Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, Kenneth Branagh, Richard Harris, Maggie Smith
Directed by Chris Columbus
Rating: A+

This sequel to the magical Harry Potter series is a close favorite of mine. Between the mystery surrounding a Chamber of Secrets and the new, but terribly full-of-himself Professor of the Dark Arts, the second Harry Potter movie is as fun as the first.

Despite a meddling house-elf that tries to stop Harry from going back to Hogwarts for his second year, Harry flies a car to school instead of taking the normal mode of transportation: the train. His school year doesn’t get any easier after almost being expelled. Students are being petrified left and right, and Harry always seems to be at the scene of the crime at the wrong time. Add that he reveals his gift for speaking parseltongue (Snake speech) to the whole school at a bad moment and now he has become a social outcast. Everyone is freaking out about the Chamber of Secrets being opened and talk of the school being shut down really puts a damper on Harry’s second year.

Nothing tests true friendship like going through hardships. Ron and Hermione believe Harry can’t be the one petrifying students, even if they think his talking to snakes is scary. They break rules while trying to figure out who opened the Chamber of Secrets and what is attacking their fellow students.

Hermione, who has been an established stickler for rules, thinks of a way to go undercover to question Malfoy, someone who always has it out for Harry at school. She makes a Polyjuice potion which will allow the trio to transform into Slytherins and get into their common room to ask Malfoy if he opened the chamber. The potion is difficult to make and is an illegal substance because of how it can go wrong in many ways (like accidentally turning yourself into a cat instead of another human being).

Ron faces his fear of spiders with Harry as they delve into the deep parts of the Forbidden Forest to talk to a giant spider. This spider, Aragog, may hold the key to revealing what the monster of the Chamber really is and prove Hagrid’s innocence in it all.

Then there’s Lockhart, the newest professor at Hogwarts who claims he is the best wizard of all for his adventures. He has written numerous books which he makes his students buy for his class, like “Gadding with Ghouls”, “Holidays with Hags” and “Wanderings with Werewolves”. His popularity comes down to his good looks because only the girls have really fallen for him. Hermione, who usually keeps a cool head, gets weak-in-the-knees when she has him for class. Kenneth Branagh does a great job playing this empty-headed egomaniac. Hugh Grant was originally cast to play this professor but due to scheduling conflicts, had to turn the role down. I think Grant would have been perfect but Branagh’s Lockhart is pretty amusing to watch.

Even though Chamber of Secrets is a long film (it’s run-time is 2 hours, 40 min), it stays remarkably true to the books. Yes, it’s disappointing that not everything from the book was included but if it was any shorter, important scenes would have been cut out. I would have liked to see Nearly Headless Nick’s deathday party and more of Borgin and Burke’s dark arts shop, but that’s what the deleted scenes are for. Compared to the future movies, however, Chamber of Secrets is still a good one to watch if you’re looking for accuracy and mystery.

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