This is the second movie in the epic series based off the J.K. Rowling book series of the same name. We again meet with the familiar characters that took the world by storm in 1997 with the release of the first book, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. In this story, Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) starts out upset that he has not heard from any of his friends over the summer, and the Dursleys won’t even let him release Hedwig from her cage for fear that he might send letters to them. During an evening dinner party in which Uncle Vernon (Richard Griffiths) is hoping to impress a big client from work, Harry is sent to his room to keep from interrupting Uncle Vernon’s attempt to impress Mr. and Mrs. Mason (Jim Norton, Veronica Clifford), Dobby (voice actor Toby Jones), the house elf comes to visit Harry by just popping into his bedroom. Dobby has come to warn Harry not to go back to Hogwart’s. Harry refuses, because Hogwart’s is more of a home to him than this oppressive home in Little Whinging has ever been. Dobby is pretty much a slave to the family he serves, and every time he says something that might be offensive to them, even if they cannot hear it, he feels he must punish himself. After making much noise by banging his head on a wall, and smacking a lamp against his head, he gets away from Harry, and threatens to drop a beautifully decorated cake on top of Mrs. Mason’s head if Harry does not agree to stay home. Harry says no, and the cake goes all over Mrs. Mason. Uncle Vernon is, as usual very angry, and to make sure Harry does not get away to go back to school, he puts bars up on Harry’s bedroom window.
Uncle Vernon does not know how resourceful the Weasleys can be. That night, Ron (Rupert Gint) and the twins (James and Oliver Phelps) come to 4 Privet Drive, and pull the bars off the window using some rope and the pulling power of a flying Ford Anglia. Harry and Hedwig escape into the night, and this is the first time we get to see the Weasley’s humble, but huge home in The Burrow. They sneak in, hungry and tired, steal a bit of some kind of raisin loaf, only to be caught by Molly Weasley (Julie Walters). Molly is angry at the boys for borrowing the car without asking and flying across the country to rescue Harry. She is genuinely happy to see them, especially Harry, and when Arthur Weasley (Mark Williams) comes home after work, he is not really upset at what the boys did to rescue Harry, but impressed, even though for Molly’s sake, he attempts some kind of fatherly discipline in a short lecture. This is also when we meet Percy (Chris Rankin) and get to see Ginny (Bonnie Wright) again for longer than a moment, and this is Ginny’s first year at Hogwarts.
They all receive their Hogwart’s letters at The Burrow, and take a trip to Diagon Alley via floo powder, except that Harry does not do the spell quite right and ends up in Borgin and Burkes, a store filled with dark artifacts on Nocturne Alley. Nocturne Alley is a place that wizards and witches of questionable repute tend to hang about. It is a dark place, and rightfully named. Harry runs into Hagrid there, and they find Hermione (Emma Watson) along the way as they look for the Weasleys. He brings Harry to the Weasleys at Flourish and Blott’s bookstore. There he meets with the wizard whom will be his new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, Professor Gilderoy Lockhart (Kenneth Branagh). Lockhart is a highly charismatic wizard who can charm the birds from the trees, and has many witchy admirers, from teens to elders. He never misses an opportunity to boost his celebrity status, and when he sees a disheveled Harry Potter in the store, he gives Harry all of the books he has written, but not without getting a photo opp for the Daily Prophet. They also have a tense run-in with Draco (Tom Felton) and Lucius Malfoy (Jason Issacs).
Harry and the Weasleys barely make it to Platform 9 3/4, but when they do, Harry and Ron find the way barred for them. They go back to the car, and Ron decides to drive them to Hogwarts in the enchanted Ford Anglia, which flies out of the parking lot of King’s Cross. Harry reminds him that muggles are not used to seeing flying cars, and they go invisible until the mechanism malfunctions just a few miles outside of Hogsmeade. They nearly get run over by the Hogwarts Express, and that send the car barreling into the Whomping Willow. The Whomping Willow is a big old tree with a nasty temperment, and it does not appreciate this little car nesting in its branches. This is just the beginning of all the dangers Harry, Ron, and Hermione will face in their second year at Hogwarts.
Harry learns he can speak to snakes, that there is a deadly beast running loose around Hogwarts that petrifies anyone it comes across, and that Quidditch bludgers can be sabotaged. He meets with a new ghost, Moaning Myrtle (Shirley Henderson) whom haunts the plumbing, and finds out more about the creatures living in the Forbidden Forest than he ever really wanted to know. Arachniphobes, be wary of the scene where Harry and Ron meet with one of Hagrid’s former pets, Aragog. Harry learns of how much impact even a young Voldemort (Christian Coulson) can have just through casting a memory in a blank diary. The movie is just as fun, but a little darker than the first, but keeps with the tradition everyone has grown to love in the Harry Potter movies. We get to see the kids grow a bit more. Harry becomes more courageous, Malfoy more obnoxious, Ron more wary, and Hermione more brilliant as they all mature another year. It is so good to see that once the movies ended, that that all found great new roles to expand on.
I give this film a Musing review of