HARRY POTTER / (2001) *** (out of four)
Here's a method of evaluating a movie based on previously published material: ask yourself if the film makes you want to read the material from which it is based?
Before the release of "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone," I was one of the few remaining souls who had not read J.K. Rowling's fantasy book series. After screening the first film installment, I did want to read the book. Borrowing the novel from a family member, I briefly skimmed over the chapters. The book's intelligence and similarities with the film really surprised me.
With over 100 million copies sold in over 46 different languages, J.K. Rowling's best-selling series of books has become a worldwide phenomenon. Naturally, with soaring expectations abound, the filmmakers felt great pressure to create a faithful adaptation. They have. This film is essentially a visualization of the words in the novel, with very few differences.
That said, the film does run into a few conflicts with the book's story. The middle of the movie has nowhere to go. It's like a false second act; almost nothing of major significance occurs in this period of the film. The young characters wander from scene to scene with nothing much to do and nothing much to say. We're left with a grand display of eye-popping special effects.
"Harry Potter" certainly dazzles us with a solid beginning and an engaging final act, however. We first meet a young wizard boy named Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe). Soon after the film opens, the boy discovers he has magical powers. He's then thrust into an enchanting world of sorcery, magic, and witchcraft. He's sent to a school for young wizard children, where he meets new friends, learns about magic, and participates in fun competitions. But someone at the school doesn't like Harry, as mysterious events begin to occur. Harry soon finds himself in the middle of a diabolical scheme of revenge. Who is the culprit and what do they want with Harry?
The film asks some involving questions. Too bad it doesn't give enough depth to the side characters or subplots. We don't really care about the mystery because we don't know enough about the suspects. The movie does conclude with a twist, but it doesn't encourage another examination of the movie. It lacks a foundation altogether. The story spends so much time foreshadowing the villain's identity, it is pointless for the story to abandon its proceeding plot points and develop a new villain at the end. The book gets away with this; the movie does not.
After his gentle "Home Alone" and sweet-natured "Stepmom," many questioned the ability of director Chris Columbus to bring a sense of darkness to the story-and for good reason. "Harry Potter" contains charming, likable characters and a rich pallet of lush, inventive images. Unfortunately, the film lacks an edge. It's missing the dark atmosphere Rowling's novel so vividly brought to life. Columbus does construct some memorable sequences, but the individual scenes themselves are much better than the movie as a whole.
Despite it's childish story and pre-teen characters, many define "Harry Potter" as a film for all ages. While that's debatable, during my screening, adults were plowing through the isles every five minutes. Going to the bathroom? Getting drink refills? Buying concessions? Who knows? But not a single child budged from their seat. Their eyes were glued to the big screen.
Conclusion: It's a sure-fire experience for children, especially if they've read the books. But adults may not encounter the same enticement as kids. Then again, if I had nothing better to do than to count the people leaving the theater, why am I recommending the film?
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (2001) 1080p YIFY Movie
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (2001) 1080p
Rescued from the outrageous neglect of his aunt and uncle, a young boy with a great destiny proves his worth while attending Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
IMDB: 7.3647 Likes
The Synopsis for Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (2001) 1080p
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone is the first film in the Harry Potter series based on the novels by J.K. Rowling. It is the tale of Harry Potter, an ordinary 11-year-old boy serving as a sort of slave for his aunt and uncle who learns that he is actually a wizard and has been invited to attend the Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry. Harry is snatched away from his mundane existence by Hagrid, the grounds keeper for Hogwarts, and quickly thrown into a world completely foreign to both him and the viewer. Famous for an incident that happened at his birth, Harry makes friends easily at his new school. He soon finds, however, that the wizarding world is far more dangerous for him than he would have imagined, and he quickly learns that not all wizards are ones to be trusted.
The Director and Players for Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (2001) 1080p
The Reviews for Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (2001) 1080p
It's a true adaptation, but lacks an edge like the novel. *** (out of four)Reviewed byMovie-12Vote: 7/10
HARRY POTTER / (2001) *** (out of four)
We live in a world where economics is hard. This forces practical limitations when making a movie. Time and money are sadly finite, cinema owners need to be pleased as well as fans and computer animation ain't perfect. Given these limitations, this film is about as close to human perfection as it is possible to achieve. However, it's extremely clear what an immense challenge it is to turn Philosopher's Stone from book to film.
Two and a half hours is not long to explore a wonderful, magical world. Furthermore, the directors have bowed to the inevitable temptation to show us things that cannot be communicated so effectively in a book. The consequence is the feeling of a slightly breathless sprint in places.
It also means that the movie has to stay true to the spirit of the book rather than to the letter of it. There are omissions and there are changes. The changes that were made capture and maintain the spirit of the story really well; indeed, there are places where the story is more clearly and straightforwardly told in the movie than in the book. Some aspects of the story are fleshed out on screen and the additions are delightful, completely in keeping with the flavour of the world.
The humour of the movie is inevitably more visual than that of the book; no belly laughs, but a lot of smiles. Some punchlines have changed, but the reasons why the jokes are funny remain the same. Not knowing exactly what's coming next is a good thing! It's all kept tasteful, classy and above the belt; there's nothing to cringe about.
The voice acting is almost uniformly brilliant. However, there are occasions where some of the actors are required to convey high emotions and are only given a second or two of face shot, or head-and-shoulders shot, to do so. This isn't as much freedom as they need and they fall a little short. The blame here must fall on the decision to give the actors too much to do too quickly, not on the actors themselves.
Other than these rare jarring instances, the physical acting is frequently excellent and seldom less than completely adequate, judged against the highest of targets set by the book's clear emotion descriptions.
Dan Radcliffe has the look, the mannerisms and the charm of Harry down pat. His strongest expressions are the bemusement that must be inherent at entering a world where science does not rule alone and the bravery that Harry shows in his achievements. Emma Watson possibly slightly overplays Hermione, but does so in a fully endearing fashion. There's one scene which gives her too little chance to truly express panic; otherwise her performance needs no changes.
Rupert Grint has comic timing way beyond his years, hitting Ron's lines perfectly. Tom Felton makes a stylish Draco; Matt Lewis' Neville character suffers from the acceleration, so the finale does come as a slight characterisation shock.
The Phelps brothers' Fred and George are distinctively cheeky rather than proactive pranksters; Chris Rankin imbues Percy with genuine authority. Sean Biggerstaff shines; his Oliver Wood is likeable and an ideal Quidditch team captain.
Robbie Coltrane's Hagrid is the single dominant adult character, with maximum laughs extracted at every step. The movie changes strongly exaggerate one side of Hagrid's nature, though; probably inevitable considering how much plot exposition his character has.
David Bradley has a vicious Argus Filch; John Hurt's Ollivander is an eccentric treat, giving a wonderful introduction to the Wizarding World. The professors are uniformly excellent, though Richard Harris' Dumbledore comes off as disappointingly flat until the end.
The most ambitious point of the movie is the computer generated imagery. The stills are wonderful, but the fastest animation is restricted by the limitations of real-world technology. The book makes extremely stringent demands of the CGI; sometimes their overall effect in the movie is merely good rather than insanely great. Some of the magic spells and effects look awesome; others don't capture the imagination nearly so much.
The world cannot yet completely convincingly animate human beings doing inhuman things, which serves as a clear reminder that you need fictional magic to make the impossible possible. The Quidditch scene is the most demanding of them all; while the sequence is action-packed and good-looking, disappointingly, it's not a total success. Perhaps some of the scenes would have been better with more conventional special effects? (For instance, the lower-tech-looking Sorting Hat scene is one of the most delightful of them all.)
The set looks gorgeous. However, it may not stand up to detailed analysis. It's fairly obvious that things are shot in many disparate locations, rather than one big Hogwarts School near Hogsmeade.
The score is absolutely wonderful. The soundtrack may rely too heavily on The Famous Bit, but it's clear that the balance and mixture of things in the finished movie are exactly right.
The feel of the whole movie is everything fans could have hoped for. The dialogue is intensely measured, the colouring is suitably epic, the selection of what to leave in is really tightly considered. You get chills in your spine at the right places; you feel the triumphs as all-encompassing endorphin highs. It's clear that the production have thought long, hard and lovingly. They are true fans of the story, they are the right people for the job, it all bodes very well for the second film.
So it could never have been the film that the hyper-literalists were hoping for, then, but it is as good as the practicalities of the real world could possibly permit. Don't expect miracles and you'll love it. I look forward to watching it again and again.
8/10 at the very least. A really satisfactory film!
I enjoyed this movie immensely. But, like "The Phantom Menace," I've had a very hard time viewing it objectively. There was so much anticipation leading up to its release, I simply enjoyed the experience of being there. Having read all four books in the series a few times each, I am overly familiar with the events in the story. As I watched the movie, my continuing thought was "How well will the next part of the story be translated to the screen?" rather than "How entertaining is this film overall?" I have trouble answering the latter question because I was already entertained by watching a wonderful story dramatized, so I'll never know how I'd have reacted had I seen this movie without having read the books.
Critics talk about how incredibly faithful the movie is to the book, and perhaps I'd have had an easier time detaching the two in my mind had the movie set off on its own course. Indeed, many classic children's movies, like "The Wizard of Oz" and "Mary Poppins," are so successful partly because they're so different from the books that inspired them. But these are exceptions; in my experience, most children's movies reveal their weaknesses in how they diverge from the books upon which they're based. And much of what makes the Harry Potter phenomenon unique is that it is the first time in ages that a children's book, without a movie accompanying it, has generated this much popularity. According to an article I read a year ago, the universe of Harry Potter has become as real in the minds of youngsters and adults as that of a popular movie series like Star Wars. Therefore, it will be very hard for any film based upon it to compete with it. In the minds of die-hard fans, any changes made to the story will be seen as desecrating the fantasy world that Rowling created. That's why it's easy to understand why the filmmakers were so reluctant to change anything.
As a faithful rendering of the book squeezed into a two-and-a-half hour period, the movie is beautifully done. I don't have a single complaint about any of the actors, who successfully bring to life, with the aid of costume design and special effects, the many colorful characters from the book. My favorite character, the giant Hagrid, is played by Robbie Coltrane, and I say with no exaggeration that he is exactly how I imagined him while reading the book. It's as if they took the image in my mind and transferred it to the screen. While I had my own personal image of Snape (for some reason, I always imagined him as the head villain from another Chris Columbus film, "Adventures in Babysitting"), Alan Rickman is perfect in the role. I usually expect to have words of criticism for some performances, but I just don't. The remaining adult actors, including Maggie Smith as Professor McGonagall and Richard Harris as Albus Dumbledore, are as good as they possibly could be, and the kids do an excellent job of holding their own against these veterans. Some have criticized Daniel Radcliffe for appearing too subdued in the title role, but that's exactly how the character is portrayed in the book: modest, unassuming, and laid-back. The kids who play Harry's two best friends are flawless.
I had a lot of worries about the fact that it was being directed by Chris Columbus, whose entire directorial career so far has consisted of over-the-top slapstick films. I was pleasantly surprised that he did not direct the Harry Potter film in this way. Except for brief moments like the children's delayed reaction to a giant three-headed dog they encounter and Harry's swallowing the quaffle ball, there is nothing here to remind us that this film is directed by the same person who gave us films like "Home Alone" and "Mrs. Doubtfire." Indeed, I think Columbus may have gone just a tad bit too far in trying not to make the film seem cartoony. I would have liked to see a little more emotion on the actors' faces at certain times. Overall, however, his restraint works nicely in giving the film the kind of believability the book possesses.
But much is left out. Harry's caretaker Uncle Vernon, a prominent character in the book, is given less attention in the movie than some of the bit characters. The gently satirical aspects of Hogwarts School aren't in the movie at all. We never see the ghostly history teacher who died several years back but kept on teaching. Lines like the following--"Professor McGonagall watched [her students] turn a mouse into a snuffbox--points were given for how pretty the snuffbox was, but taken away if it had whiskers"--find no equivalent in the movie. The movie does include platform nine-and-three-quarters, though the way the kids disappear into the wall isn't as mysterious as I had visualized, and the sorting hat is there, minus the great poem explaining the differences between the four schools.
Not that I'm blaming the movie for omitting some details. Some things from the book would not have translated easily to the screen, and it would have been very difficult to stick everything in. Had Columbus done so and allowed the film to be as long as necessary (eight hours, maybe?), like a BBC miniseries, the film might have been a masterpiece, but few kids would ever have had the patience or attention span to sit through it.
The problem is that the amusing details are much of what make Harry Potter such a special story. A whole universe is created in Rowling's series, in which a magical society exists within our own ordinary "muggle" world and is kept secret by a bureaucracy with its own rules, history and politics. The way magic is treated in her books, not as something medieval but as very similar to the way our own contemporary world works, is a large part of their charm. Take away these details, and you're left with a fairly conventional tale of a young wizard fighting an evil sorcerer.
Although the audience I was with broke into applause as soon as the movie ended (something I've never seen happen before, though I don't go to the theater that often), some people have complained about the movie dragging at certain points. I didn't have that problem, but, as I said, I wasn't really trying to get involved in the movie's story. After thinking about it, it does seem like parts of the movie fail to convey a sense of urgency. Why should this be? I never felt that way when reading the books, and this is without a doubt the very same story.
The answer, I think, is that the books portray much of Harry's anxiety in trying to succeed in school (for if he's kicked out, he'll go straight back to his horrible uncle) and fit in with the kids there. The movie doesn't tap into these anxieties enough, so why should we care whether he wins the Quidditch match (other than that he survives in one piece) and gets through the school year? The only real suspense in the movie after he arrives at Hogwarts comes from the story of Lord Voldemort returning, which in the book is almost secondary. Harry's adventures getting along in the school are fun and interesting, but as they are presented to us in the film, there isn't enough tying them all together.
What we have here is a serviceable dramatization of a wonderful children's series, but it doesn't entirely succeed in standing on its own. Perhaps it should have diverged from the book just a little, to compensate for the difficulties in translating some of the book's delights to the screen. In its current form, it's almost like a preview of the book. Its lack of fullness, and its dependence on the book, might actually increase the popularity and endurance of Rowling's series by making those who see the film yearn for more, which they can get from the real thing.