Harry Potter

film 2 of 8

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Film Review by Dean Duncan May 5, 2014

Not great, or even particularly good. Better, though. “You’ve just ruined the punch line of my Japanese golfer joke!”  With this second entry the Harry Potter films are addressing and enacting the thing that made the books work so wonderfully. That is to accumulate the little interactions and affections that give the central conflicts—always found in the title of each particular book/film—reason and resonance.

I  note that there’s not been enough Ginny to really justify our concern at the climax, when she’s so jeopardized. Come to think of it, that is also true in the book. But after an undistinguished first film, this one sees felicities starting to pile up. The result is that the willing viewer makes up for the shortfall herself. That’s as it should be. And there are hints of deeper things. Lucius. Rickman! The kid who plays Riddle ups the ante, as do the very striking, quite chilling sequences in which he occurs. Those diary episodes are very effectively rendered. And let’s admit it—the final climax is exciting. Myth and digital technology meet pretty felicitously in the confrontation between basilisk and phoenix. The near loss and the miraculous restorations portrayed here are more than just sentimentally satisfying.