Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone

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

I absolutely adored this when it was first released. The casting for Hagrid and Dumbledore are superb, and the dynamic trio are also all great cast choices. The scene where we first see Hogwarts will always go down as one of the most moving introductions into a fictional world I've ever seen. The score is beautiful and the success of the costuming department and set team at creating the world of Hogwarts is amazing.

However, on this viewing I noticed that, though I like that this film adheres to the book better than a lot of the others, the pre-Hogwarts scenes are incredibly boring. These scenes struggle with the drudgery of having to tell an origin story and often feel cheap and fake. The CGI for Voldemort was terribly cheesy even back in the day, and the actor that they picked for this was a terrible choice. I don't like Ralph Fiennes in the role either, but Richard Bremmer as Voldemort was one of the worst mistakes they could have made (I do wonder if Ray Fearon could have done it though. The presence he put into the role of Firenze would have been great for Voldemort). The only mistake that trumps that was picking Bonnie Wright as Ginny. I know it's not possible that they would have known she would factor in so much later on, but she's a terrible actor and impossible to take seriously in subsequent roles. By the time this film came out Rowling was on book 4; there is no excuse. The pacing of the film wasn't very good either. It's a spectacle that fans can't help but gravitate to and it is genuinely entertaining, but as a piece of cinema it regularly falls short of the mark.

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