ninth symphony films - movie reviews


DIRECTOR  -  chris columbus

RATED  -  pg

GENRE  -  fantasy

LENGTH  -  161 minutes

RELEASED  -  15 november 2002

DISTRIBUTOR  -  warner bros.

OFFICIAL SITE  -  chamber of secrets

ESTIMATED BUDGET  -  $100,000,000
harry potter and the chamber of secrets - a shot from the film


buy the dvd from harry potter and the chamber of secrets at

buy the dvd from harry potter and the chamber of secrets at

harry ignores warnings not to return to hogwarts, only to find the school plagued by a series of mysterious attacks and a strange voice haunting him.

christian coulson landed the role as tom riddle, even though he is 24 and exeeds the 15-17 age group set for auditions.


picture from harry potter and the chamber of secrets

picture from harry potter and the chamber of secrets

picture from harry potter and the chamber of secrets


three out of four possible stars

Chris Columbus has created a sleeker, better made, flashier "Harry Potter" movie with this second installment of the mega-bucks franchise, but for some reason, he still couldn't get its running time to a respectable length. At 161 minutes, this movie is just as much of a monster as was the first. But there's a key difference between The Sorcerer's Stone and The Chamber of Secrets: This film shows a more experienced Daniel Radcliffe in front of the camera, and as his character is the reason for the movie to exist, his improved performance makes the 161 minutes of Secrets seem not so gargantuan.

To put it bluntly, it looks like Radcliffe took some acting lessons between the filming of the first "Potter" movie and this one. Instead of having to wait for the supporting characters to take up the slack, Radcliffe shows that he can really bring life to his character and wasn't picked for the role simply because he looked the part. Although he bears an uncanny resemblance to the drawing on the cover of the J.K. Rowling novels, Radcliffe's more mature performance in The Chamber of Secrets bodes well for the continuation of this series on screen.

One hopes that the producers are able to convince him to portray the wizard further than the third film (he is currently contracted through, but not past, the third film in the series), because Radcliffe really has taken the character and put his stamp upon it. The two lucky actors to share the largest supporting roles, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint, as "Hermione" and "Ron," respectively, don't have to take up the acting slack in this film, as they did last year. But they are still make a good impression acting alongside the biggest names in the English acting world.

The late, great Richard Harris seems born for his role as "Albus Dumbledore," the headmaster of the Hogwarts School of Wizardry and Witchcraft, and brings a welcome amount of seniority to this children's film. As does Maggie Smith, playing the stern "Professor Minerva McGonagall." Both of these veteran English actors make sure that the sometimes childish story telling does not leave behind the adults in the audience. Though there are a few scenes when the dialogue was written so that two-year-olds could understand it, those moments are few and even adults without children should be able to stomach and forget those small mistakes by the screenwriter.

Kenneth Branagh, dubbed by many critics as the King of modern Shakespearean films, makes a welcome appearance in this film and shows that he can carry off a comedic character as well as he can a dramatic one. As the fame-seeking "Gilderoy Lockhart," Branagh makes sure that his character is the funniest in the film. And on the other side of the temperament fence, Alan Rickman plays the dour Severus Snape with equal parts of evil professor and mysterious wizard thrown in. Both of these lauded actors add much to a cast that has half of the English acting elite by its tail feathers.

As a sequel, this film one up's its predecessor and proves that it is possible to continue an exciting story for a further two and a half hours. Though most of the credit for this film's success should go to its actors. Even with the large amount of special effects that invade every scene of this movie, the characters are still easy to focus on and aren't blown away completely by the special effects budget. Which, monetarily speaking, was probably four times the combined paychecks of the cast. But that fact does not harm the film in any way. In fact, it seems more time and care was taken with the effects in this film, as the sequences that include large amounts of computer generated images were more sophisticated than they were in the first "Harry Potter."

A lot of criticism in the first film came from the less than stellar job effects animators did on the "quidditch" matches where the completely animated characters looked more animated than real. But in the action sequence during the "quidditch" game in Chamber, the animation is much more subtle and the melding of computerized characters and live actors was less obvious. And the other special effects elements in the film, including hundreds of giant spiders, a flying car, and the Hogwart's School castle, all looked excellent on the screen. This film's effects, like the youngest members of its cast, were all much more polished this go-around.

After audiences have seen the entire two and a half hours of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, they should realize that Chris Columbus has created a superior installment of this franchise and perhaps he should be forgiven that it took two times around to get this world right. If the future films in this series continue to improve, "Potter-Mania" probably has several strong years ahead of it. Cleaner, tighter, and more mature in its subject matter, The Chamber of Secrets brings the adventure up a notch and has the ability to give even its older members some goose bumps. Even though barely a year has elapsed since the arrival of the first film, the effort put into this sequel has resulted in a worthy children's film that doesn't drag near as much as the first film, and it is certainly an exciting experience in the theater.

Review by Kelsey Wyatt.

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