With the first Harry Potter film, we were introduced to the wonderful world of wizardry as envisioned on the big screen. The second film, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, introduces even more of that world, and also delves a lot more into Voldemort and his motivations.
Before heading back to Hogwarts, Harry is warned by Dobby the house elf that it may be too dangerous to return. Once back at Hogwarts, the Chamber of Secrets—a legendary hidden area of the Hogwarts castle said to contain a terrifying monster—is opened and strange things start happening. Several students are petrified, Harry finds he is hearing voices, and people begin to suspect Harry is the “heir of Slytherin”.
I thought the filmmakers really hit their stride in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (which is good since this is only the second film in the series). The story flowed better than in the first film, and more time could be spent getting into the story rather than introducing the world.
The actors really settled into their roles in this film, especially those for the three main characters. Daniel Radcliffe and Rupert Grint really became Harry and Ron. In the first film, Hermione was just obnoxious (maybe even more so than in the book), but Emma Watson really took Hermione to heart and made her blossom this time. I really enjoyed the interaction between the three.
The effects, being by Industrial Light & Magic, were excellent. Moaning Myrtle was wonderful, in all her ghostly glory. I love her blend of self-pity and dark humor, just like in the book. The basilisk was very nicely done. The texturing, lighting, and everything about it shows the artists who made Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets cared about quality. John Williams’ music thoroughly enhanced the film, too. Just the right amount of music at all the right places, setting just the right tone.
Of all of the films in the series, I thought this was one of the best adaptations. Yes, not everything made it into the film, but I found the spirit of the book everywhere. From Ginny being twitterpated with Harry throughout the film, to the enchanted Ford Anglia, to Ron’s slug eating, to Aragog and his children, Steve Kloves (as the screenwriter) and Chris Columbus (as the director) were channeling Rowling throughout the whole process.
I really enjoyed Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. I plan to reread the book again, just because I so enjoy the Harry Potter world. If you have been hiding on a different planet for the last 14 years and haven’t yet seen this film, be sure to watch the first one first, and then watch this one again. It remains one of my favorites.
Release Date: November 15, 2002 (UK/USA)
MPAA Rating: PG
Alcohol/Drugs: 1 (occasional pipe smoking)
Language: 1 (Ron has a bad mouth)
Violence: 3 (some brutal violence, blood, extreme peril, death)