Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002)
Director: Chris Columbus
Writer: Steve Kloves
Based On: “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets” (Novel Series Book #2) By: J.K. Rowling
Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, Richard Harris, Kenneth Branagh, Jason Isaacs, Robbie Coltrane, Maggie Smith
Country: USA, UK & Germany
MPAA Rating: PG
Time: 161 minutes
Genre: Adventure, Family, Fantasy, Mystery
USA Release: 11/15/2002
On DVD (USA): 4/11/2003
Awards: 3 BAFTA Award Nominations, 1 Grammy Award Nomination
Yes Harry’s back for another exciting adventure, but this time things have gotten a lot more serious. In what would be a movie with a few lasts including the last Potter movie that Chris Columbus directs, and also the sad loss of Richard Harris as Dumbledore. And as the story starts to get more complex so does the way the movie is being filmed and how the story is being told. But will there be enough going on to keep you focus, with what is the longest Potter film at 2 hours and 41 minutes?
In this installment, Harry Potter is getting ready to start his second year, but after another unfortunate mishap this time involving a house elf, it doesn’t look as if Hogwarts will be in his future. But thanks to Ron and his brothers, Harry gets rescued and is able to return, even though the house elf warned him not to. This term involves a couple new things, a new teacher, Professor Gilderoy Lockhart for Defense Against the Dark Arts and the mysterious legend that is looking more and more true. As the secret becomes more haunting and threatens the lives of many, it’s up the gang to find out the truth. But soon they realize that although some might seem like the person/people behind it, the truth is no one has got a clue. Sadly after Hermione becomes one of the victims it’s left to Harry and Ron to quickly put the pieces together before someone else gets hurt or worse killed. And while they get closer they soon start to uncover something that they never would have guessed.
This film pushed the boundaries of time, with what is the longest Harry Potter film, not only at this point in the series but of all of the other that have come after it. That being said although Chris Columbus did another fantastic job directing and also bringing out a bit more darkness not only with the story but with the way it was filmed. But at times it does feel pretty lengthy and can get a little tedious. That aside I really loved the way this one way shot, although the shots were few and far between sometimes, I loved how they used many side angles that brought out the weirdness of the scene and that along with the music just made it great. Just like in the first movie, the music was spot on, but this time there was a great twist and during the climax near the ending is some of my favorite because it sounds like a psychotic carnival ride, almost like something that you might hear in a thriller or horror movie. But the film did have it’s problems, most lying with the writing and lack of character development. Yes, this movie has plenty of action and mystery, but have we really understood anything going on with the characters in this one, maybe just a little. Now I’m not saying that it isn’t entertaining because it is a times, but there are times where it just feels slow and is too overly sentimental for it own good. But at the major times that we need it, it does pack a major punch, like in the final climatic scene in the chamber, great stuff there. As for the acting, again we has a great supporting cast that was made up with some of the best British actors/actresses this time including Kenneth Branagh. But sadly we also lost a great British actor after this, Richard Harris (played Prof. Dumbledore) died shortly before the theatrical release of this movie. He will be greatly missed and it makes you wonder how the character would have been if he had been able to continue. Like with the supporting cast the 3 lead also did a wonderful job. Emma Watson seems to be getting more confident with the role and did a great job, even though her character is gone for a good portion of the movie. Same goes for Rupert Grint, who also was less stiff and still had wicked humor throughout, even stepping if up a notch with his shrilly voice that comes out when he’s most afraid. As for Daniel Radcliffe, he to has gotten more comfortable with his role as Harry, which is letting him fit into the lead and iconic hero shows quite nicely.
Overall, the action is heightened in the second installment, but with less character development and lengthy in time, it can bring out the restlessness in some. Others might find it thrilling especially with the mystery and the scenes in the Chamber of Secrets. That aside, it may not be the best of the Potter films, but it shows the confidence building in the actors and also in the story they tell, that along with the creativity that is being used in the way it is filmed.