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Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (2001)

  Directed by: Chris Columbus
Written by: J.K. Rowling
Starring: Robbie Coltrane, Rupert Grint, Richard Harris, Daniel Radcliffe, Alan Rickman, Maggie Smith, Emma Watson
Links: Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone on the IMDb, Official site, Buy on Video, Buy on DVD, Buy the Soundtrack, Buy the Book
Genre: Drama

This movie gets: 7.67 (3 ratings)
nofreelist.com Ranking: Ranked equal 77th of 187 movies (2 ratings minimum; see full chart)

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (2001) is also mentioned in mino's review of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002), pearly's review of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005), pearly's review of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004), mino's review of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004) and mino's review of The Man Who Wasn't There (2001).

"Fans Won't Be Disappointed" - a review by mino

Well, I think it's fair to say that Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (or Harry from here on in) is the most keenly-anticipated movie release for years. Only the first Lord of the Rings movie, due later this year, looks its equal in terms of pre-release hype – and potential for disappointment. As a fan of the Harry books myself, I could barely contain my excitement – or my trepidation.

For those of you who don't know the gist of the Harry tale (there must be at least one of you somewhere), the plot is simple, even tenuous, but one that appeals equally to kids of all ages and their parents. Harry Potter (played by newcomer Daniel Radcliffe) is a young boy, raised by his cruel and uncaring aunt and uncle, and their evil son Dudley, after his parents were killed in a "car accident".

Despite his uncle's best efforts to keep Harry isolated from the outside world, Harry learns from the gargantuan Hagrid (Robbie Coltrane) that his parents were, in fact, wizards – making Harry a wizard himself. Harry is off to Hogwart's, a sort of St-Custard's-for-wizards-type English boarding school, pip-pip and ra-ra and all that. Needless to say, there's trouble afoot at Hogwart's, and Harry and his new best friends, goofy Ron (Rupert Grint) and brainy Hermione (Emma Watson), have to fend off the "bad wizard" and save the day.

For the adult who is not a fan of the franchise, Harry will certainly prove entertaining, but perhaps more than a little confusing. The need to keep the movie moderately trim – it is a kids' movie, after all – means that some crucial plot points are reduced to a single sentence of exposition, and some are skipped over all together. The movie still runs two-and-a-half hours, which is certainly long for a kids' flick, but the littlies certainly don't seem to mind, by all accounts staring rivetted at the screen for the duration, which makes this tempting holiday fare for the frazzled parent.

The tone and pace of the film is quite 'boppy' and upbeat: the somewhat darker tone of the books is not really reproduced by Chris Columbus (Home Alone). Terry Gilliam, of Brazil fame (or infamy) was apparently desperate to helm the project, and one can only imagine what his twisted vision would have done to the world of Hogwart's.

Columbus has done a more-than-servicable job, though, and his insistence on English actors in all the major roles, which supposedly won him the thumbs-up from author J K Rowling, pays off beautifully. The casting is certainly the highlight, with veteran Poms like show-stealing Coltrane, Richard Harris (as headmaster Albus Dumbledore), and Maggie Smith all fitting into their roles perfectly. The ever-wicked Alan Rickman is, as always, spot-on as Harry's nemesis, creepy potions teacher Severus Snape.

In this world of gratingly-sweet Hollywood child actors, who think that having big puppy-dog eyes is a substitute for being able to actually act, the kids in this movie are stunning. Radcliffe is very good, if not brilliant, but it's Grint and Watson who absolutely make this movie, turning in some of the best performances by children I can remember seeing in a film.

Some of the minor roles which added so much to the atmosphere of the book, like Hogwart's resident ghosts, fall a bit flat – John Cleese's role as Nearly Headless Nick, in particular, seems to grate, with more than a touch of "look, we've got John Cleese!", and frankly could have been left on the cutting-room floor with Rik Mayall's Peeves the Poltergeist, set to return in the next film.

The only other disappointment is that some of the computer-generated special effects seem a little low-rent for such a high-budget production. While there are some cracking scenes, like the airborne game of Quidditch (a sort of polo-on-broomsticks), some of the other effects – like Fluffy, the three-headed guard dog, and the troll which invades the school – look a little shoddy.

But while novices to Harry might be a little confused by the cracking pace, the existing fanbase will love it. For all the minor disappointments, it is about as faithful a movie adaptation as one could hope for from Hollywood. For Harry Fans, this movie is an easy 9; for those unfamiliar with the books, the disjointed story will keep it to a 7. For kids of all ages, fans or not, it's a 10 without even trying – so feel free to dump the kids at the flicks and get two-and-a-half hours of Christmas shopping in while you've got a chance.

mino gives this movie 9 out of 10.
Review created on Mon 10 Dec 2001

Movie review statistics

Ratings given without reviews:

Number of reviews: 1
Number of ratings: 3
Average rating: 7.67
Lowest rating: 6 (by em_fiction)
Highest rating: 9 (by mino)
 
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6 
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Reader comments

  1. the harry potter movie is one of the best movies in the world!!! (tagging along with it being lord of the rings!!)

    Rating given: 10

    A comment from bonnie on Mon 01 Sep 2003 15:56 #

  2. i love this movie but lotr has to be just as good!!!

    A comment from steph on Mon 01 Sep 2003 15:57 #

  3. hello i love bonnie and want to spend the rest of my life wif her!!! harry potter is cool too!!!

    Rating given: 10

    A comment from steph1 on Mon 01 Sep 2003 15:59 #

  4. Hey i think harry potter rox but lord of the rings is waaaayyy better!!!!!! I LOVE ORLANDO BLOOM 4 EVA!

    Rating given: 7

    A comment from Stephanie on Mon 01 Sep 2003 16:02 #

  5. hello i would just like to profess my love for bonnie as every1 else does and i love her so much and i am a lesbian!!! a lemon as some people would like to say!!! i hate harry!!!

    Rating given: 1

    A comment from sarah on Mon 01 Sep 2003 16:04 #

  6. i think that harry potter is the bestest in the whole wide world and i love him so much
    i luv you harry
    call me on 1800-Gays-R-Groovy

    A comment from Tim on Mon 01 Sep 2003 16:20 #

  7. hi tim i loved your letta
    mabey we could catch up some time
    Kiss Kiss Darling
    xoxoxoxox

    A comment from Simon on Mon 01 Sep 2003 16:21 #

  8. Harry Potter is an ingenious movie, cleverly created and full of suspense; however, if thoroughly and properly researched, one will find that the contents of HP are in fact geared towards witchcraft and other forms of dark evil and magic. NOT a childrens movie !

    Rating given: 5

    A comment from Elle Damaris on Tue 02 Dec 2003 14:26 #

  9. In every Harry Potter Series, I think "Harry Potter And The Chamber of Secrets" is much more better for me. 'Coz it's much more interesting and it's "adulting". The 3rd movie "Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban" is directed by a new director Alfonso Cauron, so the best place of that movie is Harry are getting much more strong and powerful as he could be. I'm proud of it.I'm gonna say,
    and Harry is my favorite! The fourth movie GOF is gonna released on November 2005 next year, so be free to wait! I can't wait to watch it, coz ive read my K-Zone Magazine, Harry is gonna have his first kiss with Cho Chang(Katie Leung), but of course I hope not!

    Rating given: 9

    A comment from Christine (http://groups.msn.com/harrypotteranddanielradcliffesworld) on Sun 03 Oct 2004 15:33 #

  10. If Harry and cho kiss, I would be so happy. I've been waiting for this. It will be better in a movie than in a book. I want to see the movie and read the 6th and 7th books badly!!!

    Rating given: 10

    A comment from Olivia Borer on Fri 25 Mar 2005 10:16 #

  11. I am just waiting for the movie and and 6th and 7th book forever!

    Rating given: 10

    A comment from Beth on Fri 25 Mar 2005 10:18 #

Those who have commented give this movie: 7.75 (8 ratings)

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