With the release of the Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets film (which we carry; click here) in 2002, we found our hero (Daniel Radcliffe) just barely, after several obstacles (including some provided by a very annoying elf named Dobby) starting his second year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Somebody, or something, seems to have it out for Harry. He's hearing nasty voices, gets framed for "petrifing" caretaker Argus Filch's cat, discovers he can talk to snakes, and finds that he's being set up as the "heir" of the dreaded sorcerer Salazar Slytherin, who housed some kind of horrible creature in the school's "Chamber of Secrets".
Harry and pals Ron (Rupert Grint) and Hermione (Emma Watson) try to figure out what's what. Besides the usual suspects from the last film like Professor Snape (Alan Rickman) and rival/bully Draco Malfoy (Tom Felton), there's also new teacher Gilderoy Lockhart (Kenneth Branagh) and Malfoy's father Lucius (Jason Isaacs) who may be behind the plot to discredit Harry. And is an old enemy pulling the strings?
Chamber of Secrets is notable for a number of hair-raising sequences in the Chamber (which I'm not giving away here), as well as some charming moments (like Harry and Ron "borrowing" the flying car from Ron's parents to get to Hogwarts), but several scenes run on too long at times. Potter fans won't like hearing this, but some sequences like the already- obligatory "Quidditch" scenes should've been edited for length or at least rethought. But then, director Chris Columbus isn't known for subtlety or showing a streamlined approach to his material.
Nevertheless, the charm of J.K. Rowling's characters and stories still come through. The cast continues to rise to the occasion, thought Branagh's overbearing and unfunny Lockhart really got on my nerves, ruining an important plot revelation late in the film. The most significant part of the film is that Harry's situation is starting to get somewhat dark. Outside elements seems to be converging against Harry and his friends, and that's a tread that'll be explored in later films. Meanwhile, despite its length and overindulgent direction, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets is okay entertainment.