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Harry Potter Matures Into a Wilier Wizard

Written by Claudia Puig

LOS ANGELES — His voice is deeper, his manner more assured and he engages in more adolescent high jinks. Meet the nearly teenage Harry Potter. In the second installment of the series, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, opening Nov. 15, Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) and pal Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint), both 12, have lower voices and a bit of a tougher attitude. They even drive a car, which can also fly.

33tjdoj“They’re becoming men,” says Annie Tippe, 14, of L.A., who saw the movie Monday at Warner Bros., which is distributing the film. This week, select screenings were held for journalists and studio employees and families.

And while teens count Harry and his magical pals at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry as part of their crowd, the younger set admires their cool maturity. “They’re growing up,” says Alex Salas, 9, of Santa Clarita, Calif., with a touch of awe in his voice.

Secrets— based on the best-selling book by J.K. Rowling about the adventures of an orphaned wizard — now seems aimed at slightly older kids.

Last year, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, which raked in $318 million in North America, was the most anticipated family movie of the fall. Its main competition, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, another film about magical events, grossed $313 million and attracted a slightly older audience of teens. A similar box office contest will take place this holiday season (with more audience overlap) when The Two Towers, the second Rings epic, opens Dec. 18.

Secrets hopes to outmatch even its own predecessor with more action, humor and thrills. “It’s more suspenseful than the first,” attests Rosie Krieger, 14, of L.A. And teens like Tippe say they are “ecstatic” about the romantic plotline. “It’s developing slowly,” she says.

But don’t discount the fantasy element. In Secrets, Harry eludes armies of eight-legged attackers and tangles with an 85-foot serpent. Some of the action scenes even make the wizard look like a budding Bond. In fact, director Chris Columbus says he urged Radcliffe to say one line “like Clint Eastwood.”

Also captivating are the fast-paced scenes of Quidditch, an aerial sport that is a cross between soccer and basketball — while dodging foes and a heavy careening ball from atop a broomstick.

“We improved the special-effects rigs and the visual effects to get more (high-speed) movement,” says Columbus, who fulfilled last year’s promise to do so. “The goal was to make it a lot more exciting and a little more violent.”

Theater owners who saw Secrets Tuesday responded favorably and predicted the film would probably gross more than $250 million. But some found it less “magical” than the first, and balked at the 2-hour, 42-minute length (nine minutes longer than Stone).


Original article found here: USA Today | October 22nd, 2002

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