Dennie van der Tuuk’s review published on Letterboxd:
"The magic begins."
Seeing this series as a whole, explains things which will become important in later movies. That's the whole fun of revisiting a franchise like Harry Potter. I never read the books, so I think I was lucky that I never was able to compare the stuff that is happening or not happening in the movie to what actually is written in the books. The movies are fine as they are. Some not as good as others, but that's always the case with big movie series.
Harry Potter.... At first I thought this was just going to be another lame kids movie. I'm glad that I gave it the benefit of the doubt. Back then, I just couldn't wait to the next part being released in cinemas. I was hooked. The Philosopher's Stone is our introduction to the world of wizards and witches. And that is noticeable in all areas of the movie. The budget is relatively small, the story and the characters have to be introduced and a whole world and what is going on in that world has to be set up. This is not all done in a good way in Philosopher's Stone. Columbus wants to do too much stuff. Especially in the first hour. He wants to introduce too much of the world and characters and tries to tell a story besides all that. There's enough time to do that in a two and a half movie. Why do it all in the first hour? At first you don't get a connection with characters you are going to follow for many years. The story also goes from here to there, without going in deeper into certain things that are happening. It just feels like Columbus shows us some random stuff. Without the ending going as well as it could, you would simply be totally lost here. Things will improve when Cuaron takes over though.
The wizarding world is done well. You believe Hogwarts is real. The castle and its surroundings looks great. Unfortunately the CGI looks like crap in certain scenes. A byproduct of the low budget. The movie is missing some real magic. The students may be in their first year, I expected a lot more from the lessons or more spells from teachers and/or older students. Despite some issues in the first hour and some flaws, Philosopher's Stone is entertaining and interesting. You want to know what the Stone is and what it can do. Lucky for us, Columbus takes a lot more time in telling the story in the second half of the movie. There is still room for improvement, though. And where I was afraid I wouldn't get any connection with the characters at first, I did in the second half and became fully immersed in the world of Harry Potter.
The acting from the kids is not good. Annoying even. But, it's great to see how they pulled it off considering not a lot of them had any acting background. The "older" cast members compensate for that a lot. They are all great. Rickman as Snape has become my favorite character and Rickman is the only one who could have pulled off the part like he does. You really can't imagine anyone else in that role. Richard Harris is pretty good as Dumbledore, but I prefer Michael Gambon. Although Harris looks and sounds a lot older and wiser than Gambon. I hadn't seen anything of Ian Hart before this, but he is really convincing in his part. You don't get to see a lot of the rest of the cast. They all play their parts well. But, the main focus is on Harry, Ron and Hermione of course.
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone is and entertaining piece. It's a shame it's not that good in terms of story and has very little magic and spells in it. Columbus does the best he can. He just falls short in telling a good introduction story. Besides the sometimes ugly CGI moments, it's all good in other areas. A high point being the wonderful score composed by John Williams.