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Harry Potter and the Sorcerers Stone

The first film in the Harry Potter movie franchise directed by Chris Columbus.

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A Little Touch of Special Effects Magic

  • Dec 3, 2001
Pros: Imaginative, doesn't stray far from source material

Cons: Character portrayals seem to be a little... Well, off

The Bottom Line: It looks like magic, sounds like magic, and is magic from beginning to end

Oh my God, they've done it. I didn't think that they could do it, but they've actually done it. They made a film based on a popular fantasy book that stays close to it's source material. There may be a few missing details here and there, but for the most part, everything you loved about the book is intact.

For the two or three of you on this planet who haven't read the book, let me explain: Harry Potter is a young boy who was sent to live with his uncle Vernon and aunt Petunia and cousin Dudley after his parents were killed. Growing up with the Dursleys, he is made to do all the work, sleep in a cupboard under the stairs, and is basically ignored by his guardians while they lavish all their attention on their son. In short, his life sucks. All of this changes on his eleventh birthday, when he learns that he is, like his parents, a wizard, and is whisked off to the Hogwarts school of witchcraft and wizardry to learn magic.

While at Hogwarts, Harry and his new friends Ron Weasly and Hermione Granger find all kinds of adventure. Harry becomes the youngest player on the school quidditch teamin a century, helps hatch a dragon, and has an encounter with a three headed dog. After awhile, Harry, Ron and Hermione uncover a plot by one of the teachers to steal the Sorcerer's Stone, a powerful plot device that can turn metal into gold and produce the elixer of life.

Nitpicking fans of the book can rest assured that most of the details have been left in. The magic begins in about the first two seconds, in which the school headmaster, Albus Dumbledore, uses a lighter to steal light from the streetlights. Then one of the teachers, McGonagall, changes from a cat into herself. Finally, Hagrid, the gameskeeper, flies from the sky on a motorcycle. All of this happens in the space of about five minutes, and from there the movie only gets more magical. The stairways in the school move, chess players move by themselves, and Harry aquires a cloak that turns him invisible.

All thanks, of course, to the $125 million budget. The special effects are the real star of the movie, particularly at the school, where director Chris Columbus added all the subtle touches. Candles float, pictures move and the ceiling in the great hall looks like the night sky, while the three headed dog brings computer realism to a new level. The flying effects of the quidditch match are amazingly lifelike, and the films climactic scenes, in which Harry, Ron and Hermione work their way through a series of chambers with a giant, man eating plant, hundreds of flying keys with wings, and a giant chessboard, have to be seen to be believed.

The special effects might steal the show, but you also have to give credit to the actors, who really ham up their roles as their assorted nutballs. Harry himself is played by newcomer Daniel Radcliff, who gets the job done despite being a little wooden in some scenes. Newcomer Rupert Grint plays Ron, and he is the real human star of the film, stealing most of the scenes he's in. Richard Harris is a perfect fit as Dumbledore. Hagrid is portrayed by Robbie Coltrane with a naive, comedic charm that is epecially apparent when he starts telling the children secrets, then saying to himself "I shouldn'ta told ya that.". The star of the teachers is Alan Rickman as the scheming, hate filled potions master Snape. Though I can't remember the other actors' names, they are all perfect fits for their parts.

So all is well in magic land, right? Well, not quite. Being one of the millions who has read the books, I was a little disapointed because not many scenes or characters lived up to the way I had portrayed them in my head. I think that Draco Malfoy, Harry's spoiled nemesis, was shamefully underused and not bratty enough. Most people who read the books developed a true loathing for him, but his portrayal in the movie is more like that of one of the villians in the Batman movies-comical, and there for the amusement of the viewer. The Dursleys didn't even come close to the way they are portrayed in the books. Vernon doesn't have a booming voice, and Petunia isn't whiny enough (the portrayal of Dudley is dead-on, though). It seems that a lot of the actors hammed up their parts so much that the humor which is supposed to be in many of the scenes (and was there in the book) is lost.

But that complaint is a minor one, and it won't deter anyone's enjoyment of this wonderful fantasy. After seeing it, I have never more badly wanted to have my own magic wand or fly on a broomstick. This movie is a magical ride from beginning to end, and it is worth full price. Though it may be hard for fans of the book to to stop picking out details long enough to just sit back and enjoy it, it is two and a half hours of solid entertainment.


Suitability For Children: Suitable for Children up Ages 8

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More Harry Potter and the Sorcerer'... reviews
review by . December 19, 2010
I am a really big fan of the HP series, but this is probably my least favourite in the series. It does have a lot of faithfulness to the book, and for Potter fans like myself, what more could you ask? Even if you're not a fan of the series and want to see it, you don't really have to have an extensive knowledge of the books to enjoy the film.      Besides, even if you've never touched a Harry Potter book in your life, you probably still know who he is. He's an …
Quick Tip by . September 14, 2010
This movie captured the wonder of childhood perfectly!
Quick Tip by . July 12, 2010
keep us interested and was a movie for the whole family
review by . July 12, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
   It is too funny that your son and yourself fight over who is getting to read the books of the Harry Potters series but that is what happened in our house. So of course when the movies came out, it was pandemonium. I love all of the Harry Potter movies. Nothing bad to say about any of them. This was in particular a great movie and love to see Hagrid, Harry, Ron, and the Professor in action.  It is also very fun to watch Harry and all the kids grow up and the peculiar teachers at …
Quick Tip by . July 12, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Very faithful to the book, but a tad bit long. Great performances by a very young cast.
review by . July 01, 2010
When I read this book, I felt scared for Harry, because of all that he went through. I would be scared, too if I found out that I was a wizard and had to go to a magical school.       I would recommend this book to anyone that might have always felt different from others.      The setting takes place at Hogwarts, a secret and magical school for witches and wizards.       This book is about a boy that who learns that he is …
Quick Tip by . July 10, 2010
The first of the series is so great, not only because of the happy ending and generally positive note (compared to the last volumes , for instance), but becaus eit somehow has a magical quality of almost making fantasy real and reality fantastic. I know after reading it, when being on the railway staion, I could not help to look at the walls and wonder,...what would it be like if that would be a secret passage to another world?
Quick Tip by . July 09, 2010
One of my favorite out of all the movies. I like how Harry finds out for the first time that he is a wizard.
Quick Tip by . July 08, 2010
I don't like harry potter for some reason. I have read his books, but I just never felt like I got into like everyone else did/has.
Quick Tip by . July 06, 2010
This book is a very easy read and it's got a great storyline. I enjoyed this and the movie is good as well. I'd recommend this to anyone.
About the reviewer
Nicholas Croston ()
Hi! I'm here in part to plug my writing and let everyone know that I'm trying to take my work commercial.      Now, what about me? Well, obviously I like to write. I'm … more
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About this movie


Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, released in the United States and India as Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, is a 2001 fantasy-adventure film directed by Chris Columbus and based on the novel by J. K. Rowling. The film was the first of the Harry Potter film series. It was written by Steve Kloves and produced by David Heyman. The story follows Harry Potter, a boy who discovers on his eleventh birthday that he is a wizard, and is sent to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry to begin his magical education. The film stars Daniel Radcliffe as Harry Potter, with Rupert Grint and Emma Watson as Harry's best friends Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger. The adult cast features Richard Harris, Maggie Smith, Robbie Coltrane, Alan Rickman and Ian Hart.

Warner Bros. bought the film rights to the book in 1999 for a reported £1 million. Production began in 2000, with Columbus being chosen to create the film from a short list of directors that included Steven Spielberg and Rob Reiner. J. K. Rowling insisted that the entire cast be British or Irish, in keeping with the cultural integrity of the book and the film. She also approved the screenplay, written by Steve Kloves. The film was shot at Leavesden Film Studios and historic buildings around the United Kingdom.

The film was released in the United Kingdom and United States in November 2001. It received a mostly positive critical reception, made more than $974 million at the worldwide box office and was ...

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Director: Chris Columbus
Genre: Adventure, Drama, Family, Fantasy
Release Date: November 16, 2001
MPAA Rating: PG
Screen Writer: Steve Kloves
Runtime: 159 minutes
Studio: Warner Bros. Pictures, Heyday Films, 1492 Pictures
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