One year after Harry Potter And The Sorcerer’s Stone took Hollywood by storm, the film version of the second novel was released. All of the stars returned and some new faces were added as more characters were introduced. Just like the previous film, the movie opened up in November to avoid competing with fellow novel based blockbuster, The Lord Of The Rings: The Two Towers. And just like the first movie, this one was another financial success. So let’s get back to Hogwarts with today’s movie, Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets.
The plot: Harry’s first summer back from Hogwarts has been miserable, with the Dursley’s keeping him locked in his room and Harry not having had any contact with his friends from Hogwarts. When the Dursley’s have important guests over for dinner, a house elf named Dobby appears and warns Harry that terrible things are going to happen at Hogwarts and he had been trying to keep Harry from going back to school. After Harry is blamed for Dobby ruining the dinner, Harry’s uncle puts Iron bars on the window to keep Harry from going back to Hogwarts, but Ron, Fred, and George Weasley arrive to rescue him. When Harry and Ron try to get to the train for Hogwarts, they find their way somehow blocked and take the Weasley’s car to Hogwarts, where they accidentally crash into a Whomping Willow tree. After getting detention, Harry is forced to help Gilderoy Lockhart answer fan mail when he hears a strange voice. Following the voice, Harry, accompanied by Ron and Hermione, find the petrified body of Finch’s cat, Mrs. Norris, as well as a message that the Chamber of Secrets has been opened and the heir of Slytherin has returned. During the course of the year, it is discovered that Harry is a Parselmouth (able to speak to snakes) and as more student’s are petrified, the other students start to believe that Harry is the heir of Slytherin. Harry discovers a diary belonging to a former student named Tom Riddle and which responds back when he writes in it. Through the diary, Harry learns that a student named Tom Riddle had accused Hagrid of releasing the monster 50 years ago. Shortly afterwards, someone takes the diary from Harry’s room and Hermione winds up being petrified. Harry and Ron go to see Hagrid but are forced to hide when Dumbledore arrives with the Minister of Magic. As Hagrid is being taken to the wizards prison of Azkaban, Lucius Malfoy shows up to inform Dumbledore that he is being asked to step down as headmaster. Following some advise of Hagrid’s, Harry and Ron follow a trail of spiders into the woods where they discover Aragog, leader of an acromantula colony, who confirms that Hagrid was innocent and that the creature had killed a girl in the bathroom. After finding a page from a book in Hermione’s hand, Harry and Ron realize that the creature is a basilisk and after learning that Ron’s sister Ginny has been taken to the chamber, they try to tell Lockhart but discover that he is a fraud. The two force him to come with them, they go to the bathroom that Moaning Myrtle haunts where the entrance to the chamber is located. When they enter the chamber, Lockhart grabs Ron’s wand and tries to attack the two kids but his spell backfires and he winds up losing his memory as well as causing a cave in, forcing Harry to continue alone while Ron tries to move the rubble. When Harry reaches the center of the chamber, he finds Ginny as well as Tom Riddle, who has been using Ginny’s life-force to return to life. Tom reveals to Harry that he is Voldemort and summons the basilisk to attack Harry but Fawkes, Dumbledore’s phoenix, blinds the phoenix and Harry manages to kill it with a sword, but is bit by the basilisk. Realizing that Tom is connected to the diary, Harry stabs the diary with the basilisk fang, killing Tom and reviving Ginny. Back at the school, Dumbledore explains why Harry is able to speak to snakes when Lucius Malfoy appears, with Dobby by his side. Realizing that Lucius had set the whole thing in motion, Harry manages to trick Lucius into freeing Dobby. At the dinner that night, the petrified students are returned to normal and Hagrid returns as while Dumbledore announces that there will be no exams that year as a gift to the students.
Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets was well received by the critics, earning an 83% on Rotten Tomatoes, which is higher than the first movie. Many critics were in favor of the slightly darker tone of the movie, which was fitting of the darker story lines that the books had. However, some critics were critical of the movie being too long and too faithful to the book. The audiences didn’t care as it would have a box office opening of over $88 million, putting it just behind the first Harry Potter film and Spider-Man for highest weekend opening (at the time), and would eventually make $879 million worldwide.
This was a great movie in a great series. The cast did an excellent job with their recurring roles and some of the new members also did an outstanding job. Jason Isaacs in particular did a great job as Lucius Malfoy. The story was obviously very good and I did like the fact that while they did stay pretty true to the story, some of the artistic changes that the director did made the movie a lot better than it could have been. Once again, the special effects were incredibly good, especially the scenes involving the basilisk. I really liked the design of the creature, making it look more serpentine than most mythological references claim it to be in order to fit more with the hole “serpent” theme for Voldemort. A great follow up movie to the series and a great movie in general to watch.
Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5