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Friday, 8 November, 2002, 14:12 GMT
Press views: Chamber of Secrets
Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets
Critics agree that the second Harry Potter is even better
Film critics give their verdict on the long-awaited second Harry Potter movie, the Chamber of Secrets.

The Independent

The first Potter sequel (in a sequence, presumably, of seven films, assuming that J K Rowling is not inhibited) is even longer (two hours, 40 minutes), it's darker and scarier, it's noisier (whenever someone falls over in a fight sequence, it sounds like an earthquake), the quidditch flight action is even faster than before, the plot is more hellishly complicated than The Philosopher's Stone and the credit sequence is so long it stretches away into the evening. And just as the Indiana Jones movies became debased by creepy-crawly shock tactics, the new chronicle of life at Hogwarts positively writhes with gross snake-and-spider special effects.

The Guardian

Children and adults around the country, breathe easy - the magic of Harry Potter is as potent as ever in film. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets is darker, funnier and finer than its forerunner Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. Although one wonders whether, unlike the books, the spell will remain so strong over a possible further five films... The big question, as always, is how faithful the Chris Columbus film is to the JK Rowling book - for better or worse, the plot sticks like glue to the original format, departing only in the cutting of some details to keep to the 162 minute schedule.

Daily Mirror

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets is, as might be hoped, a great film for the kids. There's more action and less exposition than in the first film and most sequences are better handled by Chris Columbus and his special effects team... The quidditch match is more exciting and there's a more consistent tone of dark, scary magic that keeps you r interest piqued... A word of warning - if you don't like spiders keep your eyes shut during the scenes set in the woods.

Screen Daily

If it ain't broke, don't fix it. That seems to be the guiding philosophy behind the second instalment of the gilt-edged boy wizard franchise. Scrupulously faithful to the JK Rowling book, director Chris Columbus does nothing that will disappoint fans or alarm exhibitors anticipating a pre-Christmas bonanza.

There are plenty of new ingredients to keep the franchise fresh, from an obsequious elf to an enchanted flying car, and if anything the second film is more thrilling and involving than the first as the emotional stakes are raised by placing Harry and his schoolmates in mortal danger. Critics may reserve their loftiest superlatives for the Tolkein trilogy but neither the darker tone nor the excessive running-time should prevent Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets matching or even surpassing the box-office benchmarks of its predecessor.


While Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets may slavishly adhere to its source novel nearly as much as its predecessor did, it is on every count a better movie than last year's first film instalment in the telling of the story of a young wizard's startling education. Darker and more dramatic, this account of Harry's troubled second year at Hogwarts may be a bit overlong and unmodulated in pacing, but it possesses a confidence and intermittent flair that begin to give it a life of its own apart of the literary franchise, something the initial picture never achieved.

With Pottermania perhaps having cooled over the course of a year from the heat level of a burning furnace to that of a happily bubbling cauldron, it can't be expected that Chamber of Secrets will hit the dizzying commercial heights of Sorcerer's Stone... But its mammoth success remains a foregone conclusion.

Hollywood Reporter

Fans of the first movie and, of course, J.K. Rowling's series of children's books, will embrace Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets with the same enthusiasm they did the first film, released a year ago. For the casual moviegoer, though, some of the charm of Harry and Hogwarts has diminished. The sense of discovery, that initial encounter with the stories' vivid characters and whimsical parallel universe, is missing. In its stead comes frantic activity. Characterization takes a back seat to action, and "magic" serves as the author's escape hatch.

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