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Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Price Range:$1.89 to $34.15
Cars fly, trees fight back and a mysterious elf comes to warn Harry Potter at the start of the second year of his amazing journey into the... Read More
Cars fly, trees fight back and a mysterious elf comes to warn Harry Potter at the start of the second year of his amazing journey into the world of wizardry. This year at Hogwarts, spiders talk, letters scold and Harry's own unsettling ability to speak to snakes turns his friends against him. From dueling clubs to rogue Bludgers, it's a year of adventure and danger when bloody writing on a wall announces: The Chamber of Secrets has been opened. To save Hogwarts will require all of Harry, Ron and Hermione's magical abilities and courage in this spellbinding adaptation of J.K. Rowling's second book. Minimize
158 Reviews from Epinions.com
Nov 10, 2002
The Potter Posse Returns!
Pros: Scarier, spookier and better acting
Cons: Too long and some scenes may be too sinister and intense for kids under 8
The Bottom Line:
On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets" is an enchanting, enthralling, eye-popping 10, a magical miracle of moviemaking.
The second installment in the ongoing film adaptation of J.K. Rowling's series is scarier, darker, longer and even better than the first.
Assuming that everyone in the audience is familiar with the characters and the setting, screenwriter Steve Kloves and director Chris Columbus skip the exposition and immediately launch into the plot.
Harry Potter's summer vacation is ended abruptly when Dobby, a house elf, suddenly appears in his bedroom at the dreadful Dursleys, warning him of great danger and that "history is about to repeat itself."
There's a malevolent presence lurking in the dark corridors of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, petrifying students into a stony stupor. But it chooses only certain students - "mud-bloods" - or those young wizards who may have Muggles, or humans, mucking up their lineage. (The message of ethnic cleansing is loud and clear.) And it surely must be connected with the evil Lord Voldemort - whose name is spoken only with trepidation.
With his friends Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint) and Hermione Granger (Emma Watson), heroic Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) must not only find the dreaded Chamber of Secrets but battle the Basilisk serpent hiding within.
Along with wise Headmaster Albus Dumbledore (the late Richard Harris), Professor Minerva McGonagall (Maggie Smith), Professor Severus Snape (Alan Rickman), Nearly Headless Nick (John Cleese), Professor Flitwick (Warwick Davis), vicious Draco Malfoy (Tom Felton), and the huge groundskeeper Hagrid (Robbie Coltrane), there are a bevy of new characters, including Defense Against the Dark Arts instructor Gilderoy Lockhart (Kenneth Branagh), whose vanity knows no bounds, and Herbology Professor Sprout (Miriam Margolyes), who graphically demonstrates how to transplant a howling Mandrake.
Plus there are a couple of ghosts: Moaning Myrtle (Shirley Henderson), who haunts the second-floor girls' bathroom, and Tom Riddle (Christian Coulson), the former Hogwarts student whose diary Harry finds. And I can't forget Draco Malfoy's scheming father, Lucius Malfoy (Jason Isaacs).
Production designer Stuart Craig and cinematographer Roger Pratt create dazzling delights - like a flying blue Ford Anglia, a red envelope containing a "howler" message, and a fast-paced Quidditch match. And composer John Williams' music enhances but doesn't overwhelm.
Great credit should go to the "visual effects" wizards at ILM. While Dobby, the house elf, has annoying overtones of Jar-Jar Binks, he feels like a sympathetic character, one whose life changes over the course of the story. And Fawkes the Phoenix, the Basilisk, the Mandrakes and the creepy-crawly spiders are stunning creatures. The feisty Whomping Willow, which attacks Harry, Ron and their flying car, is astonishing.
With the experience of "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" under their belts, plus a couple of added years, Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson are now confident young thespians. Radcliffe's innocence is measured with mischief, Grint's comic relief is cleverly timed and Watson's aggressiveness modified with charm. One has to enjoy Alan Rickman's seething, sinister smirk and Kenneth Branagh's scene-stealing puffery. "Fame is a fickle friend, Harry," he warns. "Celebrity is as celebrity does."
Above all, I admire the message of the movie: "It's not our abilities. It's our choices." Yet at 161 minutes, it's overly long and some scenes may be too sinister and intense for children under age 8. On the other hand, as Gilderoy Lockhart says, "Spooky how time flies when we're having fun."
So I eagerly await "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban," which begins production next year under the helm of Alfonso Cuaron, best known for "Y Tu Mama Tambien" but also did "A Little Princess" and "Great Expectations." But it's not scheduled for release until 2004.
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