The second installment in the Harry Potter series is Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. This movie builds upon the lore established in the first film, foreshadowing the darker tone present in the following sequels. However, despite Chamber of Secrets expanding on the Harry Potter mythos, it’s the weakest movie out of the series.
With the mythos already established, Chamber of Secrets moves towards the action a lot sooner than its predecessor. Following another Dursley-related ruckus, Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) is saved by everybody’s favorite magic Ginger family, the Weasleys! However, Harry is warned by a house-elf, Dobby (Toby Jones) about a looming threat against him at Hogwarts. Ignoring the threats, Harry insists on returning to Hogwarts. However, he begins to hear voices as various students are hospitalized. Once more, it’s up to Harry and the Potter Gang to figure out who’s behind the attacks at Hogwarts.
The main plot in Chamber of Secrets revolves around the purity of wizard lineage (Pureblood) and the dangers that face those of mixed heritage (Mudblood). It’s interesting that a children’s movie would tackle such a touchy subject, but the Harry Potter series is known for exceeding the limitations found in other children’s movies. However, the racism is still a bit disheartening. Draco Malfoy (Tom Felton), for instance, is so full of misguided hate towards Hermione Granger (Emma Watson) simply because her parents aren’t wizards.
Director Chris Columbus (Home Alone) is at the helm once again and, just like Sorcerer’s Stone, he sticks very closely to the book… in fact, maybe a bit TOO closely. As stated earlier, Chamber of Secrets doesn’t take a long time to get to the conflict of the movie. The movie as a whole begins to creep towards the darker tone its book counterpart begins to take on, with students falling victim to petrification, threats written in blood sprawled across the walls of Hogwarts, and the previously stated racism.
This is all fine and good, considering the source material, but Chamber of Secrets felt too much like Sorcerer’s Stone. Of course, this could be due in part because of series author J.K. Rowling’s writing style being similar to the first book, but outside of the darker tone and slightly improved CGI, Chamber of Secrets felt like more of the same. I mean, this could be a good thing depending on personal tastes, but you just already know what to expect out of Columbus’ direction.
Chamber of Secrets doesn’t build upon the Harry Potter story so much as it expands the overall scope a little bit. The suspense and action scenes are way more intense than anything found in Sorcerer’s Stone. In one scene, for example, Harry and Ron are surrounded by magic spiders creeping in around them that keeps you invested in the characters in a way Sorcerer’s Stone never did.
However, if the Harry Potter series weren’t film adaptations of books, Chamber of Secrets would be more of Harry Potter 1.5 than a full-fledged sequel. Yes, it introduces new elements to the story. Yes, it introduces new characters. Yes, there’s more magic. Yes, Ron Weasley is still a Ginger. However, as a film, it just doesn’t feel that much different than Sorcerer’s Stone. Sorry, ladies.
Overall Score: 6.0 – Okay. (6s are just okay. These movies usually have many flaws, didn’t try to do anything special, or were poorly executed. Some will still love 6s, but most prefer to just rent them. Watch more trailers and read more reviews before you decide.)
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets delves into deeper themes than the previous movie, but it doesn’t do much more to differentiate itself from its predecessor. If you liked the first film, you’ll definitely like the second one. However, it isn’t as fully-fledged of a sequel that you would come to expect.