Xpress, the Coolest Section of the St. Petersburg Times, is the home for features, news and views of interest to young readers. Most of the work in Xpress, which appears on Mondays in Floridian, is produced by the Times' X-Team. The team of journalists ages 9-17 from around the Tampa Bay area is selected every year at the end of the school year to serve during the following school term. The current team of 12 was chosen out of 150 applicants. Watch for X-Team application forms in Xpress during the month of May.

Read the reviews by Xpress Film Critic Billy Norris

St. Petersburg Times Online

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Wonderful 'Secrets' for older wizards

Harry Potter
[Warner Bros.]
The writing on the wall: Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) and Groundskeeper Argus Filch (David Bradley) in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.

Billy photo
Read Billy's movie reviews on his special archive page.
© St. Petersburg Times
published November 18, 2002

Movie: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

  • Rating: PG

Summary: Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe), Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint) and Hermione Granger (Emma Watson) have returned for their second year of study at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. This year, a different mystery has arisen, with several students being petrified by a strange, unknown creature that has come from the Chamber of Secrets, a covert lair built inside the castle by a Dark Lord many, many years ago. It's been 50 years since the chamber was last opened, unleashing the wrath inside. Now, it's just a matter of time before history repeats and Hogwarts is closed for good.

My View: All aspects of this film are strong. I enjoyed this one more than I did the first Harry Potter. In the previous film, they left out some key parts of the plot, especially at the end. You can't include everything when you're working with a 350-page book, but the choices they made this time made more sense. The plot flowed a lot better, and the young actors seemed to have settled into their characters very well. The 2 hours, 41 minutes flew by, because there was much more going on. Less time was spent on introductions, which left more time for action. The story was a bit darker and the humor was more plentiful. Both those things gear the movie toward a little older audience, which really makes sense because the characters are getting older as well. The special effects were dazzling, and all the computer-generated creatures were cleverly brought to life.

Favorite Part: Dobby, a computer-generated character, is another family's "house elf" and is obviously mistreated by them. He tries very hard to protect Harry from what he feels is impending doom. But poor Dobby has some serious self-esteem issues and is constantly beating himself up after everything he does. He's always criticizing himself and doing something totally wacky afterward (i.e. banging his head with a lamp, ironing his hands). The "Dobby" created by the animators was an excellent portrayal of the character in the book. He was great fun to watch.

Recommendations: I wouldn't recommend this film to kids 7 and younger who are easily frightened. For the whole slew of Harry Potter fans out there, and for those who are just curious about the series, you won't be disappointed.

Grade: A+

-- Billy Norris, 15, is in the ninth grade at Seminole High School, and is a former member of the Times X-Team.

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