Screenwriter: Steven Kloves
Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson,
After a visitation from mysterious house-elf Dobby over the summer holiday, Harry Potter's second year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry turns out to be just as eventful as the first. When some students (and a cat) are petrified and the bloody writing on the wall reads "The Chamber of Secrets has been opened", Harry (Radcliffe), Hermione (Watson) and Ron (Grint) know they have another mystery on their hands.
Following the not-as-good adaptation of The Philosopher's Stone, this is the point where the film series comes into its own and begins to do justice to its source material. The acting of the previously inexperienced trio has come along since the first film, with the well-cast adults providing some true magic. Kenneth Branagh steals every scene he's in as Lockhart, whilst Alan Rickman is wonderful (if criminally underused) as Snape. This is also the last time that the late Richard Harris filled the role of Dumbledore, who would then be replaced by the less appropriate and angrier Michael Gambon.
Chamber of Secrets perhaps isn't the most appropriate first outing into the Potter universe for the uninitiated. Screenwriter Steven Kloves made the assumption that those watching the film will have either seen the previous film or read the book, which means there's little in the way of background explanation – if Harry's scar and the existence of Lord Voldermort don't mean anything to you before watching the film there aren't many clues about them until the latter stages of the film.
Since Chamber of Secrets is from the time when J.K. Rowling spent time writing books rather than tomes, fans will be pleased to note that little from the novel has been left out, though it still manages to rack up a running time of 160 minutes. Though there's the odd tweak here and there, there are no gaping omissions such as in last year's Goblet of Fire adaptation.
Also as a result of the novel, the movie has more of a childish quality than its successors as Rowling's series gets increasingly darker. At the same time, there is also an atmosphere of a struggle of good against evil being set up which is developed in the following films.
Possibly second only to Goblet of Fire of all the Potter films to date, Chamber of Secrets should please fans and muggles alike.
Tune in to ITV this Saturday at 18:10 for Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, and wait until the end of the credits for a special treat…