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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 Brian McKay

"A Non-Believer's Perspective"
3 stars

I had heard the raves from young and old alike: "The HARRY POTTER books are SO good!" And then the first movie came out, and they raved about that too. And the more they raved about it, the less inclined I was to see it. But alas, on a cold Thanksgiving day, as the family patriarch insisted we all go out to a matinee of THE CHAMBER OF SECRETS, I was finally exposed to the world of Harry Fucking Potter. While it certainly wasn't horrible, it also wasn't nearly engaging enough to bring me back for seconds.

Maybe I'm just too old and cynical to "get" the whole Harry Potter phenomenon. Lord knows, I probably would have eaten it up if I were 13 again - a time in my life when I thrived on fantasy novels, such as the Xanth series by Piers Anthony. But these days, I require that my sci-fi/fantasy movies have a bit more meat on their bones. While the film has a few laughs and some thrilling moments, it also tends to be slow and bloated and clever on only a young-adult reading level (indeed, many kids in the audience were repeating some of the film's most banal lines and then laughing gleefully).

Since I didn't know squat about Potter going in, I got the back story in the car on the way to the theater, complements of Mi Pater who is 65 years old and, inexplicably, loves this shit. So, at least I didn't have to watch it cold and I had a rudimentary grasp of the main characters and overall plot. For some reason, though, I'm not rushing to add the first film to my Netflix queue.

It is about to be young Mr. Potter's (Daniel Radcliffe) second year at Hogwart's Academy, an exclusive private school for children with innate magical abilities (kind of like Professor Xavier's mutant academy, but more British and stuffy). However, his magic-hating legal guardians refuse to let him go back and keep him locked in his room. Harry is intent on returning to Hogwart's anyway, despite the fact that an annoying CGI elf named Dobby with a bent towards self-flaggelation shows up to warn Harry that his life will be in danger if he goes back there. (Dobby is apparently the Jar Jar Binks of the franchise, and I kept expecting him to say "Meesa must warn Harry Potter in danger!")

Potter ignores Dobby's warnings, and is rescued from his cumbersome foster family by his friend Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint) with the help of a flying car (Not the Blade Runner kind, but more the Chitty Chitty Bang Bang kind). Upon their return to Hogwart's, they are reunited with their other chum, the cute, prim, and proper Hermione Granger (Emma Watson). They also encounter a new nemesis, Draco Malfoy (Tom Felton), whose father Lucius (Jason Isaacs, reprising his "smug Lymie bastard" role from The Patriot) is a professor at Hogwart's.

Things don't stay "normal" at Hogwarts for long, though, before people are found petrified in the halls, along with cryptic messages about "The Chamber of Secrets" being opened. Hogwart's legend has it that an evil sorceror, who was one of Hogwart's founders, concealed a monster in the chamber of secrets deep beneath the school, with the intent of ridding the school of all "mugbloods" (students who are not "pureblood" magicians, but come from normal human stock). So, Harry and his friends must figure out who has opened the Chamber of Secrets and how to stop them before more people are petrified by the monster.

And man, do they take their sweet time doing it! Did this film really have to be two and a half hours long? Chamber of Secrets doesn't even really find a pulse until the quidditch match (think polo on flying brooms) a full 45 minutes into the film. It gets moderately more interesting after that, with mystery-solving, spell-casting, and a run-in with enough giant spiders to make a Starship Troopers sequel. Unfortunately, it just takes too long to get to the bloody point. Why do six people have to be petrified before somebody gets a clue to follow the damn spiders that are seen fleeing the scene of the crime every time a body is discovered? Bloody hell. And this thing has more Deus Ex Machinas than you can shake a magic stick at.

The performances are mixed. Radcliffe and Watson are two of the better child actors I've seen in recent memory, and having the likes of the late Richard Harris, Alan Rickman, and Robby Coltrane on board certainly never hurts a production. However, most of the cast is prone to overacting with varying degrees of obnoxiousness, the worst offenders being Grint as the sidekick Weasely, Kenneth Branagh as a boastful yet incompetent sorceror/professor, and Shirley Henderson as a whiney ghost named Moaning Myrtle who haunts the girls' loo and who you are likely to wish death upon many times more before the final credits roll.

While I don't share in the enthusiasm of the converted, and I still don't understand how J.K. Rowling could have made such obscene gobs of cash off of such a simple and overwrought premise, the Harry Potter universe is not without its charms, and it manages to redeem itself more often than not - if only slightly. I'm sure the fans will get many years of enjoyment to come from Pottermania. As for me, I'll stick with LORD OF THE RINGS.

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originally posted: 12/04/02 11:48:19
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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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