• jhclues21 November 2001
    The Magic Comes To Life!
    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.
  • kylopod20 November 2001
    Wonderful adaptation, but missing the satire of the book
    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.
  • nicholas_clarke10 November 2001
    As good an adaption as could ever be expected
    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!
  • Avinash Patalay17 December 2004
    Alohomora - of the magical world...
    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.
  • Dickoon8 November 2001
    Valiant, successful attempt to bring the magic to life
    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!
  • seremela-130 November 2004
    Pure Magic
    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.
  • scmovieguy12 November 2001
    Pure cinematic magic
    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.
  • DianeLFletch10 November 2001
    It was brilliant!
    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!
  • ktulu3419 November 2001
    Magically Delicious
    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.
  • Movie-1218 December 2001
    It's a true adaptation, but lacks an edge like the novel. *** (out of four)
    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?
  • shortfatsteve10 December 2001
    An effects-laden excuse of an adaptation
    Many viewers of this film applaud its faithfulness to the book, however they miss that while the film includes much of the book in it (more than is necessary in fact), it lacks the central story. That is: the story of a young boy who has suddenly had his wildest dream come true, and who now must deal with his newfound celebrity, his amazing magical heritage, and most of all, day to day life at Hogwarts with his friends (and enemies). The movie is more preoccupied with populating Hogwarts with ghosts and moving staircases than it is with characters of any depth. Everyone from the book, Harry included, suffers from a serious lack of on-screen development, and as a consequence the story lurches ponderously from event to event without the throughline that stong character development would bring. I, for one, am not easily impressed by effects, no matter how impressive, especially when they are a duplicitous substitute for the real strength of a story such as this: character.
  • ginger1989031026 September 2006
    Not all it could have been
    Warning: Spoilers
    What i really do not get is why so many people like this film? Having read the book first i truly fund it awful. I completely understand that bits have to be cut for time but why add in scenes that add nothing (why was there no peeves?). Also Daniel Radcliffes acting is just awful. The scene where he is told that he is a wizard makes me want to cry. Also the character of run could have had some more insightful lines than "bloody hell". I really was expecting this to be great knowing how good the book was but the film let me underwhlemed. Some character also completely miss the mark. Draco malfoy is way over done, instead of being snidely nasty but in this comes across as pantomime bad. The only upshot of the film is Alan Rickman's Snape is spot on, Robbie coltrane just about makes a reasonable Hagrid but Emma Watson's Hermione is surprisingly good and upstages the other two so much that it makes some timid scenes almost seem watchable.

    In summary the book could have made a great Oscar wining film but Chris Columbus has failed and has succeeded in making a timid adventure movie with poor acting
  • SKYE312522 November 2002
    This film is simply awful, the acting is a joke. Being a fan of the book I decided to buy the DVD without seeing at the cinema or renting it before, but I was extremely dissapointed. Daniel Radcliff's acting is terrible, in my honest opinion he was only hired because he looks like the illustrations of Harry Potter and he is definatly what I had pictured in my mind but his acting makes a mockery out of the film and turns it into a spoof of the book, instead of bringing it to life. I definatly won't be rushing to the shops to get the second film too soon.
  • WeHaveSixFeet8 December 2001
    I you haven't a trace of magic in you, you'll love this...
    It's a movie made for people who think that magic is cute and fun. If you're a fantasy fan like I am, and believe in magic (in a fictional sense) then you may very well detest this movie, as I did. Magic comes easily to little Harry Potter, who has no personality to speak of except that he is occasionally sad that he never met his mum and dad. Years of abuse and neglect have left not a mark on him, so when he gets invited to Hogwarts Academy of Magic, he has nowhere for his character to go. There he flies around on his broomstick and gets to be a big hero quite by accident without ever confronting any serious obstacles or anything resembling a plot. In all this, the film is an excellent adaptation of the book, which also thought that magic is cutesy wootesy.
  • uckpshh23 July 2005
    Hollywood's greatest shame.
    Warning: Spoilers
    At first I liked the Harry Potter series, it was imaginative, it was original, it was funny, and it had promise. Then the second one came out, "oh WOW this is heaven, it can't get better than this", then the third came out, "I was wrong about the second, because this is awesome". Then in between finishing the third and the release of the fourth I read the Lord of the Rings. And shortly after, the movies for both came out. I realized the huge difference, I was psyched out when I heard they were making a Harry Potter movie, but there they go and ruin it. Did you know Spielberg was originally supposed to direct, until Miss Rowling insisted it HAD to be an all British cast, in walks in Chris Columbus, a guy who directed Robin Williams in becoming a woman in "Mrs. Doubtfire", and a guy who's obviously willing to give in to any demand thrown at him by the author as long as he makes money. Well Mr. Columbus seemed to direct Ron into acting like a woman as well. You throw in a B list of child actors and a list of acclaimed adult actors who are far past their prime and who only opted to make these films because their grandchildren begged them to, and you have the first Harry Potter movie. There has never been a more horrific performance than that of Rupert Grint, who now dominates the worst performances of all time, kicking Jake Lloyd from The Phantom Menace out of the way. Daniel Radcliffe doesn't really possess much talent either, I highly doubt he has any future after this film, as far as acting goes anyways. As for Emma Watson, who thinks she's the best in the world, and if you think I'm talking about her performance as Hermione, you're dead wrong, have you listened to her in interviews? The room can barely fit the three of them; her, the interviewer, and her ego. Her performance is also astonishingly bad. I forgot to mention the horrible special effects, I have seen better on TV watching "Power Rangers". I mentioned the Lord of the Rings earlier to make reference to the obvious ripoffs of Miss Rowling. Firstly there are the dementors, cloaked ghostlike figures whose faces you never see (cough, RINGWRAITHS!). The whomping willow seems to ring a bell (ENTZ). The Giant Spider named Aragog (SHELOB). The trolls also seem to resemble something I've seen before... OH YEAH, the trolls in Lord of the Rings! Hopefully Warner Bros. choice of hiring different directors for the rest of the films will pay off. But this is the perfect example of a book that could have made an Oscar worthy classical movie, but fell short because instead of making it what it was intended to be they chose to skimp on the effects to make more money on little kids who think it's great because they're too young to watch real special effects in Star Wars or LotR. It really makes me sad, because in the months prior to the first movie I was marveling at the promise of it all. Richard Harris, Maggie Smith, Alan Rickman, they got John Williams to do the score, and like that, it was ruined. Although it does seem that my opinion differs from the rest of the world as Miss Rowling is just raking it in and so are the filmmakers, making even more money by skimping on the special effects that will no doubt succeed in dazzling children who aren't yet potty trained. Here's one buck the woman won't get her hands on.
  • Jeff Rickel19 November 2001
    Expected Magic, Received C**p
    I have not read any Harry Potter books. Be that as it may, when the glowing reviews started to come in for this film I decided to take a look at it. I cannot comment on the translation from book to film or the quality of Rowling's books but the film of the very first novel is quite horrible. I tried to like it, but I found it excruciating to watch. It took me no where and, even worse, it really didn't have much of a plot. The thin shreds of plot were introduced 1 hour and 45 minutes into the film. The first part of the film was obviously conceived to give a background to the viewer of the Potter world. Unfortunately there was little to grip me here and I found most of it to be grossly out of place. What the heck does a game of "Quidditch" have to do with the story? It, and many other things, were just eye candy. The characters were stale and seemed like rejects from a Roald Dahl story (see James and the Giant Peach). I'm flabbergasted that such a piece of junk has attracted so many adamant fans. No wonder kids don't know how to read or write very well anymore. No wonder Britney Spears and N'Sync are so possible. The piece of trash that is Harry Potter explains it all - the current generation will cling to anything as long as they don't have to think for themselves. 'Tis a pity.
  • Stephen17 November 2001
    My Revenge for the Non Fans!!
    Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, as it is called everywhere else besides the US, and I'd like to know why, is no more than a 5th rate failure at best. Now I know I'm probably enraging every single person who has read the novel, however this movie is not the novel. Book and Film are two totally different mediums. Something that works in a novel, wont decessarily work on the big screen. Harry Potter is the greatest example of that.

    Colombus decided to change very, very little in his adaptation of the novel, which is the movie's greatest fault. An author has the luxury to spend pages and pages describing a certain image in a story; a film does not have that kind of luxury. The movie was terribly boring due to the fact that Colombus tried to pace the movie the same way as the book. That is an impossible feat. The movie is not meant to be some companion to the novel. If that was the truth, then the 7 billion people who havent read the novel wouldnt even bother showing up to watch. A movie is supposed to have a broad audience in order to make money, if Colombus feels that he is only making the movie to please Potter fans, then AOL Time Warner will have a huge failure on their hands. I've never read the book, and some may say that that is the reason why I didnt enjoy the movie. But again, I went to see a movie, not read a book. The Godfather is not a classic because it stayed true to Puzo's novel. It is a classic because Coppola knew what elements would need to be changed in order to make the book filmable. Colombus doesnt have a clue.

    The only thing good about Harry Potter was the cinematography. Most of the film looked brilliant, especially Hogwarts itself. Yet, a visually pleasing film does not make the film suddenly good. It doesnt even come close. The effects are just a testament to the fact that Colombus got his priorities way wrong when he filmed this boring, plodding paced movie. I voted it a one, I was feeling generous.
  • Darth Farter19 December 2001
    Cure for Insomnia
    2 1/2 hours of Boredom. Half the audience fell asleep, including most of the kiddies. Beautiful to look at, but that does not make for a interesting film. Rather spend your money on Lord of the Rings.
  • TomParr29 November 2002
    Utter rubbish
    This film was to put it simply rubbish. The child actors couldn't act, as can be seen by Harry's supposed surprise on learning he's a wizard. "I'm a wizard!" is said with such indifference you'd think he's not surprised at all. I've never read the books and this film did nothing to make me want to read them. The only spell this cast over me was one to get me out of the room as quickly as possible every time I have seen this on after my first viewing of it in the cinema. If you want to see a decent book made film watch Lord of the Rings or possibly the sequel to this which I thought was actually good. 1/10
  • thesar-23 March 2013
    Harry Potter's Philosopher's Sorcerer's Drawl
    Warning: Spoilers
    First off, I am going to give my modern day thoughts on Harry Potter and the Philosopher's/Sorcerer's Stone since I just now watched it for the first time in about 10½ years. And then, I will tell my story. I will begin with the positives to be nice. To be generous.

    80% of the special effects and sets worked extremely well with the exception of showing both The Man With No Nose – oops, I'm jumping ahead, I mean: The Man's Name They Only Speak Of Seldomly and ANY flying sequence including that Rubbish, er, I mean Quidditch game. Also, the film was a perfect fantasy for young…VERY YOUNG, that is, kids. Oh, and the score was unbelievably great.

    Whew. Got that out of the way. Okay, here goes: the movie was too damn long. The movie contained a minuscule amount of plot – or direction and the bulk was just spliced together scenes of a freshman year at a unique school. Quite frankly, it felt like 1,001 ideas and made up names (for useless characters, random spells, odd or clichéd wizardry creatures and places) were basically thrown at us while hero Wesley Crusher, a.k.a. Harry Potter, attempts to figure out what the whole point to this mess is.

    What started off very nicely in a fantasy and magic-filled-world slowly grinded to a halt so they could show off more fantastic sets and a zillion characters and objects in a school bent on kidnapping kids to learn sorcery. Eventually, it takes about an hour and forty-five minutes or roughly fifteen minutes past what this movie should've been clocked at, to learn what our "hero" (??) Harry Potter should accomplish before the credits roll.

    By that point, I kept repeating two phrases over and over: "I don't like this movie" (despite the graphics and the wonder it's showing me) and that this is really made for the five and under crowds. Further, when the movie finally did get past the climax of what Harry & Pals (including his poor idiot ginger chap and know-it-all-bitch with terrible hair) need to accomplish…there are FIVE endings. This movie would never, ever, ever, ever end.

    Oh, and before the judgments roll in, I *have* read the book. Book one, that is. I found it's all-but exactly, word-for-word as the adaption. And that's not necessarily a good thing. Despite its approximately 300 pages, enormously large print, wide margins and drawings – all of which would make it approximately 3 chapters of any normal Stephen King fare – it's just as plot less as the movie until the end. All the way through both the book and movie, I kept fantasying about other movies/books I could be entertained by that contained a point to the story from beginning to end.

    Now, that all said, it's not a terrible movie. It's a good intro to what's to come and again, it's PERFECT for very young kids. Is it a movie I will ever revisit, or as now, re-watch in another 11 years? Hell no. Now, that I can finally write a review, I never have to experience Harry's seemingly never-ending freshman year at Hogwart's school.

    And now… here's my take on my original screening…

    A Long Time Ago…in our own galaxy, sort of, I watched Harry Potter Part One – since it's known by two different names, for asinine reasons, I will refer this as "Part One" – only due to a babysitting gig I was coaxed into. I had already made up my mind not to see this film, since swords/wizards/fantasy isn't my cup of British Tea…But, since I had seven hours of babysitting two young boys, I thought: why not take up an hour and a half on a movie they'll probably want to see?

    That was mistake one and two: forgoing my vow and that I mistakenly thought it would be an hour and a half. Mistake number three was that we went on weekend one or two – I can't recall, or I choose not to – so, the theatres and parking lot were still jammed. We barely made our show time after parking and getting snacks.

    Despite being tortured (SEE ABOVE REVIEW) for the movie's duration, I was pleased I had just used up 5 of the 7 babysitting hours with the journey there, movie and back. As for the boys…boy, they LOVED the movie. They LITERALLY sat on the edge of their seats the entire time. (No joke.) Good for them. I'm glad the money I spent on their entertainment and their snacks was well worth it.

    I, on the other hand, was squirming in my seat the entire time or at least after the first pointless hour. I had NO IDEA that this was over an hour and a half, let alone 2½+ hours – I was so disinterested in seeing this, I had completed no research. NO KID MOVIE SHOULD EVER BE THAT LONG – I originally thought. Not to mention, no kids movie should contain FIVE ENDINGS…as stated above: the movie would never, ever end.

    Again, I remember the boys, one of which is my (now 15-year-old) nephew, loved every single minute and as uncomfortable as I was, I'm sincerely glad they had a good time. In fact, I need to make a point of asking him if he remembers me taking him. He had to be between 4-5 at the time…

    A year later, I would be dragged into seeing the remake/sequel with my partner and suffice to say…I could write the same damn review all over again.

    (Editor's Note: I decided to listen to the masses for this Harry POTter phenomena and revisit the series. I've only seen the first two, both once and in first run theatres. Since it's been around a decade since the initial releases, I've started over with #1 and will get to what everyone calls: the better years.)
  • skiley27 November 2001
    For Kids Only, Unfortunately
    Warning: Spoilers
    ***SLIGHT SPOILERS*** As an adult, it didn't appeal to me in the least. The effects were poorly done, the giant plot leap in the middle ("lots of strange things are happening-- hey, I know! it's definitely because the creepy teacher guy wants the thing under the trap door under the three-headed dog") threw me completely out of the story. It's really a kids only movie, which disappointed me, because I'd been hearing such good things about it. And then at the end, Harry is sent back to his abusive adoptive parents. So much for changing one's situation.

    And I know that they had to cut tremendous amounts of story in order to make it only 2 1/2 hours long (which was still way too long for this movie). After waiting in line outside the theater with tickets bought a week ahead of time, I must say I was truly disappointed. I'm even more saddened by the commercial success and the lunacy of die hard Harry Potter fans which will keep this sad and poorly-written movie in theaters much longer than it needs to be.

    Some books should remain books.
  • Tin Man-518 November 2001
    Great storytelling, no story
    Warning: Spoilers
    **SPOILERS**Before I briefly state my views, I must confess that I have never read a word of or even picked up a Harry Potter book in all of my life. I had many friends rave and rant about them, and at my work, I often see my co-worker's kids sitting in corners, waiting for their mothers to take them to school, reading the latest chapter in the series enthusiastically. But because I have never read Harry Potter myself, I have no understanding of the series, the characters, or the plotlines outside of the world this movie has created. Therefore, this is a review for viewers like me: They haven't read the books, and they're curious to see what all the hype is about.

    Well....judging soley from this film, it's not about much, I can tell you.

    Overall, I would rate this film as either a C- or a D+. Since, if you're still reading this review, you've probably already seen the movie, I shall simply state my opinion without elaborating too much on the happenings of the film. There are a lot of cool ideas presented here....A LOT of cool ideas. In fact, I am not ashamed to state that every idea presented was involving and a work of genius....masterpieces to themselves. For the first hour, I was completely engrossed in the world that this movie had created...indeed, this was a magical movie. From the moving stairs to the floating candles and the interacting paintings, this was the stuff of a master artist. Just the goblins set the film apart....never have I seen a film-creature look so convincing.

    Unfortunately, after a while, the wonderful pictures get bogged down and dull due to the absense of a storyline. There was no story or plotline to give this film a firm foundation to stand upon....nothing to move these wonderful ideas that I was watching along. As a result, the move becomes a patch-work of cool-looking ideas, but with no backbone or soul behind them. Eventually, since there is no real storyline, the film just gets old and boring, regardless of how neat the pictures are. I wasn't the only one in the theater drawing these conclusions...indeed, about 90% of the audience were all children, and in the final hour, they were all chattering away to each other, ignoring what was going on in the film, and I could see the parents around them glancing at their watches.

    In the last twenty minutes or so, a plot is finally found, but it's so painfully contrived....so cliched and predictable, that it hurts to watch it (i.e. "You defeated your enemy with love;" Harry's team winning all the points and earning the trophy, etc.). This is a pity, because the plotline seemed to be good, and if the director had just cut the film's length in half and spent more time developing this story, we could have had a real winner on our hands, on par with other children's fantasys like "Wizard of Oz" and "E.T."

    Veteran British actors such as Richard Harris, Alan Rickman, John Cleese, John Hurt, and Maggie Smith are wasted in throw-away roles, though the lead youngters certainly aren't bad.

    All in all, a dissapointing effort, made even more dissapointing by the fact that there were so many likable qualities to it, among them the ideas presented and the visuals achieved, which set it apart from any other film of its kind. Watching this film has not motivated me to read the books; however, I shall certainly be in line to watch the second film. Hopefully, with a better story for the viewer to follow, the visually and undeniably magical world of Harry Potter will be a truimph the second time around.

    *1/2 out of ****
  • Stuart Faulds6 December 2001
    Utter Mince!
    So, £85 million well spent? I guess since they've already made more than double that back, then from a financial point of view - Yes! But as a film....

    Frankly I would rather remove one of my own limbs with a blunt hacksaw, then eat it raw before I watched this again. 2.5 hours of some of the most boring drivel, bad acting, weak special effects and irritating children you could hope to come across. The sooner these "Child Stars" descend into a drug and sodomy filled adolescence the better for all concerned.

    Yes I have read the books, and yes, I enjoyed them, but this is still one of the dullest films I've ever encountered. Sticking to the original story is one thing, but when the audience are left praying for the last 5 chapters to be cut, something's gone wrong.

    Back to my original point - where did the £85 million go? The Quidditch match was about on a par with King Kong for realism, and using Fungus the Bogeyman for the Troll was a masterpiece of imagination-free modelling. Perhaps all the money went on getting the magic tricks to look right? Or maybe not. How much effort does it take to have some brat wave his wand, the camera cuts away, comedy explosion sound effect, then camera cuts back to child with spiky hair and blackened face? Pure genius! They really have pushed back the boundaries of comedy here.

    All in all I feel cheated out of 2.5 hours of my life, and I strongly recommend that you don't fall into the same trap. If you have 2.5 hours that you really want rid of, then I'd suggest spending it slowly rubbing sandpaper over your eyeballs - it's cheaper, and more pleasant on the senses.
  • mgmax15 December 2001
    Too literal, decidedly non-magical bore
    About halfway through Harry Potter 1, I considered walking out. It's not that it was godawful, but having read the book, I knew how it all worked out-- and I had no confidence left that there would be anything the least bit interesting about how Rowling's story would be illustrated.

    That's what it is; the book faithfully, and dully, illustrated, line by line. It's so faithful to the order of incidents (and the need to keep the story moving) that it has no time to give us any of the characterization that made us root for Harry; at best we get instantly recognizable movie stereotypes (Draco Malfoy has a Richie Rich 'do, therefore he must be from the same snotty rich kids' fraternity as Greg Marmalard). Seemingly ideal casting-- Alan Rickman as Snape, say-- is wasted when the characters turn out only to have half a dozen lines in the entire movie, most of them expository. Maggie Smith, Ian Hart, Richard Griffiths, Fiona Shaw, all wasted; the peerless John Cleese as Nearly Headless Nick has, as memory serves, all of two lines-- one to explain why he's nearly headless, and one to announce, in Boys' Own Weekly cliches, that the Quidditch Cup is sure going to be hotly contested this year. Maybe only Robbie Coltrane and John Hurt get enough dialogue to begin to sketch a character.

    The other problem-- not unrelated, surely-- is that Chris Columbus is, for the millionth time, the wrong wrong wrong director for the job. He has no sense of magic, of mystery, of English eccentricity. Give him two wizards skulking about a suburban tract house, and he'll make them seem as ordinary as two retirees strolling and chatting about the weather. Give him an evil spirit sucking the blood of a dead unicorn and being interrupted by a centaur, and he makes it seem like two retirees strolling and chatting about the weather. Give him a chess game, and he makes it seem like World War III. Give him Gringott's bank, and he ignores the baroque set that's been built and can't wait to show us a big pile of gold, which is surely a bit revealing. This isn't as awful a blockbuster as, say, Tomb Raider, but it comes from the same land of impoverished imagination camouflaged with booming, expensive yet somehow cheap-looking special effects.
  • sglrml29 June 2010
    Overrated nonsense
    I just don't understand... I CANNOT understand... what is the fuss about? Why in heaven's name did this film receive so much praise? I think that it's scarcely more than a blown-up, clap-bang-whizz production with virtually no intent on telling the story properly as making it look like some mega-fantastic phenomenon of some kind; a chance for the producers to dangle their treasures, their ultimately priceless possessions in the faces of the viewers so that you can't miss the action whatever the situation is. Why else would the likes of certain actors be present in roles that clearly don't suit them (or else they don't suit the roles) as well as they might have done for members of the acting profession who don't specially have notable reputations and acclaim to support their good names (okay, maybe they were of the right SORT to have played the characters, yet in regard to the way they were presented in the books I perceived a lack of performance and instead more of the "natural" style of acting; somehow that ruined it for me).

    None of it seems as close to the book as could have been thought, and having seen a few drama adaptations in my time, I should know. In some way if there was little room for some things to be added, I'd put that down to the sadly developed habit of the film's producers'/directors' adding these little, unnecessary moments of (what are meant to be) eye-popping freakish occurrences with the intent of making you sit up in your seat (if that's really anything to do with the action or the fact it's shown in such a epic way).

    While the film may have some things that don't rely greatly on lavishness or known names (not that that's exactly bad on some occasions) I can't see that there was ever much reason for making this film from the beginning, except to turn the story of Harry Potter into a complete spectacle (sorry for sounding blunt yet that's how it goes) with the end result like an attempt to force the audience into being astonished.

    It's no concern of mine if the film's remembered or forgotten, but I know one thing for sure; anyone keen to see how stories evolve when transferred from the book to the big screen, this is a good example about getting "carried away."
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