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Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

In association with the Harry Potter Society 

Year: 2002 
Running Time:
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 (Scope) 
Certificate: BBFC PG Cert – Parental guidance 
Subtitles: The level of subtitling in this film is unknown to WSC 
Directed by Chris Columbus 
Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson  

Special ticket prices apply: £2.50 for WSC members and Harry Potter Society members; £3.50 for University members; £4 for externals.
Five-Film Passes, Complimentary Tickets, Member's Free Tickets and Loyalty Card Free Tickets will not be valid for this event.

The second film in the Harry Potter series begins with Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) receiving a rather unexpected visit from the house elf Dobby, begging him not to return to Hogwarts this year, warning him that terrible things are going to happen there. Ignoring this, Harry arrives at Hogwarts with a little help from his best friend Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint) and a flying Ford Anglia, happy to be free from the confines of his muggle Aunt and Uncle’s house. However it soon becomes apparent that something more sinister is afoot at Hogwarts: mysterious voices that only Harry can hear, a diary that writes back to writer, attacks on muggle-born students and mysterious messages written on the walls in blood.

Darker and more action-packed in content that its predecessor The Philosopher’s Stone, the film remains largely true to the novel and extensively utilizes special effects to effectively bring to life some of J.K. Rowling’s non-human creations; Aragog in particular is horrifyingly life-like. The performances of the young cast are more convincing and less childlike than the previous film and Rupert Grint’s extensive use of facial expressions never lacks in comedic effect. Another famous face, Kenneth Branagh, joins the Harry Potter ranks as Professor Gilderoy Lockhart, the new Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher. His performance as the ridiculously self-important Professor is the most memorable aspect of the film and succeeds in creating plenty of amusing moments.

Jess Walker

It hardly seems worth reviewing this film - whatever I say, L3 is going to be packed to the brim with eager hordes desperate to experience the Harry Potter magic, most likely for the second or third time. However, on the off chance that I'm preaching to the unconverted, I guess its worth saying exactly why this is one of the most enjoyable three hours you'll ever spend in a cinema.

In this second instalment, director Christopher Columbus is no longer constrained by the necessity to introduce all the characters and concepts that will be pertinent in later films. Instead, "Chamber of Secrets" gets off to a rip-roaring start with a daring flying car assisted prison escape, and quickly follows this up with numerous exuberant set-pieces that will have you jumping up and down in your seat and loving every minute.

It's Harry and pals' second year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, and as if Draco Malfoy's horrific sneering isn't enough to contend with, there's something nasty in the castle, indiscriminately turning people into petrified statues (not that you'd be able to tell with some of the actors - boom boom!). And it gets even better - someone is trying to kill poor Harry, and the attacks are all being blamed on him too!

This film moves along at a dizzying pace, and is much more pleasingly dark than the first movie - there is little holding back here in an attempt to side-step the violence and racism of J K Rowling's wonderful novel. The special effects have also improved, in part thanks to the involvement of George Lucas' ILM, so now the Quidditch match moves with extra pizzazz, while the large scale spider attack will have arachnophobes squirming in their seats.

I also feel its worth giving a special mention to the mighty Kenneth Branagh, who, in playing the pompous and supremely useless Gilderoy Lockheart, gives a perfect portrayal of his own conceited personality - Shakespeare aficionados will be spluttering into their hands whenever he appears. He is ably supported by fellow newcomer Jason Isaacs as the deliciously devilish Lucius Malfoy, as well as the usual posse of jobbing English luvvies (Rickman, we love you!). The great Richard Harris has left a performance of such stature and nobility as Albus Dumbledore that finding a replacement after his sad death will be a difficult task indeed.

For the spiders, for the set design, for the darkness, for the humour, for our Kenneth, for the magic, I urge you to come and see this film, and begin counting the days until Azkaban.

Greg Taylor

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Screenings of this film:

2002/2003 Spring Term (35mm)
2002/2003 Spring Term (35mm)
2002/2003 Spring Term (35mm)
2013/2014 Spring Term (digital)