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4.7 out of 5 stars
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4.7 out of 5 stars
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on 12 September 2000
Stephen Fry's superb readings of the Harry Potter novels have already become contemporary classics: they are far too good to be left for children only. I am delighted that they have been re-issued on cd, as the cassette medium is all-too-fragile and many repeated plays leave the cassettes in an all-too-worn state. CDs are much more durable. And believe me, though these recordings are expensive, they are well worth the money as they will be played over and over again.
Stephen Fry is a highly talented comedian and actor with a very wide range. Without seeming to try too hard, he gives each of Rowling's characters their own voice, which is necessary in a reading of this sort, but the voices he uses are so cleverly chosen and executed that they do far more than merely help us distinguish one character from another. By assigning each character a specific accent he places them in the Great British Class Battleground and with his excellent sense of timing and nuance he accentuates Rowling's satires with his own sly wit. I actually prefer Fry's readings of the Harry Potter novels to the novels themselves, as Fry adds a whole new dimension to the books, grounding them firmly in the debates (squabbles?) of modern British life. An especial joy in his reading of Chamber Of Secrets is his interpretation of the ghastly Gilderoy Lockhart, who becomes almost frighteningly alive and believeable in Fry's hands. I would not be at all surprised to find the Loathsome Lockhart popping up on Start The Week! He'd fit right in...
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on 24 February 2003
After accompanying my children to the cinema to see the first Harry Potter adaptation, I must admit that I was quite looking forward to spending 2.5 hours in the company of the Hogwarts hosts, and my enthusiasm wasn't un-rewarded. Once again the time flew by far too quickly and my kids were again awestruck by the sheer scale of the deception.
There were shocks and surprises along the way. The first shock was how much Daniel and Rupert have grown since the last film, in looks, height, and confidence. Daniel's lower voice took a few scenes to get used to as well. The biggest surprise was the brilliant portrayal of Gilderoy Lockheart by Kenneth Branagh, who stole every scene he appeared in and brought much of the humor of the books into the script.
Obviously keen to overcome some criticisms of the first film, director Chris Columbus tried to include as many parts of the storyline from the book as he reasonably could in the time and as a consequence the pace never lets up. Fortunately the plot isn't too complicated (unlike the next book) so kids won't have too much trouble keeping up.
Once again excellent performances from the adults and the 3 lead children, Emma Watson settling into the role of Hermione as if she was born to play her. Ruperts facial expressions of fear, whilst funny at first, did start to wear thin towards the end, and Tom Feltons portrayal of Draco was, to be honest, embarrassing, but cut thankfully short.
All in all a thoroughly enjoyable film, better than the first, a little scarier (especially if you are afraid of spiders !) and a must have DVD for your collection when released.
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on 14 November 2005
I fell in love with this series and I’ve listened to the audio books more times than I could possibly count. I wore out the tapes and moved on to CDs.
Stephen Fry is with out a doubt the best narrator I have ever heard, and has won awards for more than one of his Harry Potter readings. He distinguishes between the character’s voices so well, that it really could be an entire cast performance. I find myself smiling in recognition of a character’s voice even before he says whose speaking.
The first two books were the most light-hearted of the series, and there are some truly classic moments in this book. The flying car sequence is excellent, Harry’s valentine had me laughing so much I had to stop the book, and Lockheart is just fantastic. It was equally gripping as Philosopher’s stone. I think the scene in the chamber of secrets is one of the best written sequences in the series. But this book also has a darker side too. I remember the shiver down my spine as I first heard the chilling voice of the Basilisk. I thought the series got better with every book, though I adore them all, but from here onwards, the series becomes a much more complex, deeper and many layered story, so enjoy the fun.
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on 22 May 2001
I love Stephen Fry's reading of this book. Although it is typically recommended for 9 years and up, my daughter, who is just five, is already hooked. Fry's clear reading makes the story easy to follow even for younger listeners.
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on 29 October 2003
Not only does Steven Fry do this ostentatious story justice but also the character Lockhart is the most hilarious thing on audio CD! Phrases like: 'Harry, Harry, Harry', and 'Fame is a fickle friend', gave us hours of tumultuous hysterics. This story is for all ages and despite not being the best of the novels, it is the epitome of family fun, and if you can only buy one set of CDs/tapes this should be the one. J. K. Rowling mixes wit, an intoxicating plot, vivid description and a fascinating culture into an unforgettable experience. This is the ultimate 'must-have' of the audio CD world. Stephen, you have created a masterpiece out of a masterpiece.
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on 4 June 2007
Stephe Fry's narration is far and away the best that I have listened to over many years of enjoying audio books. Each and every character has their own distinctive and perfectly-judged voice, so that you know instantly who is speaking before the name is given. This makes it so much easier to simply enjoy the wonderful story without being distracted by confusion as to who is saying what, as so often happens with other narrators. We bought all of the other Harry Potter CDs, and they have all been great. I recommend listening to these stories whilst curled up on the sofa on a Winter's evening over any T.V program that I can think of.
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on 22 December 2011
This is the 2nd HP Ultimate Edition boxset. This edition is red (UE 1 was blue) with a cardboard sleeve. The box inside is solid and and very well-presented with lovely detailing. Inside there is a hardback 'Creating The Characters of Harry Potter' photo album featuring lots of pictures of the cast and some interesting concept drawings. There is also a paper folder which contains two artcards - Hagrid and Harry Potter - and a digital film code leaflet.
The discs themselves are housed in a separate fold-out dvd set:
Disc 1: Blu-Ray Movie (Theatrical Version)
Disc 2: DVD Movie (Theatrical Version)
Disc 3: DVD Movie (Extended Version)
Disc 4: DVD Special Features (Conversation With J.K.Rowling and Screenwriter Steve Kloves, 16 Mins of Additional Scenes, Sketch Gallery, Build A Scene, Tour of Chamber of Secrets, Diagon Alley, Dumbledores Office, Character Q&As, Character Snapshots
Disc 5: DVD 'Creating The Characters of Harry Potter' Documentary with Screen Tests, Trailers & TV Spots (1. The Magic Begins 2. Characters 3. Magical Creatures 4. Sound & Music 5. The Evolution of Harry Potter 6. Special Effects 7. Growing Up Potter 8. The Harry Potter Phenomenon)
Although this edition is marketed as a Blu-Ray set, please be aware that only one disc is a Blu-Ray which is my only complaint. Unfortunately the UK version does not contain a Blu-Ray extended version of the film which is really disappointing, especially when the US version of this boxset has one. However, the DVD extended version of the film is still great to watch with some worthwhile scene additions. Some of the extras here have been featured before on other Potter discs but the documentary on Disc 5 is new and interesting, offering a fantastic behind-the-scenes look with the cast. There's some lovely sections of the cast reading extracts of the books which is great to watch. Overall I think this set is magical and a wonderful edition for any fan... it's just a shame there's not an extra Blu-Ray extended version of the film.
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on 23 February 2003
As a huge fan of the Harry Potter series of novels, I really wanted to see just how well Chris Coloumbus made the transition from book to film. The first outing for Harry was excellent, and introduced old readers and new viewers alike to Harry, Ron, Hermione and the rest of Hogwarts' staff.
In 'The Chamber Of Secrets', Harry is developed as a character, as are his friends, although in reality a little more of the book has been edited out than I really would have liked. But that is my only real criticism of this film.
Daniel Radcliffe proves that he has developed as an actor since 'The Philosopher's Stone', and he is well backed up by his co-stars, both in Ron and Hermione, but also in Malfoy and his cronies.
I am a big fan of both Alan Rickman and Keneth Branagh, and their performances are just briliant, tongue in cheek enough for the older viewers, but Alan Rickman's bad guy Snape and Branagh's comic Lockhart will also appeal to younger watchers.
I love the Harry Potter movies, and I think that they will, perhaps not be as classic as the books, but still will remembered as some of the best children's films in recent years. I personally think that they are great,and I will enjoy them for many years to come. I hope you do too.
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on 6 December 1998
I bought Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone in a bookshop to read to my two sons (7 and 9), and they were enthralled; my wife could hardly believe her eyes when she interrupted the showdown at the finish and discovered them both sitting bolt upright holding their breath! When we found the Chamber of Secrets in the local library we had to get it out immediately. I found it even better than the first, to the extent that I could not wait to read it at bedtime before finishing it. To my mind it is better paced than the Philosopher's Stone, which I felt was a bit slow in setting up the really exciting bit; the Chamber of Secrets starts to hot up about half way through in a well-judged crescendo. But it is even better at developing the characters, including the ever so vital Hermione, who gets a bit more get-up-and-go just when it's needed. This is not a great children's book; it's just a great book. When the paperback is out, we'll be getting a copy.
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on 30 November 2002
I bought this audio book for my six year old daughter last year and she can now practically recite the whole thing by heart! She is allowed to listen to it in bed on weekend nights and she also takes it on car journeys and its even been to America and back with us. We also have The Philosophers Stone on CD and we are saving up for The Prisoner of Azkaban. Stephen Fry's adaptation of Rowlings characters really bring them to life and I don't know when I have ever spent my money more wisely. Also, with the number of times my daughter has played them, I am very happy that we invested in CDs as opposed to cassettes. Highly recommended!
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