Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

By Ewan McDonald

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(Herald rating: * * * *)

You loved the first so - yes, absolutely - you're going to love the second. And that's only the parents and uncles and aunts. Kids will get even more fun out of the second adventure of the junior wizards Harry, Ron and Hermione.

If you boil down two and three-quarter hours to the headlines, there's not a whole lot different between Harry Potter I and HPII. It starts with Harry unhappy at the Dursley house, Harry escapes to Hogwarts School with his chums, the three have fantastic lessons, there are magical creatures, a game of Quidditch and Harry battles a mighty enemy and a nasty teacher.

Still, if you boiled down all the Famous Five and Secret Seven books, they'd sound pretty darn similar, too.

When Harry and co get to school, they reunite with their old headmaster, Albus Dumbledore (enjoy Richard Harris in his final role), Professor McGonagall (Maggie Smith) and sinister Professor Snape (Alan Rickman). They meet the new teacher, Gilderoy Lockhart (Kenneth Branagh), as well as the nasty from previous book, Draco Malfoy (Tom Felton) and his evil father, Lucius (Jason Isaacs).

Something's up at Hogwarts: someone is planning to break into the legendary Chamber of Secrets and unleash a monster that can petrify or kill with a look. Harry and friends have to uncover the plotter before the school is closed.

It's a ripping yarn, longer, darker and quite a bit more grown-up than the first, with amazing computer-generated effects including a lovable new pal, Dobby the House Elf, some unlovable spiders and the climactic battle with a giant snake.

- NZ Herald

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