Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone ★★½

A little over a year ago, the Potter franchise had come to an end, but a little over 10 years ago, the Potter phenomenon had just begun...

I don't think anyone expected the franchise to grow to reach such high heights as it has nor that the fanbase would have garnered such a huge and devoted following when this came out in 2001. I remember loving this and the book when they came out back in the day. Like many kids in my day, I was a big fan of the Potter franchise but as I got older (like around the fifth film) my Potter Boner eased down and I thought the were pretty fucking dumb looking back at them. Rewatching this hasn't really changed my mind.

I understand that before everything got darker, the franchise was directed primarily for little kids. The franchise grew as it's audience did and while I commend the transition work, it makes the early films look weaker when you look back at them. This one especially looks so light hearted that it's clearly tailor made for children. That's just fine but when the children (like myself) grow up and decide to revisit something from their childhood, it's just not as good, not as impactful, and looks kinda lame and corny to modern older eyes. That was the case on this rewatch; not to mention the special effects look pretty weak. You can probably blame this on 2001 effects, but that's no excuse. Some films had incredible effects prior to that year (especially looking at stuff like The Matrix from 1999) but here they look mediocre.

Despite these complaints, there are some things the film gets right. From what I remember about the book (which is a bit vague), this is a pretty faithful adaptation. The kids hit the right notes and help give you that vibe that the characters have literally leaped off the page. It's pretty wild seeing the actors when they were so tiny and now they're all grown up and shit. The supporting players are not only spot on, but excellent especially looking at guys like Alan Rickman and Richard Harris and Maggie Smith. While the story has a few missed opportunities because it's toned down for kids, the climax is excellent, exciting and intense. Not only for the chess thing, but the reveal of Voldemort (why does he have a nose here but not in any of the other films?). The climax alone is worth the 2 1/2. The set design looks nice too.

All in all, not as good as it was when I was a kid, but this is still good for kids. I'd show it to my kids if I had any and it's not that bad of an idea to show this to yours. Not as good as later films, but it's a decent start.

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