Anthony's Film Review
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (2001)
The first entry in a popular children's fantasy series is visually breathtaking as a film adaptation...
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (or Philosopher's Stone, as titled outside the United States) introduces one of the most popular heroes of fantasy fiction in recent years. It also made J.K. Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter novels, a household name worldwide. Naturally, a popular book series such as Harry Potter would stir up interest in a series of film adaptations. It may, of course, have the risk of displeasing the die-hard fans. As someone who read the series, I am happy to say that this film version of the first Harry Potter book has done a very good job being faithful to the story.
The first scene already presents one great thing about the movie: the well-chosen cast. We see two professors of magic, Albus Dumbledore (Richard Harris) and Minerva McGonagall (Maggie Smith), slowly approaching a house on Privet Drive. A giant named Rubeus Hagrid (Robbie Coltrane) arrives with a baby who has a lightning-shaped scar on his forehead. This boy is Harry Potter, who grows up into an eleven-year-old boy played by Daniel Radcliffe. Harry lives in a miserable household with the Dursley family: Aunt Petunia (Fiona Shaw), Uncle Vernon (Richard Griffiths), and cousin Dudley (Harry Melling). All of these actors play their parts well.
Soon, the movie begins to present its other strong element: production design. Whether or not you have read the novel, you will likely find it pleasing to look at the various locations in the story, including the magically hidden Diagon Alley, Platform 9 3/4, and all of the rooms and passages of the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. You can tell that much effort went into making these places look as realistic as possible and match how they're described in the novel. While this is happening, other interesting characters are introduced, including Harry's new friends Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint) and Hermione Granger (Emma Watson), Defense Against the Dark Arts professor Quirrel (Ian Hart), potions professor Snape (Alan Rickman), and an arrogant student named Draco Malfoy (Tom Felton).
This story, as with most of the Harry Potter stories, has a two-part structure. One pertains to life in the school. Harry and the students go to classes, get assigned to one of four school houses - Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, Hufflepuff, and Slytherin - by a magical Sorting Hat, and participate in or watch a broomstick-riding sport called Quidditch. The other part is the story's central mystery. Here, it pertains to something called the Sorcerer's Stone (or Philosopher's Stone). What's interesting is how you might think the two parts are separate from each other, but you'll be surprised by the ways they connect.
For Harry Potter fans, this film does not disappoint. It is true that many scenes are shortened versions of the ones in the book. I would have liked to see more of things like Harry's back story, Professor Snape's nastiness towards Harry Potter, and more moments in the Hogwarts classes. Still, the characters are likable and unique, the plot is easy to follow, and the production value is just outstanding. Once I saw the film end, I knew I could not wait to see the next film in the series. The magic in this movie is just the beginning.
For more information about Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, visit the Internet Movie Database.
In addition, check out my reviews of the following:
The Harry Potter Films