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Movie Review: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Directed by Chris Columbus
Written by Steve Kloves based on the book by J.K. Rowling
Warner Bros., 2002

Slipping seamlessly into the second chapter, Chris Columbus returned as director and made another solid entry into the Harry Potter franchise, still more great TV than great cinema, but who am I to argue?

It’s easy to get the first two chapters of this series a bit mixed up, because the structure is almost exactly the same: Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) is stuck at home with his ungrateful aunt, uncle, and cousin (reprised by Fiona Shaw, Richard Griffiths, and Harry Melling). This time Harry is warned not to go to Hogwarts by Dobby the House Elf (voiced by Toby Jones), who tries everything to keep him away because of “great danger.” But, what kind of story would this be if Harry didn’t go to school?

Reteaming with friends Ron (Rupert Grint) and Hermione (Emma Watson), this time the intrigue involves a secret chamber that opens the door to a slithery, remorseless eating machine that threatens all who are near. We are introduced to new characters who serve as functions to the plot: Ron’s sister Ginny (Bonnie Wright), who has a child-crush on Harry, the new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher Gilderoy Lockhart (played with fun ham by Kenneth Branagh), a wizard Harry discovers writing from the grave known as Tom Marvolo Riddle (Christian Coulson), and a ghost known as Moaning Myrtle (Shirley Henderson, who at 37 pulls off a bubbly, yet dead, teenager incredibly well).

More returning characters include Dumbledore (Richard Harris, who would die this year before the film came out), McGonagall (Maggie Smith), Hagrid (Robbie Coltrane), and of course the great Alan Rickman as Snape.

And, once again, it’s a satisfying chapter and I dug it within the confines of my own home. Radcliffe, Watson, and Grint have a nice rapport and the story from Rowling has a good amount of intrigue and puzzles to solve.

In 2002, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets grossed over $261 million here in the states and close to $900 million worldwide. It sits at 34th on the domestic chart (once 19th), but the worldwide appeal of Harry Potter has it sitting 12th (it once was in the top 10) on that scale. This time, Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers beat it, as did Episode II of Star Wars, all losing out to the only $400 million grosser Spider-Man.

Follows: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

Next: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban


Comment from Jonathan
Time: July 6, 2007, 11:25 pm

I realize I probably remain alone here, but this is still my favorite of the four. While Cuaron gave us the best installment visually; I have always felt this one had the more fun story to it. I kind of wish Cuaron had just done this one as well because then I think we would have the perfect “Harry Potter” film that we have yet to get.

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