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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We're Off To See The Wizard, The Wonderful Wizard of Hog!

Nov 16, 2001 (Updated Nov 23, 2002)
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Faithful to the feel of the book.

Cons:Too faithful in terms of length. 2 hours 30 minutes: 48 seconds a page.

The Bottom Line: Harry Potter's first flight to the big screen is a huge success. Faithful to the book, great story, great acting, special effects don't overshadow. However, it's too long.

Mr. Potter. May the force be with you. Here’s looking at you kid. You’ll never go hungry again. Don’t ever let go. And above all, don’t forget to phone home.

Kaboom! The Harry Potter saga (Episode I) is upon us. Destined to become the most popular and profitable film of 2001. In fact, it could, just maybe, even out wit even the top 10 films of all time including Titanic, Jurassic Park II, E.T., Gone With The Wind (adjusted gross), perhaps even Star Wars. It doesn’t matter if poor innocent Harry Potter is getting a few negative reviews here and there, no evil force—not even film critics with vocal lightsabers will keep people away from this film. I don’t recall any previous film pre-selling 3 million in online ticket sales (this figure does not include pre-sold tickets bought offline) not even Star Wars: The Phantom Meance that was released in the gold rush days of the dotcom revolution. Get ready America. We’re becoming Merry for Harry.

Personally, I’m frantically reading the first book before I see the movie, just so I will simply fit it with the hoards of young kids who have already spent the time doing so. I am not reading the book so I can simply say; “the book was better.” But reading the book to get an idea of who Harry is, and why this movie is such a craze. I was there for the Star Wars craze, I might as well be there for the Harry Potter craze.

Speaking of reading the book, I’ll attempt to answer one question on everyone’s mind; is the movie better than the book? Of course not. Movies are never better than books, simply because they are two different mediums. Books use our imagination. Movies show us imagination. However, Harry Potter does stay true to the legion of fans by giving them a movie that closely resembles the book. Director Chris Columbus and screenwriter Steve Kloves don’t try to alter Harry Potter into their own creation. They don’t seal their name into the celluloid; they simply just bring the book to the big screen. I think most Harry Potter fans will be pleased with the movie, as long as they are willing to enter the theater with an open mind. Open enough to realize that the book is always going to be better and that it’s futile to try to compare the two.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone is about the tribulations of young Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) as he is educated in the art of being a wizard. He attends Hogwarts School of Witchcraft along with Hermione Granger (Emma Watson) and Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint). His friends are in awe of Harry for he is the only one to have survived an attack by a very evil and powerful wizard named, “He Who Must Not Be Named” or HWMNBN (hymn-n-ben). Most of the movie centers on Harry’s education at Hogwarts--concluding with a final test of his wizardly abilities.

Daniel Radcliffe has the right look for Harry and plays the part to perfection. Even though we have the book as a guideline, it’s genuinely hard to find a person that fits the part without any faults. I enjoyed his performance as Harry although I fear that Daniel will grow up too fast and out grow the Harry Potter role. They will either need to film the rest of the movies in a relatively short amount of time, or we may soon find ourselves with a different actor playing Harry (kind of like a new James Bond).

Emma Watson and Rupert Grint are perfectly cast as Harry’s schoolhouse chums. One bad casting choice could of brought the whole movie down. Thankfully both Emma and Rupert are capable of holding on to their own and ours imagination.

The rest of the cast includes: John Cleese (Sir Nicholas De Mimsy-Porpington), Robbie Coltrane (Gamekeeper Rubeus Hagrid), Warwick Davis (Professor Flitwick), Richard Griffiths (Uncle Vernon Dursley), Richard Harris (Headmaster Albus Dumbledore), Ian Hart (Professor Quirrell), John Hurt (Mr. Ollivander), Zoe Wanamaker (Madame Hooch), Julie Walters (Mrs. Molly Weasley), Maggie Smith (Headmistress Minerva McGonagall), Fiona Shaw (Aunt Petunia Dursley), and Alan Rickman (Professor Severus Snape).

The entire supporting cast carries their parts equally effective as the young cast does. Besides Alan Rickman and John Cleese, the rest of the cast is made up of actors who are more famous in Europe than they are in America. I loved Julie Walters in Billy Elliot, and enjoyed her performance in Harry Potter. She always add true quality to whatever film she appears in.

Chris Columbus of Home Alone fames tackles another child star (and another bound to be very popular movie among kids and adults alike), this time with slightly different results. His direction is clear, imaginative, and stays true to the heart of the book; but it runs just a little too long to be completely enjoyable. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone runs around 2 hours and 30 minutes, which comes out to 48 seconds spent on each page in the original book. Personally I know some kids and even some adults who have a problem sitting still that long of a time; especially if they visited the snack bar before the movie even began (and that 2 hours and 30 minutes does not include the number of minutes spent watching countless trailers before the movie begins; including a lengthy preview of the upcoming Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones.)

Another enjoyable aspect of the movie is the lack of American actors. In fact, from what I’ve read, there was a ban that required all actors to be of European descent. The movie could of easily been destroyed if it was made in America for I would fear they would have tried to put some famous child actor in the place for Harry Potter to make it more marketable. Thankfully Harry Potter was already so marketable, that the powers that be realized that it didn’t matter who played the part, it was going to be successful. I read an article that Robin Williams wanted a part in the film. After his disaster in Bicentennial Man (also directed by Chris Columbus) I’m glad he wasn’t given a part. In other words, it would have been so easy for this film to be a disaster. It could have been churned out with popular American actors trying to do their best European accents. But that wasn’t the case. Thankfully.

Even the special effects in Harry Potter are well done to the point where they are not the highlight of the film. There are a few morphing effects, some flying scenes, and even a few creature creations—yet they exists plainly because they were in the book and they enhance the overall Harry Potter saga. Even though Harry Potter is enjoyable to look at (in other words, well done special effects), it’s the story that is special here and not the effects.

The only strange (and sad) thing about Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone is that the name was changed for us potentially uneducated Americans. In Europe, it’s called: Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. Perhaps they didn’t believe that American audiences would know what a philosopher was compared to a sorcerer. It’s kind of funny and makes a great discussion point.

Overall, Harry Potter’s first movie is not to be missed on the big screen. In fact, depending on how well it does, it’s not to be missed during the first few weeks. Although the roar of the crowd and rude individuals who talk or receive cell phone calls can be a deterrence enough to wait until the movie has been out a few weeks; Harry Potter is best enjoyed in the company of it’s faithful followers. To hear people cheer at the start of the previews and clap their hands in anticipation of being utterly enchanted by the film is something you don’t see or hear when watching this movie at home. The movie stays true to the heart of the book even if it does last a little too long. The acting is on par and the special effects accompany the story and do not overshadow it. I firmly believe the movies will only get better as they progress through the library of Harry Potter books. But don’t miss out on where it all began.

Recommend this product? Yes

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