Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson
Director: Chris Columbus
Running Time: 161 mins
Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets is a British film and the second in the Harry Potter series. Upon starting his second year at Hogwarts, Harry Potter is warned of dark forces that threaten both his own life and the future of the school.
This isn’t quite as delightful and enchanting as The Philosopher’s Stone, but as far as sequels go, this is a pretty decent follow-up. With improved performances from the leading trio, more delightful music and a still prevalent atmosphere of wonder, The Chamber Of Secrets is yet another enjoyable watch from the Harry Potter series, even if its somewhat darker tones and muddled story make it less captivating than its predecessor.
Let’s start with the biggest improvements here over the first film, which is mainly seen in the performances. Only one year older, Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and now Emma Watson as well have settled into their roles perfectly, with a fantastic chemistry that makes their friendship hugely believable, and the centre of the film’s charm.
Radcliffe is far more dynamic as a blockbuster lead, Watson’s performance is much more natural and convincing, and Grint is actually very funny and charismatic as Harry Potter’s effective sidekick. The three characters complement each other very well, but seeing these performances go so well with them helped me to get even more invested in them, even starting to properly fear for them as they fight off the dark forces that threaten Hogwarts.
Along with the performances, Chris Columbus’ direction is pretty good once again. Although not as perfectly on-point as his Spielberg-esque atmosphere in The Philosopher’s Stone, Chamber Of Secrets is still an overwhelmingly family-friendly fantasy movie, with generally upbeat adventure and excitement, something that kept me smiling and having a good time throughout.
Unfortunately, that’s where the best parts of this movie end. Whilst Chamber Of Secrets is still a solid, enjoyable watch, I can’t help but feel a little disappointed (and worried) about the direction it takes. Of course, the job of a sequel is to build on the characters established first time out, and then introduce some darker undertones to amp up the drama and stakes.
Whilst the stakes do feel higher, the way that this film moves towards a darker, more action-oriented story, particularly in the disappointing final act, instead of continuing a wonderful character and world-based adventure, was very frustrating to see, feeling like, in becoming darker, we’re already losing the wonder of the magical world of wizards at Hogwarts.
Simply put, this film works well when it emulates its predecessor’s upbeat and fantastical tone. However, when it leans towards a more serious plot, it loses the character that made the first film such an entertaining watch, and although I’m still open to a potentially intriguing dramatic story in future films, the fact that this film’s darker finale doesn’t go down so well, clashing with Columbus’ earlier wondrous tone, is a point of worry for me moving forward.
That said, Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets is still a solid film. With improved performances, strong directing, and some strong development of the central trio’s relationship, I’m excited and interested to see what happens next time round, albeit a little worried that we could be straying too far from what made the original so enjoyable, and that’s why I’m giving this a 7.4.