for scary moments, some creature violence and mild language.
as Harry James Potter
While once again remaining true to the book from which it was created, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets was another fantastic ride, even if it still hasn't reached its potential as a series.
Chamber of Secrets starts off during the summer after Harry's first year at Hogwarts. He has graduated to a bedroom from the closet he used to live in inside the Dursley's house, but he's still treated badly. A house-elf named Dobby comes to warn Harry that he must not return to Hogwarts this year, because there is a plot against him. Harry disregards the warning and with the help of his best friend Ron, escapes the Dursley's house and ends up at the Weasley home. From there he is supposed to ride the train back to school, but once again Dobby tries to stop him and instead Harry and Ron are forced to take Ron's father's flying car to school. When they arrive, Harry starts to hear strange things coming from the walls, but no one else can hear them. In the meantime, strange things are happening to the students at the school, as some of them have become petrified. And someone has written on the walls, saying that the Chamber of Secrets has been opened. During a wizards duel, the entire school finds out that Harry is a Parselmouth - he has the ability to speak to snakes. Because of this, everyone thinks Harry is the one responsible for what's happening to the students. But when Hermione is petrified, Harry and Ron know they must discover who is responsible for what is happening. And what they discover could kill them both.
Even though it clocked in at a few minutes longer than Sorcerer's Stone I enjoyed Chamber of Secrets even more. Everything from the acting to the special effects was taken up a notch from the original. The actors, now used to their characters and allowed to explore who they are more, were all at the top of their game. The last film was used more to introduce the audience to who everyone was, while this movie just picked up from where the last one left off and let the characters evolve further. We learned about Ron's father and his job, we learned Hermione's parents are both Muggles, we learned what happened to Hagrid back when he was in school and we learned a lot of other things about the character's pasts. And the addition of Kenneth Branagh's Gilderoy Lockhart was perfect casting for the character.
The story line was a lot more solid than the previous one. While certain plot elements were left out, the story still made a lot more sense and was better developed. From the moment Harry and Ron entered the school, the mystery was started and was followed throughout. There was no need to have a shallow story this time. In the previous film since the focus was more on who these people were, rather than why they were there, the story was weak and didn't seem to make sense at times. Here, the focus was on what was happening, what the Chamber of Secrets was, and who was responsible for opening it. Along with the deeper story was a darker feeling to the film. While there was more humor involved (courtesy of Professor Lockhart and Moaning Myrtle), the story itself was more serious. From giant spiders and snakes to students themselves being injured, this film was a little more adult than the previous one. Which made it that much more enjoyable.
The other thing I noticed was the special effects were more abundant and much better looking. I thought the Quidditch game for instance looked a lot cleaner than in the Sorcerer's Stone. There were a lot more scenes of magic, one of the major problems I had with the original film. In the original, Harry didn't actually do any magic so when towards the end Hermione said that Harry was a great wizard, you were left thinking, well, why is that? Here Harry and the rest of the crew do a lot more magic, and therefore, there are a lot more special effects, and they all came off pretty good. The only time I really noticed something was off was when Dobby made his first appearance, but besides that, everything was clean.
I also loved how we were able to see more sets, and the sets we had already seen were shown in more detail. The opening shot showed the town where the Dursley's live and you could see thousands of houses, all identical in a small neighborhood. We got to visit the Weasley house where pots scrub themselves clean, and a clock tells you were everyone is at every time. We got to see inside Dumbledore's office and we got to see more shots of Hogwarts itself. Hagrid's home was shown in more detail than before as well.
The problem I had with the film, and this may be my own thing and something that's really not able to be controlled, is that the movie did end up leaving stuff out from the book. I've read all four books at least three times each, so I know them pretty well. And in books you have the time to write as much as you want because there isn't a need to cut something short. If they had added everything straight from the book you're probably looking at a five hour movie, which is just not possible. But certain characters weren't looked into as deeply as they should have been. Ginny, who was taken advantage of by Tom Riddle and eventually was the one who opened the Chamber of Secrets, was a bit character when her role was so much bigger. They didn't show how she started writing in the diary because she had a crush on Harry, and how Tom took advantage of that fact to use her to do his dirty work. Little things like that I missed, even if I understand why it was taken out. I also didn't like the music as much, since it was basically a rehash of the previous films soundtrack. There didn't seem to be anything new about it. And there is also something missing from the film. I can't put my finger on what exactly, but there's a feeling missing. I keep hoping that maybe with a new director on board for the third film, that feeling will be there.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Without question Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets was a great film. I found it to be better than the original because we were allowed to get more involved in the characters and the story was stronger. I still, and probably always will, have a problem with the fact that you can't do justice to the movie each and every person who has read the books has created in their own mind, but the movies here do come close. As much as it pains me to say this, it's almost as if these books would do better as a TV series, because you could go into more detail each episode and draw out a story over a 22 hour season instead of a 2-3 hour movie. But I would still highly recommend seeing this movie because it really is fun.
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