Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002)

“It is not our abilities that show what we truly are. It is our choices.”

Potter Week+ continues as I take a look at the second film in the series, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. For those interested in continuity you may wish to begin at the beginning.

Going into this excursion through the Harry Potter films, my memory of the second film was that it was the weakest in the series having now re-watched Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets for the first time in years it occurs to me that it’s really not very good at all.

The film is ponderous, silly, and it feels too long. There’s an attempt at a decent mystery, that works some of the time, but most of the time just plods along until the next piece of the puzzle is doled out. Of course, it doesn’t help that the main villain turns out to be a haunted book.

While I praised the casting of the young actors in yesterday’s review, I think they take something of a step back in this film. Daniel Radcliffe’s Harry is particularly boring and devoid of emotion, while Rupert Grint spends most of the movie mugging at the camera. The adult cast is, however, still superb. Alan Rickman makes the most of his expanded screen time and is downright creepy as Severus Snape, while new addition Kenneth Branagh is fantastic as the comically pompous Professor Lockhart.

To the film’s credit it stays very faithful to the book and does introduce some themes that will become important later in the series, but the flaws in the faithful approach to adaptation begin to show here, as the film trundles through some sub-plots that probably could have been trimmed in the name of brevity.

Director Chris Columbus once again does an admirable job of taking JK Rowling’s text and turning it into a rich and detailed visual world. However, the second time around I’d expect a little more from the film. Instead he somehow delivers less.

As a part of the broader series ‘Chamber is an important part that shouldn’t be skipped, however, when I consider it on its own merits, and weigh its bulky 160 minute running time, I’ve got to conclude that this installment is Not Worth Seeing.

[Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002) – Director: Chris Columbus – Rated PG for scary moments, some creature violence and mild language]

omed ratings NS