By Val Ulicki   Published Nov 15, 2002 at 5:10 AM

Harry Potter has returned once again to ferry fans and their families through the holiday season and to the movie's credit, they will not be disappointed.

The second movie, "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets," continues the story of the young wizard, and picks up on Harry's birthday. Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) has been waiting to return to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry after spending a stifling summer with his Aunt Petunia (Fiona Sha), Uncle Vernon (Richard Griffiths) and cousin Dudley. But Harry is a bit worried because he hasn't received one letter from his friends, Ron Weasley (Rupe Grint) and Hermione Granger (Emma Watson), the entire vacation.

His predicament becomes more puzzling when a house-elf, named Dobby, mysteriously appears in his bedroom, warning the young Gryffindor of a great danger if he returns to the school for another term. The elf's appearance sets off a chain of events that threatens Harry's chances of returning to Hogwarts, until his good friend Ron, the Weasley boys and a flying car begin his journey back to the treasured school.

However, the young wizard's adventures are just beginning, as strange events pull Ron, Hermione and Harry into a mystery that has threatened the lives of the Hogwarts' students and may close the school forever.

The story is translated to the big screen well even though the tale was edited to squeeze the 300-page book into a 2 1/2-hour-plus movie. The original actors return to play the young wizard, his friends and teachers, with the addition of Kenneth Branagh as Gilderoy Lockhart, the new Professor of Defense against the Dark Arts.

The special effects were seamless, translating a complicated, imaginative story into a realistic vision. The movie can stand alone, without having seen the first movie or reading any of the books. However, having done either of those first will definitely enhance your Harry Potter experience.

If you are an arachnophobe or afraid of snakes, you might want to sit this one out. Also, use your discretion if you are taking young children. Quizzing anyone under 10 to make sure they are comfortable with realistic-looking monsters will go a long way in preventing future nightmares.

Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets opens this Friday at all major theatres. Click here to purchase your tickets in advance!