HARRY POTTER AND THE CHAMBER OF SECRETS directed by Chris Columbus, written by Steven Kloves from the novel by J.K. Rowling, produced by David Heyman, with Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, Kenneth Branagh and Robbie Coltrane. 160 minutes. A Warner Brothers release. Opens Friday (November 15). For venues and times, see First-Run Movies, page 82. Rating: NNN Rating: NNNNN
given the length of harry pot-ter And The Chamber Of Secrets, you have to give it credit. The screening was packed with children, and it held their attention, except for the two next to me whose dad really shouldn't have bought them those big drink.In Chamber Of Secrets, which picks up the thread from The Philosopher's Stone, a mysterious elf tells Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) he mustn't return to Hogwarts School for pale young English people with magical powers because there's a plot against him. He goes anyway, in a flying car, because Hogwarts is more like home than his hateful aunt and uncle's suburban row house.
Terrible things start to happen. People are being petrified -- literally. Character actors (the late Richard Harris, Maggie Smith, Robbie Coltrane) are running about dithering in heavy makeup, and someone's going to open the Chamber of Secrets deep within Hogwarts. There are big spiders and a really big snake. (If these adaptations are so faithful, why isn't it bright green like the one in the book?)
Chris Columbus (Home Alone), a remarkably pedestrian director, gives us very little filmmaking magic for a project with such a magical subject. The special-effects shots look like special-effects shots, particularly during that game they play that resembles water polo on broomsticks.
If you're thinking of going to this movie without small children who are clamouring to see it, you should stay away -- unless you're a dedicated fan of the books.
Why do Harry Potter books have such appeal here? Do North American kids have some subconscious nostalgic longing for the English class system and the public schools that are among its most telling symptoms and most powerful perpetuators?
I don't get it. firstname.lastname@example.org