a critiQal film review Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (2001)

Plot: Harry Potter (Radcliffe) is a normal boy. Or so he thinks, anyway, until Hagrid (Coltrane) shows up one day and tells Harry he’s a wizard, and a famous one at that - he was the only one evil Lord Voldemort attacked who survived. Hagrid takes Harry to Hogwarts, a school for young magicians, where he meets Ron Weasley (Grint) and Hermione Granger (Watson). But, with an evil plot building against Harry, it's going to take everything he has to make it to his second year.

587 words (Est. Reading Time 2m 56s)
  • ...an eye-popping special effects spectacular, not a movie.

The first film of the new Harry Potter series, unfortunately, is a special effects extravaganza that is pretending to be a movie. Anyone who tells you they like this movie is actually commenting on the incredible special effects.

That’s the problem, though. Because the special effects are so amazing, the bad acting and cheesy scenes are overlooked, or go unnoticed. Some actors worry that special effects will soon negate their performances, and this is one movie that shows that could happen.

The actors are not very good, but to most people, that won’t matter. The special effects so outdo the actors, you could easily have picked anyone off the street, had them read the lines straight from a cue card, and not very many people would have noticed.

It was a shame to see a good bad guy like Alan Rickman (Professor Snape in this film) go to such depths as to appear in this movie. Who could forget his memorable performances in Die Hard (1988) or Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991)? What could have caused him to take on this role? Possibly the money was too good to pass up, I don’t know.

The plot of the book was excellent, and is largely ignored in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. Sure, the same basic elements are there, but a lot of the smaller stuff, the stuff that made the story interesting, are left out. One example would be of Hagrid and the baby dragon. In the book, when Hagrid was found with the baby dragon, his job at Hogwarts was on the line. In the movie, nothing happens to him.

Instead, it’s all about the kids, and is just a stupid segue from one special effect to another. That seems to be the basic reason the plot (the pieces that remain of it, anyway) are in the movie: just to provide some filler between special effects.

The special effects are simply incredible. From the get-go, they fill this movie to the brim. There is everything from a multitude of mail-bringing owls to hundreds of candles floating in mid-air in Hogwarts to a gigantic troll to a fast-paced game on broomsticks in the air (called Quidditch) chasing balls that fly! You will be astounded again and again by the spectacular special effects. You’ll watch in awe as astounding effect after effect flashes by. With all these amazing feats of technological wow! who cares about the plot?? At least, that’s what the filmmakers apparently expect people to think.

So there you have it. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone is an eye-popping special effects spectacular, not a movie. The bare remnants of a plot, truly unoriginal acting, but lots and lots and lots of eye candy.

This movie was so popular a second (Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002)) is coming in December, and a third (Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004)) is already being planned for 2004.

One thing positive about this movie: you truly can’t appreciate the special effects to their full extent on VHS. This is one of those movies that can only be seen on DVD. Plus, with a 2-disc DVD package stuffed full with special features you won’t get on VHS, why would you watch this on anything but DVD?

If you haven’t seen Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone on DVD yet, rent it today. Especially if you have kids. They will love the extras on the DVD and won’t mind that there isn’t much plot or character work to speak of.

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