Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone : Movie Review

So, the massively hyped Harry Potter film is finally here, but does the first film adaptation of J.K. Rowling's hugely successful fantasy book series live up to the mass of publicity? Well to review it properly we really have to look through the eyes of the audience it was primarily intended for - children. It's a magical story for kids that also happens to capture the imagination of adults alike.

If by some miracle you have missed the general idea behind Harry Potter, fear not, because the film sets the scene clearly for everyone, not just those already familiar with the story and characters. We meet Harry, (Daniel Radcliffe) oblivious of his magical powers, who is living in the cupboard under the stairs of his nasty Aunt and Uncle's house, both of whom are intent on keeping his powers a secret from everyone, including Harry himself.

On Harry's birthday however, he receives a letter inviting him to enroll in Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and is taken away from his miserable Muggle (non-magical) life by Hagrid, a lovable giant played by Robbie Coltrane. It's here at Hogwarts where the fun begins and Harry learns about his history and the family he can barely remember.

Robbie Coltrane is just one of many cameos brought in to keep the parents amused along with Richard Harris as the wise Professor Dumbledore and fantastically contemptuous Alan Rickman as Professor Snape. This appeal could have been exploited more but the attention is kept firmly fixed on the child star actors. Most noticeably the three stars are Harry and best friends Ron (Rupert Grint) and Hermione (Emma Watson), all three roles are excellently played. Daniel Radcliffe is virtually guaranteed future successes on the back of his performance and equally enjoyable are the slightly dim Ron and the perfect, snooty Hermione, both of whom have individual charm making them ideal for the film.

The sets and trickery are produced with imagination and flair and really create a magical atmosphere. The Quidditch game scene picks up the pace with breathtaking effects and other animated sections are fascinating such as one moment in the library in the forbidden section when a book comes to life and another where a troll has got into Hogwarts and our stars have to tackle it with their newly gained magic skills. These effects hold the attention for what is a long film (at two and a half hours) and do a lot to keep the audience mesmerised which is a good job, because the plot on it's own isn't really enough to keep anybody on the edge of their seat.

Director Chris Columbus was maybe not everybody's first choice to direct, but working alongside J.K Rowling he has certainly done the book justice and followed the story faithfully. Speilberg had been originally penciled in to direct but wanted to use Haley Joel Osment as the lead character whereas Rowling insisted on an all-British cast.

Translating a novel onto the big screen is challenging, because nothing can compare to the visual imagery created in the mind of the reader, but Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone does an admirable job and it's such a nice change to see a film so conscientiously produced and taking what is quite a risk, by not relying on casting a money making predictable Hollywood 'superstar' actor. Could this be the start of a popular new genre of fantasy films, what with the imminent arrival of Lord Of The Rings? We'll have to wait and see.

Harry Potter - a legend in the making.

With thanks to the Warner Village Cinema at
Clifton Moor Centre, York.








Author : John Harbisher Of Cinema.com