It’s been almost nine years since Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone was unleashed among the masses. Almost a decade later and the seventh film is on the way, with the magical journey coming to an end.
However, to commemorate the great movie series, we here at Flixist have taken up the task to review each and every installment in the franchise, leading up to the release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1. First up is the one that started it all, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone introduces us to the titular hero of the series, Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe). Potter is an orphan living with his extended family, the Dursleys, consisting of uncle Vernon (Richard Griffiths), aunt Petunia (Fiona Shaw), and cousin Dudley (Harry Melling). However, Annie this is not, as Harry is treated like garbage by the only family he knows. His fortunes change following his 11th birthday as a half-giant, Rubeus Hagrid (Robbie Coltrane), brings him an invitation to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
On the way to the school, Harry is introduced to his eventual sidekicks, Hermione Granger (Emma Watson) and Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint). The first half of Sorcerer’s Stone then sets out to introduce and establish this world of magic they live in and what’s to become staples of the series: magic lessons, Quidditch, the conflict between Harry and both his potions professor, Severus Snape (Alan Rickman), and fellow classmate, Draco Malfoy (Tom Felton), and the role of the school’s Headmaster, Albus Dumbledore (Richard Harris) as the all-knowing father figure. However, towards the second half, the movie shifts away from early pleasantries and towards the conflict and mystery surrounding the Sorcerer’s Stone. As always, it’s up to the main characters to solve the case.
Considering how enormously popular the series was, director Chris Columbus (Home Alone) put a lot of focus on staying as true to the book as possible. Through and through, the film captured the tone of the book pretty well. Hogwarts is every bit as enormous and magical as you’d imagine while reading the book. For example, during the large introductory feast at the beginning of the movie, lit candles are floating around in the air, the ceiling is magically decorated to resemble a starry night sky, ghosts are flying around whimsically, and of course, every student is decked out in wizarding and witching robes.
Furthermore, the main cast of Radcliffe, Watson, and Grint fit their fictional counterparts so well, it’s as if series creator J.K. Rowling foresaw them in some sort of psychic vision when creating her story. Of course, it goes without saying that Rickman’s take on Severus Snape is one of the best portrayals of an adapted character. He is every bit as snotty, greasy, and pompous as you imagine while reading the books.
While the series — and the first two books/films especially — are obviously targeted towards children and fall under the general children’s/fantasy genre, they’re just as much a part of the mystery genre as well. A situation or event arises that proves to be a large problem for the school or characters, so it’s up to the Harry Potter gang to solve it before it escalates into something far worse. Of course, it’s STILL a children’s movie, so you can’t expect deeper themes and character development.
However, if evaluating the movie on its characteristics of strictly being a movie and not an adaptation, some gripes come up. For example, the CGI isn’t very good. Granted, the movie released in 2001, but I just can’t overlook the fact that, whenever the actors are replaced by CGI models, they look WAY too fake and rubbery. This is most apparent in the bathroom troll scene where Harry jumps on the troll’s back in order to stop him. Also, the ghosts just seem too opaque to me. In fact, I felt they were very similar to the ghosts in Ghostbusters. Yes, I’m comparing Sorcerer’s Stone’s technology to a film that came out 17 years prior.
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone establishes what we’ll come to expect from future installments in the series. It stays true to the source material, which is fun and mildly entertaining. However, don’t expect anything deeper than you would from any other children’s movie.
Overall Score: 6.40 – Okay. (6s are just okay. These movies usually have many flaws, didn’t try to do anything special, or were poorly executed. Some will still love 6s, but most prefer to just rent them. Watch more trailers and read more reviews before you decide.)
Technological gripes aside, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone is a fun movie to watch. It faithfully captures the tone of the book, as well as the vision of Hogwarts you expect to see while reading the book. However, judged by its merits as a movie, it’s shallow and doesn’t cast much more magic than any other movie from its genre.