a critiQal film review Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002)

Plot: Someone, or something, is petrifying non-trueblooded students. Harry Potter (Radcliffe), with the help of friends Hermione (Watson) and Ron (Grint), must try and discover the source before Hogwarts has to close.

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  • ... a big improvement over the first film.

After the disappointment of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (2001), I wasn’t too interested in seeing the second.

After hearing a few positive reviews from friends – not to mention having a friend pay to get me in – the film seemed worth seeing. At least I wouldn’t be out any cash. Plus, I was interested in seeing if they would be able to at least improve a bit from the original.

Luckily, this film was a big improvement over the first.

Radcliffe (Harry Potter) has grown up a bit, and it looks like he’s taken some acting lessons. He was such a disappointment in the first film, maybe he was embarrassed enough to learn how to act. Whatever the case, I’m glad. He actually seemed to care this time about really getting into his role. He’s still not up there with decent actors, but he’s getting much closer, and it will be interesting to see if he keeps improving with the third film.

Kenneth Branagh (Professor Lockhart) is a welcome addition to the cast. He stands far and above most of the main characters, with the exception of Richard Harris (Dumbledore), and elevates the film a little all by himself.

Watson, Grint and Felton (Hermione, Ron and Draco) all give good performances, with Felton showing the most improvement of the three. Again, though, Alan Rickman (Professor Snapes) is thoroughly underused, sadly. Hopefully they will make more use of him in the third film.

The plot was good. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets actually seemed to be more than just vignettes this time around, with the filmmakers trying to keep the pace of the movie going, without the awkward pauses of the first.

Again the film does seem to be a bit long, but doesn’t move at the seemingly snail pace of the first one. It’s much harder to pinpoint which scenes could have been shrunk for pacing, but you can still pick out a few.

The special effects are again incredible. There are a few spots where they could have worked a bit more on them (the bird, Fawkes, for one), but overall they are quite spectacular.

The special effects still threaten to take over the film, but the addition of Kenneth Branagh almost fights them back all by himself. The lighting also seems to highlight Mr. Branagh, making him the lightest person in the whole film. Don’t believe me? Watch it again, if you’ve already seen it. Everybody else seems almost always to be covered with dark clothing, while Mr. Branagh is always wearing lighter clothing. An interesting effect, if you pick up on it.

All in all, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets is quite a big improvement over the first film. With it’s more movie-like pace, as opposed to the MTV video-style of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (2001), it’s actors – who seem to be growing more into their roles with each film – and it’s again incredible special effects, this is one Harry Potter you’ll want to check out.

After watching this, I could actually sit through the first, just to build more anticipation for the improvements the third film (Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004)) could bring to the series.

Harry Potter’s Chamber of Secrets must include something about making a decent film, because this one is worth seeing.

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