Is it just me, or do people only remember Harry Potter after book/movie three? Seriously, I don’t know anybody that’s like “Yeah, Sorcerer’s Stone was my favorite!” or “Dude, I loved Chamber of Secrets!” Well, nowadays, the only thing on people’s lips in regards to this series is “J.K. Rowling sucks, am I right?”, so I guess it’s kind of a meaningless point. But nevertheless.
Let’s keep pretending for a while that the author doesn’t exist and let’s just talk about the movies as they are. Let’s view them as products of the filmmakers; of the director and the actors and all of the crew. None of them are horrible pieces of shit, as far as I know. If we direct any love and support towards them, then it’s okay!
Even if you-know-who still gets our money. Hey, you can’t always win.
So, is Chamber of Secrets any good? Is it an improvement over the first Harry Potter movie? Or has time ruined this one as well? Let’s see about that!
The answer is kinda. A bit of both.
Story: Wizard Racism!! also a giant snake I guess…
If you lay this movie out beat-for-beat, it’s definitely a tad ridiculous. I do think that it’s a decently solid plot. But it’s also a bit… stupid, for lack of a better word. Once you start to think about it, it becomes really silly.
Not long before his return to Hogwarts, Harry is visited by a house-elf named Dobby, who tries to keep him from going back to school. After delivering an odd warning and getting Harry into trouble, our young hero is rescued by the Weasleys and taken to Hogwarts yet again… after a few shenanigans. Not long after, however, things take a dark turn. The mysterious Chamber of Secrets has been opened and students are being frozen one by one. Can Harry and friends solve the mystery and save Hogwarts?
Also, racism. Because if there’s one thing my children’s fantasy series needed, it was racism. J.K. even came up with a slur! And she decided to make it the central motivation of the antagonists from here on out! Hooray!
If you really think about it, this movie is pretty stupid. Why is the snake racist? How did no one, not even the many ghosts, notice it sliding around the pipes? Why didn’t Dumbledore do anything; he must know about the giant murder snake! Why did Dobby care so much about Harry when he’s never met the guy? Why did Lucius Malfoy decide to try and kill Harry right outside of Dumbledore’s office?! Furthermore, why did he leave Voldemort’s cursed diary with Ginny Weasley of all people?! Why not give it to, oh I don’t know, literally anyone else?! WHY IS HARRY USING A SWORD INSTEAD OF CASTING ANY MAGIC?!
Not gonna lie though, Harry fighting a Basilisk with a sword is pretty fucking cool. What can I say? I love seeing monsters get slain by heroes with swords in my fantasy!
The story in this movie is needlessly convoluted. There’s so much stuff in it that it’s impossible to remember everything after one viewing. And a good chunk of it really doesn’t need to be there. Why did we need Hagrid and his giant spider pet? Why did we need the flying car? Why would the giant spider spout exposition if it was just going to eat the kids anyway?
It certainly doesn’t help that you can basically ignore this movie and the series as a whole won’t suffer. Sure, there’s the whole ‘Voldemort’s diary was a Horcrux’ thing, but we all know that J.K. came up with that later. Literally every other Harry Potter story has something important to the rest. But this one? It’s basically a filler movie.
Still, I don’t think it’s a story that should be skipped. It’s a perfectly fine movie, even if the story makes less sense the more you think about it. It’s still an enjoyable flick that still holds up by today’s standards.
At least in the ladder two categories.
Presentation: Huh, this actually holds up really well. Neat.
Huh. For a movie from the early 2000s, this one actually holds up pretty well! Even the CGI isn’t that bad! Just look at Dobby! This little dude doesn’t look that bad today!
Hell, I’d even say that it looks impressive! Some of the practical effects are absolutely incredible! Sure, the giant spider doesn’t look especially great (hey, it looks like a big scary spider; ain’t that good enough?). But then you look at the basilisk and you go “Fair enough, have a nice day.”
And the music… it’s Harry Potter. It’s one of those franchises where you don’t need to say it has great music. The tracks in this movie are downright iconic. Moving on.
If there’s one thing that doesn’t hold up well, it’s the editing. There are some wonky filters put over some of these shots. I don’t know who decided that they needed to create a rippling distortion effect when Ginny throws the diary into the toilet, but I question their decision; were they trying to create the sense that we were seeing the toilet’s perspective? Cause I already do that every day from my own eyes, I don’t need anymore thank you.
Performances: Starting to Grow
Damn! Two movies in and the child actors are already getting the hang of it! Props to them!
Out of all of them, Daniel Radcliffe shows the most growth. Because let’s be real: he really wasn’t very good in the first movie. Granted, he was, what, eleven? So you can’t blame him. But in this movie, his performance is genuinely really compelling!
Although they’re still completely overshadowed by the adult actors. And all of them are overshadowed by Alan Rickman. I’m going to mention this in every single one of these Harry Potter movie reviews: this dude was always the real star of the show.
Also, Kenneth Branagh as Gilderoy Lockheart was a perfect choice. It’s a lot of fun watching an actor essentially act like an actor. I’m kind of sad he wasn’t a recurring character!
Take a shot every time you say that about a Harry Potter character.
This is such an odd movie. It’s a good movie, but it’s so bizarre and goofy that it’s hard to really take seriously. Which becomes even funnier when you consider how seriously they want you to take it.
Honestly? I’m not sure about my recommendation. I think it’s a decent movie that deserves to be watched. But when you look at the series as a whole, you can pretty easily skip this one without missing much. So… watch it if you want, skip it if you want, I guess?
Whatever, who even cares. Just go watch Prisoner of Azkaban. We all know that’s the good one.