It turns out that Harry Potter can speak snake. How he came by that power we
can't tell you but we promise you'll find out by the end of this latest
episode in the life of the burgeoning wizard. And, it's not a power too
soon, as we find out when someone has opened the Chamber of Secrets and he
has to confront the demon that's been unleashed. Very useful, indeed, this
ability to speak to and control snakedom.
Too bad he doesn't have the same power over spiders since that particular
genus will threaten his and sidekick Ron Weasley's (Rupert Grint) lives in a
major episode. But, not to worry, since a magical flying car figures into
the author's imagination for this sequence. As are portals through solid
brick, demonic cannon balls, a dying and reborn Phoenix, conniving enemies
armed with advanced magic, a free floating phantasm who guards the ladies'
room and has a twinkle in her eye for our hero, and considerably more.
We've seen it all weave its magic spell for the fans of the book and movie
series, many of them minors, some adults, before. Like two years ago, when
our band of wizards were much (percentage-wise) younger and, given this space
between movie releases, part of its delight is in seeing them grow in size,
awareness and acting ability.
An adult who has not read the book is not as likely to be enchanted by the
magical effects and wondrous adventures of the Potter series quite so much as
a child who has previously bonded with the novel's characters would, but
seeing it with a child is all you will need for appreciation. Barring that,
through the eyes of one and go with the bewitched imagination that conjured
such spells and potions; its good guys n' gals and bad. Grab a broomstick
and sail along for the ride.
1. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone|
Published: September, 1998
Sold: More than 24 million
Movie released: Nov. 16, 2001
Worldwide box office: $969 Million (2nd highest)
2. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Published: June 1999
Sold: More than 20 million
Movie released: Nov. 15, 2002
3. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Published: September, 1999
Sold: More than 16 million
Movie: Production expected to begin in February, 2003 for release in
4. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Published: July 2000
Sold 16 million
Movie: Production expected to begin in spring 2004 for anticipated release in
5. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Publication date: Not yet announced.
Movie: Plans pending
Source: L.A. Times
Our stalwart trio (Radcliffe, Grint and increasingly gorgeous Emma Watson)
rises well into their roles as they levitate to greater maturity, and they
are fully engaged in the dangers and exploits. Robbie Coltrane as the warm
and fuzzy Hagrid plays a big role in his seamlessly embracing manner; Maggie
Smith is spot on as the flinty Professor Minerva McGonagall and we're glad to
see that Richard Harris completed his role as Albus Dumbledore before his
This installment is nicely charmed with the addition of the self-promoting,
colorful fraud of an instructor, Gilderoy Lockhart (Kenneth Branagh) who is
more effete manner than magic; and the scheming Headmaster Armando Dippet
Having said all that, we're left with a certain feeling of detachment,
which may stem from an inadequate emotional tie to our hero and what he and
his friends venture through. It's been suggested that this limitation may be
due to director Chris Columbus' take on what should be emphasized out of the
books, and that the next in the series might provide the missing connection,
a more effective potion to produce that visceral engagement than what these
popular movies have manifested so far for the adults in the audience.
While we look forward to it, we also read that Radcliffe's real life parents
want him to attend a prestigious school rather than be tutored on the set.
That, and the rapid maturing of all the youngsters, rendering them too old
for the parts by the time Warner Bros. is likely to make and release part
three, "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban" might see a new casting for
the lot of wizard trainees and a whole new kettle of incantations.
Links to reviews of prior episodes:
~~ Jules Brenner
"Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone"
"Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban"
"Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire"
"Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix"