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Movie Review: “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone”

There are many movies that are worth seeing, but there are a lot of stinkers as well. My goal here is to weed out the good from the bad.

Theatrical Release: 11/16/2001

Theatrical Release: 11/16/2001

Synopsis

Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) lost both of his parents when he was just a baby. No one likes to talk with him about his parents, and while his aunt and uncle took him in, they did so out of obligation more than anything else. They do not treat Harry well. He is belittled, he gets his cousin's hand-me-downs,he is treated more like a servant than a relative, and they make him sleep in a small cupboard under the stairs. He has always felt like an outcast who is lesser than his cousin, but his entire world is about to change.

On his eleventh birthday, a mysterious figure arrives. Harry is a wizard, and the figure has come to take him to Hogwarts, a school for young witches and wizards like himself. He will learn all about magic, he will make new friends, and he might even learn more about his parents. However, dark forces are emerging in the wizarding world, forces that have unfinished business with the young boy named Harry Potter.

Official Trailer

The Pros & Cons

All movies start with an average score of 75pts, points are then added or subtracted based on each Pro and Con. Each Pro or Con is designated points, ranging from 0-10, to convey how significant these Pros or Cons are.

The ProsThe Cons

Harry, Ron, and Hermione (+8pts)

Convenient (-4pts)

Hogwarts (+8pts)

Danger (-3pts)

The Stone (+6pts)

Harry & Voldemort (-2pts)

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Pro: Harry, Ron, and Hermione (+8pts)

The filmmakers hit the jackpot when casting these three characters. Each actor played their part well, but they also had really great chemistry with one another. Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, and Emma Watson were all very young when they started these movies. Nonetheless, they played their parts effectively, in a way that was entertaining and so relatable that they easily sucked me into this world. The actors made it easy to buy into the characters individually, but what I really enjoyed was the dynamic between the three characters.

Ron was typically the comedic relief, Harry was the focal point of the story, and Hermione was the brains of the group. I enjoyed watching the characters become friends, and I enjoyed watching them work together to solve their problems. They each felt like outcasts to some extent, but they came together to form a really strong group. The effectiveness of these characters was largely due to the writing in the source material and in the script itself, but that writing would have meant little if the filmmakers had not found three great, young actors for these roles.

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Con: Convenient (-4pts)

A recurring issue throughout this entire movie was how convenient everything was for Harry Potter. From his survival when his parents were killed to having a book-smart friend who had the spells to get the group out of every problematic situation, and from miraculously getting the invisibility cloak to miraculously getting the fastest broomstick available. The story threw a bunch of challenges at Harry Potter, but he seemed to be gifted with incredible luck. This did not prevent me from enjoying the movie entirely, but the blatant ”luck” was as convenient for the writers as it was for Harry, and it was really just lazy writing

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Pro: Hogwarts (+8pts)

J. K. Rowling did a great job of setting up this world with so many creative and imaginative magical things, and the filmmakers did a great job of bring that wizarding world to the screen. The world felt mysterious, it felt like it had a rich history, and the magic was a lot of fun to see. From the train station and the train to Hogwarts, to Diagon Alley and of course Hogwarts itself. I had a lot of fun exploring the wizarding world, and Hogwarts was a huge part of that.

As great as all of the magical things that were not related to Hogwarts were, J. K. Rowling and the filmmakers of this movie did an excellent job of setting up the wizarding school. It was fantastical and magical, and it was mysterious and entertaining. There were the various school houses, the fascinating magical classes, and the mystical castle that housed it all. There was so much about this school that was fun to explore, and it left me excited to see what secrets would be discovered in future movies. The filmmakers did an absolutely outstanding job setting up the magical world and the wizarding school. It made for a movie that was filled with fascinating places and things that were a blast to discover along with Harry Potter.

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Con: Danger (-3pts)

I have always found it pretty funny how dangerous Hogwarts was. It was a fascinating school, but it seemed like the staff had absolutely no concern over the safety of the kids they were responsible for. Those who ran Hogwarts had massive three-headed dogs to guarding a door that any kid could have stumbled upon, they kept violent trolls in the dungeons of the same building where the students resided, and there were even wildly unpredictable moving stairs that students could fall of at anytime. The staff even sent kids into the incredibly dangerous Forbidden Forest in the middle of the night as punishment for getting detention. I get that this was all done to give the reader and the audience more magical and suspenseful moments, but in doing so the author and filmmakers made these some wildly impractical, irresponsible, and illogical professors.

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Pro: The Stone (+6pts)

When I say that I liked the stone, I mean that I liked everything that lead up to it. I thought the movie did a pretty poor job of setting up the stone, what it did and what it was for, but I liked what the main characters had to go through in order to get to it. Everything after Fluffy was just a lot of fun. It was like the main characters had to go through an insanely magical and elaborate escape room. From the vines to the keys, the stone was hidden past several challenging obstacles, that I enjoyed seeing the protagonists struggling their way through. Do not even get me started on the chess, as I thought that was such an awesome idea. As great as the entire movie was up to this point, I really enjoyed everything these kids went up against in their trials to obtain the stone.

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Con: Harry & Voldemort (-2pts)

This was an area in the story that I thought needed more development on screen. What was the relationship between Harry and Voldemort? I get that figuring that out was part of Harry’s journey, so I definitely did not think it should have been spelled out in the first movie. However, how Harry survived made no sense. Voldemort failed to kill Harry, that much was clear, but it just made Voldemort feel like a failure, as opposed to making Harry feel special.

The connection between Harry and Voldemort was conveniently vague, which made the end of the movie feel like a bit of a let down. The movie had its climax, sure, but it was unclear what actually happened or why. These questions were answered in later movies, and those movies delivered a pay off. However, the filmmakers of this movie could have elaborated a bit more on what Voldemort’s failed attempt at murdering Harry did to the two characters, which would have given this movie a more conclusive ending. It would have been a fine line between giving this movie a conclusive ending without giving everything away for future movies, but I felt like the filmmakers could have given a little more in this movie than they did. By keeping it so vague here, the ending felt a little too convenient for Harry, but that should not be surprising seeing as how this entire story was convenient for Harry.

Grading Scale

GradeCategoryPoints

A+

Amazing

95-100

A-

Great

90-94

B+

Good

85-89

B-

Decent

80-84

C+

Average

75-79

C-

Watchable

70-74

D+

Bad

65-69

D-

Terrible

60-64

F

Garbage

45-59

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Grade: B+ (88pts)

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone was a great book-to-movie adaptation. Did it get everything from the page to the screen? Of course not, but the filmmakers delivered the essence of the story, and they did it well. The filmmakers introduced us to a fantastically magical world, and they introduced a group of entertaining characters that existed in it.

Harry, Ron, and Hermione were a group of characters who were fun to watch. Each character brought some unique, entertaining flavor to the group, and I loved the group’s dynamic together. The movie was also filled with mysterious magical people, fantastical creatures, and plenty of magical places and things. I had some issues with the movie—such as the wildly irresponsible staff that consistently endangers the kids, and the incredibly convenient luck that Harry had—but these issues were relatively minor, as I still really enjoyed this movie.

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