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Harry Potter Countdown: “The Chamber of Secrets” Review

 

Kieran’s Rating: 7.5/10
Player Affinity Composite Rating: 7.0/10
(4 ratings total)

It is day two of the Harry Potter countdown and as logic dictates it is time for a review of the second film “The Chamber of Secrets.”
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With “The Sorcerer’s Stone” (or “The Philosopher’s Stone” as it’s known out of the U.S.), proven to be a success, the logical idea was to follow the same style and formula of the first film.

The action picks up where “The Sorcerer’s Stone” left off, with our hero Harry about to return to Hogwarts. But he receives a warning from Dobby the House Elf (Toby Young) that he is in danger and not to return to the school he loves. When he returns to Hogwarts a new threat emerges and a creature is attacking muggle-born students, with it all linked to the school’s dark past. All this goes on as Harry has to protect his own life and being educated by the fame-obsessed and hopeless Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, Gilderoy Lockhart (the perfectly sleazy Kenneth Branagh).

Chris Columbus was an ideal choice for director; he understands family cinema and knows how to make a film fun, but he was brought in to direct because he is a safe pair of hands. He knows how to deliver on family friendly physical comedy, bright colorful set-pieces and action, such as the Quiddtich scenes and the final fight, but he does not know how to handle darker scenes and ideas. Themes like racism (i.e. pure-blood hatred against muggles) within the wizarding world just did not have all the bitterness it needed or Dobby’s self-harming was more played for laughs and briefly looked at. “The Chamber of the Secrets” is darker then it’s predecessor but in a way that is acceptable for children.

As a book, “The Chamber of Secrets” is the weakest in the series and there is only so much a screenwriter and a director can do to elevate the material. The plot is a little lacking depth and invention to the rest of the books and films. “The Chamber of Secrets” is the shortest of the novels, but is the longest of the films with a running time of 154 minutes. Columbus and screenwriter Steve Kloves made the film too loyal to book (and I normally criticize adaptations for not being loyal enough), and were afraid to cut some of the fat bogging down the story. This type of film needs fast pacing and focused story telling and sometimes it was lacking.

Daniel Radcliffe already starts to show improvement in his performance and Harry being stronger as a character, but Rupert Grint and Emma Watson are still unsure as actors at this point. The major adult actors all return and certainly give solid performances throughout, but many were pushed to the background. Branagh and Jason Isaacs were excellent additions to the series, with Isaacs knowing how to deliver in the antagonist role — horrid yet silver tongued with the right people.

Overall “The Chamber of Secrets” is a perfectly entertaining film with action, comedy and magic that was in the first film. But it is too long for its own good, being held by subplots and set pieces. Fans of the first films and fantasy cinema will enjoy it but people who did not like “Sorcerer’s Stone” will not be won over.

 

Rating: 7.5/10

Player Affinity Composite Rating: 7.0/10

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Directed by Chris Columbus
Written by Steve Kloves, JK Rowling (book)
Starring by Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, Kenneth Branagh

 

Rating
7.0

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