Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (11/23/12)

Harry Potter and the Chamber of SecretsMovie Two Hundred Sixty Nine

During his second year, Harry Potter must discover what is really happening to students through a revelation from the past in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.

After borrowing their father’s flying car, Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint) and his twin brothers, Fred and George (James and Oliver Phelps) rescue Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) from his aunt and uncle’s house. They gather their school supplies for the year with the rest of the Weasley family, including Ron’s younger sister, Ginny (Bonnie Wright), and Hermione (Emma Watson), but Ron and Harry miss their train to Hogwarts and decide to take the flying car out again where they wind up crashing in the nearby Forbidden Forest. After being punished for their stunt, Harry begins to hear a menacing disembodied voice seemingly coming from the walls of the school. He soon finds a message, seemingly written in blood, that the Chamber of Secrets has been opened and nearby, the caretaker’s cat is hanging, petrified. Soon, students begin getting petrified and Harry needs to find out what the Chamber of Secrets really is.

While Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets is miles better than the first movie, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s/Sorcerer’s Stone, director Chris Columbus seems almost too focused on pulling in every detail from the books. While it seems strange that I would consider this a negative point, the pacing of the novels lends to suspense, but doesn’t translate to movies very well. Not that Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets is overly long or uninteresting, but it (along with the first film) almost seem to hung up on ALL the details instead of streamlining and focusing on what’s important. While I don’t think the first film has held up very well, as evident in my review, but Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets is the film that gets the series on the right track.

At the time of making Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, it was clear that Warner Brothers had a major hit franchise on its hands and where the first film felt hobbled financially, Chamber of Secrets is a visual treat. The special effects are all quite well done and the film feels like it had a budget that was inline with what was needed to tell the story properly. For most movies, special effects should not be a priority, but in a film with magic and wizards and what-have-you, it sells the reality of the story as best it can.

While Harry Potter and Chamber of Secrets is still one of my lesser enjoyed entries of the Harry Potter franchise (book and film), it is a much better film than the first outing. Not only does Chris Columbus seem confident behind the camera, but everyone in front of the camera does as well. The young actors seem comfortable in their roles here and the picture as a whole is all the better for it. It’s hard to recommend any individual film from a series like this, so start at the beginning, but stick with it through this movie to see if you like the Harry Potter films; don’t judge the series by the first film alone, give Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets the shot it deserves.

I give it 4 Dobby the house elf out of 5.

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