Warner Bros.' Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets-A Slightly Underwhelming Return to Hogwarts

The chamber of secrets has been opened. Enemies of the heir...beware.

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets is a 2002 fantasy mystery film directed by Christopher Columbus, written by Steve Kloves, produced by Warner Bros. Pictures, Heyday Films, and 1492 Pictures, and distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures. The film is based on J.K. Rowling's 1998 novel, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. It stars Daniel Radcliffe and Rupert Grint. This is the second film in the Harry Potter franchise. It was preceded by Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone and succeeded by Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.


"Let us hope Mr. Potter will always be around to save the day." -Lucius Malfoy

Plot


After receiving a mysterious warning from a house-elf, Harry Potter proceeds with his second year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. However, strange things begin to happen as Harry hears mysterious voices and students start getting petrified. As the threat slowly increases, Harry must find the fabled Chamber of Secrets to stop whatever horrors are inside of it.


The Chamber of Secrets has been opened. Enemies of the heir...beware.


Even More World-Building / Higher Stakes / Creepy Tone / Setting Up the Future of Harry Potter / Visuals / Runtime / Too Faithful to the Book / Lots Going On / Third Act


Should you see Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets?


Final Score


Positive Aspects


We are back at Hogwarts with a much scarier, much darker entry in the Harry Potter series.


What I love about Chamber of Secrets is its ability to build off of the amazing mythology and world that Sorcerer's Stone set up and expand that. While Sorcerer's Stone kind of told us the rules of the Wizarding World and the history of Voldemort and all that good stuff, Chamber of Secrets delves very much into the history of Hogwarts. We learn about the past stuff with the Chamber of Secrets, we see Voldemort as a teenager, we learn about the founders, and more. It's so interesting and so much fun to dive into the deep, complex world that J.K. Rowling created.


And this movie also has much higher stakes. Sorcerer's Stone was kind of a smaller, more personal story that mainly concerned Harry and Voldemort. Chamber of Secrets is a threat to the entire school. Since Hogwarts is such a big element of this series, it feels like this film has massive implications because of the looming threat to the school. It makes this movie feel bigger and more impactful in the long run.


There are also times where Chamber of Secrets goes into legitimate horror territory. The voice of the Basilisk is one of the scariest elements of the entire series. The idea of students being petrified is very scary. Giant spiders are unsettling in any movie. Even the director, Christopher Columbus, knew this. He had some of these shots positioned at weird angles and accompanied them with this eerie music. I love that they were not afraid to make this movie much creepier than Sorcerer's Stone.


And, even though we are only at the second entry in the series, Chamber of Secrets is already setting up things that are going to have huge implications on Deathly Hallows. The stuff with Tom Riddle's diary is very, very important for the future of this franchise, and I love that they start planting these seeds here. Now, I know the book does that too, but I am still crediting the movie. This is a movie review. I would love to review the books someday, too, but, for right now, I'm reviewing the Harry Potter movies.


The visuals for this movie are also incredible. When I rewatched Sorcerer's Stone, I loved the practical effects and the real production design, but the CGI did not hold up. The production design for Chamber of Secrets is still breathtaking, but the CGI looks...good. And this movie is almost twenty years old. It's unbelievable that the special effects hold up this well in the 2020s.


Negative Aspects


The biggest problem with Chamber of Secrets is the excessive runtime. Chamber of Secrets the book is about 320 pages long...which is the second shortest book in the series. This is the longest movie in the franchise. It comes in at a whopping 2 hours and 41 minutes, which is really long. There is no justification for this. They cut out nothing from the book. And you have to have discipline when you are adapting something. Books are infinite. You don't need to cut anything out from a book. But when you're making a movie, you have to tell your story in a certain time limit. And this film does not seem to understand that.


And, as I previously said, this movie is almost too faithful to the book. The Harry Potter series is very faithful to J.K. Rowling's original vision of the Wizarding World, bringing it to life in a stunning way. However, Chamber of Secrets is almost a shot-for-shot copy and paste of each page from the book. Now, if you haven't read the book, that won't be an issue. For me? That frustrates me. I want the movie to take the source material in a cool, new direction or even visualize it in a way that seems unique. I don't think Chamber of Secrets does that.


And there is a lot of things happening throughout this movie. Now, I wouldn't call it overstuffed, but since they decided to take pretty much every element of the book and put it on the screen, it can feel like there is a lot to keep track of. This movie has a lot of characters already: the main trio, Dumbledore, Ginny, Lockhart, Draco, Lucius, Dobby, and every other side character that's involved and introduced. When you have such a big cast of characters, you can't really give them the development they get in a novel on screen. But this movie tries to do that. And I don't think it succeeds.


Finally, I'm not a huge fan of the final battle in this movie. By the time Harry enters the chamber of secrets, you are tired. You want the movie to be over. So you can't really enjoy the final battle. It's cool, I guess, but it's also stretched a little too thin. It's a lot of the Basilisk sliding around and Harry just hiding from it and then eventually fighting back. The reveal of Tom Riddle is cool, but, for the most part, the enjoyment is squandered by the length of this film.


Should you see Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets?


If I'm being completely honest, I wouldn't fully suggest Chamber of Secrets...if it wasn't a Harry Potter movie. And since it is a Harry Potter movie and an important one at that, yes, you should see Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. After you have seen Sorcerer's Stone.


Final Score


Chamber of Secrets, is, unfortunately, a highly flawed movie. It has a lot to like, but at the end of the day, it's probably Harry's worst outing.


I gotta go Savory here. Age range is 9+.


SWEET N' SOUR SCALE

Sweet (Great) Savory (Good)

Sour (Bad)

Moldy (Terrible)


"Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets"


Fun Factor: 5.5/10

Acting: 7/10

Characters: 6.5/10

Story: 9/10

Quality: 6/10


Directed by Christopher Columbus


Rated PG for scary and intense scenes, moderate fantasy violence, thematic elements


Released on November 15, 2002


2 hours and 41 minutes


Daniel Radcliffe as Harry Potter

Rupert Grint as Ron Weasley

Emma Watson as Hermione Granger

Richard Harris as Albus Dumbledore

Kenneth Branagh as Gilderoy Lockhart

Robbie Coltrane as Rubeus Hagrid

Jason Isaacs as Lucius Malfoy

Toby Jones as Dobby the House-Elf

Tom Felton as Draco Malfoy

Bonnie Wright as Ginny Weasley

Julie Walters as Molly Weasley

Alan Rickman as Severus Snape

Maggie Smith as Minerva McGonagall

Christian Coulson as Tom Riddle

Shirley Henderson as Moaning Myrtle

Richard Griffiths as Vernon Dursley

Fiona Shaw as Petunia Dursley

Harry Melling as Dudley Dursley

Matthew Lewis as Neville Longbottom

David Bradley as Argus Filch

Hugh Mitchell as Colin Creevey