Since Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them opens everywhere on November 18 2016, I thought it would be a good time to review all of the Harry Potter movies. Here’s my review of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.
Warning: This Review Contains Spoilers.
Harry Potter was the first film in the series and was directed by Chris Columbus and starred child actors Daniel Radcliff, Emma Watson, Rupert Grit, Maggie Smith and the recently deceased Alan Rickman. It was an amazing cast and the movie was a box office success and a great start to one of the most beloved and popular franchises ever created by author J.K. Rowling. I’ve been a big fan of this series ever since I saw this movie way back in 2001 and I remember loving it. I’ve read all the books and I hope that Rowling will return to this world eventually (Let’s face it, she will write more books one day, it’s inevitable after there won’t be any more truck loads of money dropping by her house).
After surviving an attack by the Dark Lord Voldemort, young Harry Potter is entrusted by the wizard Dumbledore to live with his Aunt and Uncle after his parents are brutally murdered. And hese two are horrible! They treat Harry like shit and Dudley gets everything and wines when he doesn’t get the same number of presents (36, last year I got 37!). They are absolutely terrible to Harry and should be locked up for mistreatment.
Harry starts receiving some unwanted Hogwarts letters, the family decides to move in the middle of nowhere and be cut off from society (which doesn’t make sense at all, in retrospect) and are visited by Hagrid who tells Harry he is a wizard and that he should attend Hogwarts, a school for young witches and wizards. He decides to go with Hagrid and leave his home and together they buy an owel, a wand, and other school things.
It’s been 15 years since this movie came out and it surprisingly holds up really well. There are a couple of scenes that look dated, like the troll scene, which doesn’t hold up well. You can tell it’s not really there and that entire scene is now pretty much tensionless now.
There’s also the Quidditch match, which was impressive then but you can really tell the green screen and some of the actors are CGI. They’re not real and you can absolutely tell re-watching the movie now. But the scene it’s still great and exciting, and it’s very funny when Harry falls off his Nimbus 2000 and swallows the Snitch and spits it out.
And that’s about it. The rest holds up really well. The location, the sets, the costumes, all of them we’re practical and Hogwarts looks impressive the first time we experience it on screen with John Williams awesome theme. The world really seems real and magical and it feels like this place exists and you are transported into this supernatural environment.
Some of the complaints I often hear of this film is that it’s too kiddish and it wasn’t as dark as Prisoner or Azkaban or Goblet of Fire. Well, that’s true, however, this is the start of the series and we are following kids who are growing up and maturing. They experience this new evil that has risen again. The tone of this film is very close to the tone of the first book and almost this film is probably the most faithful adaptation of the entire series, which is really impressive.
This is the film where Harry, Ron and Hermione all meet and we see their friendship progress throughout the movie. Hermione comes off as a real bitch at the start, but you start to like her as she takes the blame after Ron and Harry saved her from the troll in the ladies bathroom (10 points off Gryffindor for fighting a troll, but 50 points for running in the grounds at night, which makes no sense and the teachers have them spend time with Hagrid in Detention for having been with Hagrid in the first place. Figure that one out).
Daniel Radcliff was the perfect choice to play Harry Potter. He has the same mannerisms from the book and portrays the character extremely well.
Emma Watson was also the best choice to play Hermione and Rupert Grint was terrific as Ron Weasley. You believe that these three are friends and will do anything for each other.
Alan Rickman was the perfect choice for Severus Snape and he’s like the teacher you never want to have. He played the part perfectly and completely inhabited the character. Maggie Smith is also terrific as Professor Mcgonagall as she always is. She’s probably the best teacher at Hogwarts, honestly.
There are some minor differences with the novel, but nothing major, unlike the later installments of the series. The biggest difference would be that Dumbledore takes the Dragon Norbert (which is later revealed to be a female) from Hagrid and in the book Harry and Hermione take him to a friend who brings it to Charlie Weasley in Romania to care for it. That’s pretty much it other than small details that we’re not included in the film.
The Ending is actually really suspensful. They go through these series of trails, first the three headed dogs, then the plant, then the flying keys, culminating with the giant chess game, which knocks Ron out. Harry must continue on his own, it’s a great reveal that Quirrell is in fact waiting for him, not Snape and is the man with two faces, A.K.A. Voldemort, who has been feeding off Unicorn blood to survive. The fact that Harry finds the Philosopher’s stone in his pocket while looking in the mirror doesn’t quite make sense and it is never explained. Harry manages to defeat Voldemort by simply touching him, which makes him burn, due to the fact that his mother sacrificed herself for him so he could live.
Overall, the film has a wonderful sense of adventure and magic, which not a lot of young adult films can capture. Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone was a great introduction to the Harry Potter fandom and captured the hearts and minds of millions of fans of the books and newcomers alike while paying homage to it’s source material.
Next Review: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets