
Warner Company.  This film is not yet rated. 

FAMILY AFFAIR, starring Tim Curry (Mr. French) and Gary Cole (Uncle Bill),
is a re-make of the ’60s classic about a carefree Manhattan bachelor and
his protective butler, whose lives are turned upside down when a pair
of 6-year-old twins (Jimmy "Jax" Pinchak and Sasha Pieterse)
and a 16-year-old girl (Caitlin Wachs) invade their world.  It is
produced by Turner Television.

Producer Talks Potter Changes

Story filed: Sept 6th, 2002.  Source:
Sci-Fi Wire

David Heyman, producer of the upcoming sequel film Harry Potter and the
Chamber of Secrets, told SCI FI Wire that director Chris Columbus will
continue to be a key player in the franchise, even though he won’t be
helming the third installment. Columbus—who directed the first film, Harry
Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, as well as Chamber—will pass the baton
to Alfonso Cuarón (A Little Princess).

"Chris will be involved, or is remaining involved, in a production
capacity," Heyman said in an interview. "We’re working together
on this next film [Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban]," based
on the third of author J.K. Rowling’s Potter novels.

Heyman added, "He, just as I am, is really excited about Alfonso
Cuarón coming in. Alfonso has already met with the kids, with the three
leading actors [Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint], and has
gotten along incredibly well with them. But Chris is here for support
and for guidance and for us all to benefit from his great wealth of experience,
having directed the first two. The third film will grow out of what has
already been created. The third book is slightly more mature, so I think
the approach will be slightly more mature. The film will be a little darker,
more mature and more adult, just as the book is. Also, Alfonso Cuarón
is a different filmmaker from Chris, and I think the film will necessarily
reflect that, because film is a director’s medium." Harry Potter
and the Chamber of Secrets opens Nov. 15. Harry Potter and the Prisoner
of Azkaban is currently in preproduction.

As If By Magic, Harry Potter Sprouts An Extra Six Inches

Story filed: Sept 5th. 2002.  Source:
Daily Mail

He may be getting too big for his broomstick.

Daniel Radcliffe, who played the boy wizard in the film Harry Potter
& The Philosophers Stone last year, appears to be outgrowing his role.

Seen walking to a gym near their home in South West London, 13 year old
Daniel is easily taller then his mother, Marcia Gresham. He now stands
at around 5ft 3in and is reckoned to have grown up six inches since last

Filming of the second J K Rowling adventure, Harry Potter & The Chamber
of Secrets – out in November – was rushed through after the first movie
to reduce the risk of any of the child actors growing up too much.

But if Daniel’s dizzy rise continues at the same rate, director Chris
Columbus may be forced to look for a replacement wizard for future Potter

Daniel however still has a lot more growing up to do before he can emulate
the giant American wrestling star `Stone Cold` Steve Austin whose nickname
is celebrated on his lurid T-shirt.

Ain’t It Cool News Reviews Early Cut of Chamber of Secrets

Story filed: August 24th, 2002

Industry mole "The Walkabouter" scored another coup for the
Ain’t It Cool
movie news site by reviewing an early cut of Harry Potter and
the Chamber of Secrets.  Walkabouter caused a similar stir this time
last year by leaking details about Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. 
Here is his long, but largely complimentary, review:

"Sorry, Mr. Columbus. Sorry, Warner Bros. I’ve tried to keep my
mouth shut the last two weeks. I tried REALLY hard but I can’t help myself.
I know I promised. Sorry, I’m an addict. I like teasing people. I’m the
"Deep Throat" of your wizarding movies; I lead people on and
hint at things, but for my own safety (and conscience) I can’t fully divulge.
Spilling it all this early just wouldn’t seem right. So I’ll spill only
a little bit. It’s no secret that I liked the first film, PHILOSOPHER’S
STONE, a lot. None of us really had any idea what exactly was going to
be done to the book in its translation to the screen, as the potential
for disastrous "creative liberties" was great. Rumours of a
CGI feature. Haley Joel Osment as Harry.

That the final film stayed true to the book was largely why it was so
successful. Cinematic landmark? Masterpiece? Flawless? No, no, and no…but
it WAS a wonderful movie, and one obviously made by people who gave a

(Thanks Mr. Heyman, Mr. Kloves, and Mr. Columbus for giving a damn. And,
just in case they think I’ve been picking on them, thanks to Warner Bros,
too — believe it or not, I’m sorry for any headaches I may have caused
you guys.)

So what of Harry’s second adventure? Is it bigger and better? Scarier?
More mature? Will audiences flock to the theatres a second time ’round?

Before I answer those questions, let me say here and now that I will
not be giving away any major plot points or spoilers. The book is out
there, on every continent on the planet, and most of you who are going
to see the movie probably already know what it’s about. For the rest of
you, I presume this will make you all the more skeptical about my review,
and, well…what can I say? Blast me with your conspiracy theories and
criticisms….That’s what the bloody message boards are for. Bring it

The film is still coming together, though from what I’ve seen, the cut
looks pretty refined in terms of editing. Some VFX completion work is
in order, and will likely be in progress all the way through October.
I think the predub has come along well, though sadly I was not able to
hear the film with John Williams’ new score. Damn. But as it is all still
a work in progress, I’ll keep my comments to a broad overview, and not
ruin it for either the filmmakers (who deserve to keep their secrets until
they’re completely ready) or for audiences (who don’t like spoilers but
are inclined to read them, regardless).

for it. There are improvements, there are smiles, and there are scenes
of fancy. But there are drawbacks, too, though few and far between. SECRETS
seems to have taken three steps forward but one step back.

Okay, so that doesn’t make any [bleep!] sense. Time for another analogy.

SUPERMAN. A film made with love and care. A respect to the character.
Wit, humor, charm, and innocence. SUPERMAN 2: faster, more energetic and
exciting. Funnier, wittier. Great performances. Better defined. But at
the same time, it’s a little sloppier around the edges, and lacking the
sincerity of the first.

SECRETS is rough around the edges, especially in the final act. I think
they’ve also tried to condense everything, making it move faster and faster,
while skipping over some nice details. In the movie’s defense, purists
might say the very same thing about the books. SECRETS shoehorns much
more into the story — new characters, funny scenarios — than PHILOSOPHER’S
STONE had, but for a newcomer, it is surely to be a little overwhelming.
I thought the ending was a BIT much, but as I also felt that way about
the book, I could hardly chastize the filmmakers.

If there’s one significant difference between the films, however, it
concerns the actors. Harry, Ron, and Hermione are all back…a little
older, probably not much wiser…but very different from before. (And
no, I’m not trying to dwell on the issue of puberty, here. These young
actors have enough to deal with…especially since the breaking of their
voices has already made front page news.)

In the first film, Harry was an outsider, a symbol of wide-eyed innocence
coupled with soulful restraint. Here, Daniel Radcliffe is MUCH more…shall
we say…playful. There’s a devlish twinkle in his eyes that wasn’t there
before…he’s a little on edge and a LOT more mischievious. Mind you,
he’s still good old Harry…a nice kid, but now he’s not always quite
so nice.

The film’s mid-section really plays off this fact, especially when all
the other students grow suspicious of Harry in something pretty spooky
going on at Hogwart’s. It seems as though a mysterious, evil force is
dwelling within the school, and petrifying things in its path. (When one
of the leading characters succombs to the unknown entity in the third
act, you know that the books are beginning to take on a more sinister
tone….But that’s something that PRISONER OF AZKABAN should REALLY deliver
for us…In time, guys…in time…) Having become a hero in the first
movie, and admired by other students at the beginning of SECRETS (there’s
a cute subplot of Harry grumpily shrugging off the affections of Ron’s
little sister, a new student at Hogwart’s), Harry suddenly finds himself
abandoned all over again. He even begins to doubt his own feelings —
he’s paranoid that he ALMOST got into Slytherin (that’s the EVIL STUDENTS’
house of Hogwart’s, for the uninitiated), and is afraid that maybe, just
maybe, there’s an evil dark wizard lurking inside him. (One can recall
young Jonathan Scott-Taylor of OMEN II here…a young, angelic face with
a possibly satanic personailty. Of course, the big secret Rowling has
in book five is that Harry was actually born of a jackal without his adopted
parents’ knowledge.)

Rupert Grint’s performance delivers more comic relief than before. Though
it’s not RON WEASLY AND THE CHAMBER OF SECRETS, Grint seems to like putting
on a show by trying to steal every scene he’s in. And for the most part,
he does. It’s easy for us to like Ron, and it’s easy for me to like Grint
in the part.

Alan Rickman, sadly underused in the first movie, isn’t really given
much more here, but he has seething sinister snares down to an artform,
and for that we should be grateful. Rickman seems to enjoy being bad,
but with a campiness that makes him rather charming.

Hermione is as prissy as ever, but I found Emma Watson quite sincere
and adorable this time ’round, especially in her swooning reactions to
the new dark arts teacher, Gilderoy Lockhart.

Oh yeah…Lockhart. He’s played by some guy named Kenneth Branagh —
you know, the bloke once married to Emma Thompson?

Seriously, now, for those of us old enough to recall a time called 1989,
remember the young, fair-haired prince who burst onto the screen at a
ripe old age of 27? The one who redefined a Shakespearean role, out Olivier-ing
even Olivier? Branagh’s triumphant HENRY V was not just a smashing performance,
but a work of a master director full of energy, of vigor. Then his comic
turn in MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING made him seem unstoppable. Everyone seems
to have forgotten those days once FRANKENSTEIN hit theaters. It was so
eagerly anticipated (featuring one hell of a movie trailer) that when
the handsome, ambitious project failed, Ken seemed to fail with it…at
least in the eyes of the public.

Well, dammit, I for one still think Ken Branagh rocks. I can forgive
him for FRANKENSTEIN…I can admire his 4 hour HAMLET (even if I didn’t
always connect with it)…

I still think he has genius within him.

I still want him to go back into directing a major, epic studio film

And if he had more screen time in CHAMBER OF SECRETS, I think Ken Branagh
could get another Oscar nomination.

He’s smug, vain, pompous and charming. He’s foolish and clever, witty
and bumbling. This is not just Branagh doing Lockhart…It’s Branagh spoofing

CHAMBER OF SECRETS is at its best during these lighter moments. The silliness
Branagh shows seems contagious with his actors. (There is a CLASSIC scene
at the end with Harry and company challenging Lockhart — the terrified
look on Branagh’s face, and the playfully sinister look on Radcliffe’s
are priceless.) It also works as it gets a little darker. There are some
chilling moments throughout the film, and there’s more mystery and tension.

The film starts off great, with a hilarious opening with Harry vs. the
Dursleys. But then Harry encounters a house-elf named Dobby…

OK, I’m on another track all over again. Dobby Dobby Dobby Dobby Dobby…

Dare I say the words to compare?

Jar Jar Jar Jar Jar Jar…

Well, no, Dobby’s not THAT bad. He’s quite charming, actually, in a deflated-whoopie-cushioned-voice
sorta way.

Dobby is more like a cartoon: a caricature, a creature of artificiality,
somehow both annoying and endearing at the same time. He’s an important
character to the story, though, and by the end, I was rather endeared
to him.

(Others might not be, but I doubt to the extreme of another CGI creation…
It’s safe to say we won’t see out there.)

There’s so much more I can write about…A faster, more thrilling Quidditch
match…Robbie Coltraine’s lovable Hagrid under some dubious suspicion
himself…freaky spiders, snakes, and whomping trees (oh my!)…

But I’m tired. I need sleep. My trusty dog has his head perched on my
left foot, and it’s time I end my day.

CHAMBER OF SECRETS is turning out to be a really good flick. In some
ways it is superior to its predessessor, with its young cast coming into
their own. (It’s impossible for me to imagine anyone else as Harry, Ron,
and Hermione now.) It’s funnier, spookier, and a little more complicated…but
as there’s so much crammed into the film, one can’t help but think that
it’s both too much and not enough. It’s not that there’s anything missing
— all the ingredients are there. But perhaps there’s some flavor lost
when you don’t let the food simmer long enough.

As I said…time will tell."

Sounds delicious!  Chamber of Secrets opens on November 16th in
the UK and US.

Blockbuster Additions to Hollywood Wax Museum Capture Movie Magic

Story filed: Aug 2, 2002. 

Copyright ©2002 PR Newswire Association Inc. All Rights Reserved.
A United Business Media company. Distributed by FluentMedia, a service
of Tribune Media Services. Copyright ©2002 by Tribune Media Services.

HOLLYWOOD, Calif., July 30 /PRNewswire/ — Characters from three of the
all-time highest grossing movies will join the star ranks of the Hollywood
Wax Museum. Starting July 31, Harry Potter, Spider-Man and Captain Leo
Davidson (Mark Wahlberg), along with three primate co-stars from Planet
of the Apes, will appear as if they stepped off the movie screen casting
their spells, webs and blame.

Eleven-year-old Daniel Radcliffe, already waxing nostalgic about his
role as the young wizard-in-training, is "lifelike to the point it’s
spooky," according to the Museum’s wax artist Paul Barnes. The biggest
challenge? "His eyes," says Barnes. "We had to bring in
a pediatric ophthalmologist to help us create his baby blues with the
focus and depth of the real thing." The spellbinding Hogwarts student
is the Museum’s fourth figure of age 12 or under, joining Jake Lloyd as
Anakin Skywalker, Macaulay Culkin as Home Alone’s Kevin McCallister and
Shirley Temple.

Here is the picture. 

Alfonso Cuaron will direct "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban"

Story filed: July 22nd, 2002

Alfonso Cuaron has been signed to direct Harry Potter and the Prisoner
of Azkaban, the third movie in the Harry Potter series for Warner Bros.
Pictures, it was announced today by Lorenzo di Bonaventura, Executive
Vice President, Worldwide Motion Pictures, Warner Bros. Cuaron is best
known for directing the critically acclaimed Y Tu Mama Tambien as well
as the enchanting children’s classic A Little Princess. Production is
scheduled to begin in England in the first quarter of 2003.

"Prisoner of Azkaban" will reunite the principal cast from
both the record-breaking "Sorcerer’s Stone" and the upcoming
"Chamber of Secrets," and will introduce new characters from
the ever-expanding world of Hogwarts School. The film will be produced
by David Heyman, Chris Columbus and Mark Radcliffe for release by Warner
Bros. Pictures in the summer of 2004.

Stated di Bonaventura, "We have prided ourselves on fulfilling our
promise to the millions of fans to remain faithful to J.K. Rowling’s beloved
books. We are certain that Alfonso’s gifts as a director will sustain
that commitment and continue to bring the adventure and fantasy of this
wonderful series to life onscreen in even more compelling ways."

"I’ve come to love all of the cast and crew on these movies and
have completely immersed myself in this amazing and intricate story,"
said producer Chris Columbus, who directed the first two Harry Potter
movies. "But, as I’ve made the decision to step into the role of
producer for the third film, I am thrilled that we have found someone
as talented and inspired as Alfonso to take over the reins as director.
It will be a pleasure to work with him on this project."

"In Alfonso Cuaron, I know we have found the right director for
‘Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban,’" said producer David
Heyman. "He has a unique vision and sensibility as a filmmaker, and
an extraordinary ability to inspire memorable performances in children
and adults alike. His humanity and belief in the magical possibilities
of film and life make him the ideal choice."

"I am so pleased to be entrusted with presenting the continuing
Harry Potter saga," said Cuaron. "It has captured the imaginations
of many people, myself included, and I am so excited to join an amazingly
talented cast and crew. To be able to add my own contributions to this
rich and creative material is a wonderful opportunity and I know the collaboration
will be a great one."

Harry Potter III may not be out until 2004

Story filed: July 20th, 2002.  Source:
CBBC Newsround

All the main filming on Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secret finishes
on Friday at Leavesden Studios, but a few more bits of info are starting
to come out about this film and the next.

The best news is that Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson
will all be back for the third film, The Prisoner of Azkaban.

That’s the good news.

The bad news is, to give the children in the cast a good break, filming
won’t happen until at least early to mid-2003.

That means the film probably won’t be out until 2004.

And it looks like an announcement about who will direct the Prisoner
of Azkaban will happen in the next few days.

As for other children’s roles in Azkaban – like Cho Chang – no casting
has been done yet.

And there won’t be for quite a few months, so the film company says there’s
no point in trying to contact them about auditions!

As soon as there’s any more news on that, we promise to let you know.

The Chamber of Secrets is out on 15 November and Potter fans will be
delighted that Cornelius Fudge does appear in the movie.

He’s played by British actor Robert Hardy. He’s most famous for appearing
in a long running BBC series All Creatures Great and Small.

And he played the doctor in Thunderpants!

Someone who won’t be in the movie is Rik Mayall as Peeves. But he didn’t
even get to film any scenes this time around – the part of Peeves was
cut out before filming started!

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News Archive – 2nd Quarter 2002

Happy Anniversary, Harry! Story filed: June 26th, 2002. Source: CBBC Newsround Today is the 5th anniversary of the first publication...