Harry Potter (2) and the Chamber of Secrets (2002)
Director: Chris Columbus
Cast : Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson
Synopsis; Forced to spend his summer holidays with his muggle relations, Harry Potter gets a real shock when he gets a surprise visitor: Dobby the house-elf, who warns Harry Potter against returning to Hogwarts, for terrible things are going to happen. Harry decides to ignore Dobby’s warning and continues with his pre-arranged schedule. But at Hogwarts, strange and terrible things are indeed happening: Harry is suddenly hearing mysterious voices from inside the walls, muggle-born students are being attacked, and a message scrawled on the wall in blood puts everyone on his/her guard – “The Chamber Of Secrets Has Been Opened. Enemies Of The Heir, Beware” .
Watch Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets Full Movie: A lot has been made about the pubescence of the three leads in this new Harry Potter installment and it is a bit disconcerting when Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) and Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint) speak their first lines in those awkward cracks of pre-adolescence. However, their growing up, along with the physical blossoming of their friend Hermione (the perky and smart actress Emma Watson) seem mark a general growing up of the whole Harry Potter series. This one is more for grown-ups: the first one hooked the kid demographic and no doubt they will still be enraptured by “Chamber of Secrets.” This is the film, however, that hopes to attract a whole new audience in the parents of those kids. It is darker and has more layers. The explanations about wizardry are less cursory and the acting seems stronger.
Watch Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets Full Movie: I have never read the books so I bring an outlook to the films that is free of personal bias toward the quality of the adaptation or the faithfulness to Rowling’s words. One thing this film does do, that the first one did not, is it made me want to read the books. I was more drawn in, in a literary sense, to the world, to the stories, and particularly to the characters. Whereas the first film was a passable introduction to everything Harry Potter is about, this seems like a deeper riff on some of the same themes that the first one only glossed over.
Watch Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets Full Movie: However, I might not have enjoyed Chamber of Secrets as thoroughly if I had not first seen Sorcerer’s Stone. It gave me (and Chris Columbus’ production team) a framework that invited expansion. Without the background of the first film, I might not have been as emotionally invested in Hagrid (Robbie Coltrane), or have understood the mechanics of “Quidditch,” or even have cared about the tenuous future of Hogwarts School for Wizards.
Watch Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets Full Movie: In a word, the performances are “marvelous.” I read somewhere that Rowling wrote with a Dickensian sense of character and that seems to carry over to the film. Robbie Coltrane as the affable Hagrid is still my favorite. Maggie Smith and Alan Rickman are woefully underused in this film but I can only hope they will resurface in the others; they can still steal their scenes with the tiniest pursing of the lips or eye flickers. (As a side note: Outside of Coltrane’s Hagrid, I find Rickman’s Professor Snape the most interesting and multi-layered character across both films). Richard Harris is suitably noble and wily in one of his last roles. And Kenneth Branagh, as the egomaniacal new Hogwarts professor and author of wizardry books, is perfectly cast and very funny. One thing this film does is allow room to explore these characters in a full sense and give the audience time to get under their skin.
Watch Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets Full Movie: Chris Columbus has been called a tactless director and I can see where some of his scenes, particularly the action ones, are played so broadly that they lose all semblance of meaning. He is not particularly adept at handling the young actors, who come across as pretty bland and uninteresting (Rupert Grint as Ron is sort of annoying, overplaying the stuff that was likeable at first). Likewise, he is unable to invigorate some of the scenes (the car scenes, the spider scene, and even the final encounter between Harry and the Chamber of Secrets’ monster) come off as overlong and particularly flat. The running time of 2 hours and 41 minutes is a bit exorbitant: To me it just suggests that Columbus doesn’t have the necessary audacity to deviate too much from Rowling’s source material. I know that he has to maintain a certain level of faithfulness to the books but, to be honest, what is exciting on the page does not always translate well onscreen. Perhaps Alfonso Cuaron, slated to direct the new film, will have a better, snappier sense of how to energize the action scenes without losing the obvious positives of sticking to the novels.
Watch Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets Full Movie: However, the movie did energize me enough to want to go and read the books. The scope, the palette of, yes, Dickensian characters, and the intertwining of stories makes me want to see how Rowling fits it all together. Then maybe I’ll be able to talk more intelligently about faithfulness when Cuaron releases `Prisoner of Azkaban.’ Maybe I’ll undergo a massive reading program this holiday season.
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