Reviewer's Rating 4 out of 5   User Rating 4 out of 5
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets DVD (2002)

A year later, and we come to the second "Harry Potter" DVD. It's slicker and more interactive than the first release, but some of the special features you'll only ever use once. What's not in doubt is the presentation of the movie, which is brilliant.

TECHNICAL FEATURES

Picture The darker mood to this second film is also reflected in the shadow-layered cinematography, making this a more challenging transfer to DVD than the first film. Ironically, the picture quality is even better for this disc set, with virtually no trace of grain in the widescreen release.

Sound The 5.1 Dolby 5.1 EX sound mix provides extra audio information for those with a rear centre speaker. Even if you don't have that option, you're in for a treat with a 5.1 experience that has real depth and plenty of exciting effects to whizz around the speakers, particularly during the Quidditch match.

SPECIAL FEATURES

Disc One Special Features On disc one you'll find a trailer for the film, a "Year One at Hogwarts" featurette that gives you a quick guide to the events of the first film, and a cast and crew list.

Disc Two Special Features While the idea of turning disc two of the "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone" DVD into a giant puzzle where the right answers unlocked extra features, was interesting, it did frustrate a lot of fans.

That element is gone here, and along with the expected mix of child-friendly special features, there's also some material that will appeal to a more adult audience.

Behind Hogwarts This section offers an interview with JK Rowling; something that was missing from the first DVD release. She's joined by screenwriter, Steve Kloves, and their 16-minute chat is quite amusing as Kloves talks frankly about trying to edit the books into scripts, while trying to guess what may happen to characters in the future.

If you're after teasers for how work on the third film is progressing, then Kloves feels that "Three could be very interesting" from the script work done so far.

Kids may prefer to access "Dumbledore's Office", where you can take a virtual tour of the office. The tone of it is kid-friendly, as is the behind-the-scenes material in the "Build a Scene" section, which gives you a chance to look at how the office set was built.

For the thoughts of the actors, you can delve into the "Interviews with Students, Professors and More" feature. Apart from finding out what their favourite scenes are and what their friends and family think of them being in a Harry Potter movie, the tone of this material is more promotional than revelatory. Rupert Grint is fun, though, and his enthusiasm for spewing slugs is a new interview topic for any DVD!

If you're after more behind-the-scenes material, then there's also a large gallery of production sketches and designs to sift through.

Additional Scenes The efficiency of the scriptwriting is in evidence here, as most of these 19 deleted scenes are in fact shavings of existing material in the film, rather than complete exciting scenes. There's some more flying car material, though, and naughtiness with Dobby.

Activities In this section you can go interactive, with varying results. What is noticeable is that the navigation around these features is a lot smoother than comparable material on the first DVD.

"The Chamber Challenge" is a bit duff, unless you like answering questions. Even if you get them wrong you're eventually prompted onto the right answer, which is hardly challenging.

Rather more fun is "The Forbidden Forest Challenge", where you get to fly the car around spooky woods. The animation is impressively good for a DVD game, but older kids will soon get bored.

If picking photos of cast members to make up an animated gallery is your idea of fun, then head for "Colin's Darkroom". Or if that doesn't appeal...

Head for the best feature! "Tour Diagon Alley" allows you to do just that, poking your nose into shops not even seen in the film. You can move between shops easily and get a really good look at the set decoration. More material like this for the other sets would have been better than all the puzzle elements on the disc.

Gilderoy Lockhart's Classroom This section feels like going to school with its pokey photo gallery, a guide to Lockhart's books and a look at his certificates.

Spellcaster Knowledge Challenge Another challenge? Not really, as the consequences of getting anything wrong on this DVD hardly create excitement. The very young may enjoy this feature, where you have to guess what effect the spell will have before it's cast.

Game Preview Watch highlights from the EA game.

DVD ROM Insert this disc into the DVD ROM drive of your PC and, providing you have a microphone attached, you can navigate through the goodies using your voice.

The reward for your honeyed tones is more interactive features, including a slider challenge, trading cards you can print, jigsaw puzzles, matching challenges, and an animated timeline of important Hogwarts dates. Plus you get access to online content if you have an internet connection.

TECHNICAL INFORMATION
Region: 2
Chapters: 37
Ratio: 2.35:1 (anamorphic)
Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1 EX
Audio Tracks: Multiple languages
Subtitles: English and Arabic
Captions: English
Menus: 3D animations, with music
Special Features Subtitles: All of the special features that require subtitles come with them.

This DVD was reviewed on a JVC XV-S57 DVD player.

End Credits

Director: Chris Columbus

Writer: Steven Kloves

Stars: Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, Richard Harris, Robbie Coltrane, Maggie Smith, Kenneth Branagh, Jason Isaacs, Alan Rickman, Tom Felton

Genre: Adventure, Family, Fantasy

Length: 160 minutes

Cinema: 15 November 2002

DVD: 11 April 2003

Country: UK/USA