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Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002)

  Directed by: Chris Columbus
Written by: J.K. Rowling
Starring: Kenneth Branagh, Robbie Coltrane, Rupert Grint, Richard Harris, Jason Isaacs, Daniel Radcliffe, Alan Rickman, Maggie Smith, Emma Watson
Links: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets on the IMDb, Official site, Buy the Soundtrack, Buy the Book, Buy on Video, Buy on DVD
Genre: Children's

This movie gets: 8.00 (3 ratings) Ranking: Ranked equal 53rd of 187 movies (2 ratings minimum; see full chart)

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002) is also mentioned in pearly's review of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005) and mino's review of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004).

"Lack of Peeves is peeving me off" - a review by pearly

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets is the second installment in the Potter septology (I made that word up). It follows Harry's second year at Hogwart's school for witchcraft and wizardry. It's the year when the mysterious chamber of secrets is opened, and students start getting petrified (not the muggle definition of petrified - but the wizard version, which means they are in a sort of coma). Harry, of course, has to figure out a way to make this tale have a happy ending.

These movies are so much fun. To anyone out there who has given Harry a chance and thought it was stupid, well, you're just too old and boring. And to anyone who hasn't even given him a go, you should! For me, this isn't the best thing I've seen all year - and to tell the truth, it didn't really even leave a significant blip on my movie radar, but I did enjoy it, and I'll definitely go to see the next ones.

One of the best things about Chamber of Secrets is the character of Gilderoy Lockhart, who is played to perfection by Kenneth Branagh. Gilderoy makes all the girls swoon, but he's as useless as a post in a .. place that doesn't need any posts. Branagh's character is as good as the character of Moaning Myrtle is annoying (and more annoying than just the level of annoyingness that was required of the character).

In terms of other actors and actresses, no-one really stood out in a good way - everyone was okay, but not brilliant. The two other things that stood out for me though, were, firstly, that Hermione (Emma Watson) is beginning to become a little too much. In the books, she is portrayed as a goody-goody, but kind at heart, whereas in the movies, I find myself thinking that she's a person I couldn't be bothered associating with, because she's too high-and-mighty, and irritating, and that goodness within her doesn't seem to come out.

Secondly, the absence of Peeves the Poltergoost (meant to be played by Rik Mayall) is a huge disappointment to me. After Mayall's part was cut from the first movie, there were rumours that he would be in this one, then that his character would be CGI, but I couldn't see any trace of him at all - so I guess he was cut out again. Being a big Rik fan, I am in a stink about this.

I'm going to have to disagree with mino's assessment that you shouldn't see this film if you haven't seen the first or read the books. I personally think that it stands up on its own. Sure, you won't understand absolutely everything, but it's hardly rocket science, and I'm sure you'll pick it up. I went with jud, who has seen and read the first book, but not read the second, and he enjoyed it more than the first movie. It's more action-packed, and less focussed on explaining absolutely everything that's going on.

P.S. if you don't like to miss a second, make sure you stay until the end of the credits, because there's a bonus Gilderoy scene to be enjoyed.

pearly gives this movie 8 out of 10.
Review created on Tue 24 Dec 2002

"Spells like teen spirit" - a review by mino

Yeah, yeah, I know. You couldn't possibly give a tinker's cuss about the Harry Potter franchise. I know, it's for little kids and adults with tenuous grasps on reality. Fair enough; you're entitled to your opinion. The fact that I think you're an idiot is kind of irrelevant. Hell, I love the Harry Potter books. I'm well aware that they're not particularly well-written, and they're a pastiche of a whole heap of other stories that have been told before (and better), and so on. Fact of the matter is, though, that they're good escapist fun, and I don't think they ever pretend to be anything more than that. So it's kind of a given that, to enjoy the films, you shouldn't exactly go into them expecting the Three Colours Trilogy, OK?

That said, the most important piece of advice I can give you regarding Chamber of Secrets is this: if you haven't either read the book, or seen the first movie, don't bother. It's not that it will spoil things for you, or will ruin your enjoyment of the book, but simply that you'll be scratching your head going 'er… what?'. It certainly doesn't suffer from the biggest flaw of its prequel, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (2001) -- for those who were familiar with the book, the first film was almost painfully slow in its exposition. It had to be, of course, so the neophytes didn't get lost -- there was a lot of backstory to fill and, despite the length of the film, not that much time to do it in.

This second film is even longer, but it assumes that the viewer is familiar enough with the first story to need little, if any, hand-holding. This is certainly necessary; while the film is long enough, it still skims over enough of the books to annoy some of the more rabid fans. Director Chris Columbus, though, has done about as good a job as you could hope for. Realistically, to convey everything in the book with enough detail to keep the fanboys happy -- without making an eight-hour movie -- would be an impossible task; Columbus has done remarkably well. I dread to think what's going to happen with the fourth book, Goblet of Fire; it's a huge work in comparison to the others, and is packed chock-full of action. That's not Columbus' problem -- Chamber of Secrets is his last film in the series -- but it will be interesting to see regardless.

Chamber of Secrets brings back the heroic trio of the first movie -- boy wizard Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe), and his intrepid friends Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint) and Hermione Granger (Emma Watson) -- for another year at Hogwart's School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Before his arrival at school, Harry is warned off returning to Hogwart's by a visit from Dobby, a rather loopy 'house elf', who makes various pronouncements of impending doom for Potter.

Needless to say, Dobby's warnings are well-grounded, and Hogwart's isn't exactly the safest place for Harry -- or for anyone else, for that matter. Something called the 'chamber of secrets' has been opened, and whatever lives in it isn't particularly happy; it is, of course, up to our dynamic threesome to solve the mysteries and save the day. The plot leaves a little to be desired, it has to be said: the second book in the series is, in my opinion, also the weakest. This doesn't mean that it doesn't still make for a good fun movie, though.

I'm hardly the first to warn that Chamber of Secrets is a dark film indeed; while the first movie might have been a little scary for the tiny tots, this one probably contains enough to frighten kids of all ages. It's not particularly gruesome, but it does contain enough frightening special effects to put some fear of God up the littlies, so watch out.

OK: so good chunks of the plot can be seen from a mile away, it skims over some important parts of the book, and those who aren't familiar with the books won't get it: so what's to like? Well, in a word, the bit players (well, OK, two words). Like the first film, the performances from the child leads are passable but not spectacular; but it's the others in the film -- the late Richard Harris as the kindly headmaster Dumbledore, for example, or Alan Rickman as the seriously evil potions professor, Severus Snape -- who make the movie shine. Snape, in particular, is a much less significant character this time around, but Rickman steals every scene he's in regardless. Also particularly notable are two of the newcomers to the franchise, Jason Isaacs (as school bully Malfoy's rather nasty father), and Kenneth Branagh as new teacher Gilderoy Lockhart. Like Snape, Malfoy Senior exudes evil from every pore; Lockhart, on the other hand, is nothing more than a silly fop. They're both very 'panto' performances, but they're exactly what are called for in this case.

Much like the previous film -- and almost certainly like the next ones -- your final rating for Chamber of Secrets will vary wildly depending on whether you're a fan. If you're not, you'll have to knock a few points off my score. If you are fond of the series, though, I don't think you'll be disappointed.

mino gives this movie 9 out of 10.
Review created on Mon 9 Dec 2002

Movie review statistics

Ratings given without reviews:

Number of reviews: 2
Number of ratings: 3
Average rating: 8.00
Lowest rating: 7 (by em_fiction)
Highest rating: 9 (by mino)
Rating Percentage

Reader comments

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    A comment from meee on Tue 01 Nov 2005 21:07 #

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