Director Chris Columbus and writer Steve Kloves serve up more of the same in the second Harry Potter movie (pretty much as JK Rowling did with her second book).Their storytelling is more confident – Columbus deviates from the book a little to deliver greater scares and offers minor variations for the readers. He does a good job fitting in all the major subplots and characters, at least briefly, but the film is – again – too long. Reducing the mawkish finale wouldn’t have been a great loss.
Having everyone, but most noticeably the kids, a year older gives the film a glimmer of the fascination of reality TV or watching the 7 Up series. The kids are also more confident performers; among the adults, Kenneth Branagh offers a welcome addition as the preening Gilderoy Lockhart and Richard Harris’s scenes have added poignancy knowing he died from cancer not long after filming wrapped.It’s as well that Columbus is handing over the reins to Alfonso Cuaron for film number 3. The series needs a new look and probably a new adaptor, willing to be more ruthless with subplots, to maintain interest. Like the first, this feels more like a filmed book than a movie in its own right.