Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone ★★★½

Overshadowed by the Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring when it was first released, this opening entry in the Harry Potter franchise is quirky, magical, and full of charm. Daniel Radcliffe, as Potter, shines as the boy wizard just beginning to realise his potential and his fate.

Special effects are memorable - the constant stream of letters luring Harry to Hogwarts, the snake pit, the colour changes of house colours, the game of Quiddich. And the acting is stellar from veterans Maggie Smith, Robbie Coltrane, Alan Rickman, and Richard Harris (when comparing his Dumbledore to Michael Gambon's it would have been fascinating to see both actors tackle the character at all stages in the series to see how their interpretations would develop; sadly Harris died after film two, necessitating a cast change).

Not as stunning as LOTR, nevertheless there is plenty in the first Harry Potter to interest adults and delight children.

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