Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets


Rating 2½

Directed by Chris Columbus

Written by Steve Kloves, based on the novel by J K Rowling

Starring Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter), Emma Watson (Hermione Granger), Rupert Grint (Ron Weasley), Richard Harris (Albus Dumbledore), Maggie Smith (Minerva McGonagall), Alan Rickman (Severus Snape), Robbie Coltrane (Rubeus Hagrid), Kenneth Branagh (Gilderoy Lockhart), Robert Hardy (Cornelius Fudge), Richard Griffiths (Vernon Dursley), Fiona Shaw (Petunia Dursley), Harry Melling (Dudley Dursley), Jason Isaacs (Lucius Malfoy), Tom Felton (Draco Malfoy), Matthew Lewis (Neville Longbottom), Warwick Davis (Filius Flitwick), Mark Williams (Arthur Weasley), Julie Walters (Molly Weasley), Bonnie Wright (Ginny Weasley), James Phelps (Fred Weasley), Oliver Phelps (George Weasley), Sean Biggerstaff (Oliver Wood), John Cleese (Nearly Headless Nick), David Bradley (Argus Filch), Miriam Margolyes (Pomona Sprout), Shirley Henderson (Moaning Myrtle), Christian Coulson (Tom Marvolo Riddle) and Toby Jones as the voice of Dobby the House Elf

A house elf called Dobby causes chaos when he comes to warn Harry not to go back to school because his life is in danger, but Ron Weasley arrives with his older twin brothers Fred and George in a magical flying Ford Anglia and rescues Harry from the clutches of his hideous Uncle Vernon and Aunt Petunia, who were determined that he would not be allowed to return to Hogwarts.

Back at Hogwarts, the vain, self-aggrandising and comically inept Gilderoy Lockhart has been appointed as the new professor of the Defence against the Dark Arts. Minerva McGonagall tells the students of a legend that Salazar Slytherin, one of the four founders of the school more than thousand years earlier, had built a secret chamber that could only be opened by his true heir and that it would unleash a terrible monster. Although the location of the chamber is not known, evidence suggests that it has been opened and the finger of suspicion points at Harry.


‘Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets’, the second book and film in the series, would seem to be, more or less, a near carbon-copy repeat of ‘Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone’, but it does not get bogged down quite so much establishing a back story, which might go some way towards explaining why I enjoyed it more. This second film is actually even longer than the first one, with a running time of 161 minutes, but although I think it’s too long, somehow it did not seem to be as long as the first film. It seems to move along at a more spirited pace, although once again we are treated to an interminably long sequence in which the houses of Gryffindor and Slytherin do battle in a Quidditch match.

The storyline contains a message about prejudice and, one assumes, the evils of fascism or nationalism. There is also the less than subtle metaphor of the phoenix rising out of the ashes. As in the first film, we receive the message that bullies are cowards and get their comeuppance in the end. In childhood this may well be true, but what, of course, is not mentioned is that in adulthood, sadly, the tables are turned and bullies invariably get exactly what they want.

The same director and screenwriter are back on board for this second film. Kenneth Branagh turns in an amusing and entertaining performance as Gilderoy Lockhart, a preening celebrity wizard who has created a false persona for himself through a series of books telling of his exploits.

‘Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets’ has an 82% fresh rating at Rotten Tomatoes from 198 reviews. It had a production budget of $100 million and grossed just under $879 million at the box office worldwide.

Review posted 15 July 2009


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