Monday, November 18, 2002

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (IMDB) (Netflix)
(Warning: this review is rated "C" for Cranky, due a exercise/caffeine/sugar hangover, combined with viewing the film from a front-row seat only 8 feet away from the screen)

Harry's back with all his friends from the first movie, which did $965 million worth of business (#2 all-time), dodging danger and doping out mysteries that elude the Hogwart's braintrust, who seemed less concerned with their in loco parentis responsibilities than a drug-addled foster parent. There's a chamber of secrets that may or may not have been opened by this or that person, kids being petrified, and the school's in danger of closing, and so on.

The audience seemed to like it just fine, although many of the youngsters (and some of the parents) had trouble with the 2:21 running time (why do they insist on doing this for kids' movies?). Due to the chemical imbalance, I had trouble concentrating and it all seemed a lot like the first movie, although the kid playing Harry has traded in his continuously wide-eyed "I'm amazed" expression for something approximating grim determination. The other kid characters have far more personality. There's a new digital elf, Dobby, who's not nearly in the same annoyance league as Jar Jar Binks from Star Wars I & II, Kenneth Branagh debuts as a self-promoting empty cape of a sorceror, and this will be Richard Harris's last movie, but beyond these elements and some improved digital effects, not much new. If you have kids, you're going, so suck it up, and make sure they've had their nap first. And you've had yours.