01 August 2012

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (starring Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson)

I did see the first two Harry Potter films at the cinema when they came out at the start of the century. But it's only more recently that we've collected most of them on DVD, and plan to watch them in order. We saw 'Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone' back in April, but have only just got around to watching the second in the series, 'Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets'.

I have, of course have read the 'Chamber of Secrets' book several times, though not for a while. So while I remembered the overall plot, I was a bit hazy about some of the details when we sat down to watch the DVD.

As with the first film, the story starts with Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) at home with his appalling relatives who still treat him like dirt. He's looking forward to his second year at Hogwarts, although feeling rather neglected by his friends. Then he receives an unexpected visitor: Dobby the house-elf, who is superbly represented in the film, much as I had imagined him from the book.

Dobby has no self-esteem whatsoever and keeps punishing himself loudly for every minor infraction. However he is a huge fan of Harry's, and wants to keep him away from school because, he says, it will be very dangerous. So he causes all manner of trouble trying to ensure that Harry is either prevented from going, or - later on - sent home.

The main plot revolves around the 'Chamber of Secrets' which is a hidden part of Hogwarts School. It had been closed for many years but has apparently been re-opened, although nobody knows who was the culprit. Harry becomes increasingly worried because he can hear strange voices that nobody else can hear, and discovers that his gift of speaking to snakes is not a respected talent in the wizarding world.

There are plenty of other subplots, lots of excitement and tension, and a highly dramatic climax. Ron (Rupert Grint) and Hermione (Emma Watson) remain as Harry's most important allies, and it's good to see their characters developing in this film. There's a nice speech by Professor Dumbledore (Richard Harris) towards the end, including a very important line about the reason why he is in Gryffindor house.

It's hard to be fully objective about a film series which is so well-known and which has been so surrounded by hype. But, trying to look at it fairly with the benefit of hindsight, it was hard to find anything wrong with this film. There's an excellent cast who play their parts well, great direction, and some light humour to temper the drama.

We even remembered to watch the few seconds of 'extra' at the end of the credits, and liked being able to 'fast forward' through them, which of course was not possible at the cinema.

Definitely recommended, other than to small children who might find it over-scary.

While this can still be found as a single DVD, new or second-hand, enthusiasts wanting more than one of the Harry Potter books might do better to buy one of the boxed set Harry Potter Collections, which contain all (or all but the last two) in the series.

Reviews of the other Harry Potter films:

Review copyright Sue's DVD Reviews

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