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Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
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Index 1526 reviews in total 

157 out of 201 people found the following review useful:

Wonderful adaptation, but missing the satire of the book

7/10
Author: kylopod (kylopod@aol.com) from Baltimore, MD
20 November 2001

I enjoyed this movie immensely. But, like "The Phantom Menace," I've had a very hard time viewing it objectively. There was so much anticipation leading up to its release, I simply enjoyed the experience of being there. Having read all four books in the series a few times each, I am overly familiar with the events in the story. As I watched the movie, my continuing thought was "How well will the next part of the story be translated to the screen?" rather than "How entertaining is this film overall?" I have trouble answering the latter question because I was already entertained by watching a wonderful story dramatized, so I'll never know how I'd have reacted had I seen this movie without having read the books.

Critics talk about how incredibly faithful the movie is to the book, and perhaps I'd have had an easier time detaching the two in my mind had the movie set off on its own course. Indeed, many classic children's movies, like "The Wizard of Oz" and "Mary Poppins," are so successful partly because they're so different from the books that inspired them. But these are exceptions; in my experience, most children's movies reveal their weaknesses in how they diverge from the books upon which they're based. And much of what makes the Harry Potter phenomenon unique is that it is the first time in ages that a children's book, without a movie accompanying it, has generated this much popularity. According to an article I read a year ago, the universe of Harry Potter has become as real in the minds of youngsters and adults as that of a popular movie series like Star Wars. Therefore, it will be very hard for any film based upon it to compete with it. In the minds of die-hard fans, any changes made to the story will be seen as desecrating the fantasy world that Rowling created. That's why it's easy to understand why the filmmakers were so reluctant to change anything.

As a faithful rendering of the book squeezed into a two-and-a-half hour period, the movie is beautifully done. I don't have a single complaint about any of the actors, who successfully bring to life, with the aid of costume design and special effects, the many colorful characters from the book. My favorite character, the giant Hagrid, is played by Robbie Coltrane, and I say with no exaggeration that he is exactly how I imagined him while reading the book. It's as if they took the image in my mind and transferred it to the screen. While I had my own personal image of Snape (for some reason, I always imagined him as the head villain from another Chris Columbus film, "Adventures in Babysitting"), Alan Rickman is perfect in the role. I usually expect to have words of criticism for some performances, but I just don't. The remaining adult actors, including Maggie Smith as Professor McGonagall and Richard Harris as Albus Dumbledore, are as good as they possibly could be, and the kids do an excellent job of holding their own against these veterans. Some have criticized Daniel Radcliffe for appearing too subdued in the title role, but that's exactly how the character is portrayed in the book: modest, unassuming, and laid-back. The kids who play Harry's two best friends are flawless.

I had a lot of worries about the fact that it was being directed by Chris Columbus, whose entire directorial career so far has consisted of over-the-top slapstick films. I was pleasantly surprised that he did not direct the Harry Potter film in this way. Except for brief moments like the children's delayed reaction to a giant three-headed dog they encounter and Harry's swallowing the quaffle ball, there is nothing here to remind us that this film is directed by the same person who gave us films like "Home Alone" and "Mrs. Doubtfire." Indeed, I think Columbus may have gone just a tad bit too far in trying not to make the film seem cartoony. I would have liked to see a little more emotion on the actors' faces at certain times. Overall, however, his restraint works nicely in giving the film the kind of believability the book possesses.

But much is left out. Harry's caretaker Uncle Vernon, a prominent character in the book, is given less attention in the movie than some of the bit characters. The gently satirical aspects of Hogwarts School aren't in the movie at all. We never see the ghostly history teacher who died several years back but kept on teaching. Lines like the following--"Professor McGonagall watched [her students] turn a mouse into a snuffbox--points were given for how pretty the snuffbox was, but taken away if it had whiskers"--find no equivalent in the movie. The movie does include platform nine-and-three-quarters, though the way the kids disappear into the wall isn't as mysterious as I had visualized, and the sorting hat is there, minus the great poem explaining the differences between the four schools.

Not that I'm blaming the movie for omitting some details. Some things from the book would not have translated easily to the screen, and it would have been very difficult to stick everything in. Had Columbus done so and allowed the film to be as long as necessary (eight hours, maybe?), like a BBC miniseries, the film might have been a masterpiece, but few kids would ever have had the patience or attention span to sit through it.

The problem is that the amusing details are much of what make Harry Potter such a special story. A whole universe is created in Rowling's series, in which a magical society exists within our own ordinary "muggle" world and is kept secret by a bureaucracy with its own rules, history and politics. The way magic is treated in her books, not as something medieval but as very similar to the way our own contemporary world works, is a large part of their charm. Take away these details, and you're left with a fairly conventional tale of a young wizard fighting an evil sorcerer.

Although the audience I was with broke into applause as soon as the movie ended (something I've never seen happen before, though I don't go to the theater that often), some people have complained about the movie dragging at certain points. I didn't have that problem, but, as I said, I wasn't really trying to get involved in the movie's story. After thinking about it, it does seem like parts of the movie fail to convey a sense of urgency. Why should this be? I never felt that way when reading the books, and this is without a doubt the very same story.

The answer, I think, is that the books portray much of Harry's anxiety in trying to succeed in school (for if he's kicked out, he'll go straight back to his horrible uncle) and fit in with the kids there. The movie doesn't tap into these anxieties enough, so why should we care whether he wins the Quidditch match (other than that he survives in one piece) and gets through the school year? The only real suspense in the movie after he arrives at Hogwarts comes from the story of Lord Voldemort returning, which in the book is almost secondary. Harry's adventures getting along in the school are fun and interesting, but as they are presented to us in the film, there isn't enough tying them all together.

What we have here is a serviceable dramatization of a wonderful children's series, but it doesn't entirely succeed in standing on its own. Perhaps it should have diverged from the book just a little, to compensate for the difficulties in translating some of the book's delights to the screen. In its current form, it's almost like a preview of the book. Its lack of fullness, and its dependence on the book, might actually increase the popularity and endurance of Rowling's series by making those who see the film yearn for more, which they can get from the real thing.

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154 out of 220 people found the following review useful:

Pure Magic

10/10
Author: Tracy (seremela@uslink.net) from Minnesota, USA
30 November 2004

This movie is a delight for those of all ages.

I have seen it several times and each time I am enchanted by the characters and magic.

The cast is outstanding, the special effects delightful, everything most believable.

You have young Harry, a mistreated youth who is "Just Harry" to himself. And then, he embarks on a most beautiful adventure to the Hogwarts school.

He meets Ron and Hermione, one an adorable mischief maker, the other a very tense and studious young lady.

Together, the trio try to set things right in the school.

It's the ultimate fantasy for young and old.

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95 out of 131 people found the following review useful:

Valiant, successful attempt to bring the magic to life

8/10
Author: Chris M. Dickson from Middlesbrough, United Kingdom
8 November 2001

We live in a world where economics is hard. This forces practical limitations when making a movie. Time and money are sadly finite, cinema owners need to be pleased as well as fans and computer animation ain't perfect. Given these limitations, this film is about as close to human perfection as it is possible to achieve. However, it's extremely clear what an immense challenge it is to turn Philosopher's Stone from book to film.

Two and a half hours is not long to explore a wonderful, magical world. Furthermore, the directors have bowed to the inevitable temptation to show us things that cannot be communicated so effectively in a book. The consequence is the feeling of a slightly breathless sprint in places.

It also means that the movie has to stay true to the spirit of the book rather than to the letter of it. There are omissions and there are changes. The changes that were made capture and maintain the spirit of the story really well; indeed, there are places where the story is more clearly and straightforwardly told in the movie than in the book. Some aspects of the story are fleshed out on screen and the additions are delightful, completely in keeping with the flavour of the world.

The humour of the movie is inevitably more visual than that of the book; no belly laughs, but a lot of smiles. Some punchlines have changed, but the reasons why the jokes are funny remain the same. Not knowing exactly what's coming next is a good thing! It's all kept tasteful, classy and above the belt; there's nothing to cringe about.

The voice acting is almost uniformly brilliant. However, there are occasions where some of the actors are required to convey high emotions and are only given a second or two of face shot, or head-and-shoulders shot, to do so. This isn't as much freedom as they need and they fall a little short. The blame here must fall on the decision to give the actors too much to do too quickly, not on the actors themselves.

Other than these rare jarring instances, the physical acting is frequently excellent and seldom less than completely adequate, judged against the highest of targets set by the book's clear emotion descriptions.

Dan Radcliffe has the look, the mannerisms and the charm of Harry down pat. His strongest expressions are the bemusement that must be inherent at entering a world where science does not rule alone and the bravery that Harry shows in his achievements. Emma Watson possibly slightly overplays Hermione, but does so in a fully endearing fashion. There's one scene which gives her too little chance to truly express panic; otherwise her performance needs no changes.

Rupert Grint has comic timing way beyond his years, hitting Ron's lines perfectly. Tom Felton makes a stylish Draco; Matt Lewis' Neville character suffers from the acceleration, so the finale does come as a slight characterisation shock.

The Phelps brothers' Fred and George are distinctively cheeky rather than proactive pranksters; Chris Rankin imbues Percy with genuine authority. Sean Biggerstaff shines; his Oliver Wood is likeable and an ideal Quidditch team captain.

Robbie Coltrane's Hagrid is the single dominant adult character, with maximum laughs extracted at every step. The movie changes strongly exaggerate one side of Hagrid's nature, though; probably inevitable considering how much plot exposition his character has.

David Bradley has a vicious Argus Filch; John Hurt's Ollivander is an eccentric treat, giving a wonderful introduction to the Wizarding World. The professors are uniformly excellent, though Richard Harris' Dumbledore comes off as disappointingly flat until the end.

The most ambitious point of the movie is the computer generated imagery. The stills are wonderful, but the fastest animation is restricted by the limitations of real-world technology. The book makes extremely stringent demands of the CGI; sometimes their overall effect in the movie is merely good rather than insanely great. Some of the magic spells and effects look awesome; others don't capture the imagination nearly so much.

The world cannot yet completely convincingly animate human beings doing inhuman things, which serves as a clear reminder that you need fictional magic to make the impossible possible. The Quidditch scene is the most demanding of them all; while the sequence is action-packed and good-looking, disappointingly, it's not a total success. Perhaps some of the scenes would have been better with more conventional special effects? (For instance, the lower-tech-looking Sorting Hat scene is one of the most delightful of them all.)

The set looks gorgeous. However, it may not stand up to detailed analysis. It's fairly obvious that things are shot in many disparate locations, rather than one big Hogwarts School near Hogsmeade.

The score is absolutely wonderful. The soundtrack may rely too heavily on The Famous Bit, but it's clear that the balance and mixture of things in the finished movie are exactly right.

The feel of the whole movie is everything fans could have hoped for. The dialogue is intensely measured, the colouring is suitably epic, the selection of what to leave in is really tightly considered. You get chills in your spine at the right places; you feel the triumphs as all-encompassing endorphin highs. It's clear that the production have thought long, hard and lovingly. They are true fans of the story, they are the right people for the job, it all bodes very well for the second film.

So it could never have been the film that the hyper-literalists were hoping for, then, but it is as good as the practicalities of the real world could possibly permit. Don't expect miracles and you'll love it. I look forward to watching it again and again.

8/10 at the very least. A really satisfactory film!

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75 out of 100 people found the following review useful:

Pure cinematic magic

Author: (scmovieguy@yahoo.com) from CA, USA
12 November 2001

To millions of children of all ages, November 16 has been more eagerly anticipated than Christmas, as the long-awaited film version of J. K. Rowling's beloved novel "Harry Potter and the Sorceror's Stone" hits the screen.

Each of Rowling's four Harry Potter books have been critically acclaimed worldwide best-sellers, turning a generation of video-game playing children into avid readers.

In translating Rowling's world of wizards and magic to the screen, the film makers claimed to be intensely aware of the fans' high expectations and had sworn to be faithful to the book.

"Harry Potter and the Sorceror's Stone" is indeed the most loyal film adaptation of a book that this fan has ever seen.

It's the story of an orphaned boy who discovers on his eleventh birthday that his parents were wizards and that he is in fact a famous and powerful wizard himself.

Released from the clutches of his desperately ordinary (and non-magical) Uncle Vernon and Aunt Petunia - and their deliciously obnoxious son Dudley - Harry takes his place in the wizarding world as a first year student at the venerated Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

A great deal of "Harry Potter and the Sorceror's Stone" is an introduction to this fantastic and dangerous world and its richly drawn characters. There's not only a lot of plot to cover in this film, but an entire world to create.

At two and a half hours long (hit the restroom before it starts), the film includes the book's most memorable scenes, bringing many of them to life with pure cinematic wizardry.

The Quidditch match (a soccer/hockey/rugby thing played on broomsticks) is much more exciting on the screen than on the page, as is the bathroom battle with an enormous mountain troll and the larger-than-life game of wizard's chess.

The frightening aspects of the book are in full force in the film, and its PG rating (for some scary moments) should be taken seriously.

Screenwriter Steven Kloves ("Wonder Boys") has done a fine job of streamlining Rowling's tale while maintaining its spirit. Director Chris Columbus ("Home Alone") makes good on his promise to be faithful to the book. But at times the film is a bit too reverent; you want the actors to cut loose and have a bit more fun.

Columbus clearly understands that fantasy works best when it's played most real. Across the board, his fine ensemble of actors are so perfectly cast that they appear to have literally stepped out of Rowling's book.

In the title role, Daniel Radcliffe pulls off the very difficult task of playing an introverted hero who spends most of the movie reacting to the amazing sights and events around him. He beautifully captures the deep soul and untapped potential of Harry Potter. And when this kid smiles the screen lights up.

Rupert Grint is delightful as Harry's sardonic buddy Ron Weasley and Emma Watson nearly steals the film as their overachieving friend Hermione Granger. Three cheers to the film makers for giving three unknown child actors the top billing they deserve.

The strong cast of veteran actors includes Richard Harris as the wise Headmaster Dumbledore and Robbie Coltrane as the lovable giant Hagrid. Alan Rickman is wonderfully villainous as Professor Snape and Zoe Wanamaker has just the right touch of girls gym teacher as flying instructor Madame Hooch.

As the strict but just Professor McGonagall, Oscar winner Maggie Smith seems born to play the role - and is ready for another Oscar.

John Cleese (as Nearly Headless Nick) and Julie Walters (as Mrs. Weasley) have all-too-brief cameo roles, but if the next film "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets" remains true to the book, we'll be seeing more of them.

In addition to being highly engaging, the film is a marvelous thing to look at. From the bustling wizard street Diagon Alley to the magnificently gothic Hogwarts School to the dark and misty Forbidden Forest, the film breaks new ground in imaginative production design.

To paraphrase the film's tagline, let the magic (and box office records) begin.

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60 out of 80 people found the following review useful:

Alohomora - of the magical world...

Author: Avinash Patalay from Middle Earth
17 December 2004

I watched this movie first time when I was left with no choice. My expectations were extremely low as I always wondered if Harry Potter books were over-hyped. How-ever after watching the movie it did make me a Harry Potter movie fan. And needless to say - this continues to remain my favourite of HP series. That brings to a point here.... the effect of expectations over a movie. True, expectations reduce joy.

Without going into the story I would certainly say Chris Columbus churns out a perfect pot-pourri of emotions, suspense and magic, delivering something appealing to all ages.

Every character brought to life on screen has done justice and leave an impression on you. Particularly notable performances by Emma Watson and Alan Rickman.

CGI are in plenty and made good of. The Quedditch game is picturised amazingly. The wizard's chess is treat to eyes.

Let's hope that the forthcoming HP series carries the similar magical touch.

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41 out of 48 people found the following review useful:

As good an adaption as could ever be expected

Author: Nicholas Clarke from Bristol, England
10 November 2001

To be faced with the challenge of adapting Harry Potter for the Silver screen must have been any director's nightmare- the chance of directing possibly the biggest film of this decade, but also the hardest audience-the millions of fans of the book who know every line and will pick up on every mistake. Being one of the above, I can only say that Christopher Columbus and all of the team working on HP did marvelously. The cast was brilliant (particularly notable are Alan Rickman as Snape, Maggie Smith as McGonagall, and the eerily creepy David Bradley as Argus Filch), the directing wonderful, and the scenery perfect. The only qualm is that it does not track perfectly with the book, but squeezed into 2.5 hours, this can only be expected. Well done all involved!

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55 out of 80 people found the following review useful:

It was brilliant!

10/10
Author: DianeLFletch from Birmingham England
10 November 2001

When I knew the film was being made, I thought how could they make a film that would be up to the standard of such a perfect book. But they did! Sure they missed bits out but they captured the essence of the book brilliantly. One member of the cast was mis-cast for me but my children disagreed.I even found myself believing they were flying and not wondering "how are they doing that?" So 10 out 10 Warner Brothers. Bring on the next one!

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48 out of 73 people found the following review useful:

Magically Delicious

Author: Matt Strahl (macdad@chorus.net) from Madison, WI USA
19 November 2001

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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21 out of 22 people found the following review useful:

The Magic Comes To Life!

10/10
Author: jhclues from Salem, Oregon
21 November 2001

Once upon a time (and not that long ago), in the vivid, fertile imagination of author J.K. Rowling, a character was born: A boy. A young boy named Harry, who was destined to become one of the most beloved characters to emerge from a work of fiction in a long, long time, and was quickly embraced by young and old alike in all corners of the world. And now, thanks to the magic of the cinema, Harry and his companions fairly leap from the pages of the novel to the silver screen in the phenomenal motion picture, `Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone,' directed by Chris Columbus and written for the screen by Steve Kloves. Indeed, Harry Potter is a boy, but not just any boy; because Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) just happens to be a wizard. But, orphaned as a baby, Harry has been raised by his Aunt Petunia (Fiona Shaw) and Uncle Vernon Dursley (Richard Griffiths), who never let him in on the fact that he was, well-- what he was. It seems that Petunia didn't approve of her own sister-- Harry's mother-- because she was a witch; nor of Harry's father because he, too, was a wizard. When Harry turns eleven, however, the secret is out of the bag when-- after some strange goings-on-- a giant of a man named Rubeus Hagrid (Robbie Coltrane) shows up at the Dursley's door to collect Harry and take him off to `Hogwarts,' a school for wizards and witches and all who would perfect the gift with which they were born: The gift of magic! And from the moment Harry boards the train (from station platform nine-and-three-quarters) that will take him to his destiny, the magic is alive-- for Harry, and for the audience, as well; and it's a journey you will never forget.

What a monumental undertaking to even think of attempting-- translating and transferring this passionately beloved work from novel to the screen. Because to millions of people, Harry and his companions are so much more than merely characters in a book; these are characters for whom people have made a special place in their hearts, which puts a great burden of trust upon the man who would attempt to bring them to life. And Chris Columbus, it turns out, was the right man for the job. More than rising to the occasion and with some magic of his own-- and a lot of help from an extraordinarily talented cast and crew-- Columbus has delivered a film that is not only true to the story, but true to the very spirit that makes Harry Potter so special. The special effects are absolutely beyond astounding, and Columbus, with a keen eye for detail and without missing a beat, keeps it all on track and moving right along at a pace and with a sense of timing that makes this an absorbing, thoroughly entertaining and enjoyable experience from beginning to end. From the opening frame you get the feeling that you're about to have a singular experience; and you're right. Because you've just entered the world of Harry Potter. And it's magic.

Even having the best special effects do not a great movie make, however, and this film is no exception; what catapults this one to the top are the performances, beginning with Radcliffe, whom you quickly forget is an actor playing a part. And that about sums up what kind of a job this young man does here. Without question, he IS Harry Potter, physically and emotionally, and when he waves his wand and does what he does, you believe it. A wonderful performance by a gifted actor who has a great career ahead of him; without question the perfect choice for the role of Harry.

Also turning in excellent performances are Rupert Grint as Ron Weasley, and Emma Watson as Hermione. As with Radcliffe, the casting here could not have been more perfect. Grint is `Everyboy,' with that special glint in his eye and a manner that makes him especially endearing. And the spunky Watson adds some real sparkle to the film as Hermione, the one with the sense of urgency and the wherewithal to get things done; a real role model for young girls everywhere.

It's obvious that a lot of care went into the casting of this film, and it's a big part of why it is so successful. Richard Harris, as Headmaster Albus Dumbledore; Maggie Smith as Professor McGonagall; John Hurt as Mr. Ollivander; Ian Hart as Professor Quirrell. Exceptional performances from one and all, with two that stand out as especially memorable: Robbie Coltrane, who readily conveys the fact that Hagrid's heart is of a size that matches that of the man; and Alan Rickman, as Professor Severus Snape, deliciously droll while demonstrating menace through the fine art of articulation.

The additional supporting cast includes John Cleese (Nearly Headless Nick), Warwick Davis (Professor Flitwick), Julie Walters (Mrs. Weasley), Zoe Wanamaker (Madame Hooch), Tom Felton (Draco Malfoy), Harry Melling (Dudley) and David Bradley (Filch). From Rowling's imagination to the written page to real life (albeit via the movie screen), `Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone' is a triumph many times over; a unique film of truly universal appeal, the likes of which is as rare as, well-- a sorcerer's stone. A film in which adults and children alike will rejoice, because it speaks to the heart in a universal language of life, love, experience and imagination; a film that states unequivocally that magic exists-- as long as there's a single child with a single dream somewhere in the world, and real wizards like J.K. Rowling, Chris Columbus, Steve Kloves and every member of this wonderful cast and crew around to bring it to life as they have here. An instant classic in every sense of the word, this is truly a film for the ages. A remarkable achievement, this IS the magic of the movies. I rate this one 10/10.





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42 out of 64 people found the following review useful:

It's a true adaptation, but lacks an edge like the novel. *** (out of four)

7/10
Author: Blake French (baffilmcritic@cs.com) from USA
18 December 2001

HARRY POTTER / (2001) *** (out of four)

Here's a method of evaluating a movie based on previously published material: ask yourself if the film makes you want to read the material from which it is based?

Before the release of "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone," I was one of the few remaining souls who had not read J.K. Rowling's fantasy book series. After screening the first film installment, I did want to read the book. Borrowing the novel from a family member, I briefly skimmed over the chapters. The book's intelligence and similarities with the film really surprised me.

With over 100 million copies sold in over 46 different languages, J.K. Rowling's best-selling series of books has become a worldwide phenomenon. Naturally, with soaring expectations abound, the filmmakers felt great pressure to create a faithful adaptation. They have. This film is essentially a visualization of the words in the novel, with very few differences.

That said, the film does run into a few conflicts with the book's story. The middle of the movie has nowhere to go. It's like a false second act; almost nothing of major significance occurs in this period of the film. The young characters wander from scene to scene with nothing much to do and nothing much to say. We're left with a grand display of eye-popping special effects.

"Harry Potter" certainly dazzles us with a solid beginning and an engaging final act, however. We first meet a young wizard boy named Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe). Soon after the film opens, the boy discovers he has magical powers. He's then thrust into an enchanting world of sorcery, magic, and witchcraft. He's sent to a school for young wizard children, where he meets new friends, learns about magic, and participates in fun competitions. But someone at the school doesn't like Harry, as mysterious events begin to occur. Harry soon finds himself in the middle of a diabolical scheme of revenge. Who is the culprit and what do they want with Harry?

The film asks some involving questions. Too bad it doesn't give enough depth to the side characters or subplots. We don't really care about the mystery because we don't know enough about the suspects. The movie does conclude with a twist, but it doesn't encourage another examination of the movie. It lacks a foundation altogether. The story spends so much time foreshadowing the villain's identity, it is pointless for the story to abandon its proceeding plot points and develop a new villain at the end. The book gets away with this; the movie does not.

After his gentle "Home Alone" and sweet-natured "Stepmom," many questioned the ability of director Chris Columbus to bring a sense of darkness to the story-and for good reason. "Harry Potter" contains charming, likable characters and a rich pallet of lush, inventive images. Unfortunately, the film lacks an edge. It's missing the dark atmosphere Rowling's novel so vividly brought to life. Columbus does construct some memorable sequences, but the individual scenes themselves are much better than the movie as a whole.

Despite it's childish story and pre-teen characters, many define "Harry Potter" as a film for all ages. While that's debatable, during my screening, adults were plowing through the isles every five minutes. Going to the bathroom? Getting drink refills? Buying concessions? Who knows? But not a single child budged from their seat. Their eyes were glued to the big screen.

Conclusion: It's a sure-fire experience for children, especially if they've read the books. But adults may not encounter the same enticement as kids. Then again, if I had nothing better to do than to count the people leaving the theater, why am I recommending the film?

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