Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
A movie by Chris Columbus
With Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, Kenneth Branagh, Richard Harris, Alan Rickman, Maggie Smith, and others
Summer at the Dursleys turns out once more to be an ordeal for Harry (Daniel Radcliffe). At the worst possible moment, Dobby the house elf calls on him uninvited and implores him not to go back to Hogwarts, because terrible things will soon be happening there. Luckily, Harry's friends Ron (Rupert Grint) and his twin brothers come to rescue Harry from being starved by the Dursleys, so he can spend the rest of his holidays at the Burrow. Going back to Hogwarts doesn't go well this time, though, and the two friends are nearly expelled. But much to the chagrin of Professor Snape (Alan Rickman) who would have loved to set an example, they aren't, at least not this time.
To top it all, strange things begin to happen in the castle. It all starts with Mrs Norris, Filch's cat, being found hanging petrified from the ceiling; someone has written in blood at the wall behind her, "The Chamber of Secrets has been opened". And this is only the beginning...
Everybody who loved the first Harry Potter movie will be even more pleased with this one. The script is following all major plotlines, even though you shouldn't expect every dialogue to be transcribed literally, and of course one has to make a few concessions. A book can't be transferred to the big screen word by word, although Columbus has already been accused of his adaptations being "bloodless" because they purportedly follow the books religiously. One thing is certain, Chamber of Secrets looks even better than Philosopher's Stone, especially considering the (inevitable) Quidditch game that looks more "real" than last time. The cast is more or less the same as in Philosopher's Stone, but just like in the books we meet a couple of new characters, some of them not only for the first, but possibly also for the last time.
People familiar with the books know that any Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher won’t last long – Professor Lockhart, Quirrel's successor, is played by Kenneth Branagh who apparently doesn't find it difficult to slip into Lockhart's cloak after playing Shakespeare. The self-centered teacher who always thinks he is the greatest lightens the otherwise rather dark atmosphere of the movie and is always good for a laugh, even though most of the time he doesn't mean to be funny. If you are patient enough to sit through the entire credits, you'll be able to get a last – but not particularly flattering – glimpse of him.
Even though there were things about it I found a bit unsatisfying, I really liked Chamber of Secrets. After watching it two times in English, even the rather horrible German dubbing couldn't spoil it for me. We will see if Alfonso Cuarón, who will be directing Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, will direct better or worse than Chris Columbus. Alas, we will have to wait for the result until summer 2004, but since the long awaited fifth book of the series will be out in June 2003, we have something to look forward to this year, too.
Last changes: 12/06/04
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