LIFE

Return of the wizard

HARRY POTTER fans have news to rejoice. Potter and his wizard friends are back on the big screen. Based on the second of J.K. Rowling's `Harry Potter' novels, `Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets' is due for global release this Christmas season.

The director, Chris Colombus, who won acclaim for the first Potter movie, `Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone' is now telling the second part of the story of the lovable wizard. Potter finds himself back at Hogwarts and is accused of turning some of his friends to stone.

A Hollywood critic says the movie is likely to stand out for its spectacular special effects. Scenes such as Harry and his buddy, Ron, cruising in their flying car and landing on the magic willow tree on the sprawling grounds of Hogwarts are sure to satisfy even the most demanding Potter fans.

There are also less delectable scenes such as the one in which Ron vomits one slimy slug after another when a magical spell backfires. Another critic maintains that the movie succeeds in keeping a high level of humour. However, the 2-hour 45-minute script is often plodding and Daniel Radcliffe who portrays Harry looks older.

Return of the wizard

The nasty Malfoys are up to their old tricks in the `Chamber of Secrets'. Noted actor Jason Isaac features as the sneering Lucius. Kenneth Branagh brings in comic relief as the madly self-aggrandizing new Professor in Hogwarts.

The actor Richard Harris, who played Headmaster Dumbeldore in the first Potter movie, had died recently adding an unexpected poignancy to the sequel. The wise Professor McGonagall is portrayed by the same Maggie Smith. There is a new computer generated character in the `Chamber of Secrets' -- the head-banging elf servant, Dobby.

The movie is tightly wound around a vein of suspense and tension. Something terrible is happening at the wizard school. Students are being turned into stone and Harry is suspected to be behind it. Hogwarts faces the prospect of closing its halls forever to students. Potter's friend, Hermione (Emma Watson), is working hard on a potion to revive the students while Harry and Ron play the role of sleuths trying to identify the true evil doer -- the one who knows how to unlock the doors to the dreaded and forbidden chamber of secrets where a hideous monster lurks. ``While the narrative is packed with incident and the production design remains impressive, the freshness of the original is lacking. Radcliffe reliably anchors the picture and Watson's Hermione is no longer the old haughty know all girl'', writes a critic.

By Anand G.

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