Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002)
So is Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets better than the first film? Well, mostly yes. The story of Harry Potter is a long and complicated one, full of numerous funny names as well. Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) is still living with his abusive relatives and barred in his room. Hes warned by Doddy, a self-abusive CGI house elf, not to return to Hogwarts School of Magic because he will be in grave danger. Fat lot of luck this does. Before you can say Jar Jar Binks, Harry’s timid friend Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint) and his flying love bug rescue Harry. They meet up with old friend Hermione Granger (Emma Watson) and begin their second year of magical education. But danger surfaces as students with Muggle (a non-magically inclined family member) blood are turning into petrified statues. Lots of other stuff is crammed in (like broomstick rugby, Nancy Drew-like detection, and spiders oh my!) but lets all be honest here, its not like a plot synopsis is going to push you into seeing this movie.
Much of the acting responsibilities falls on the shoulders of our three young leads, and all I can say is what a world of good puberty has done them all. Radcliffe, stiff and overly subdued in the first film, has grown a deeper voice. He seems to have settled into the part nicely. Grint, playing a noble coward, goes from squeal to grimace in 3.5 seconds. Watson has a winning smile and bounces with enthusiasm but sadly sits the last half of the film out.
Some notable additions to the Harry Potter family include Kenneth Branagh as the narcissistic new professor of the Defense Against the Dark Arts. Can anyone do ham better than Branagh? I dont think so. Jason Isaacs is malevolently delicious as the aristocratic father of Harrys school rival, Draco Malfoy. You could start shivering from the icy glare this man casts.
Chamber of Secrets is better than the earlier Sorcerer’s Stone in many ways. The story has less exposition and contains darker elements that suit the story surprisingly well. The special effects are vastly improved from the first film. The child acting, as previously mentioned, is much better.
Despite lacking prolonged setup, Chamber of Secrets clocks in around 2 hours and 40 minutes — 9 minutes longer than the first! You could watch your life go by sitting through a Potter movie marathon. This might seem like an eternity to small children if they weren’t so overly obsessed with the book series.
So remember when I said Chamber of Secrets was “mostly” better than the first film? Well that “mostly” is because the amazing adult cast is hardly seen. Gentle giant Robbie Coltrane and Maggie Smith are mere background noise to the story. Headmaster Dumbledore (played by the late Richard Harris) has a weathered feel. What Chamber of Secrets needs are more scenes with the brilliant Alan Rickman, as moody professor Severus Snape. Rickman (Dogma) is perfect and a thrill to watch. I got a fever and only more Rickman can cure it.
Chris Columbus (Home Alone) is a director with no remarkable visual flair or distinct vision. Everything that is occurring is so faithful to the book that it has no individual flavor or distance. It’s directing with your hands tied. It should be Rowling’s name for the director’s credit because she’s the one with the vision being translated.
Harry Potter is a worldwide phenomenon that is already breaking box-office records and parents’ bank accounts. Chamber of Secrets plays toward audience expectations, but all of the components involved seem to be settling in their roles. Chances are whatever you felt about the first film youll relive during the second.
Nate’s Grade: B
Posted on November 16, 2002, in 2002 Movies and tagged alan rickman, book, chris columbus, comedy, daniel radcliffe, drama, emma watson, fantasy, harry potter, j.k. rowling, jason isaacs, kenneth branagh, maggie smith, magic, monsters, richard harris, robbie coltrane, rupert grint, sequel, toby jones. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.