Harry Potter and The Sorcerer’s Stone (2001) – Review

3 Stars

The inaugural Harry Potter adventure Harry Potter and The Sorcerer’s Stone is a fun ride filled with dazzling production design and bursting at the seams with imagination. The world of Potter and specifically Hogwarts Academy is beautifully realized by director Chris Columbus. Himself a veteran director and an authority on how to make child actors stars (Home Alone, The Goonies, etc.), Columbus employes a style that closely resembles that of his mentor, Steven Spielberg. In fact if one didn’t know better you’d have thought that Spielberg may have had a hand in the proceedings.

All of the wonderful characters from J.K. Rowlings novels are present, the standouts being Hagrid the giant and Snape. Veteran thespians Robbie Coltrane and Alan Rickman along with Richard Harris and Maggie Smith add a level of professionalism and class to the line-up. Newcomers Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson give natural and very appealing performances in the lead roles. The first in a series of eight films this tale is an overlong and somewhat confusing entry that goes through great lengths in establishing the world of Hogwarts and the Potter Universe. Screenwriter Steve Kloves includes nearly every major event from the source material and the film suffers for it. Clocking in at 150 minutes this picture is a bit too much of a good thing. However there is so many wonderful moments throughout that the viewer is left satisfied with their time spent amongst these little wizards.

As is the case with any ‘classic’ children’s film, there are moments that may frighten younger audience members. The darkness in tone is a nice hint at the wonders in store for the next installment Chamber of Secrets. While Sorcerer’s Stone may be a too plot heavy it does succeed in engulfing the viewer in a completely original movie-going experience. I just wish they could’ve shaved the running-time down a bit.

Director: Chris Columbus
Stars: Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Richard Harris

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