Harry Potter &
the Chamber of Secrets

directed by Chris Columbus
(Warner Brothers, 2002)

Harry Potter & the Chamber of Secrets struck me as a significantly better movie than the first Harry Potter film. The first movie was thrilling, giving us the first look with the naked eye of the setting already firmly lodged in the imaginative minds of Rowling's readers, but the fact that audiences are now quite familiar with both Hogwarts and the colorful characters who reside there allows for the plot to exert greater control over everything that happens. Surely, there are little sidetracks along the way, but the tension builds continually toward the almost inevitable conclusion of the film.

I will admit that there are a few weak spots, if not holes, in the plot, but this fact does little to diminish the overall effectiveness of the film. Just as Rowling's writing draws you in to Harry Potter's world, so does this movie. It's rather amazing to see just how much the heroic triumvirate of Harry, Ron and Hermione have matured, but they're still the same friends we left behind at the end of Year One. The late Richard Harris is once again the perfect Dumbledore, Professor Snape is even more Snape-ish than before and Draco Malfoy is somehow even more unbearable.

Along with all of the beloved characters we already know and love (or hate), a new set of important personages now enters Harry's world. The conceited egomaniac Professor Lockhart (Kenneth Branagh) is a fascinating, albeit increasingly annoying, wizard, while Dobby the house elf is a well-animated, exceedingly sympathetic little guy who never fails to liven up the action around him. No one looms larger, however, than Lucius Malfoy, whose dark and looming presence comes through immediately on first sight and lingers until the very end.

Important storylines for both now and the future begin to emerge, helping to pave the way for successive films. The special effects are really well done indeed, the music works perfectly and the movie succeeds admirably in following the storyline of the book on which it is based. I would imagine that young readers are particularly fond of this film, as its variety of special effects, from the flying car to the increasingly exciting action above the Quidditch field to the amazing effects of drinking Polyjuice Potion, offers a lot of delightfully memorable moments.

The DVD features are excellent, much better than those found on the DVD of Harry Potter & the Sorcerer's Stone. You don't have to jump through hoops to see all of the deleted scenes, there is a fun and informative look at the making of the movie, the tour of Dumbledore's office comes off nicely, and a number of interviews with Rowling, Chris Columbus, the actors and actresses, as well as some of the individuals in charge of creating the incredible look and feel of the movie, are quite interesting to watch. A number of other activities, particularly among the DVD-ROM features, offer both adults and children a fun and easy way to linger in Harry's world for some time rather than leave immediately upon viewing the movie.

I haven't gone into detail here about the plot of the film because there's really no need. Quite simply, this is just a great movie. No longer are we and Harry oohing and aahing around every corner of the school's labyrinthian corridors; the days of innocence and play are over as Hogwarts faces the prospect of closing. The darkness that will continually work its way into the Harry Potter storyline, greatly increasing the depth of even the most familiar of characters, begins in Chamber of Secrets.

- Rambles
written by Daniel Jolley
published 2 August 2003

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