Archives For Chamber of Secrets

Technically it all began with the publication of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone in the UK in 1997. But that’s only technically. The true beginning was Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, published July 8th, 2000. Potter Mania can all be traced to that one date. It was when Harry Potter began its term as the reigning king of the publishing world, breaking records and setting the rest of the world on fire.

I had started reading the Harry Potter books about a year earlier. The first book had been given out as a school reading assignment. I scoffed at the assignment. A story about a boy who fins out he’s a wizard and then has to go to a wizard school? Why would I ever want to read such a thing? I was already a snob at the ripe old age of eleven. In retrospect, I was a total moron. Thank Jeebus I had a teacher who forced us to read good books! Click to read more


Considering the enourmous popularity of the Harry Potter books, a series of blockbuster movies was pretty much inevitable. There were a lot of directors who were looked at to bring the the magical world to life on film, but in the end the job went to an unlikely candidate. Chris Columbus had done well with Home Alone and Mrs. Doubtfire and was probably a good choice in terms of dealing with child actors. His other directorial abilities were more questionable and, as Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets would prove, it was a creative gamble that didn’t quite pay off. Columbus delivered two films that made boatloads of money and that ably translated the stories from the first two books to the screen, but he did so without any sort of creative flash. But is that such a bad thing?

A lot of people bag on Columbus for his handling of the Harry Potter films—he’s an easy target, I know—but in retrospect his extremely basic direction was exactly what the franchise needed in the beginning. Sure, it would be nice to get in a time machine and have David Yates just go ahead and direct all the films, but as things played out Columbus actually managed to put together two films that are very watchable and aren’t too dark or weird. Could you imagine if Alfonso Cauron had been able to direct the first film and set up the entire series through his own weird lens? The result might have been something the critical community would adore, but audiences might have been turned off and the series might have floundered over time.
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Surprise! Chris Columbus is back to deliver another dose of Hogwarts-style adventure. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets is a good film, so allow me to get that out of the way right at the outset. It is completely watchable, and as a continuation of the series it serves its purpose reasonably well. What makes me somewhat sad about this film is the potential that was squandered. With Chamber of Secrets, J.K. Rowling delivers a horror-mystery ripe for film. Unfortunately, Columbus and writer Steve Kloves drop the ball in a big way. Again, it’s watchable, but Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets could have been so much more. Click to read more

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone had its share of dark and scary moments, but it is Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets that properly introduces the series to the dark tone that so often defines it with each subsequent book. J.K. Rowling proves here abilities once again with this feature. She wisely incorporates suspense and horror into the series for the obvious reasons of reader engagement. There’s no question that the scarier the books get, the more we need to know what will happen. It’s classic popular literature technique and Rowling is one of the its modern masters. But her mastery of darkness is not limited to mere reader appeal. She instead interests herself more in the way the darkness is representative of real life. In that respect, Chamber of Secrets is also the first book in the series to seriously explore the ills of humanity through the dangerous plight of Harry Potter and the larger community of wizards. Click to read more

Going in, you could say J.K. Rowling has a lot to prove with this second novel in the Harry Potter series. The first book, though not very long, and very much aimed at children, is very entertaining and surprisingly dense in both plot and theme. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets continues that perfectly. Once again, the novel is not very long and it is still a children’s book, but this book contains even more plot and even more depth to plunder. But what really sets Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets apart from its predecessor is its darkness. Where the first book was more interested in liveliness and wonder, this second entry tries for bleak and ominous mood that sometimes borders on genuinely scary. Click to read more