It's eye-filling, well-cast, often very funny and executed with great imagination and flair.
New York Daily News
If the movie doesn't ultimately transport us to places The Wizard of Oz once took us, that may be partly because "The Sorcerer's Stone" is just the first chapter, with more magic waiting to be parceled out in the coming years.
Retains (and in many cases, boosts) as much of the spirit [of the book] as you could reasonably expect. And it makes a worthy attempt to duplicate Rowling's engaging sense of humor.
That sense of déjà vu is at once this Harry Potter's balm and its limitation: many charms, but few surprises.
Does it immerse the uninitiated into a new, fabulous world? Yes. To the book's many readers, does this feel like the real "Harry Potter"? For the most part, yes.
San Francisco Chronicle
Absolutely the best single moment, beautifully presented, comes when the orphaned Harry looks in a mirror and sees his parents there. It is brilliant in its simplicity and very moving.
Columbus's Harry Potter has many delights, but the magical alchemy that the book seemed to achieve so effortlessly eludes it.
There's a palpable avoidance of risk as this new mythology is wheeled gingerly into the marketplace and carefully positioned to zap your pre-sold brain...Solid but uninspired, Harry lacks brio. It's respectable and a bit dull.
In their hands [Terry Gilliam or Tim Burton or even Steven Spielberg], Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone might have made as terrific a movie as it is a book. When Columbus got the job, however, it was guaranteed only to be a commercial success.
The film lacks moviemaking buoyancy -- the feeling of soaring in space that Rowling's magic-carpet prose gives the reader. The picture isn't inept, just inert.