Review: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

harry_potter_sorcerers_cov.jpgYear: 2001
Director: Chris Columbus
Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Richard Harris, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, Robbie Coltrane
Kaboom Review Action Movie Rating: 68

Plot
Young Harry Potter learns that he is a wizard, attends wizard school, and attempts to solve the mystery of the Sorcerer’s Stone.

Quick Review
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone deserves accolades for the admirable job it does in introducing the world and characters of Harry Potter. The movie falters, however, in its attempt to make the story of the Sorcerer’s Stone a deep, engaging tale.

Full Review
Making the first Harry Potter movie has got to be one of the more incredible challenges a director could face. If you put too much of the book into the movie, you risk bloating its length to ridiculous proportions. Leave too much out and you risk upsetting rabid Harry Potter fans all over the world. Fortunately, in many ways Harry harry_potter_sorcerers_3.jpgPotter and the Sorcerer’s Stone gets this aspect right. In other important ways, however, this movie slips and stumbles.

First let’s focus on the positive elements. By far the greatest achievement of this film is how it brings the world of Harry Potter to life. The locations are stunning, with an attention to detail that makes them sparkle with charm. The sets—Hogwarts, Diagon Alley, and the Forbidden Forest, to name a few—all pull you into Harry’s world and brilliantly set the stage for the story. I was also pleased with the way the creators of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s stone were able to incorporate most of the elements of the book into the film. In what must have been a painstaking process of elimination, they manage to achieve a solid balance between too much and too little.

The casting is nearly perfect. Most importantly, Daniel Radcliffe fits the description of Harry Potter in spectacular fashion. The rest of the casting is right on target as well. In particular, Robbie Coltrane as Rubeus Hagrid, Rupert Grint as Ron Weasley, Alan Rickman as Severus Snape, and Richard Harris as Albus Dumbledore struck me as ideal to represent their characters.
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Just as important to casting is the acting, and it is here where Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone begins to stumble. By far, the three critical roles are those of Harry Potter and his two closest friends: Ron Weasley, and Hermione Granger. On the whole, Daniel Radcliffe and Rupert Grint did much better than I expected them to do, considering their young ages. Daniel Radcliffe nails the humble, courageous, and blossoming Harry; Grint does a strong job with the less confident and less talented Ron Weasley. At times, however, both of these actors show their age. They simply don’t have the range of ability of more mature actors. Emma Watson, as Hermione Granger, however, simply misses the mark. She manages to turn Hermione into an obnoxious, annoying brat. Her ineptness and overacting takes a lot of the chemistry out of the interaction among the three main characters. Elsewhere, however, things are generally convincing. I especially enjoyed Robbie Coltrane’s ability to put such a gentle touch on Hagrid.

Where Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone struggles greatly, however, is in taking all the various and sundry harry_potter_sorcerers_5.jpgelements of Harry Potter’s England and putting them together to tell an exciting story. The first half of the film is fine in this regard, as it deftly sets the backdrop to Harry’s world. Although the back half however continues to showcase Harry’s world, it doesn’t focus enough on the main story. It also takes minor storylines from the book that weave through the novel connected to the main story and reduces them to unconnected displays of Harry’s world. Quidditch, for example, plays an integral part in the novel, but in the movie has its storyline neutered and largely disconnected from the main story. Things feel disjoint. The end result is that the main story feels superficial, poorly paced, and rushed at the end.

The action scenes in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone disappoint as well. Much of the action is subdued. Understandably, there isn’t a tremendous amount of action until the latter parts of the movie, but what does exist is relatively flat. Pacing, emotion, and velocity in action scenes are lacking. Even the Quidditch match felt harry_potter_sorcerers_4.jpgclunky and off. Special effects, as mentioned, were fantastic at capturing the mood of this magical alter-England, but were rather basic when things get moving and crashing into each other. The end result is that the action feels almost amateur in nature compared to the other excellent elements of the film.

The Babes and Hunks rating for this moving is in many ways not applicable. I’ll pass on commenting on the young main characters. Elsewhere, there is essentially nothing in the way of Babes, unless you count some minor shots of a Harry’s mother. The Hunks rating doesn’t fair well, either, with most of the older characters covered in beards.

All in all, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone deserves accolades for the admirable job it does in introducing the world and characters of Harry Potter. The movie falters, however, in its attempt to make the story of the Sorcerer’s Stone an engaging, deep tale.

Interesting Fact

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone opened on record-setting 3,762 screens in the United States.

Score
Pace: 46
Plot: 48
Action: 48
Consistent Premise: 90
Script/Quotes: 63
Characters: 93
Acting: 53
Villain: 23
Body Count: 2
Time to First Dead Body: Unknown
Babes: 1
Hunks: 15
Explosions: 12
Visual Effects: 68
Stunts: 40
Ending: 63

Overall: 68

[tags]Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, J. K. Rowling, Chris Columbus, Daniel Radcliffe, Richard Harris, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, Robbie Coltrane[/tags]

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3 thoughts on “Review: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

  1. They have come along so far since the first movie. The first few were good, then it died down and the last movie was amazing!

  2. Kevin,
    Yes, I’ve heard great things about the latest movie as well. I’m hoping to work my way through the films in order, and have plans to watch the second one this week.

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