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Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets Review

By Shawn McKenzie 11/17/2002

This might sound like geek blasphemy, but I hadnít seen Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone until about a month and a half ago. I knew it was the number one movie of 2001, but I just never got around to checking it out. When I finally did see it, I was blown away. I had thought it was going to be a watered-down kiddie movie, but it was a complex fantasy story with some cool special effects. I was hooked and I couldnít wait to see Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. I was hoping it would be at least as good as the first movie. I was not disappointed.

The movie begins where that last movie began with Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) once again living with his aunt and uncle, Vernon (Richard Griffiths) and Petunia Dursley (Fiona Shaw), and their spoiled son, Dudley (Harry Melling.) It's been a year since Harry was at Hogwarts, the school for wizards and witches that he went to run by Professors Albus Dumbledore (Richard Harris) and Minerva McGonagall (Maggie Smith.) Harry hates living with the Dursleys and wants to go back to Hogwarts. He wonders why he hasn't heard from his close friends and fellow students, Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint) and Hermione Granger (Emma Watson.) One night while confined to his room while the Dursleys entertained guests, he learns that a house elf, Dobby (voice of Toby Jones), has hidden their letters and is now trying to talk Harry out of returning to Hogwarts because he is scared that something bad will happen to him. This only makes Harry concerned for the school and his friends, so he goes back to the school where he is reunited with the groundskeeper, Rubeus Hagrid (Robbie Coltrane) as well as rival student Draco Malfoy (Tom Felton) and his equally nasty and snobbish father, Lucius Malfoy (Jason Isaacs.) A new face at Hogwarts is Gilderoy Lockhart (Kenneth Branagh), the egocentric new Professor of the Defense Against the Dark Arts (replacing Professor Quirrell from the first movie) who routinely collides with Professor Snape (Alan Rickman), the professor who controls Slytherin House. Not long after he gets back to school, he starts hearing strange voices. Suddenly a number of people end up "petrified" in frozen positions. He keeps being in the wrong place at the wrong time, so others start believing Harry is responsible for the petrifications. Dumbledore and the others realize something far more frightening is responsible. While they try to protect the students and decide whether or not to close the school, Harry, Ron, and Hermione attempt to find out the truth. In the process of doing so, they come across the ghosts of former students Moaning Myrtle (Shirley Henderson) and Tom Riddle (Christian Coulson) and hear of the legend of the Chamber of Secrets. The truth may end up destroying the school and everyone in it.

The thing I kept hearing about this movie was that it was more action-packed than the first movie, but that there were long stretches of it that was boring. While it did have more action in it, I have to disagree with the boring part. Not once during this movie was I bored. During the slower parts, it was filled with plot that made the movie in whole a lot more interesting. I find it funny that people complain about movies that are all action and no plot, but when they are given a plot, and a good one at that, they are bored!

I have to give a lot of kudos to the whole cast, old and new. Branagh, an actor I havenít always liked, steals every scene he is in and is very funny. I have never read the J.K. Rowling books, so I donít know if he will come back in the next movie, but I hope he does. If he hadnít done so already in the first movie, Grint has perfected the wussy performance. He is especially memorable in a scene involving giant spiders. The only one that wasnít the best was the Dobby character. He came very close to reaching Jar Jar Binks annoying status with his speech in first-person, but it wasnít enough to knock the movie down any pegs.

I do feel an obligation to warn parents that this movie is a little scarier than the first movie was. There are many dark scenes, creepy spiders, and scary snakes here. I donít think that it is too much though, and I really believe that young kids will be able to handle it, especially the ones who have read the book and know whatís coming. They may have to calm down their parents!

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets is a great follow-up to last yearís movie, and I canít wait until the next movie comes out. In fact, if I had any other complaint, it would be that I have to wait until 2004 before the next movie, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, arrives in theaters!

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