Release: November 15, 2002
by Kevin Lang
Despite warnings by a house elf named Dobby, it was off to Hogwarts again in the second installment of the popular literary series by J.K. Rowling. Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, and Emma Watson were all back to take up their respective roles of Harry, Ron, and Hermione. Fans of the first film and the books will enjoy this installment, which offered more dazzling special effects. However, this film was considerably darker than the first, with more violence, less humor, and more frightening moments. Yet, it still managed to please me, filled with such unique characters as a talking plant root whose scream could kill you.
It didn't take much of a stretch of my imagination to believe what I was seeing either. "The Chamber of Secrets" had a strong look of realism that would impress even the most hard to convince moviegoer. The special effects were done well, from the Weasley's flying car to the Whomping Willow Tree, to the enormous snake near the end. We got to watch another enjoyable game of Quidditch, only this time it was implied that we understood how the game was played from the first film, which I'll assume here also. Without giving away more, I can say that the effects were nothing short of spectacular.
Shortly after arriving at Hogwarts, Harry began to hear a voice that sounded as if it came from within the walls. He then learned the story of the Chamber of Secrets, and that only Salazar Slytherin's true descendent would be able to open it. After discovering that someone had opened the chamber, everyone began to suspect that Harry did it because he was a Parsel-tongue (able to talk to snakes), like Salazar Slytherin was, which was rare among wizards. With the chamber open, a great evil had been unleashed upon the school. Students were turning up petrified (a semi-permanent state of being frozen by fear), and no one knew who or what was behind it. Harry set out to prove his innocence, and at the same time discover who was responsible for opening the chamber.
"The Chamber of Secrets" was an enjoyable film, and it should have kids in a frenzy to get to the theater. And although it will undoubtedly be huge, that doesn't give it a get out of criticism free card. It was long film, running approximately 161 minutes. A lot of that time was filled with special effects, and too little of that time was spent allowing us to better get to know the characters and to watch relationships develop between them. Sure the special effects were good, but a movie can go only so far on looks. As in real life, appearances begin to wear off, and what's underneath becomes much more important. "The Chamber of Secrets" was a good film, but it lacked the heart and character development that the first one had, which wasn't overly significant either. Yet, these are things that fans of the books, who are already strongly bound to the characters, will likely overlook.
In the end, I recommend
"The Chamber of Secrets," but with a little warning. It was
more violent than the first film, and it might not be as easy to view
for younger children. Slightly disturbing scenes, including one where
Gilderoy (Kenneth Branagh) attempted to fix Harry's broken arm (only causing
it to becoming overly bendable and boneless), were intertwined throughout
the movie. Another scene involved Ron regurgitating oversized slugs from
a spell that backfired. There was also blood (Harry got a snake fang threw
his arm), large spiders and many of them, and a handful of other things
that could give small children nightmares. Older children should find
it a little easier to handle.
"Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets" review written November 14, 2002, CTF.
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