Movie Review: “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone”
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
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, gets his cousin's hand-me-downs, is treated more like a servant than a relative, and they make him sleep in a small cupboard under the stairs instead of getting his own room. He has always been made to feel 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, will make new friends, and might even learn more about his parents. However, dark forces are emerging in the wizarding world. Forces that have unfinished business with Harry Potter.
The Pros & Cons
Harry, Ron, and Hermione (+8pts)
The Stone (+6pts)
Harry & Voldemort (-2pts)
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. Yet they played their parts effectively, in a way that was entertaining and so relatable that they were able to easily pull me right into this world. The actors made it easy to buy into the characters individually, but I really enjoyed the dynamic between the three characters.
Ron was typically the comedic relief, Harry was the focal point of the story, and Hermione was the brain of the group. It was simply a fun group of friends to follow. I enjoyed watching the characters become friends, and 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.
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 that had the spell to get the group out of every problematic situation, and from miraculously getting the invisibility cloak, to also miraculously getting the fastest broomstick available. The story throws a bunch of challenges at Harry Potter, but he seems to be gifted with incredible luck, luck that got him out of every challenge. This did not prevent me from enjoying the movie, but the blatant ”luck” was as convenient for the writers as it was for Harry. It was lazy storytelling, and while I was still able to thoroughly enjoy the movie, this issue was too obvious and recurred too frequently for me to ignore.
Pro: Hogwarts (+8pts)
J. K. Rowling did a great job of setting up this world with all of the magical things that exist in it, and the filmmakers did a great job of bring the 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, it was mysterious and entertaining, and it also felt rich with history. From the various school houses, to the fascinating classes and the mystical castle that housed it all, there was so much about this school that was fun to explore. I cannot say it enough, 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.
Con: Danger (-3pts)
I have always found it pretty funny how dangerous Hogwarts is. It is a fascinating school, but it seems like the staff has absolutely no concern over the safety of the kids they are responsible for. Using massive three-headed dogs to guard a door that anyone could stumble upon, keeping violent trolls in the dungeons of the same building where the students reside, and even the wildly unpredictable moving stairs are all great examples. I mean the staff even send 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 moments, but the author and the filmmakers seemed to get too caught up in doing this. In order to deliver more magical moments, they (the author and the filmmakers) ended up throwing the logic of many of the school's staff members straight out the window.
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. I am not exactly worried about spoiling a now eighteen year old movie (as of 2019). However, I will try not to give anything away nonetheless.
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. Do not even get me started on the chess, to this day I wish there was some sort of chess like the chess that was in this movie, although not quite to the scale of this one, because that would be quite the liability. As great as the entire movie was up to this point, I really enjoyed everything that lead up to the kids trying to get to the stone.
Con: Harry & Voldemort (-2pts)
I really struggled to think of another issue with this movie. That being said, this was an area in the story that I think needed more development on screen. What is the relationship between Harry and Voldemort? I get that figuring that out is part of Harry’s journey, so I definitely do not think it should have been spelled out in the first movie. However, the how Harry survived made little 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 deliver 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. By keeping it so vague, the ending felt a little too convenient for Harry, but I should not have been surprised seeing as how the entire story was convenient for Harry.
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, while delivering a group of entertaining characters to exist in that world.
Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), Ron (Rupert Grint), and Hermione (Emma Watson) were a group of characters that were fun to watch. Each character brought some unique, entertaining flavor to the group, and I loved the group’s dynamic together, the three actors’ performances and their chemistry together was a big reason why. The filmmakers also introduced us to the fantastic wizarding world. The movie is filled with mysterious magical people, fantastical creatures, as well as fascinating magical places and things. On top of that, Hogwarts is just a fascinating school. This movie is filled with wonder, heart, humor, and of course magic. I had some issues with the movie (including the wildly irresponsible staff that consistently endangers the kids, and the incredibly convenient luck that Harry always seemed to have), but these issues were relatively minor, as I still really enjoyed this movie.