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Harry Potter and the Chamber of Huge Opening Grosses
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I went to see Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets today. There may be spoilers ahead...just warning you up front.

I had read the first book, but not any of the subsequent ones, so unlike the viewing of the first film, I didn't know what was going to happen. Or rather, since so many plot elements were recycled this time around, I did.

It was all right, I suppose. Decent casting and acting all the way around. Kenneth Branagh did a nice job as the best-selling wizard author who is actually a pompous fraud (hmm...I'm sure there's already been a lot of theories of Rowling's psychological projections on this one, so I'll move on). The special effects were well done, just as in the first.

But that's the problem, it didn't really offer up anything new. It was a sequel, seeming very tired and recycled. We have another Quidditch match in which Harry snatches the snitch. We have another mystery centered around another mcguffin. As in the first one, we have a couple of red herrings thrown our way, in almost exactly the same way. We have Harry wondering if he's really evil again. We have the same bad guy in another incarnation. We have the kids sneaking around behind the adults' backs, lying and conniving (they still don't tell Dumbledore what's going on when he asks...shouldn't Harry trust the old fart by now?). And in the end, the adults don't even care that the kids have done all this lying and skulking around. There are little speeches like, "You have broken over 40 rules of behavior here at Hogwarts, and for that you shall be given a special commendation!" Nice lesson.

I guess I was expecting a certain amount of freshness to this one, which was a bit too much to expect, I suppose. I'd heard that as the books progress, Harry deals with more complex issues, such as puberty, girls, etc. None of that was in this film. It was a tired retread of the first, almost to the tee.

And it was long, way longer than it should have been, at well over two and a half hours. I was fidgeting in my seat, so I imagine that most kids were too (but who knows?). I think they were trying to cram every damned scene from the book in, to please the fans, at the expense of streamlining it for the big screen. Two hours would have been plenty. The story just wasn't that complex, and there were several tangents that didn't need to be followed.

So overall I thought it was pretty mediocre. Then again, maybe I'm just a jaded grump.

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