Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Directed, again, by Chris Columbus comes the second movie adaptation to the Harry Potter series: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. Released in 2002, this adventure fantasy movie has a run time of 2 hours 41 minutes and a PG rating due to the rare but mild bad language used within the movie, some mild violence and the horror aspects of the movie such as the enlarged spiders and snakes which younger viewers may find frightening. In this movie, the second in a series of seven, Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint return to their pivotal roles of the Golden Trio: Harry Potter, Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley. When Harry ignores the warnings telling him not to return to Hogwarts he arrives to begin his second year only to find himself facing a new threat as a series of attacks occur within the school. With the threat of closure looming over Hogwarts Harry and his friends must find out who the mysterious Heir of Slytherin is and how to stop the attacks before it’s too late…
Warning: Potential spoilers ahead…
The movie begins by showing Harry back home with the Dursleys as it’s still the summer holidays and he has not yet returned to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Once thing I have never managed to get over since watching the movie is the movie mistake within this introductory scene. As Harry is sitting at his desk, his room is filled with the sound of his owl, Hedwig’s, screeches. This is followed by Harry turning in his chair and saying, quote,
“I can’t let you out, Hedwig. I’m not allowed to use magic outside of school.”
The screenshot below is one which I have put in just for proof of this scene without you as the reader having to go away and re-watch the movie just for this scene (although you’re more than welcome to). However, for those who wish to merely read about the point being made now, witness Hedwig in her cage after Harry has spoken those words, gnawing at the cage’s bars with a close-up shot of the padlock… in which is the KEY!
Anyway, this is not a post in which I point out movie mistake and so I will move on, although I did just want to point that out because, c’mon… Poor Hedwig!
Following the scene in his bedroom, we are reunited with the Durlsey’s and again reminded of how much they despise and mistreat Harry. However in the movie it is Harry retreating to his bedroom yet again for the night that brings about the introduction of one of my own personal favourite characters: Dobby! Dobby, as in the books, is a House-Elf, a magical creature doomed to serve a very unpleasant magical family which just so happens to be the Malfoy family (of which Harry’s school rival Draco is a member). Dobby warns Harry of a plot being put in place to make a terrible series of events unfold. However, when Harry asks for more information, Dobby is ultimately unable to elaborate. The rather humorous scene which follows provides the viewers with a moment of light-heartedness as Dobby purposefully gets Harry into trouble with the Dursleys resulting in his punishment of having bars places on his windows and presumably ‘grounded’, as though living with the Dursleys wasn’t enough punishment in life.
With no way of sending word to his friends and no hope of being able to return to Hogwarts, Harry is more than surprised when a couple of familiar faces appear outside his bedroom window. Cue Ron, Fred and George Weasley’s rescue mission in which the three Weasley’s take Harry to The Burrow – home of the Weasley family. From this point on the plot begins to thicken, especially upon Harry’s return to Hogwarts as a series of attacks occur throughout the school and Harry himself becomes the prime suspect. What I personally found interesting to watch throughout the movie is how the whole school seemed adamant in blaming Harry and shunning him in the process whilst Harry himself, Ron and Hermione became convinced that the Heir was in fact Draco Malfoy. As the severity of the attacks escalate throughout the movie and the closure of Hogwarts School becomes apparently imminent, the trio set about trying to uncover who the true Heir is (their investigation beginning with Malfoy).
Without going into very much detail regarding the end of the movie, there are a few things which I enjoyed seeing throughout and as the movie reached its climax. For example, one aspect of the movie which I enjoyed is the moments when Hermione was absent. Don’t get me wrong, I adore Hermione’s character and she is probably the most relateable character in my personal opinion but it was nice to see how Harry and Ron interacted with each other especially during intense moments in which the movie showed how they were not incapable of defending themselves or getting out of sticky situations without Hermione’s help. Something else which I was also glad that the movie done was cut back on how obsessed Hermione was with the Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, Gilderoy Lockhart – although I’m sure there were a few deleted scenes which portrayed those moments which were in the book. Overall, the ending as a whole was delivered brilliantly, if I say so myself, from the plot twist to the final showdown and the last shot.
There are a few parts of the movie which I could criticize – excluding poor Hedwig not being let out of her cage despite their being a key. One of those things is that whilst the threat of the school being closed is mentioned, it never actually happens and whilst the school being closed down would mean no story… You have to admit, at what point would Hogwarts be closed down if not when the lives of staff and students are in danger?Another two points which I’d also like to make has one thing in common: the girls’ lavatory and Moaning Myrtle’s toilet. Point one: in the books I know it is stated that an Out of Order sign is outside the door but at no point in the movie is this mentioned or seen. Instead, all we have is Hermione telling Ron that no-one ever enters the bathroom due to Moaning Myrtle’s presence. However, what of first years who perhaps know nothing of Moaning Myrtle or, logically speaking, a student who is perhaps desperate? Of course I’m not aware of how many bathrooms and toilet facilities are within Hogwarts castle but this is a point that I thought about whilst watching the movie… Another thing which I am curious about is that throughout the entire movie… spoiler warning… Harry, Ron and Hermione brew the Polyjuice Potion in Moaning Myrtle’s bathroom which later turns out to be where the Chamber of Secrets was located… So you are telling me that at no point, even just once, did Harry hear the Basilisk at all whilst right beside the entrance to the Chamber in which it dwelled? Again other things which bothered me about the movie is (just as in the book) Lockhart’s employment because why would a character as wise as Dumbledore employ such a fraud of a man? Also another flaw with Dumbledore is that towards the end of the movie he is, by all intents and purposes, removes as Headmaster of Hogwarts temporarily. However, with all that is going on why on earth would Dumbledore even leave… even is help was to be given ‘to those who ask for it’.
Regardless, despite these flaws which I found whilst watching the movie, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets really is enjoyable to watch! I also have to admit that whilst other reviews which I have read still deem this movie to be a children’s movie and state that the following film in the series, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, is the one which shows that the movies are not children’s movies anymore, I would like to respond to those comments by saying that watching this movie as a child was the equivalent to watching a horror now-a-days as an adult. Giant spiders, snakes capable of killing with a single look and the idea of one being petrified, not to mention that disembodied voice which haunted Harry throughout the movie, all made Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets one step up from the previous film.
Here’s a few of my favourite parts:
Favourite Scene: Hagrid’s return at the end of the movie.
Favourite Character: Ron Weasley
Favourite Quote: “It is not our abilities that show what we truly are. It is our choices.”
– Albus Dumbledore to Harry Potter.