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Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002)

Courtesy Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

Main image of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002)
Super 35, colour, 160 mins
DirectorChris Columbus
Production CompanyMiracle Productions GMBH & Co. KG,
 Heyday Films,
ProducerDavid Heyman
ScreenplaySteve Kloves
From the novel byJ.K. Rowling
CinematographyRoger Pratt
MusicJohn Williams

Cast: Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter); Rupert Grint (Ron Weasley); Emma Watson (Hermione Granger); Kenneth Branagh (Gilderoy Lockhart); Robbie Coltrane (Rubeus Hagrid); Richard Harris (Albus Dumbledore); Alan Rickman (Professor Snape)

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Young wizard Harry Potter faces a new sinister force on his return to Hogwarts School for his second year.

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After the huge success of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (US/UK, d. Chris Columbus, 2002), the film adaptation of J K Rowling's second book had a lot to live up to. Released in November 2002, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets fulfils director Chris Columbus' promise of a "darker and scarier" film - just like the book itself.

Having established the characters in the first film, Columbus could do away with the long introduction and increase the pace of the plot. That said, at 162 minutes it is still a lengthy film and Columbus packs in as much action from the book as possible.

Disappointed with the some of the effects used in the earlier film, particularly the jerkiness of the famous Quidditch scene, Columbus concentrated on the special effects. The house elf Dobby is completely computer-generated and much more lifelike than similar digitally-animated characters (such as Jar-Jar Binks in The Phantom Menace, US, d. George Lucas, 1999). Some of the special effects - such as the paintings that come alive and the potted plants that shriek when uprooted - are fantastic. Even more eye-catching effects include the army of giant spiders in the forbidden forest.

The improved special effects and the switch to a more action/adventure-based plot were audience and critics. New characters such as Kenneth Branagh's Gilderoy Lockhart have also been praised. However, some critics felt there was a lack of magic in the second film. The Observer's Philip French writes that: "The true absence is wonder, as well as surprise. The mysterious gothic beauty of Hogwarts, as first encountered and explored in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, is now familiar."

With production of Chamber of Secrets following almost immediately from the release of the first film, the marketing of the film could almost look after itself. There is a subtle difference, however, in that the darker nature of the story, and scarier special effects, have meant that the film seems to be aimed at older teens as well as the young audience targeted in The Philosopher's Stone. The promotional posters for this film show a more intense Harry Potter, holding a sword and looking more like a warrior than a child magician.

Jan Murray

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Video Clips
1. Dobby the house elf (2:57)
2. The flying car (2:56)
Original poster
Production stills
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (2001)
Branagh, Kenneth (1960-)
Cleese, John (1939-)
Coltrane, Robbie (1950-)
Griffiths, Richard (1947-2013)
Hardy, Robert (1925-)
Henderson, Shirley (1965-)
Margolyes, Miriam (1941-)
Phillips, Leslie (1924-)
Smith, Maggie (1934-)
Walters, Julie (1950-)