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Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (movie review)

When I sit down and think about it, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone is a much better film than it should be. It stars inexperienced child actors (Rupert Grint had previously appeared in a movie about farting… I think that one was called Thunderpants), it’s directed by all or nothing Chris Columbus (Home Alone, Fantastic Four) and had super heavy expectations from the novel’s fans – not to mention a CGI department that either didn’t care, didn’t know what they’re doing or was using technology that would have gotten laughed out of the Jurassic Park development room. Let’s take a look at the movie that kick started the franchise that opened its own theme park!

As far as I can recall, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (or Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone) is fairly faithful to the book. I wouldn’t call myself an expert, but I tend to remember the movie cutting stuff out of the book rather than making changes to the story. I understand that they switched the breed of snake Harry talks to at the zoo… that’s certainly not worth complaining about… but I’ll get back to the snake thing later.

The supporting players are rounded out with tons of All Stars: Richard Harris, Alan Rickman and Maggie Smith and particular favorites of mine. They all give their usual performances and, for the most part, the kids do a nice job – or the movie had a really good editor and Chris Columbus did a good job of coaxing performances out of them.

The Sorcerer’s Stone has a lot of fun moments and I enjoy the story over all. It’d be nice if Harry would use magic in this movie, but whatever. It’s fun to see the wizarding world’s reaction to Harry, and his reaction to it. The mystery is compelling, but it is curious that none of the adults (save Snape) seem interested in solving it. Ultimately, the conclusion is satisfying and gets you all geared up for year two.

The movie has some great locations and sets, but it suffers from a very harsh look – most scenes are lit so evenly that it looks like they’re on the bridge of the USS Enterprise – it makes the castle interiors look artificial. On that note, I should say that sure, I liked Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the stuff that bugs me about it.

I often refer to Star Wars, Episode I: The Phantom Menace as “the last time John Williams gave a shiz, and look what that got me.” TPM is full of rich, interesting new melodies (as well as exciting arrangements of old ones), but Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone really only has three memorable melodies -
Hedwig’s Theme, Leaving Hogwarts and Harry’s Wondrous World, and… that’s pretty much it for the entire series. John Williams soundtrack isn’t necessarily bad, it’s just that everything else sounds the same and that piece that plays over the chess game sounds like something from the climax of every other movie ever.
The CGI in this movie is soooooo far behind 2001 standards that it looked bad in 2001. This movie came out after The Phantom Menace and it cost an extra ten million

When Harry finally gets his letter, it says he has been “accepted” to the Hogwarts school; this implies there is a review/application process of some kind – but we know there is not as per the film and book as Harry has never heard of Hogwarts until he gets his letter. So, they just accepted Harry based on his parents being magic? Or just assume he’s magic because he survived the Voldemort attack?  The former reeks of the magical discrimination so many characters in the series say they despise and the latter… I guess is totally logical.

Just FYI, snakes don’t have ears – they have an inner ear which enables them to sense (or feel?) vibrations… anyway, don’t waste your time talking to snakes – they’ll just think you’re an a-hole. I still love this scene, though.

Is it just me, or do the staircases only change when it’s convenient to the plot?

What happened to their weird wizard hats? I think they’re only in this film…  This isn’t really a complaint – I don’t care for the hats.  Screw the hats.  If anything, I’m complaining that the hats are in this movie.  I love that the Hufflepuffs and Ravenclaws throw their hats at the end – they’re “anybody but Slytherin” attitude is OK with me!

Snape behaves like a child to service the mystery… I get that Harry looks like his dad, but come on… you’re an adult and a teacher, and he’s just a little boy! He’s taking notes, for Dumbledore’s sake!

Dumbledore tells everyone that the Dark Forest is off-limits. So, for detention, send kids into the Dark Forest… and leave two of them without adult supervision. BRILLIANT!

check out more Harry Potter posts!

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About Jamie Insalaco

Jamie Insalaco is the author of CreativeJamie.com and BomberBanter.com

Posted on March 13, 2014, in lists, movie reviews and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

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