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A.J.'s Rating: 4 Magic Stars
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Directed By:  Chris Columbus
Written By:  J.K. Rowling (novel) / Steven Cloves (screenplay)
Starring:  Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Richard Harris, Maggie Smith,
Kenneth Branagh, Robbie Coltrane, Alan Rickman, Warwick Davis, Sean Biggerstaff,
Shirley Henderson, Miriam Margolyes, Alfred Burke, Sally Mortemore, David Bradley

Rated:  PG  (scary moments, some creature violence and mild language)
Running Time: 161 Min.
    Harry Potter, world renowned wizard-in-training, is back and more than ready to begin his sophomore year at school.  But along with the magic potions, trouble is also brewing at Hogwarts Academy.  What secrets are kept within those hallowed halls?  Who can solve the riddle of its hidden chamber?  And why would anyone ever want to bring harm to young Harry and his schoolmates?  These questions and many others are answered in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, the sequel to Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
   
    Since Sorcerer's Stone served its purpose as an introduction to the wizardly world of Harry Potter, Chamber of Secrets wastes little time in kicking the story into high gear and high thrills.  After all, that's what good sequels do best, and this is one sequel that has plenty going for it! 
   
    Much fun is had with developing characters from the previous movie and introducing many wonderful new characters into the mix.  The visual effects, especially during the Quidditch match sequences, are more impressive than in Sorcerer's Stone, and the storytelling pace has been dramatically stepped up.  Add to this a grand magical mystery and it's no wonder that Chamber of Secrets clocks in at over two hours and forty minutes!  Believe it or not, there's never a dull moment for children or adults. 
   
    For parents wondering about its fright factor, Chamber of Secrets takes fairly precise aim at the 6 to 16 age group.  There are some scary characters and situations, but I doubt that children already familiar with the story will do much more than cover their eyes for a second or two.  Frights are part of the fun here.  Oh, and I hope you all like spiders.  Lots of spiders.  Chamber of Secrets also offers slithery snakes and slimy slugs, so you can see there's really something for everyone.  Spiders and snakes and slugs, oh my!  Kids love this stuff, so don't worry.  
   
    As for characters, I must mention a standout.  Desperately attempting to steal the show from young Potter and his friends was the splashy and pompous Gilderoy Lockhart, played with goofy abandon by actor/director Kenneth Branagh.  Lockhart was wonderfully annoying, a very fine line to walk indeed!  This is by far the silliest character I've seen Branagh play, and a great departure from his Shakespearean roots.  However, I was a bit disturbed by how natural it all seemed to come to him!  Good acting, or...
 
    So, I must say that Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets delivers on everything that was set up during Sorcerer's Stone.  It's a rare sequel that actually enhances the film that preceded it, making both better in the process.  Next up, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, coming in 2004!
   
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Review published
November 17, 2002
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