Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone
Directed by Chris Columbus
Starring Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, Richard Harris, Maggie Smith, John Hurt, Alan Rickman, and Robbie Coltrane.
I have yet to succumb to Potter-mania. True, it seems that you can’t spit nowadays without hitting some kind of Harry Potter merchandise. I’ve read the debates, about how all this merchandise is good because it’s for a book, and how all this merchandise is bad because it’s for a book. But, even with all this stuff in the media right now, I will admit that I had no idea what to expect when I went to see the first film, based on the first book, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. Sure, we all know the basic premise: British boy goes to wizard’s school. But, besides that, what is it about? I mean, there’s more to the plot than that, right? So, I went into the theater, trying to get some glimpse of what this Potter is all about, without actually have to pick up a book.
We are introduced to the young Harry Potter (Radcliffe), and man does his life suck. His parents died when he was just an infant, and he has been raised by his sadistic aunt, uncle, and cousin, who make him live in the cupboard under the stairs. But, all that changes as his 11th birthday nears. He begins getting flooded with letters, saying that he has been accepted to the Hogwart’s School of Wizardry and Witchcraft. It turns out that Harry’s parents were great wizards, and they died battling an evil wizard by the name of Voldemort. Harry then sets out for Hogwart’s, to follow in his parents’ footsteps. Along the way, he makes fast friends with fellow Hogwart’s students Ron Weasly (Grint) and Hermione Granger (Watson), plus the “Groundskeeper Willy” of Hogwart’s, a friendly giant by the name of Hagrid (Coltraine). As Harry, Ron, and Hermione begin slowly accepting life at Hogwart’s, with the ghosts that roam its halls, its ever-changing stairs, and Quidditch matches, they find that there is something amiss at Hogwart’s. That mystical item, the Philosopher’s Stone, is locked away deep in the bowels of Hogwart’s. It seems that a member of the faculty is plotting to steal the stone for dark purposes. Who is masterminding the theft? Can Harry and his friends stop it? And what’s the connection to Voldemort and the death of Harry’s parents?
Everything about this movie is just…right. It’s been a long time since we’ve had a really good fantasy film, and this is it. The world of Hogwart’s is a rich one, with its ghosts and moving paintings and wide array of eclectic staff. And, if I may say so, the Quidditch match just ROCKED! That’s one hell of a sport, leading to one hell of an action sequence. John Williams again provided one of his kick-ass scores, and all the FX, from a wide variety of studios, were top notch. I’m the last one to judge acting, but I liked the performances. Young Radcliffe was pretty good as Harry, but I really enjoyed Alan Rickman as the dark and brooding Professor Snape. This film was just right. It warms the heart and tingles the toes. But, if I have one complaint, it’s that it wasn’t quite the epic I was expecting it to be. I mean, with all the merchandise, you’d think it’d be pretty epic. But then, remember. This is the first of a proposed 7-part saga. This is just the start of an epic. Am I right, all you Potter fans who may be reading this? I guess I may have to pick up a book after all.