Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone

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

Horrendously dated in terms of its laughable visual effects, poorly acted on every child actor's behalf, unjustifiably overlong, predictable and childish but unbelievably entertaining, enchanting and enduring, the first adaptation of J.K Rowling's whimsical "Harry Potter" novels, directed by Chris Colombus, is a true adventure to behold. Released in the same year as the first installment adaptation of Tolkien's groundbreaking and literature defining novels, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone never fails to entertain, mostly due to the pure adventure/fantasy aspects of the film and the soaring, epic, unforgettable, iconic, everlasting, moving and adventurous score, clearly and most easily the strongest aspect of the film that glues the entire franchise and makes possible the film to be described as magical.

Following the death of his parents at the hands of the evil Lord Voldemort, Harry Potter (Radcliffe) is raised by his aunt and uncle and resides in 'the cupboard under the stairs' where his life grows increasingly dull and devoid of any human contact. Receiving a letter that he is to attend Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, to learn wizardry, Harry Potter accepts the invitation and makes friends with Ron Weasley (Grint) and Hermione Granger (Watson), and the trio begin to unravel secrets about the school and darkness returning for immortal vengeance and dominion.

The simple concept of Harry being repressed by his aunt and uncle, unbeknowst to himself that he is indeed 'The Chosen One' and the most famed wizard after Dumbledore himself, is a fantastic concept. Well executed, well written and truly fascinating, this one simple concept is the driving force of the franchise's story.

The performances by the older cast, consisting of the utterly phenomenal Richard Harris, Maggie Grace, Alan Rickman, Richard Griffiths and Robbie Coltrane are phenomenal, each perfectly realized characters that are adapted in an extremely loyal manner to Rowling's novels. Harris as Dumbledore is the ideal performance of the film and possibly, the franchise. His portrayal of Dumbledore is one of a calm and cool nature, decrepit physique, magical persona and a true implication of a powerful and respected wizard. Perfect in every sense, Harris' portrayal is perfect; the best in the franchise. Maggie Grace as Professor McGonagall is brilliant and Rickman's stunning performance of Snape is, in this film alone, compelling. Coltrane as the likeable Hagrid and Griffiths as Vernon, Harry's oppressive uncle is also fantastic. Ian Hart as Professor Quirrel however, is miscast.

The child performances are mostly bad, in some cases acceptable and in most cases, brutal. Radcliffe lacks the believability as Harry, often coming off as a script reader. Watson as Hermione overacts on far too many occassions and her awkward enunciation is terrible. Grint, is no better and arguably the worst of the trio, lacking the charisma of Ron Weasley. Tom Felton as Draco Malfoy is unbearably bad. Such an awful and stereotypical antagonist with little personality is portrayed in such a manner that every bit of issue in the character of Draco is made more blatant by Felton's terrible performance.

The script, often is cheesy and some of the dialogue is laughable. The film, at a run time of 140 minutes, is unjustifiably long, as is most installments in the franchise. Often proving misfires in the script, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone doesn't allow the viewer to immerse themselves into certain aspects of the Wizarding World, such as Diagon Alley and certain areas of Hogwarts. Quidditch, a much adored sport, is one of the most terribly conceived ideas ever! A sport with a Golden Snitch, which in the book accounts for the gaining of 150 points, is mistaken in the film as the one means of winning the game, regardless of the overall lead or deficit of the team. Stupid, dumb, obvious and laughable, certain aspects of Rowling's Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, such as Quidditch, which was an enthralling read in the novels, is awful in the film.

Visually dated in every possible aspect, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone sees some of the most unconvincing and horrendously thought out ideas. Every magical beast, whether the centaur, the three headed dog, the baby dragon, the troll or even Voldemort himself, is so laughable that the only thing which allows the viewer to look past the horrid nature of such effects, is John Williams' score which is one of the composer's VERY best.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone is indeed dated, a relatively good adaptation which is mostly loyal to its original source. Poor child performances, a rather decent script, overlong duration and undeveloped characters hurts the film though is redeemed more than enough by John Williams' truly mesmerizing score, the phenomenal performances of the elder cast and the true magical nature of the Wizarding World.


72/100 though nostalgia, love for the books and the pure fantasy aspect and enjoyment bring it up to a 4/5 for me.

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