Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (DVD, 2002, 2-Disc Set, Full Frame) Reviews
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Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (DVD, 2002, 2-Disc Set, Full Frame)

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Movie Magic brings Harry Potter to Life!

May 11, 2008 (Updated Jul 15, 2011)
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:The Cast,script, sets, costuming, score, direction, special effects and most of all, the Story.

Cons:Has been maligned by the uniformed.

The Bottom Line: This is a movie Kids and their parents can agree on. Watch it together.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone Directed by Chris Columbus from the novel by J. K. Rowling.

The Plot
Harry Potter is a ten year old boy who lives with his aunt and uncle and cousin in Little Whinging, Surrey. He is not wanted; this is made abundantly clear to him every day of his life. His chamber is the cupboard under the stairs. He wears his cousin’s obese hand-me-downs on his skinny frame. He is told a thousand times a day, and in a thousand ways, that he is an immense burden to his aunt and uncle.

Harry’s life changes when he turns eleven. He receives a letter, announcing that he has been accepted to Hogwart’s School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Despite his Aunt Petunia’s and Uncle Vernon’s best efforts, Harry is inducted in to the magical world.

This world exists along side the mundane muggle world, rendered unnoticeable by magic. In the care of Rubeus Hagrid, Harry is taken to obtain the things he will need to be a wizard, wonderful things, cauldrons and books and magical paraphernalia, including a magic wand. His wand is very special too; its core is a phoenix feather. The only other wand made with a phoenix feather from that particular bird had in point of fact, given him his scar!

Harry learns he is not only a member of the wizarding world, he is a celebrity. Several years back, a dark Wizard called Lord Voldemort was making a bid to take over the wizarding world, creating a fascist state with himself in power. He was ultimately thwarted because he used the Killing Curse, for which there is no defense, on an infant. And somehow, the spell rebounded. The child bore nothing more than a lightning shaped scar upon his forehead, but Voldemort was reduced to the feeblest of wraiths. Harry Potter was the Boy Who Lived.

Into this confusing world he is thrust. Hogwarts is ancient and wonderful, with strange rules and odd traditions. Harry is the stranger in a strange land. One of the most important traditions is the Sorting hat. All first years are sorted into the four houses, Gryphandor, who accepts only the bravest, Ravenclaw, who values the wise, Hufflepuff who puts stock in hard work, and Slitheren, an ambitious house, given to elitism.

He makes friends, Ronald Weasley, youngest son of a clan of redheaded and poor purebloods. Ron meets him on the platform, and later the train. Thrown together by circumstance, they quickly build bonds of friendship. Ron explains being a wizard to Harry, all the customs and nuances. In exchange, Harry accepts Ron, and thinks he’s special, something that can go missing for the younger children of large families. Hermione Granger, a hyper intelligent and talented witch born to muggle parents, just like Harry’s own mother is also in Gryphandor House. They become friends forever when together they face a full grown mountain troll inside the school, and win. That is the kind of thing that you can’t not be friends after.

He makes enemies; Draco Malfoy, an elitist snob from Slitheren House, Draco was ready to snatch up the celebrity lad, but made the mistake of showing his disdain for Ron and his family’s poverty. Harry knows very well what it is like to have nothing while others have more than they need. Witness his quarters at Privet Drive; under the stairs, while Dudley has two bedrooms, one for his bed and one for his stuff. Malfoy truly miscalculated that one. More troubling is Professor Snape, the potions master, who seems to bear Harry a grudge from the first day.

He finds talents he did not know he had; he is brilliant at Quidditch, the wizard’s favorite sport. Harry has gone from geek to jock overnight, a natural broom rider with the hand eye coordination to be a seeker, the youngest in a century! At last, Harry is carving out a place for himself, by his own merits, not what was given to him, and not what he earned from his celebrity, but something that he himself is good at.

Harry and his friends discover a mystery at Hogwarts: something is being guarded on the third floor, guarded by a three headed dog. Further, someone is out to get Harry, hexing his broom during his first Quidditch Match. And that someone seems to be Professor Snape!

And he discovers that the secret on the third floor is the Sorcerer’s Stone, an alchemical creation that can cure any illness or make the imbiber functionally immortal. And there is a very real possibility that the person who is looking for the stone is Professor Snape, and he may be working for Lord Voldemort!

The Production
This is probably the best of the movie adaptations; it was the smallest book, and had to have the least cut to fit the frame of the movie. One regrettable deletion was the poltergeist Peeves. Who knew how important he would be to the story in book 5?

The visual impact of this movie is overwhelming. Imagine the boarding schools of English drama, mix with gothic cathedrals and Scottish ruins, add a splash of magic, (like Julia Childs added a splash of wine) and you have an idea. The everyday life of being a wizard is vividly displayed; Diagon Alley, a Wizarding “Mall” has shops that look like they were conjured out of Charles Dickens’ opium dreams. The costumes are rich and lavish, from the very typical school uniforms with their good worsted woolens in gray and school ties in house colours, to the rich robes of the witches and wizards. Many witches wear traditional pointy hats, the gents, top hats in varying shades of disrepair, and colours not seen in muggle wear. Both Art/ Set Direction and Costuming were nominated for the Oscar.

As was the musical score. Lyrical and haunting John Williams conjures up something light and ominous at the same time. That is magical.

And the acting: With legends, such as Richard Harris as Headmaster Albus Dumbledore, and Dame Maggie Smith as Professor Minerva McGonagall, you would think they would overshadow the other performers. Ha! Fiona Shaw and Richard Griffiths are brilliant as Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon. A more snobbish self centered, what-would-the-neighbors-think pair can not be imagined. And I defy anyone to overshadow Alan Rickman in anything. His portrayal of Severus Snape gives the character an unctuous menace that is spine chilling, but still maintains that careful line that prevents you from just hating the man out right. This is so important for the character development.

But of course the real acting burden falls on much narrower shoulders. The Kids.

Emma Watson is a perfect Hermione Granger. Too smart, and full of herself, she starts off overbearing, as little girls with far too many brains often are when they are nervous, but grows into her character.

Rupert Grint is the seasoned veteran of the group, actually having a few acting credits. He is also the cutest kid in the world who is not related to me. His face is as emotive as Robin Williams, and much more endearing. He wears his emotions pinned down by his button nose.

And Daniel Radcliff. This is a huge burden to put on a child, but he pulled it off like a professional, because that is what he is. He breathes life into J.K. Rowling’s creation. And on an important note, he does NOT “make the character his own”. We are spared that exercise in ego by his inexperience and the movie is better for it. Instead, he plays Harry the way he was written.

Couple a wonderful production with a stellar cast, and give them a masterpiece for a story, then throw cutting edge special effects at the whole mix, and what do you have?

An instant classic.

Check out the other Harry Potter classics:
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince
Harry Potter and the Deathy Hallows Part I
Harry Potter and the Deathy Hallows Part II

Read the Book!
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince
Harry Potter and the Deathy Hallows

Recommend this product? Yes

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