Since we’re in the middle of Harry Potter Celebration, over the next few weeks, I will be reviewing every single Harry Potter movie. I just reviewed Harry Potter and the Sorceror’s Stone last night, so check out that review if you so please.
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets is a step up from Sorceror’s Stone in pretty much every way. Its story is more interesting, the stakes feel higher, and even the special effects are vastly improved, especially in the film’s Quidditch sequences, which looked very outdated in Sorceror’s Stone.
The beginning of the movie starts off with Dobby the house-elf screwin’ stuff up for Harry. He dumps cake all over Harry’s aunt in a hilarious scene, making the Dursleys hate Harry even more. I love how hammy all of the actors playing the Dursleys are; their over-the-top nature makes them comical yet hateable at the same time. The late Richard Griffiths in particular really shines in these movies, and he certainly left a wonderful legacy that will live on forever.
I have to admit that Dobby was underused in these movies as a whole. His little amount of screentime in Chamber of Secrets makes him feel unnecessary to this story.
Afterwards, Harry goes with Ron to Hogwarts in a flying car, which was quite a bit of fun and kept the beginning of the film on its toes. Snape then interrogates Harry and Ron since several muggles witnessed them in the flying car. It’s so sad that Alan Rickman passed last year; he was amazing as this character, and he brought him to screen in an iconic way. I also like how this movie introduced the real consequences associated with being witnessed by a muggle, which the last one didn’t really explain.
One of my favorite additions to this movie is Gilderoy Lockhart, played by Kenneth Branagh. He’s hilarious, and Branagh adds so much personality to the character. Although he doesn’t play a huge role in the story, the humor involving this character always works, and I love how he has to dodge actually using magic around other people since he is a fraud the whole time.
Even the mystery is better this time around; the Chamber of Secrets is set up perfectly as a mythical and myterious place. The creepy messages in blood that show up around Hogwarts, along with the petrified students being found, also add to the intrigue and creepiness surrounding this plotline.
One problem with Chamber of Secrets is the scene in which Ron and Harry talk to Aragog, the giant talking spider, to help unravel the mystery surrounding the Chamber of Secrets. Since Aragog ends up being a bad guy, it makes me question why Hagrid was friends with him in the first place. There’s also a bit of an exposition dump in the scene, since Aragog has to explain the mystery of the deceased girl to Harry and Ron. The sequence in which they are chased by spiders is great, but I can’t deny wincing a few times since I hate spiders so much. The imagery is just so creepy and perfect. I’m sure everyone else had the same reaction to this terrifying scene…
The final showdown of the movie, which was my biggest problem with Sorceror’s Stone, is far better in this film. I loved the fight with the Basilisk, which features both excellent CGI and an insanely amazing animatronic. The entire sequence holds up really, really well, and I love the fact that Harry has to save Ginny; it adds some extra tension in an already tense ending. The film even dips its toe into the darker and more emotional areas that would be a focus in the later films. Harry essentially prepares to die in the Chamber of Secrets, after being poisoned with Basilisk venom. Fawkes, Dumbledore’s phoenix swoops in at the last moment and saves Harry, in a really beautiful moment. The entire scene is so powerful and adds an extra punch to the movie, which Sorceror’s Stone didn’t quite have due to its lighter tone and story. It also sets up Harry as a character who is willing to do anything, including sacrificing himself, for the greater good and to save his friends.
All in all, Chamber of Secrets is a big step up from Sorceror’s Stone. It takes the universe and characters set up by the previous film and runs with them, and it succeeds with flying colors.