Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Get ready for another fun ride with the release of 'Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets'! Director Chris Columbus has provided us with yet again 2½ hours of magic and mayhem.
As in every movie it is the chemistry between the cast members that keeps the story buoyant. This movie reunites the very same cast as the previous book turned movie. You can see why the producers want to get all the books on film as quickly as possible... the cast is aging rapidly! By the time the 5th installment hits theaters Harry Potter may well be in his first year at Oxford!
This is a far creepier tale than the first comparatively good natured romp. Giant spiders and snakes and ill tempered trees as well as letters scrawled in blood may be a bit too much for the very young. Harry has by this time completely alienated his step family and is regarded more as a prisoner than as a relative. A daring late night 'jail break' by friends intent on helping Harry return to Hogwarts Academy in an enchanted car sets the story in motion. The car becomes an essential plot element as the movie progresses.
We learn some dark history about the Academy and the founders thereof. We learn that Harry can speak to snakes though he himself does not understand how this is possible. Veteran Shakespearean actor Kenneth Brannagh lends his considerable skill to the vain, publicity hungry, pseudo-wizard turned author Gilderoy Lockhart. Harry maintains his rivalry with Draco Malfoy. We meet Draco's father. Friend Ron Weasley suffers a broken wand and some terrible spells gone awry (one had the cinema gagging with revulsion). Hermione is well on her way to becoming an attractive young woman and for one fleeting moment we notice a hint of budding romance.
There appears to be a great deal more special effects in this latest release. More animated pictures adorn the walls and even leave their frames if the going gets tough. Screaming 'Mandrake' roots and impish 'pixies' are featured in the classroom as well as a number of near Latin sounding phrases presented as incantations. Young wizards ply their wands in a contest similar to Merlin and Morgana. 'Quidditch' (the official school sport) is a down right life threatening pursuit. Harry's injury and subsequent cure are one of the films more light hearted moments.
There is some political intrigue as 'Professor Dumbledore' and 'Hagrid' are dismissed and then reinstated. Robbie Coltrane is a fine huge 'Hagrid' and one is hard pressed to realize that he is the self same actor to appear as 'Valentin Sikofsky' in two of the last three James Bond movies. The part of 'Albus Dumbledore' was the final role of Richard Harris and will be recast for the next installment.
All in all it is a fine adventure and worthy of your movie dollar. In my particular showing the film was melted and we were all shuffled off to another cinema to enjoy the first 45 minutes over again. It was incredibly loud so if you have sensitive hearing... bring cotton!