tek's rating:

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (PG)
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Caution: spoilers.

This came out in 2002, but I didn't see it until 2018. Before I get started on reviewing this movie, I should reveal a couple of things I avoided spoiling in my review of the first movie. First of all, it wasn't Professor Snape who was working with Voldemort. Snape's actually one of the good guys. The one who was working with Voldemort was Professor Quirrell. Harry defeated Quirrell, but Voldemort's spirit escaped. Of course that means that in this movie, there will be a new teacher of Defense Against the Dark Arts. It turns out to be a celebrity wizard named Gilderoy Lockhart (Kenneth Branagh), but that's getting a bit ahead of things.

Between movies, Harry spent the summer with the Dursleys, who are as bad as ever, though at least they finally gave Harry an actual bedroom. While Vernon was entertaining some company, Harry was forced to stay in his bedroom and be quiet. Unfortunately, a CGI "house elf" named Dobby (voiced by Toby Jones) shows up in Harry's room, and he makes a lot of noise, despite Harry's attempts to quiet him. (Incidentally, Dobby is a character I had been aware of long before I saw this movie, so I was a bit surprised to find that he wasn't in the first movie.) But Dobby wasn't trying to make trouble, he was just trying to warn Harry of a plot against him, and he wanted Harry not to return to Hogwarts. Harry, of course, has no intention of staying with the Dursleys any longer than he has to, so... Dobby gets him in trouble with his uncle, who locks him in his room. (Honestly, though, I don't understand why his family is so determined to keep him around instead of letting him go to Hogwarts, considering they seem to hate him so much. I'd think they'd be as eager for him to leave as he is. But whatevs.)

Well, Ron and his older brothers, Fred and George, show up outside Harry's window in a flying car, and help him escape. So Harry goes to stay with the Weasleys for a little while, and meets their younger sister, Ginny, who is entering Hogwarts this year herself, as a first year student. And it's while everyone's out shopping for school supplies in Diagon Alley that they meet Gilderoy Lockhart. They also meet Draco Malfoy's father, Lucius (Jason Isaacs), who is just as nasty and condescending as Draco, if not more so. And then... Harry and Ron run into more trouble trying to get to Hogwarts, but that's not really important.

What is important is that the "Chamber of Secrets" has been opened, or so a message written in blood on a wall suggests. But no one actually knows where the chamber is. But there's a dark legend about it, involving one of the founders of Hogwarts, Salazar Slytherin. And there's supposedly a monster inside the chamber, which could be controlled by one of his descendants. Harry, Ron, and Hermione suspect Draco could be that descendant, or at least know something about what's going on. So they come up with a plan to get information from him. Hermione will make a potion that will temporarily change Harry and Ron to look like two of Draco's friends. But the potion will take a month to complete, and they have to make it in secret. They do it in a girls' lavatory, which everyone stays away from because it's haunted by a ghost named Moaning Myrtle (Shirley Henderson). Eventually, they learn that Draco doesn't know anything about the chamber. But Harry finds a diary that belonged to a former Hogwarts student named Tom Riddle, who was involved in an incident fifty years ago, the last time the chamber was opened. He had accused Hagrid of doing it back then, which leads to problems for Hagrid this time around.

And I'm not sure how much more I want to reveal of the plot. I will say there are some terribly scary giant spiders. And various students (including Hermione) get petrified by the monster that was in the chamber. And Harry ultimately has to battle the monster, which is controlled by Tom Riddle... or... something. Honestly, I found it a bit hard to follow all the details, and I think the Riddle that Harry faced was a ghost, or something? Of course it all ties in with Lord Voldemort, I don't want to say exactly how, partly to avoid spoilers, and partly because I'm not certain I even understood it, at least not completely. But of course, once again, the good guys win, and the petrified people (and one cat) are returned to normal. And... I expect Hogwarts will have to get another new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, in the next movie.

Anyway, despite not always following the plot, it was a fun movie. I'm glad I've finally seen it, and I look forward to the next one....


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