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Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
2002 - PG - 161 Mins.
Director: Chris Columbus
Producer: David Keyman
Written By: Steve Kloves
Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, Alan Rickman, Kenneth Branaugh
Review by: John Ulmer

Please! No more reviews of this film, we can't take it.
"Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets" is an ultra-long, boring mess of a movie. Of course, like all movies of its kind, it has a huge cult following. Living in the UK, it's even more popular than in the States, where I first experienced 'Pottermania'. The books by J.K. Rowling made "children read again" after all. So the next logical course of action was inevitably to make a huge-budget movie adaptation and therefore eliminate all advancements made in literacy. What's that? Kids are starting to read again? Then why don't we make a two-and-a-half-hour-long movie, in seven parts, that will negate this and cause them to go back to watching TV again?

The first "Harry Potter" movie (subtitled "And the Sorcerer's Stone," or "The Philosopher's Stone" if you live in Britain) was OK, but rather predictable, not to mention utterly silly and far too long. I give kudos to Rowling for managing to totally rip off Roald Dahl's unique style of storytelling without crediting him at all. I'll even thank her for managing to make a book that pretends to take place in reality, yet abandons all reasonable concepts of life (such in the world do you get a job as an honor graduate of Wizard School?). Heck, I'll even smile at the thought that she's managed to turn the image of sorcerers, witches, and such evil, into a pleasant little happy-go-lucky book that thins the line between Good and Bad. Christian fundamentalist groups originally held anti-Harry Potter ceremonies after the initial novel and film's release a few years ago. The media acted as if they were crazy. Okay, maybe they went a little overboard. But it's not like Rowling is treading on quaint, cheerful material here. The main character, Harry Potter, goes to a school named Hogwarts (get it?), where children learn the arts of Witchcraft and Wizardry. They recite little lines of evil dialogue that make spells happen. This is treated all rather calmly and gently...but of course what Rowling (who used to dabble in a bit of black magic herself, and was on the verge of suicide before the idea for Harry Potter "popped into" her head) is doing is quite clear: She's blurring the lines of decency. One baby step at a time.

It sounds silly, doesn't it? Maybe. But regardless, "Harry Potter" itself is a tremendously boring movie. It's devoid of any imagination. "Labyrinth," which it seems to borrow its style from, is far superior and far more unique.

The movie is about a poor sap that is knocked down in real life (maybe because he wears the most dorky glasses in the world?) and therefore takes comfort in knowing that he is the last savior of mankind. What a minute... that sounds like "The Matrix"...actually this is about something totally different, but I've lost my train of thought. Watching this movie will do that to you.

Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe), now in his second year at Hogwarts, is faced with the realization that a recent student paralysis might be attributable to a dark lord who killed his parents and gave him a lightning bolt scar across his forehead (which oddly disappears between shots). Soon Harry finds out that his life is in danger and he may danger! No duh.

Okay, this might have made a rather good 90-minute movie. "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets" is about 150 minutes long. I saw it in the theater when it was released two years ago and almost fell asleep. I thought I was the only one until one of my friends nudged my and said, "This is the most boring movie I've ever seen."

Interestingly enough, all the individuals who seemed to enjoy the movie in the theater were little kids all hyper on sugar-packed Coca-Cola, running around the theater screaming, "Harry Potter!" Of course no one ran around the theater but I started imagining how funny it would be if...

Where was I?

The movie was directed by Christopher Columbus, who sailed to America in 1492. Of course in 1942 "Casablanca" was released, which didn't star Columbus, or any of his relatives. Which reminds me: It's a much better movie; go see it instead of this. And of course I'm not talking about *the* Christopher Columbus, but rather Chris Columbus, who is the writer of "Gremlins" and who directed the John Hughes-scripted "Home Alone." Columbus was very good during the '80s and early '90s, but it seems he's lost the sense of imagination that he used to have.

"Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets" might have made a good 90-minute kiddie movie. As a 2.5-hour movie, it's almost unbearable. Let's hope the new installment - which is rumored to be more "adult" if that is at all possible - is better. I'd rather be thrown into a gas chamber than have to see this "Chamber" again. I'd even rather watch "The Chamber" with Chris O'Donnell. Am I rambling?
Movie Guru Rating
Disappointing.  Had the right ingredients and should have been better. Disappointing.  Had the right ingredients and should have been better.
  2 out of 5 stars

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