It's a new year for Harry and his friends and enemies, but some things remain the same. The Dursleys are still abusive, someone is trying to kill Harry, and Hogwarts becomes a center of terror as opposed to a school of learning.
Harry Potter (Daniel Ratcliffe) misses his school and his friends, Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint), and Hermione Granger (Emma Watson). He must spend the summer with his guardians, Uncle Vernon Dursley (Richard Griffiths), Aunt Petunia (Fiona Shaw), and his dreadful cousin Dudley (Harry Melling). Harry is surprised to find an elf in his room (his uncle and aunt most reluctantly and angrily acquiescing to moving him from the cupboard under the stairs). It's Dobby (voiced by Toby Jones), who warns Harry not to return to Hogwarts, for his life is in danger. Dobby causes trouble for Harry, and the Dursleys hit a new low in their abuse of Harry: Uncle Vernon now literally holds him prisoner by placing bars in his window to prevent him from going back to Hogwarts. Needless to say, Harry does go back, aided in an escape by Ron and his brothers, who pull the bars with their flying car. More mysterious mishaps: Ron & Harry miss the train and have to take said flying car to Hogwarts, which causes more 'hilarity'.
In their second year, in between Herbology Classes and a new Defense Against the Dark Arts instructor, a braggart and teen heartthrob named Gilderoy Lockhart (Kenneth Branagh), we get more murderous mayhem. Harry hears voices warning him of danger, and then, written in blood, we have the message "The Chamber of Secrets has been opened. Enemies of The Heir, beware (at least it rhymes). The suspects of who opened the chamber (and is The Heir, in this case heir of Slytherin) are many: Draco Malfoy (Tom Felton), Hagrid (Robbie Coltraine), even Harry, who can speak with snakes. Hogwarts is becoming more and more dangerous: students, even ghosts like Nearly Headless Nick (John Cleese) are being Petrified (frozen in a near-death status). Harry discovers a book that appears empty, but is really a diary kept by a Tom Marvolo Riddle (Christian Coulson), which gives him details of when the last time the Chamber was opened, pointing at Hagrid. They go to Hagrid, and he tells Ron & Harry (Hermione having been Petrified) to follow the spiders, and in The Dark Forest the giant spider Aragog tells them Hagrid is innocent. Eventually, Ron & Harry discover where the Chamber is, go down inside, and confront the memory of Tom Riddle, who is really...guess who?
As The Smiths would say, "Stop Me If You Think You've Heard This One Before". Harry Potter & The Chamber of Secrets, again directed by Chris Columbus and again scripted by Steve Kloves, is basically the same story as The Sorcerer's Stone, at least it is to this Muggle. (Side note: I think this is why A.) I stopped watching the Harry Potter films, and B.) did not read anything after The Sorcerer's Stone). You start with monstrously abusive guardians, then danger for Harry at Hogwarts, followed by an investigation (complete with false clues), with Harry having two people go with him only to have to face danger (He-Who-Cannot-Be-Named) all alone, said villain being defeated, and then all ends well and back to Muggle-landia. Besides a few new details (Dobby, whom I kept calling 'Doobie', the flying car, Draco's father Lucius--Jason Isaacs), there isn't much difference between the first and second films. It is a case of 'you've seen one, you've seen them all'. In fact, I wouldn't blame anyone for thinking that every Harry Potter book will be variations on a theme.
Of course, the second is different from the first in this regard: I hated this one while I didn't hate the first. I hated Dobby, who looked like a cross between The Lord of the Rings' Gollum and Star Wars: The Phantom Menace's Jar Jar Binks in looks and voice respectively. If you think of it, he appeared in the beginning and end of Chamber of Secrets, and what exactly did he add to the plot? I HATED the Dursleys (and still wonder why few if any people have called out J.K. Rowling for having such vicious child abuse in her books and/or making all Muggles look so evil--I can't think of any other Muggles in Chamber of Secrets). How is literally imprisoning our protagonist can be considered anything other than idiotic and over-the-top? I hated Moaning Myrtle (Shirley Henderson), a whiny, quite appalling child ghost (always fun having to explain ghosts of dead children to the little tykes, isn't it?). I hated the flying car: while it might pleased the fans to see it in the film, the whole sequence in the film took so much time and, again, what exactly did it add to the plot?
- Citizen Kane: Two Hours
- Casablanca: One Hour, Forty-Two Minutes
- Psycho: One Hour, Forty-Nine Minutes
- 8 1/2: Two Hours, Eighteen Minutes
- Aguirre, The Wrath of God: One Hour, Thirty-Three Minutes
- Sherlock, Jr.: Forty-Five Minutes
- Singin' In The Rain: One Hour, Forty-Three Minutes
- Dr. Strangelove: One Hour, Thirty-Five Minutes
- Rocky: One Hour, Fifty-Nine Minutes
- The Battle of Algiers: Two Hours, One Minute
I wish they would get on with the story and stop horsing around.