The news from Hogwarts? After many adventures our brave, clearly older young knight Harry slays the dragon. The franchise is safe! Columbus' second alchemical movie ups the thrill quotient to satisfy the faithful. There's more action, and it's scarier. Although it's true that the director and scriptwriter Steve Kloves' faithful translation reproduces the interminable length of the book, this witches' brew is eminently drinkable. Those of us who regard the source books as literary junk shops also forget how colourful, varied and mustily reassuring they can be. And anything author JK Rowling can steal, Columbus can steal better. The Weasleys' rescue of Harry from the dreaded Dursleys in a flying Ford Anglia, for instance, is Chitty Chitty Bang Bang out of Jurassic Park. Much is marvellous. New CGI character Dobby, the green-eyed house elf who conspires to keep Harry, is 'umbler than Uriah Heep. The human actors are as good, each doing their turn with aplomb. Branagh's preening Gilderoy Lockhart, the new Dark Arts professor, is near-camp joy; but Jason Isaacs takes the honours as the hissable villain Lucius Malfoy. His disdain and evil gaze are worth the ticket price alone.
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Cast and crew