"Harry Potter and the Chamber of
Directed by Chris Columbus.
Written by Steven Kloves. Based on the book by J.K.
Starring Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson and Kenneth
Release Year: 2002
Review Date: 11/17/02
Another year, another Harry Potter
film...and, I still haven’t read any of the books. I am sure that
they would be a good read, it’s just that I don’t read books.
Seriously, I read one, maybe two novels a year and I only read on
airplanes. Now that I am riding five-hour flights every time I get
on an airplane, I should have the time...but, it’s just hard to
convince myself to buy a book that looks like it is for kids.
The second Harry Potter film, though, is
clearly a more adult venture—“Chamber of Secrets” is a decidedly
more dark film, in both its look and its ideas. This time around,
Harry goes back to the Hogwarts School for his second year and the
school is facing a major dilemma—students are being petrified!
Apparently, there is some kind of monster hanging out in the
building, and it is probably hanging out in the Chamber of Secrets,
some mystical area of the school where somebody stowed a huge
monster like a thousand years ago and now it is pissed off.
Hey, whatever—it was clear to me from the
get-go that I wasn’t going to be able to follow all of the little
things that go into the story because this movie is for fans, and it
might happen to appeal to the average moviegoer. I went to see this
film with my buddy Chip, and he was saying afterwards that “Chamber
of Secrets” adheres pretty closely to the text of the second book,
even more so than the first film. This is all important because
this time around, director Chris Columbus doesn’t even take time to
explain the Hogwarts school, that soccer/hockey/tag game that Harry
is playing periodically (I believe this is called Quidditch), the
invisibility cloak or any of the things that were established in the
first film and the books.
The actors from the first film are almost
all back—Alan Rickman, Robbie Coltrane, Maggie Smith, Richard
Harris, Emma Watson (as Hermione), Rupert Grint (Ron, who will teach
classes called “How to Act Scared” one day), and Daniel Radcliffe as
Harry. (Although, by my count, Radcliffe’s character is mockingly
referred to as just Potter five times as much as being called by his
first name. Literally everyone in the movie except his two kid
friends look at him and just say “Heh...Potter” or “It’s you,
Potter” or “Well well well...Potter!” Never in the history of film
has a child been so hated by other characters that he is referred to
by his *last* name.) All of the performers are good this time
around, and the addition of Kenneth Branagh as star guest professor
Gilderoy Lockehart is genius. His comic relief is welcomed in a
series that was without good humor the last go-round. Radcliffe,
responsible for carrying more of this film than the last one, is
clearly more comfortable with the role and I can now envision him
having a nice career once his Harry Potter days are over.
“Chamber of Secrets” has a better narrative
than the last film, some great special effects, and a great cast.
Overall, I enjoyed this one a lot more than the last film. But, it
has its problems—the biggest one being its length. At 161 minutes,
this film is simply too long for a kids’ film. Chip and I got to
the theater Saturday at 1, bought tickets for the 2:10 because the
1:20 was sold out, then sat through ALMOST 20 FUCKING MINUTES of
previews (by far, the longest set I have sat through all year, which
is saying something) before getting out of a movie that ended just
after 5 PM!! Besides the length, I just had a lot of questions
about the Harry Potter universe: weren’t there a total of four
guilds in the last film, not the two in this film? There are
hundreds of kids at the Hogwarts School, but it seems like
everything runs through Harry, Hermione, Ron, and Draco (Tom Felton,
the blond-haired kid). I was intrigued to learn about any of the
other kids at the school, but not at the expense of having to sit
through an even longer film. And, the ending of this film confirmed
for me that this film should have been PG-13, not PG.
But, “Harry Potter and the Chamber of
Secrets” is a worthy sequel—it improves on almost every aspect of
the first film.
Rating: $9.00 Show
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Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard