Movie Review: Harry Potter and Chamber of Secrets

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The light-hearted spirit of “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” (2001) continues in the first sequel, “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets” (2002). Cautiously veering into the darkness with only the illumination of the car’s headlights, Harry and his friends discover that Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry is a more perilous place than they had known just a year before. With new knowledge and a heightened level of danger biting at our heels, this film grabs our attention from the very beginning and doesn’t let go.

Packed to the brim with adventure and moments of childish comedy, this movie still resonates with a younger audience despite the dark riddles and mysteries creeping into the story. Flying cars, traveling through fireplaces, deadly trees, and learning the practical uses of magic in a normal wizarding household are still at the forefront of the story, carrying on the delightful tone and continuing the world building that were introduced to in the first film.

On the other hand, social hierarchy and the plight of the downtrodden become a powerful underlying subtext in the story, and we explore Harry’s ties to Voldemort as he discovers memories of his past. Harry, Hermione, and Ron will need to work together to find out what the Chamber of Secrets is and how to stop the horror it holds within, even as danger lies in wait down every water–soaked corridor. We begin to finally see the shape of things to come: the story has begun its turn down a dark path, and we will begin to learn about unsavory past events in the secret history of Hogwarts to find that the school is not all swiveling staircases and chocolate frogs.

Loyalty and friendships are tested in this tale. While it works as a stand alone story, this movie is also an important puzzle piece of the overall series with elements of need–to–know information scattered throughout. Be prepared for childish moments that may make you reach for the pause button. However, the numerous brushes with death (arachnophobes, beware) and the new and endearing (and not so endearing) characters will make your continuing journey through Hogwarts, and entering the “Chamber of Secrets,” well worth the return visit.

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