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JLFM's Movie Reviews (152)

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Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets 
Better Than The Original
3/4 stars

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets is a worthy sequel. Like any good sequel, it takes what made the original entertaining, but doesn't rely purely on those things, and instead adds some new ideas to the mix. The result is a fun, fantasy film, that's even better than the original (though not by too much).

Once again living with with his cranky foster parents, Harry is met by a strange creature named Dobby that warns him not to go back to Hogwarts. Not listening to Dobby, Harry leaves his house with help from Ron Weasley (and two of his brothers), and they all go back to Hogwarts. Though things start going wrong, just as Dobby had warned, and by through a terrible tragedy, it is revealed that the feared Chamber of Secrets have been opened.

The most notable flaws in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets is its start. The first half hour is fairly week, and a couple notches down from that of the original. The film takes a while to get going, and we also have a most annoying scene with Dobby, who- by the way- is one of the most annoying film characters in recent memory. Similar to Gollum, but without the redeeming psychological aspect, Dobby is a short, irritable, havoc causing creature that causes a lot of trouble for Harry. And yet, at the same time, we are asked to feel sympathy for the character. Impossible!

Still, once things pick up, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets is a clearly better film than The Sorcerer's Stone. The characters are becoming more defined, the Harry Potter universe continues to develop and expand, and the special effects (while still sketchy at times), are a dramatic improvement over the original.

That's not to say there aren't problems. Many new characters are hardly given more than a brief mention and exist purely for fan service. I would've liked to see more of characters like Pomona Sprout and Colin Creevey, and yet, after their introduction, they're hardly seen from again. One could argue that they were not necessary to the plot, but then why do they need to be here at all?

The acting is good, like in the first, though Daniel Radcliffe is significantly better in the role of Harry Potter as opposed to that of the original. Rupert Grint's role as Ron, on the other hand, seems limited to looking frightened all the time, and he's completely ignored during the climatic battle (Hermione Granger decrease in screen presence is even more extreme). Newcomer Kenneth Branagh portrays Gilderoy Lockhart in one of the more humorous roles in the film. Also, special kudos to Shirley Henderson, who delivers a pitch perfect performance as Moaning Myrtle.

John Williams' score is once again, excellent, though perhaps a bit less so than the original. The themes don't stand out as much as they did in the first film, but the score is still delightful.

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets is an improvement over the commendable original. Despite the nearly 3 hour run time, the film isn't often dull (in fact, I found myself more consistently entertained in this outing than in the shorter predecessor). It's funnier, darker, better acted, and more technically proficient than the first film, and the plot is far more unique and intriguing. This is indeed a successful sequel.


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