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This week's reviews: 'Harry Potter,' TLC's '3D,' more


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(PEOPLE) -- This week, PEOPLE.COM looks at the film "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets," TLC's album "3D" and UPN's "Half & Half."

Go to: Movies | Music | TV

Movie review: 'Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets'

Radcliffe
Spell it out: Daniel Radcliffe must use all his wizardry skills to save himself and his pals in the latest "Harry Potter" adventure.
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The verdict on the "Harry Potter" sequel? It's better than the first but still not a movie that adults must rush to see unless they're toting ticket and popcorn money for young charges. Or unless they too are as wild about Harry as kids and have been eagerly awaiting the further adventures of the British boy magician at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

This faithful screen adaptation of J.K. Rowling's second book in the Potter series is more tightly plotted than the original film and boasts a welcome, lighter touch in its early scenes. But it devolves, during its wearying 161-minute running time, into a been-there-fought-that action hero yarn featuring an adolescent Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) making like Indiana Jones as he battles giant spiders and a gargantuan snake. All that's missing is the felt hat, rawhide whip and 5 o'clock shadow.

Amusing and inventive scenes are plentiful early on, though, as Harry and his mates Ron (Rupert Grint) and Hermione (Emma Watson) begin their second year at Hogwarts. They learn to repot mandrake roots, tame pixies and turn small animals into goblets. (Attempting the last, Ron, whose wand skills are lacking, ends up converting his pet rat into a fur-covered glass with a still twitching tail.) But there's evil lurking in Hogwarts's hallways -- messages scrawled in blood on walls are never a good sign -- and Harry and his pals must figure out who's behind the threatened mayhem.

Director Chris Columbus, returning for a second "Harry" tour, elicits adequate performances from his young cast members, who are given scant chance to develop their characters. The adults (the late Richard Harris, Maggie Smith, Robbie Coltrane and Alan Rickman), a who's who of England's acting elite, again seem to be having a jolly good time under their heavy robes and makeup, while newcomer Kenneth Branagh adds to the fun as a preeningly vain but spectacularly inept wizard.

Bottom line: Solid sequel, but not quite magic

Music review: '3D'

3D
TLC's reggae-tinged party jam "Dirty Dirty" includes a moment of silence for the late Lopes.

TLC (Arista)

"Yo, remember me/ Left Eye, TLC," raps the late Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes on "Girl Talk," the funky, fresh-mouthed first single off TLC's fourth album. It is one of four tracks featuring Lopes, who died in a car accident last April, before this disc was completed. There are no solemn dirges here, though.

In crazy-sexy-cool TLC style, the trio's surviving members -- Tionne "T-Boz" Watkins and Rozonda "Chilli" Thomas -- pay tribute on the rowdy, reggae-tinged party jam "Dirty Dirty." "Left Eye would want us to break it down like this," they rap -- before, out of nowhere, they stop the groove with "Left Eye gets a moment of silence."

Elsewhere TLC continues to display the same kind of street sass that marked hits like "No Scrubs," whether they are dissing male sexual performance on "Quickie" or kicking a trifling lover to the curb on "Over Me." Once again they demonstrate an uncanny knack for incorporating up-to-the-second beats into their trademark hip-hop funk, with writing-producing contributions from Babyface and Missy Elliott, among other top talent.

The sultry-voiced Watkins cowrote 6 of 13 cuts, including the CD's best, most vulnerable moment: "Damaged," a Princely mid-tempo gem in the vein of "Unpretty," which reveals that underneath all that attitude, all they really want is a little TLC.

Bottom line: Three cheers for "3D"

TV review: 'Half & Half'

UPN (Mondays, 9:30 p.m. ET)

"I have been acting like a big idiot," Mona (Rachel True) conceded to half sister Dee Dee (Essence Atkins) in an early episode of this freshman sitcom. "But it's very endearing once you get used to it."

"Endearing" is a stretch, but True manages to make Mona surprisingly likable given her carping about Dee Dee's privileged childhood. Now in their 20s, the two are living in the same apartment building and trying to build a relationship, while their mothers (Telma Hopkins and Valarie Pettiford) get catty whenever they cross paths.

Though I'd like to see less of Mona's platonic pal Spencer (Chico Benymon) and much more of the young women's rich father (talented Obba Babatunde), the female contingent has enough comic potential to justify the show's survival.

Bottom line: Half-decent



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