Viewing your Watchlist and recommended content requires Javascript

  • PG
  • Adventure, Family
  • 2002

The Chamber Of Secrets

The Chamber Of Secrets


More of the same in this first sequel, as Harry and friends investigate weird goings on at Hogwarts. The JK Rowling money-making behemoth lumbers onward


Love Harry Potter? Browse reviews of all the films here

Fans of Harry Potter And The Philosopher's Stone, the first movie adaptation of JK Rowling's children's books, won't be disappointed by this second instalment, as it's a very similar product. The acting skill still resides wholly in the adult contingent (here including Kenneth Branagh and Jason Isaacs), the sizeable budget is again evident on the screen (with an array of great effects), and the plot is, well, almost the same (something weird is afoot at Hogwarts, the kids investigate and come out dirty but victorious).

Although the filmmakers claim that the tone is "darker" here, this supposed change is negligible. The biggest difference is that the voices of Daniel Radcliffe and Rupert Grint have broken.

Despite his new-found powers, Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) is still being brutalised by his foul aunt and uncle. When Dobby the house elf (voiced by Toby Jones) shows up to warn our hero ("Harry Potter must not go back to Hogwarts School of Magic and Wizardry this year!"), he angers young Potter's step-parents, who lock Harry in his bedroom. However, soon Ron (Rupert Grint) and his brothers free him with the aid of a flying Ford Anglia and the chums are back at school for another term.

The plot proper begins when messages written in blood start appearing on the walls and pupils are discovered "petrified" (not dead, just magically frozen stiff). Harry, Ron and Hermione (Emma Watson) are soon drawn into another adventure - not least because our hero alone can hear a creepy snake-like voice urging "Kill! Kill! Kill!".

All this is presented with wonderful spectacle. Hogwarts looks fabulous, the stairwells and chambers a canny mixture of venerable British locations, sets and CG work. The new additions to the adult cast are great too - Branagh is great as the preening Gilderoy Lockhart, poncing around and sending himself up. Jason Isaacs is also fun as the nasty Lucius Malfoy, all arrogant glower and long blonde locks.

Sadly, there's not enough Alan Rickman this time. Other, non-human, new cast members are of variable quality. Arachnophobes will freak at the hordes of special effects spiders, and the climactic basilisk looks good - it resembles a limbless dragon. Dobby, however, is cause for concern. Acting is still just too much to expect of CG characters it seems, though he's not as irritating as Jar-Jar Binks. He's an odd creation nonetheless. A slave and fervent masochist - who resembles an old man's penis - he may not be entirely suitable for younger viewers.

Watch the latest Harry Potter videos, clips and premiere footage

Cast & Connections

  • Actor: Robbie Coltrane, David Bradley, Kenneth Branagh, Richard Harris, Alan Rickman, Emma Watson, Warwick Davis, Rupert Grint, Julie Walters, John Cleese, Fiona Shaw, Maggie Smith, Richard Griffiths, Daniel Radcliffe
  • Director: Chris Columbus
  • Screen Writer: Steve Kloves
  • Writer (Book): JK Rowling
  • Producer: David Heyman
  • Photographer: Roger Pratt
  • Composer: John Williams, William Ross

In a nutshell

Those who adore the books may bemoan the flat emotional landscape of the films, which are less easy to engage with. Fans of the first film will be suitably entertained. Fans of neither won't give a monkeys about this mixed bag Christmas blockbuster.

Latest from Film4...

  • Film4

    The Salt Of The Earth

    Brazilian documentary about the life of visionary photographer Sebastião Salgado, directed by Wim Wenders and Sebastião's son Juliano Ribeiro Salgado.

  • Film4


    AnnaLynne McCord stars as a teenager with an unhealthy fascination with gore and surgery.

    On Film4: 29 Oct 11:05PM

  • Film4

    Black Cinema Season on Film4

    To tie-in with the launch of the BFIs Black Star season, Film4 presents a celebration of black filmmaking talent both in front of and behind the camera.

  • Film4

    FilmFear on Film4

    This Halloween, Film4 becomes FilmFear. Join us for seven nights of petrifying premieres and classics from the crypt.

  • Channel 4 Blog

    TIFF 2016: Top Ten Editor Michael Leader runs through ten standouts from the Toronto International Film Festival...   The Oath I'd already seen three of the four Film4-backed films screening in Toronto (inc

  • Channel 4 Blog

    Baltasar Kormakur on The Oath

    As his Film4-backed Icelandic thriller The Oath premieres in Toronto, director/writer/actor Baltasar Kormakur speaks with editor Michael Leader about making films in Hollywood, returning to

Register with

Personalise your Film4 experience

  • Set film reminders
  • Build your watchlist
  • Get film suggestions

or Register