It's Harry's third year at Hogwarts; not only does he have a new "Defense Against the Dark Arts" teacher, but there is also trouble brewing. Convicted murderer Sirius Black has escaped the Wizards' Prison and is coming after Harry.
This is the tale of Harry Potter, an ordinary 11-year-old boy serving as a sort of slave for his aunt and uncle who learns that he is actually a wizard and has been invited to attend the Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry. Harry is snatched away from his mundane existence by Hagrid, the grounds keeper for Hogwarts, and quickly thrown into a world completely foreign to both him and the viewer. Famous for an incident that happened at his birth, Harry makes friends easily at his new school. He soon finds, however, that the wizarding world is far more dangerous for him than he would have imagined, and he quickly learns that not all wizards are ones to be trusted. Written by
I feel, next to Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone is the best book-to-movie adaptation that I've ever seen. The sets were stunning - the actors were first rate - the effects were breathtaking. The film flowed quite smoothly in it's transition from page to screen, never tripping on the awkward conventions that other books on film have struggled with. The screenplay, by Steven Kloves, stripped away all unnecessary elements to get to the root of the story. Though many events from the book were excluded, the essential ones made it to the film. And it makes for one smooth story and very enjoyable movie-going experience.
Many kudos to Chris Columbus and the rest of the Harry Potter cast/crew for not turning this movie into what it easily could have become: a 2 and a half hour commercial advertisement for action figures and collectibles, kid's meals and fast food tie-ins, soft drinks and snack products, etc. and instead focused on bringing J.K. Rowling's story to life as accurately and as lovingly as it deserves. There has been much speculation on whether Columbus was the correct choice for the first two installments of the series and I say to that, Yes. I feel that he accomplished what most would have failed. He has proven, at least to me, that Diagon Alley truly exists - if only I could find the right brick to tap on. The world of Harry Potter is no longer fantasy to me, but instead a place where any of us mere Muggles could hope to visit, one day.
One of my favorite moments, is what I'm going to refer to as the Adrenaline Sequence. By Adrenaline Sequence, I mean the sequence in a movie that for all intents and purposes, doesn't necessarily propel the story, but gives the audience a huge theatrical payoff, ala the Pod Race sequence in The Phantom Menace. The Adrenaline Sequence for this particular movie is the Quidditch sequence. I was very happy to finally see the 'hockey/soccer hybrid on a broomstick' come to life. The Quidditch Sequence is, by far, my favorite sequence in the whole film. The scene is dizzying in it's violence and it's one breathless moment after another. My hat goes off to Columbus and his team for succeeding in making this scene as memorable as it should be.
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone is a fantastic movie for children of all ages. Fans and non-fans alike will enjoy this colorful story of good versus evil and the friendships that endure.
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