Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets (2002) – movie review

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Movie Review by Nigel A. Messenger

Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Richard Harris
Director: Chris Columbus

Near hysteria is the only way I can describe the initial reaction to the first Harry Potter movie. Although based on what is essentially a children’s book it seemed every adult I know was calling me to ask if I had a spare ticket to the press preview. These otherwise rational people had read all the books and were desperate to see the film. Reaction to the second movie seems to be a little calmer. Either they have accepted that they will have to wait for it to be released or they are not so desperate to see this instalment.

I haven’t read the books but I still enjoyed the first movie. Now, having seen THE CHAMBER OF SECRETS I think that those previously fanatical fans desperation peaked too early. They should have been eager to see the first in the series but started queuing a month earlier for their tickets to the second because THE CHAMBER OF SECRETS is simply much better than its predecessor.

Once again Harry is staying at his aunt and uncle’s house while the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry is closed for the holidays. After a few ‘mishaps’ and the intervention of a troublesome house-elf, Dobby (Toby Jones) that looks like it escaped from STAR WARS, he is locked in his room but is quickly rescued by his friend Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint) in a flying car. After missing the train from Platform 9 ¾, Harry and Ron arrive at Hogwarts where they are reunited with Hermoine Granger (Emma Watson) and begin the new school year. Harry and co quickly resume their rivalry with Draco Malfoy (Tom Felton), but there is something more sinister afoot when fellow pupils as well as the caretaker’s cat are found ‘petrified’ in a frozen state in the school’s hallways with messages on walls written in blood!

It seems that someone has found and opened the Chamber of Secrets. Harry and his friends must find and destroy this evil to save the petrified children and stop the school being closed permanently.

There’s an awful lot more to the movie than I have mentioned in my brief summary above with lots of action sequences and spectacular effects bringing the world of Harry Potter to life. All of the characters from the previous movie return with the introduction of a few new ones including the humorous and slightly inept Gilderoy Lockhart (Kenneth Branagh).

The HARRY POTTER movies have an extremely wide audience but although adults will flock to their nearest big screen to see THE CHAMBER OF SECRETS it is really a children’s story that succeeds in creating a fantastic adventure for all age groups. It should be pointed out though that a couple of the scenes are a bit scary for younger children. Without giving anything vital away a scene of an apparently dead cat hanging from the ceiling with a message on the wall written in blood will play on some children’s minds even though it turns out that the cat was only ‘petrified’. Also a battle scene with a sinister monster does have a slightly gory bit which again will bother some young children, although probably more after the film’s end than while it’s on as they will no doubt be caught up in the adventure.

Aside from these minor details I’m sure everyone will enjoy THE CHAMBER OF SECRETS – probably more than once – as it is a very good movie and manages to magically shrink its two hours and forty minutes running time, as I never once felt the need to look at my watch and I’m sure most children would stay for the duration as they should easily be absorbed by the story.

Start practising your wizard skills now while waiting with anticipation for the third instalment in the HARRY POTTER series, HARRY POTTER AND THE PRISONER OF AZKABAN.

5 out of 6 stars