3 1/2 Stars
Chamber of Secrets is the magnificent second entry in the Potter series and ranks amongst the upper rungs in the franchise. Truly spellbinding moments are aplenty such as the tree that comes alive and batters a marooned car, a plant root that has the power to cause death from it’s scream when uprooted, an angry letter that reads itself aloud to the recipient, giant talking spiders and leagues more.The clear-line screenplay by returning writer Steve Kloves does a superb job of deepening existing conflicts while opening up the world of Harry Potter by introducing secondary characters and darker themes only hinted at in the first picture. Wonderful cast addition Jason Isaacs and Kenneth Branagh are great fun in two very different roles. Isaacs who’s made a career playing bad guys is Lucius Malfoy father of Harry’s nemesis at Hogwarts academy, his menacing delivery is so approiatly used he becomes a very intimidating character amidst the otherwise lightweight shenanigans of a children’s film. Branagh’s pompous celebrity writer/teacher is one of the most amusing characters in the entire Potter universe.
The conflicts facing our heros this time around include Hermanie’s battle against the prejudice she faces for being of Muggle blood, Harry’s haunted by a voice whispering warnings of his impending death and Ron is forced to deal with ‘class’ issues between his bloodline and the Malfoy’s. Director Chris Columbus is again behind the camera and this follow-up film is consistant with the first because of his sure-footed direction. While the film does feel episodic in some stretches, the story is engaging enough to enchant viewers of varying ages.
Chamber of Secrets suffers from the same problem of over-length that hindered the Sorcerer’s Stone. At a butt-numbing 161 minutes this entry is the longest of the entire series. The third act drags a bit and the final action spectacle doesn’t properly resonate due to the fatigue that sets in by then. However the closing moments are wonderfully handled and this Chamber is an appropriate send-off for original helmer Columbus who would turn the franchise over to Alfonso Cuaron for the next entry.
Director: Chris Columbus
Stars: Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson
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