"Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets"


Emma Watson, Rupert Grint and Daniel Radcliffe star in 'Harry Potter.' (Warner Bros.)
For older children still moved by metaphor and its magic, this is a wonderful movie. It shines in its story and its portrayal. It can help parents talk to their children about the nature of fame (which has become a national obsession) and its consequences.

Harry Potter returns to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry to find that a secret chamber has opened. This opening is causing people, and even a cat, to be petrified. Harry is thrust into the role of savior again. The problem is, he becomes a suspect.

This film contains more bells and whistles than the first. There are more special effects, and they help give the movie more depth and a better overall feel. 

There is little character development here because the characters were so well defined in the first movie. But, important new characters are added.

We are introduced to Draco Malfoy's father, Lucius. With his addition comes the hatred toward muggle-born witches and wizards. The term used is "mudblood." Lucius holds to an almost Klanish belief that any muggle-born wizards are inferior and should not be allowed to be a part of the world of magic.

Lucius makes one believe that he would have all muggles and mudbloods rounded up and placed in some concentration camp to await extermination. Holding him back are people like Professor Dumbledore. Dumbledore is open-minded and understands the contribution of those called mudbloods. Hermione Granger, the best student in Draco's class, is a case in point.

Another interesting character is Gilderoy Lockhart, who is conceited and not too adept at being a wizard. However, he is sharp in the ways of celebrity and fame. Lockhart is able to milk fame for all it can give, but he is unable to do the very task that is called for in the film: defense against the dark arts. Lockhart is able to slip in and out, with all the false bravado of a rogue and a charlatan. But when the chips are down and there is a need, he is as useless as a kickstand on a tricycle. 

The movie helps us see the growing role of Harry Potter as deliverer and savior of his people. As the tension of the movie grows, Harry becomes more and more the target of accusation. Yet, Harry never shrinks from standing up for those he is related to. Harry knows it is not important what people think of him. What matters is doing what he was sent to do, which is delivering the people. And in the end, those relationships aid him in his hour of need.

I am amazed at the negativity that Harry Potter gets from Christians. For many Christians, the use of magic signals Satanic overtones. Yet watching the movie and allowing the metaphor to speak, one can see classic Christian symbols. The idea of salvation is evident here.

A word of caution: This movie is darker than the first. There are scenes of peril that could upset younger children, so it is best not to allow those under eight to see this movie. 

But for older children still moved by metaphor and its magic, this is a wonderful movie. It shines in its story and its portrayal. It can help parents talk to their children about the nature of fame (which has become a national obsession) and its consequences. There is also the opportunity to speak to the idea of being who you are in spite of others' opinions. 

Mike Parnell is pastor of Burgaw Baptist Church in Burgaw, N.C.

MPAA Rating: PG for scary moments, some creature violence and mild language

Director: Chris Columbus

Writer: Steve Kloves

Cast: Harry Potter: Daniel Radcliffe; Ron Weasley: Rupert Grint; Hermione Granger: Emma Watson; Lucius Malfoy: Jason Isaacs; Prof. Snape: Alan Rickman; Prof. McGonagal: Maggie Smith; Hagrid the Giant: Robbie Coltrane; Prof. Albus Dumbledore: Richard Harris; Draco Malfoy: Tom Felton; Gilderoy Lockhart: Kenneth Branagh.

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