Is this film worth all the praise and attention? Most definitely. For those die-hard fans who love the books and liked the first film, “Chamber of Secrets” will leave them breathless.

So a strange thing began to happen this past weekend as more and more positive reviews of the new Harry Potter film hit the news. Phrases like “Better than the first one” and “Funnier and more intense than the original” began to be batted around. Then the crowds filled the theaters to the tune of almost $90 million the opening weekend, and it began to appear that “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets” will be one of the most popular and lucrative film franchises ever.

Is this film worth all the praise and attention? Most definitely. For those die-hard fans who love the books and liked the first film, “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone,” “Chamber of Secrets” will leave them breathless. The effects of the second film are better. The acting, especially among the young actors, has more depth. The sets and costumes are a wonder to behold. Visually, this is a stunning piece of filmmaking. 

Beyond the visuals, the script is everything it should be. One complaint about the first film was that it did not possess the clever humor of the book. Screenwriter Steve Kloves found that voice this time. Along with the humor comes an intensity that many found lacking in the first film. Author J.K. Rowling, who created Harry and his world, has always maintained that the stories will get darker with each progressive book. 

“Chamber of Secrets” has definitely upped the intensity level of the first film, but this only adds to the overall quality of the film. Anyone who is a fan of the books knows that things will get more and more serious as Harry’s years at “Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardy” go on. If the filmmakers watered down the stories to please parents of young moviegoers, then the films would not be true to their source material, which would be unpardonable. Instead, “Chamber of Secrets” is one of the most accurate adaptations of a great novel to have been made in quite a while.

As with the books and the first film, there are those who believe that “Chamber of Secrets” is leading Americans toward the “occult.” When one considers all the Christians protesting the Potter products, one cannot help but remember the best line from the book, which is also included in the film. Headmaster Dumbledore (played perfectly by the late Richard Harris in his last role) tells young Harry, “It is our choices, Harry, far more than our abilities, that show what we truly are.”

In a day when Christians should be screaming for investigations of corporate scandal and decrying religious leaders who spout hate speech and intolerance, much can be discerned about those who choose to focus their time and energy on the protest of one of the most imaginative and creative fantasies of this generation.

As for those who see the Harry Potter series for what it truly is—great entertainment, first and foremost, filled with lessons about friendship, courage, loyalty and love—there is only one choice:

See “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets” as soon as possible.

Roger Thomas is pastor of NortheastBaptistChurch in Atlanta.

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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