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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 25.44%
Average: 18.34%
Pretty Bad: 8.28%
Total Crap: 11.24%

5 reviews, 139 user ratings

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Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
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by Collin Souter

"By the book...and I mean that in a good way"
4 stars

“Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets” seems to be a more confidant and assured film than its predecessor. The kids have become better actors, the special effects have improved and the story has become more complex. It takes the flaws of “The Sorcerer’s Stone” and concentrates more on improving them then on trying to just re-create what made the first film so magical. The first Harry Potter movie brought J. K. Rowling’s world to glorious life, but the special effects seemed a bit un-finished. The Quiddisch match seemed more like a video game than a sporting event and the computer generated monsters seemed to have been cut and pasted into frame without much spit and polish. “Chamber of Secrets” has corrected most of these problems.

I still enjoy “Sorcerer’s Stone” very much in spite of what it lacked in the effects department. I’m also a huge fan of the Harry Potter books and have even gone back to re-read “Chamber of Secrets.” The book runs slightly longer than the first, so a lot has been cut, but the essence of the story remains intact. The movie clocks in at 2 hours and 41 minutes. It bypasses Harry’s feelings of loneliness at the beginning of the story and just heads straight for the plot. The movie stays more true to the spirit of the second half of “The Sorcerer’s Stone” than the first where we had over an hour’s worth of exposition. Because of this, some people in the audience I sat with started feeling a lull in the movie’s pace about half-way through. Not me, but then I’m a fan anyway and I’m just making sure they get the story right. And they do.

All the original cast members have returned, but of course we get some fresh faces as well. The movie starts off with a House Elf named Dobby, a computer-generated character, the likes of which usually make me cringe. Dobby has come to warn Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliff) not to go to Hogwart’s School of Witchcraft this year, for his life may be in danger. Harry dismisses the notion, of course, because the only other option would be to stay at home with his nightmarish Aunt Petunia, Uncle Vernon and cousin Duddly, who put bars on Harry’s windows so that he can’t get out.

Harry gets rescued, via a flying car, by his friend Ron Weasly (Rupert Grint) and Ron’s two brothers. The use of this car marks the first of noticeable improvements in the technical department, as Harry and Ron must use the car in order to get to Hogwarts. The car ends up in front of a speeding train and Harry almost falls out. The sequence doesn’t just end when the car reaches Hogwarts. It goes a step further in a scary and funny sequence involving an angry tree.

The plot this time involves (you guessed it) a Chamber of Secrets, which hasn’t been opened in decades. Someone or something has been attacking students at Hogwarts, as well as Mrs. Finch, groundskeeper Filch’s cat. The culprit has been leaving messages written in blood as clues. We spend most of the movie wondering who could possibly be behind these grisly attacks. Could it be the new Defense Against the Dark Arts instructor Gilderoy Lockhart (Kenneth Branagh)? Could it be Professor Snape (Alan Rickman)? What about Potter’s sinister and jealous nemesis Draco Malfoy (Tom Felton)? All three perhaps? Who opened the Chamber in the first place?

There are other characters to consider: The giant, but gentle groundskeeper Hagrid (Robbie Coltrane) has a checkered history at Hogwarts. Malfoy’s father, Lucious (Jason Isaacs), has a sort of rivalry with Ron Weasly’s father, Arthur (Mark Williams). Nobody seems to have a clue who has been committing these acts. Harry, Ron and Hermione Granger (Emma Watson) do what they can to find out, while occasionally getting into trouble with the school Headmaster Albus Dumbledor (Richard Harris, in his final screen appearance) and Professor Minerva McGonagall (Maggie Smith), who consider closing Hogwarts until the mystery has been solved.

Since the movie falls into the category of murder mystery (or in this case “petrified” mystery), I can’t say much more about the plot, so on with the accolades. All the actors from the original film return here and it’s good to have them all back. Kenneth Branagh is certainly the most notable addition. I remember feeing truly excited a year ago when I learned that he would be playing the part of the hilariously pompous and self-absorbed Lockhart, author of too many books to mention. Branagh has a history of sometimes going over-the-top with his performances (see “Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein” and parts of “Dead Again”). With this character, Branagh had a chance to use that trait to an advantage. He could actually parody himself. But Branagh shows a surprising amount of restraint here and ends up turning in one truly and purposefully hilarious performance.

Director Chris Columbus, also returning, seems more at ease with the material. The pressure of living up to people’s expectations probably didn’t concern him that much, enabling him to concentrate more on carefully structuring the action sequences and the special effects that accompany them. The Quidditch match looks spectacular. The scene exists more as a chase than as a game and the result may remind you of the Speederbike chase in “Return of the Jedi.” Columbus also deserves credit for the final confrontation involving a, well, a creature. Sometimes, the effects people use CGI, but other times, the creature really exists on the set alongside Harry and it looks surprisingly believable. Columbus also doesn’t shy away from good old-fashioned blood and guts, and God bless him for that.

“Chamber of Secrets” could also use some tightening. The 142-minute running time may test the patience of some, but by now, you’re either into this series or you’re not. Those familiar with the books will have little to gripe about, unless your sole purpose for going is to see what Nearly Headless Nick’s Deathday Party looks like (no-show). I credit Columbus and screenwriter Steve Kloves for not giving the running time top priority, but rather the story and the characters. The pace may lag in the middle as the plot gets thicker, but the thrills that lurk around the corners will be well worth it.

The next Harry Potter movie, “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban,” (set for summer 2004) will be directed by one of my favorites, Alfonso Cuaron (“A Little Princess” and this year’s “Y Tu Mama Tambien”). I have no doubt that much will be cut from the book since they get longer and longer with every installment, but if they even get it right by two-thirds, it’ll knock your socks off. If you want to see what amazing things Cuaron can do with a kid’s movie, just watch “A Little Princess” and I think you’ll agree with me that the next Harry Potter movie has all the potential to be the best in the series. Sadly, it won’t have the late Richard Harris as Dumbledor, but it almost seems like a decent-enough trade-off. Harris beautifully disappeared into the part of Dumbledor and I will miss him. He went out on a high note in a thrilling, hilarious and, yes, magical movie with more than its share of high notes.

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originally posted: 11/15/02 00:13:23
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User Comments

2/19/15 hhshjjsjj PATHETIC 1 stars
1/06/15 steffany LOL only retarded people gave this crap 5 stars 1 stars
4/14/13 Voldemort The weakest entry in a film series based on a mediocre, massively overrated children's book 1 stars
7/12/12 Aimee Fontenot Awesome movie. First one is the best to me. 5 stars
12/14/10 Nathan I think I would have loved as a kid. 3 stars
11/22/10 jordan Lord of the Rings is the simplest idea ever and most boring. walk, say cheesy line, fight. 4 stars
1/28/10 Dane Youssef Suprasses the original, but sill more of the same. 4 stars
7/23/09 david worst of all the movies so far 2 stars
7/14/09 cody i think movie out did the first harry potter flick,visual effects are great as well. 4 stars
3/13/09 Anis This movie is gud like the previous movie but it lacks many imptnt incidents from the novel 4 stars
10/26/08 Shaun Wallner Well made. 5 stars
10/05/08 Lenny Zane Best Harry Potter movie so far. Hope series rises back to this level before end. 4 stars
9/26/08 Annie G The most clichéd and predictable of the series. Watch only for continuity. 3 stars
7/27/07 Bitchflaps A more confident effort than the first, but Columbus still doesn't do the script justice. 3 stars
7/14/07 Vincent Ebriega The first film is merely an introduction, this is really where it starts. 5/5. 5 stars
7/08/07 fools♫gold Profoundly average, and worse than the first. 3 stars
11/19/06 Ionicera Still average, but at least it has Wood. 3 stars
9/02/06 Stanley Thai Not the best but very entertaining. 4 stars
8/09/06 Dragon The Artist The Harry Potter phenomena is an overrated, semi-kid friendly,popcorn flick. 3 stars
8/05/06 David Cohen A good film version, but too much of the book had to be cut 5 stars
6/23/06 George The most Developed novel adapting ever!!!!!! 5 stars
5/31/06 Emily its such a kool movie..i love it 5 stars
4/22/06 Jack Best in the 4 5 stars
1/08/06 Quigley the most enjoyable yet. definitely not a film kids should ever watch. its dark stuff, man! 4 stars
12/28/05 tony A great display of what Harry Potter actually is 4 stars
12/24/05 Krystal I think the boys are getting cuter in every movie! 5 stars
12/03/05 Jennifer S. A good and entertaining movie. 3 stars
11/27/05 mew the 1st was a piece of crap, but this was much better directed and contained greater soul 3 stars
11/27/05 Daveman Entertaining but frustrating in its unwillingness to live up to its potential 4 stars
11/24/05 chris marvellous 5 stars
11/16/05 Adrian Not as good as the first, but definately good. Excellent addition to the movie series. 5 stars
10/27/05 dobo fuks potter wankiest of the 3 so far/poor excuse for a fantasy film/watch lotr 1 stars
10/19/05 Valerie Just as good as the first! 5 stars
9/14/05 Jonathon Holmes an improvement over the juvenile Stone 3 stars
8/12/05 Littlepurch Thought the book would make a gd film, and wasn't really disappointed. 4 stars
7/07/05 morfiou black great movie i wached it yesterday good movie 5 stars
5/27/05 tony Very slow. But Great everything. Exept time 5 stars
4/23/05 Quigley better than #1, better CG, but still pretty dark stuff. LOTR is supreme here. sorry, folks. 3 stars
3/04/05 .... agreed 1 stars
2/09/05 New England Patriots = Dynasty LOTR for the smaller geeks 1 stars
2/05/05 i dont giv a sh1t about that little fag this is suppose to be a fantasy movie??ummmmmm i got more talent in my ass ha 1 stars
1/31/05 Bonnie James Even better than the first 5 stars
1/05/05 Steve Michaud Entertaining and diverting; suffers only from Columbus' pedestrian direction 4 stars
12/05/04 pothead was this film made by a complete muppet??? 1 stars
11/17/04 Gooey LOTR sux ass, and so do you 5 stars
10/26/04 lotrEEproper owns this shi& lol dobby was perfect?basilisk was good??pffthey both look fag like hp is 1 stars
8/06/04 Anthony G the girl is so fucking hott, shoes growing up :D 2 stars
6/02/04 ooop can wait to see the next sequel starring Jay & Silent Bob...Harry Pothead 2 stars
5/25/04 Puspa Allamanda Better than the first 4 stars
4/25/04 Carla i liked the basilisk, and dobby was perfect, but not a masterpiece 3 stars
2/17/04 Emil very well 5 stars
2/02/04 Rocko pile of horse shit 1 stars
1/08/04 Regina Bagwell I have not only seen the movie but, read the books. Your children will love it. 5 stars
12/30/03 Chris I love the Harry Potter films but this was a little to dark to be suitable for families. 3 stars
11/03/03 American Slasher Goddess Dark, atmospheric sequel and an improvement over the original. 5 stars
10/19/03 Littlepurch a HUGE improvement on the first. Gr8 film, gr8 cast. Harry is still too well-spoken tho! 5 stars
9/24/03 JesseL Harry Potter movies are uniformly excellent. 5 stars
9/06/03 Dean Halstead Emma Watson is the sexiest girl I have ever seen. 5 stars
9/03/03 L@^eNdEr 18 Daniel Radcliffe is very cute and plays it very nice!!!!! 5 stars
7/09/03 Emperor's New Clothes? Nope. Just a Fat, Ugly, Naked, Guy. Improvement on the first movie. God, what isn't? Still doesn't do justice to the book. 2 stars
7/05/03 Wynne Read the damn books if you want to compare them to Tolkien. But yes, Riddle is hot. 4 stars
6/11/03 TheOthersFan better than the first one, I must own, but Hollywood can do better 4 stars
5/31/03 Gavin McGregor FANTASTIC!!! The movie absolutely blew me away and is for all ages 5 stars
5/26/03 Biffy T Totally spiffing!!! 5 stars
5/24/03 Bloody Vixen Daniel can be replcaed by carboard boxes and noone will notice the difference! 2 stars
5/18/03 TLsmooth Convinced me to read the books, and that's saying a lot. 5 stars
4/28/03 ScRoOgED Boring, nothing special, tedious. 2 stars
4/26/03 Shadaan Felfeli I dozed off for 30% of the film.I may have enjoyed it if i had read the books first ! 3 stars
4/23/03 Heather Purplethorne A fun romp, eerie and creepy as I guess it's menat to be. 4 stars
4/17/03 Jon "Thumb the Toad" Lyrik Darker, more engaging, and superior to Sorcerer's Stone in every aspect. 5 stars
4/17/03 Roddy fangirl Tom Riddle is hot, Gilderoy Lockhart is sexy!! 5 stars
4/05/03 A HP Fan Great movie! Better than the first one. The kids are doing a great job. 5 stars
4/02/03 Mr. Do these people should die. 1 stars
3/27/03 Ionicera these kids can't act 3 stars
3/27/03 Taylor Good but far short of great 4 stars
3/24/03 kooler too long. . .had to leave by the 3rd ending. How many were there anyway? 3 stars
2/13/03 kz not as good as I expected 4 stars
2/10/03 FcPoliFan Good and bad 3 stars
1/25/03 Ana It's better than the first.It's awesome. 5 stars
1/22/03 MovieFan An excellent movie. Stop comparing it to LOTH. It's apples and oranges! 5 stars
1/11/03 Nick It focuses more on the mystery, which a good HP fan knows the outcome, but it's still great 4 stars
1/07/03 Lauren Kempler I loved it! 5 stars
12/31/02 Kit The movie may have seemed great, but it was very off from the book, and choppy. 2 stars
12/28/02 Harrys Turds Harry Potter is a poofter! Faggot fucker! 1 stars
12/21/02 Anarchy Azmi this is childish crap people....go watch the two towers... 1 stars
12/15/02 viking Better than "Attack of the Clones" !!!! 5 stars
12/11/02 Notsobookworm I agree. Read the books. 4 stars
12/10/02 Heather Much better than the first, of course the kids will love it 5 stars
12/10/02 Calandra It is the best movie!!! 5 stars
12/09/02 George No magic, much too long, I just dont' see what the fuss is about. LOTR for me... 1 stars
12/09/02 J. Chusing Could this movie be any longer? It just wouln't end. On and on and on and on. 2 1/2 hours 2 stars
12/09/02 John Lipian Whoo hoo! Man do I love Harry Potter! Harry Potter rules man! Totally! Go Potter!!!!!!! 5 stars
12/07/02 Jarrod_101 cut off about 30 minutes and you'd have a good movie. long for NO good reason. 3 stars
12/07/02 Michaelb14 enjoyed it 5 stars
12/07/02 Big B Buncha fucking zombies! It was SLOW. It was BORING. Spit out the purple kool-aid. 2 stars
12/05/02 Zargo enchanting 5 stars
12/05/02 Roger Read the books. That is where the magic is. 4 stars
12/04/02 Fonq35 My ass is giving me a kicking for putting it through 2 1/2 hrs of turgid tripe 2 stars
12/04/02 Ionicera woulda been better without all the cheesy parts 3 stars
12/04/02 Angry Black Man Harry Potter is the white Dolomite. He rocks!!!! 5 stars
12/03/02 TheOthersFan Plays up to the "murder mystery" aspect of the story much better than HPATSS. Bravo! 4 stars
12/02/02 dread You guys need to increase your entertainment level, dumbed-down fools 2 stars
11/29/02 nick2k pretty cool... 5 stars
11/29/02 James Norton This is a much better film 5 stars
11/26/02 Joe Levy This is one superb movie. My heart is still racing. Oh, and what a brilliant ending!!!!! 5 stars
11/25/02 Doc's friend Tony Scary, funny, and heart-warming. Best experienced with foreknowledge of book. 5 stars
11/24/02 Dustin Not just for kids. If you love the cinema, you'll love this one. 5 stars
11/23/02 rue the whirl bored out of my mind. nice fx. yawn... 2 stars
11/23/02 Nicole Left out some key stuff from the book, but do we really want to see a four hour movie? 4 stars
11/23/02 Jeff Fowler I love Harry Potter. Yeah Harry! Harry power!!!!!!!! 5 stars
11/23/02 allie metselaay IT WAS THE BEST MOVIE I HAVE EVER SEEN! 5 stars
11/22/02 Madeline Applegate It was such a good movie. The actors who play harry and Ron are soooo cute 5 stars
11/21/02 marissa IT WAS AN AWESOME MOVIE! I LOVED IT! 5 stars
11/21/02 M Had some plot holes, some errors, and some obvious effects but a fine movie still. 4 stars
11/20/02 jules cool 5 stars
11/20/02 Interrog8 Much better than the first. I actually enjoyed this one. 4 stars
11/20/02 miss gond Poor Mary Macgregor! ... And now Moaning Myrtle! Miss Jean Brody must be stopped! 4 stars
11/20/02 Mortis In the words of Patrick Starfish "SPIDERS!!!" Loved it. 5 stars
11/20/02 JesseL Great movie, better than the first. If you don't like it, you're too old. 5 stars
11/20/02 J Troscinski The movie lacked continuity and was salvaged only by Issacs and Baungh. 2 stars
11/20/02 Mary Parker It was very entertaining, and true to the book at the same time 5 stars
11/19/02 Tiffany Folse I love the movie. it really brought the book to life. 5 stars
11/19/02 satoke bad acting, bad script, boring plot. almost walked out on it. 2 stars
11/19/02 Pelican Kick ass bitchin movie 5 stars
11/19/02 bullit17 Excellent. Better than the first ... maybe better than the book 5 stars
11/18/02 jezsyca yeah, fucking awesome says it all right! 5 stars
11/18/02 Roberto Montobaun Just as good as the book, Not that good. 3 stars
11/18/02 Maria Evans It was really great I want to see it again, I give it an A+++ 5 stars
11/18/02 Butterbean Loved it! But I miss the hawkish looking flight instructor 5 stars
11/17/02 Chance Amazing special effects, great fun 5 stars
11/16/02 Yo Mama! WOW!!!! I don't really know what to say....loved the first....loved this one...just...WOW! 5 stars
11/16/02 kat the movie's great!!! i like it! and...and..and...daniel radcliff is so cute!! 5 stars
11/16/02 Senator Blutarsky Flounder, you loved the first one. This movie was even dumber! 1 stars
11/16/02 Stevie J You people are fucking nuts! These movies are peurile and lifeless. Cheesy effects & all 1 stars
11/16/02 Silver Gold It 's... It's... It's..."Faint"! 5 stars
11/13/02 Dave BRILLIANT!!! 5 stars
11/11/02 Kablamo FUCKING BOLLOX 1 stars
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  15-Nov-2002 (PG)



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