Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

This entry is part 2 of 8 in the series Harry Potter Movies

Released: 2002
Director: Chris Columbus

Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson

A great film – but missing a little magic


If you’ve already read my review of the novel Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets then you’ll know that it’s my least favourite book of the series.  And so it is with the film.   Chamber of Secrets is a great film but it missing some of the magic of the first.  Having said that – it’s still better than almost anything else on my DVD shelf.

The film begins, as the last one did, with Harry in Little Whinging being badly treated by the Dursleys.  He’s not confined to the cupboard under the stairs anymore but not much else has changed.  Rescued by Ron Weasley and his brothers George and Fred in a flying Ford Anglia, Harry is welcomed back into the magical world once again.  Despite warnings of dire consequences Harry eagerly returns to school where danger comes in the form of a deadly creature unleashed from the Chamber of Secrets threatening the lives of muggle-born students and the very future of Hogwarts itself.

Chris Columbus returns to direct this chapter and in many respects Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets looks very much like its predecessor.  Despite the slightly darker tone which is reflected in a number of scenes the film is still predominately light and bright and this jars a little.

The acting by the adult cast remains impressive with Kenneth Branagh a welcome addition to the cast, striding around chewing the scenery nicely as the egotistical Defence Against The Dark Arts Professor (and heartthrob) Gilderoy Lockhart.  Branagh clearly relishes the opportunity to send up his own reputation for pomposity.  I love Branagh as Lockhart, he plays the role perfectly, but there’s a tiny part of me that would have enjoyed seeing Hugh Grant (who was originally cast as Lockhart but withdrew due to scheduling conflicts) have a crack at the role.  Alan Rickman continues to impress as Snape, ensuring the character doesn’t become a one dimensional villain.  The child stars, however, seem to have taken a step backwards in their acting skills with slightly more awkwardness on show than in the previous film.  Perhaps it’s the very public onset of adolescence but the three leads, especially Daniel Radcliffe as Harry, seem far more self-conscious and less natural than in Philosopher’s Stone.  One notable exception is Tom Felton who impresses as the sneering, bullying Draco Malfoy and shows there’s great potential for real talent to be developed here.

The special effects, for the most part, are stunningly impressive.  The CGI house-elf Dobby is a triumph and exactly the kind of “real” creature that he should be and that Jar-Jar Binks certainly was not.  The Quidditch scene is also magnificent and the moment where Harry’s arm flops boneless after a botched medical spell from Lockhart is deliciously gruesome.  Some of the flying car sequence doesn’t quite make the grade and looks a little shaky, it would have benefited from being a little shorter and tighter.

The film is pretty faithful to the book, losing scenes only in the interest of time.  It’s totally understandable but it would have been great to see the garden de-gnoming at The Burrow, it adds nothing to the plot but is really good fun.  There’s also a little hint of an awkward relationship developing between Ron and Hermione which doesn’t appear in the book – clearly inserted with the benefit of reading further installments in the series.

Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets is a well-made, (mostly) well-acted adventure film but there’s just a little bit of magic missing which stops it being a brilliant film and that’s a real shame.

Previous and next posts in this series:<< Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s StoneHarry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban >>
If you enjoyed this post, please consider leaving a comment or subscribing to the RSS feed to have future articles delivered to your feed reader.

Speak Your Mind