The follow-up to Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, quite definitely a curate’s egg in the original sense of the term.
Let’s be brief: the lad who plays Tom Riddle is excellent, Kenneth Branagh is the best Gilderoy Lockhart imaginable, the permanent cast members also give 100% – including an obviously very ill Richard Harris (who died later that same year), and yet the film on the whole sucks most abominably.
Why? Because some clever dick decided to Disneify the whole thing, and as a result we get oodles of sanctimonious syrup where the book was dark and more – dare I say it – realistic, though it’s difficult to be less realistic than Disney-style saccharine, let’s face it.
If you’ve read the book, you’ll be seriously irritated by some scenes. Actually, that’s unfair. You’ll be irritated even if you haven’t read the book. Some speeches are totally incongruous, even at odds with the book itself. How Robbie Coltrane manages to deliver them without breaking down and crying I may never comprehend.
However, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t see it – although you probably can buy the DVD cheaper than you can hire it – as the casting really is impeccable and, if you ignore the sugary parts, there’s some good acting going down. Especially Kenneth Branagh, proving once again that you really need a Shakespearean to get the OTT stuff just right.
For fans and collectors. DVD extras: don’t bother. Just get the cheapest copy you can find.