Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (DVD) (WS)
After a long summer with the horrid Dursleys, Harry Potter is thwarted in his attempts to board the train to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry to begin his second year. Harry's only transportation option is a magical flying car, but, unfortunately, it crashes into a valuable Whomping Willow.Still, all this seems like a day in the park compared to what awaits Harry that fall within the haunted halls of Hogwarts. Chilling, malevolent voices whisper from the walls only to Harry, and it seems certain that his classmate Draco Malfoy is out to get him. Soon it's not just Harry who is worried about survival, as dreadful things begin to happen at the school. The mysteriously gleaming foot-high words on the wall proclaim: "The Chamber of Secrets Has Been Opened. Enemies of the Heir, Beware." But what exactly does it all mean? Harry, Hermione, and Ron do everything that is wizardly possible, including risking their own lives to solve this 50-year-old, potentially deadly mystery.
First sequels are the true test of an enduring movie franchise, and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
passes with flying colors. Expanding upon the lavish sets, special effects, and grand adventure of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
, Harry's second year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry involves a darker, more malevolent tale (parents with younger children beware), beginning with the petrified bodies of several Hogwarts students and magical clues leading Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), Ron (Rupert Grint), and Hermione (Emma Watson) to a 50-year-old mystery in the monster-laden Chamber of Secrets. House elves, squealing mandrakes, giant spiders, and venomous serpents populate this loyal adaptation (by Sorcerer's Stone
director Chris Columbus and screenwriter Steve Kloves), and Kenneth Branagh delightfully tops the supreme supporting cast as the vainglorious charlatan Gilderoy Lockhart (be sure to view past the credits for a visual punchline at Lockhart's expense). At 161 minutes, the film suffers from lack of depth and uneven pacing, and John Williams' score mostly reprises established themes. The young, fast-growing cast offers ample compensation, however, as does the late Richard Harris in his final screen appearance as Professor Albus Dumbledore. Brimming with cleverness, wonderment, and big-budget splendor, Chamber
honors the legacy of J.K. Rowling's novels. --Jeff Shannon