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51 of 62 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Everybody's Favorite Young Wizard Returns, November 11, 2002
The magic is back! Harry, Hermione, and Ron Weasley return to the screen with yet another adventure, bigger and better than ever, as they begin their second year at Hogwarts. With a veritable flick of his magic wand, director Chris Columbus offers up �Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets,� the second chapter in the on-going saga of everybody�s favorite young wizard, who is joined this time around by a new instructor (teaching Defense Against the Dark Arts), as well as some formidable new opponents. There�s also a couple of surprises along the way as Harry encounters a rather singular character in his bedroom, and another deep in the Forbidden Forest. And, yes, there IS a Quidditch match.
Harry�s second year at Hogwarts begins inauspiciously with a warning to stay away; someone-- or some�thing�-- doesn�t want him there. Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) is undeterred, of course, and is soon back in Gryffindor House along with his friends and fellow students. But the warnings persist, now written in blood on the walls, and they portend an ominous fate for Harry, as well as many of the other students of witchcraft and wizardry. The messages indicate that the �Chamber of Secrets� has been opened, and that dire consequences (for some unknown reason) are about to befall many of those in attendance at the school. And this is serious business; enough to make Professor McGonagall (Maggie Smith) fear that Hogwarts may have to be closed indefinitely.
So it�s up to Harry, Hermione (Emma Watson) and Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint) to get to the bottom of the mystery. And they don�t have much time; already one of the students has been found literally �petrified� in the hall, and the perpetrator is still unknown and at large. Harry knows the answers can be found in the Chamber of Secrets, but the questions persist: �What� is it, exactly, and �where� can it be found?
As if channeling the spirit and imagination of author J.K. Rowling (in whose heart Harry Potter was born), director Columbus brings this film vividly to life in a swirl of excitement and colorful characters. He sets a perfect pace that will keep even the youngest members of the audience enthralled, and his transitions are impeccable, always moving the story forward with nary a single lull or hesitation. It�s a film that will grab you in the opening frames and sweep! you along to the finish.
Written for the screen by Steven Kloves (adapted from the novel by Rowling), the story is compelling, the dialogue is fresh and crisp and, as expected, the special F/X are the absolute best. And Columbus uses it all to great effect, aided in no small part by the exemplary work of film editor Peter Honess, the original score by William Ross and John Williams, Roger Pratt�s brilliant cinematography, and last, but certainly not least, the engaging performances turned in by his young stars and veteran performers alike.
Young Daniel Radcliffe�s portrayal of Harry is so complete and natural that, simply put, he IS, and will forever be, �Harry Potter.� It�s the kind of definitive performance that will always, without question, be a part of Radcliff�s life, putting him in such dignified company as Sean Connery (James Bond), Leonard Nimoy (Spock) and Basil Rathbone (Sherlock Holmes). And, for better or worse, that�s not such a bad place to be. He has a gift, and if he uses it wisely, he has a long and successful career ahead of him.
The characters of Hermione and Ron Weasley are definitive, as well, but not in the way that Radcliffe�s Harry is, but inasmuch as it would be impossible hereafter to accept anyone else but Watson and Grint as, respectively, Hermione and Ron. Their portrayals are solid, endearing and entirely convincing; who will ever forget Hermione�s adamant stare, or Ron�s bemused expression of befuddlement? Though without a doubt they will always be associated with these characters, they have the kind of talent that should take them successfully beyond their �Potter� personas. And hopefully they will make choices in the future conducive to their auspicious �star-making� turns in these films.
Kenneth Branagh gives a delightful performance as Gilderoy Lockhart, the new instructor at Hogwarts, whose self-importance has made him a legend in his own mind. He is pompous and self-serving, but in a fun kind of way that allows you to see immediately beneath the mask of his vanity and his puffed up ego; he�s the Wizard of Oz revealed as the man behind the curtain. And Branagh plays him perfectly.
In this chapter we�re also introduced to Draco Malfoy�s father, Lucius Malfoy, played with deliciously restrained malevolence by Jason Isaacs. After meeting Lucius, it�s easy to see that Draco (Tom Felton) is an apple that didn�t fall far from the tree.
Also turning in a memorable performance is Shirley Henderson, as the empathetic, disenfranchised ghost, Moaning Myrtle, doomed to forever roam the lavatory in which she met her untimely and premature demise. With very little screen time, she manages to make a decided connection with the audience, which makes her an effective and integral part of the story.
Reprising the roles they established and made their own in �Harry Potter and the Sorcerer�s Stone,� are Richard Harris (Dumbledore); Robbie Coltrane (Hagrid); Alan Rickman (Professor Severus Snape); Bonnie Wright (in an expanded role this time, as Ginny Weasley); Julie Walters (Mrs. Weasley); John Cleese (Nearly Headless Nick); Richard Griffiths (Uncle Vernon); Fiona Shaw (Aunt Petunia); and Harry Melling (Dudley).
The additional supporting cast includes Toby Jones (extremely effective as the voice of Dobby, the House Elf), Christian Coulson (Tom Marvolo Riddle), Miriam Margolyes (Professor Sprout) and Sally Mortemore (Madam Pince). Be forewarned, there�s a scene in the Forbidden Forest that will absolutely make your skin crawl; but it�s all a part of the fun, and by the final scene of �Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets,� you WILL, without a doubt, believe in magic.
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