Harry Potter And The Chamber of Secrets
Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, Kenneth Branagh, Richard Harris, Robbie Coltrane
Directed By :
Chris Columbus

The sequel to last years debut of the Harry Potter book series on film starts with Harry being visited by a house elf who warns him not to return to Hogwarts. After a daring rescue in a floating car by Harry's friend Ron and a less than normal trip, Harry returns to the school. It doesn't take long for things to go awry as students at the school start turning up petrified. Harry and friends find out about the Chamber of Secrets, a hidden room created by one of the school's original wizards. To open the chamber and release the monster inside, the heir of the evil wizard must find and open it. To keep Hogwarts from closing down, Harry must find the Chamber and stop the monster within.

As with the first movie, The Chamber of Secrets really manages to capture the feel of the books with wonderful set and costume design. There are some truly beautiful shots that really add to the magic of the film. This time around, the special effects are more a part of the film and add to the encompassing feeling that draws you into the Harry Potter world. John Williams soundtrack creates a fine mood with familiar themes that reoccur from the first film.

The acting is a fine collection of bit parts. Radcliffe's Potter is rather dry and uninteresting, but fortunately, the large child cast has more than enough shining performances by bit characters to make up the difference. Both Grint and Watson are charming as Harry's friends and his nemesis, Malfoy, works wonderful as a bitter, jealous foil to Harry's good guy. Most of the adult actors are merely around as window-dressing, but they do manage to deliver in their rare moments. Kenneth Branagh as the new professor Gilderoy Lockhart steals the show when it comes to the adult cast. He's funny as the egotistical fake who's running from one lie to the next to cover his sham.

For those who found the last film to be too slow, you'll be pleased that this one has a better pace and feels more "dark". There's no time wasted in creating a back story for the characters, which in itself is both good and bad. If you haven't seen the first movie, you may spend a good bit of the movie in the dark. Even though the film is well over two hours long, it's paced well enough not to leave the viewer wishing the film was over sooner. While the telling of the story and basic plot elements are fairly predictable (you know the good guy is going to win and save the day in the nick of time), the universe in which the story evolves is what is the main showpiece of this film.

If you're a fan of the first movie or the book series, you'll be sure to see this. People who missed either may need Cliff's Notes to get up to speed. The Chamber of Secrets is enjoyable for non-fans, but in all honesty, true fans will get the most from it.

- - Vane

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