Warning: This review contains spoilers.
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets came out in 2002 and was once again directed by Chris Columbus.
In my opinion, the chamber of Secrets is an even better film that Philosopher’s Stone and one of the best installments in the series. It was darker, edgier and it actually frightened me when I was a kid. There are some pretty intense scenes in this film that can scare young children even though it has some lighter moments as well.
It’s a well-directed film and the pacing is quick and effective since the film is nearly 3 hours long. Chris Columbus did a great job on the sequel, and propelled the action and the stakes at an even higher level.
The film opens and Harry has not received any letters from his friends during the summer. He is visited by a house-elf, Dobby, who warns him not to go to Hogwarts this year since his life will be in danger if he chooses to go.
Since Harry refuses to accept Dobby’s requests, he decides to drop a flying cake on houseguests that the Dursley’s had invited for diner. They decide to lock him in the house and forbid him to go to Hogwarts but he is saved by Ron, Fred and George who fly him to their home inside their father’s flying car.
They then travel to Dagon Alley by using the Wesley’s chimney, and after Harry wrongfully misspells Dagon Alley”and teleports to a bad side of town but is thankfully saved by Hagrid.
While buying school supplies, they encounter Hermione who fixes Harry’s glasses and they attend a book signing by Gilderoy Lockhart, a famous Wizard who is egotistical and narcissistic, who will also be the new defense against the dark arts teacher. Kenneth Branagh as Lockhart was a stroke of genius. He was fantastic in the role and you despised him as well as laughed at all the dumb things he did or said. The teachers don’t even take him seriously, which begs the question why they hired him in the first place. It is said that Hugh Grant had been the first choice to play the obnoxious character but was replaced by Branagh due to scheduling conflicts. J.K. Rowling herself stated that the character Gilderoy was based on one of her ex’s, which she despised which is kind of hilarious.
At the lecture, they encounter the Malfoy’s and Lucius carefully slips a book in Ginny’s possessions.
When Harry and Ron are blocked from platform nine and three quarters on the day that Hogwarts opens, they decide to steal the flying car and fly to Hogwarts. They are attacked by a Whipping Willow and Ron breaks his wand by mistake.
The two are caught and are taken too Snape’s office by the caretaker, but thankfully Dumbledore and McGonagall arrive and gives them detention instead off suspending them both for their misconduct.
Harry is forced to take Detention with Lockhart and hears strange voices. He later encounters Ron and Hermione who find Filch’s cat whom has been petrified, and a message saying that the chamber of secrets has been reopened. They are all caught by surprise by everyone who magically arrive at the same exact moment.
Other deadly attacks ensue, and Hogwarts is no longer the safe haven it once was. During Professor McGonagall’s teaching class, she explains how the chamber was founded a thousand years ago and tells the students that one of Hogwarts founders; Salazar Slytherin has built a secret room inside the castle, which is guarded by a monster of which only he can control. This entire scene can be seen as exposition, but McGonagall tells the story as if it’s a myth, which is interesting and makes you want to know more about the secret chamber.
Harry and Ron suspect that Malfoy is the Heir to Slytherin, so Hermione suggests that they take the form of Crab and Goyle and prepares the potion in the girl’s bathroom, which leads to one of the funniest scenes in the entire series. The two question Malfoy, and they are so not subtle. They learn that Malfoy is not the heir, but that a girl died in the bathroom fifty years ago.
Harry soon finds a diary, which belonged to a student named Tom Riddle, and magically goes back to the past as the diary shows him the night where Hagrid was accused and arrested of opening the chamber of secrets by Tom.
Hermione is then petrified and the two are shocked beyond grief. They decide to visit Hagrid who may be able to shed light on the horrors of the chamber.
Harry and Ron are dumbfounded when they go to Hagrid’s place to confront him and get the visit of the Minister of Magic, Fudge, who arrests Hagrid for believing him to be responsible for reopening the chamber (without any proof). Lucius Malfoy also appears, stating that Dumbledore must relieve himself from headmaster.
Harry and Ron decide to follow the spiders into the Forbidden Forest, where they meet Aragog, who tells them that Hagrid is innocent and did not open the chamber. Aragog then commands his children to eat Harry and Ron and they are saved by the flying car. This is probably the weakest scene of the entire film. It doesn’t add anything to the plot and even though it was in the book it just feels out of place and quite frankly pointless.
There’s been another attack and this time it’s Ginny, who goes missing and has been taken in the chamber. Harry and Ron go to the chamber with professor Lockhart who unwillingly follows them. They discover that the chamber is hidden under the sink, where the ghost of moaning Mertyle remains.
Harry opens the chamber by speaking Parseltongue and they finally enter the secret room by sliding down a pathway. They find snakeskin, and Lockhart pretends to faint but manages to steal Ron’s wand and puts a spell on Harry, which backfires, creates a wall of debris between Harry and Ron, and Lockhart loses his memory.
Harry must continue inside the chamber alone, and discovers Ginny’s corpse inside the room, which is near death. A lone figure approaches. It’s Tom Riddle who reveals he is none other than Lord Voldemort (yeah, completely saw that coming a mile away) and that he is the heir to Salazar Slytherin. He commands the Basilisk and it chases Harry throughout the chamber, just as Forks comes along and drops the sorting hat and blinds the great snake by ripping his eyes out.
Harry manages to slay the Basilisk with a sword which magically appears in the hat but is wounded by its teeth falls to the ground, dying.
Voldemort tells Harry that Ginny’s life is almost gone and that he will share the same fate. Harry takes the Basilisk’s fang and stabs the diary, killing Tom Riddle, although not entirely Voldemort. Ginny wakes up, Forks cures Harry and they all manage to escape with Forks back to the castle.
Dumbledore is now headmaster again and praises their exploits and orders Hagrid’s release from Azkaban. He shows Harry that the sword was in fact’s Godrick’s Gryfindor’s and tells him that help will come at Hogwarts to whoever asks for it. Lucius Malfoy reapers with Dolby, clearly displeased that Dumbledore is the director again. Hermione awakens, Harry frees Dobby by giving him his sock and Hagrid returns.
This is a really good sequel that manages to be even better than the original. The acting is better, the special effects are enhanced, the story is more compelling and the film is darker than the previous installment. While the spiders don’t add anything to the story and the “twist” can be seen coming from a mile away, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets is nevertheless a worthy sequel to it’s predecessor.
Next Review: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban