Hey folks, Harry here with our second look at HARRY POTTER & THE SORCERER'S STONE. This sounds like a wonderful film. Personally I can't wait to find out what a qweditch match does, bet it starts a big fire! Here ya go...
First off I (call me Cygnus X-2) would like to thank you for your wonderful, and informative site. I visit it everyday and I must say that you and the rest of the gang do a magnificent job. Keep up the good work.
I saw HARRY POTTER & THE SORCERER'S STONE a couple of days ago at a screening for film exhibitors.
I should preface my review with a little background about myself. I'm 34 years old, and work within the exhibition industry. I have read all 4 Harry Potter books, and love them all. In fact each succesive book just gets better and better (darker as well). Although these books are loved by millions of children, don't think these books are 'simple' or childish. They're not. In fact when reading the third and fourth books, I sat there reading them thinking 'these books are way too intense for kids'. so anyone who knocks the books should read them all, before making a judgement on them.
I should also tell you that the film I'm really looking forward to this season is Lord Of The Rings. I've loved Peter Jackson ever since I saw Bad Taste many years ago, and from the looks of things so far, his take on this classic is going to kick some serious ass.
All right, let's get back to HARRY POTTER.
ha-hem...just a little warning: SPOILERS AHEAD!!
The film is, well... excellent.
This film was an exciting two-and-a-half hour adventure (I know that sounds like a bad film-review-ad-quote, sorry). I loved it.
BUT...well I'll get to the 'but' bits later...
Let me first tell you what i liked about the film:
Dan Radcliffe does a great job as Harry. A big part of his job was to 'react' to the situations taking place all around him ('I'm a wizard?','My parents were murdered?!','There's a wizard school?', 'I'm famous?!' and so on). I'm amazed how much restraint he shows throuhg a lot of the time. I wasn't expecting De Niro or Olivier here and that's not what you get. For his age though, I was impressed. It will be interesting to see how Dan handles the next few films, where he will be acting more than re-acting.
Ron Weasley was great as well (don't remember the actor's name though).
The adults in the film all did a great job. Mr. Rickman has the most challenging of all the roles in portraying Proffesor Snape, a complex character, in that he is a 'good' wizard, but hates Harry Potter with a passion and treats him with such cruelty that it's ...well... truly disturbing. Rickman is exactly as I imagined Snape to be. He's intimidating, shrewd, cruel and truly scary when he talks quietly.
Robbie Coltrane does a bang on job as Rubeus 'mean looking giant who is actually a tender soul' Hagrid.
Richard Harris also does a good job as Headmaster Dumbledore. Harris brings out the wiser, fanciful and fatherly aspects of the character which is prevelant in this first film. More of the character is shown in the later books, but in this installment, Harris is perfect.
John Hurt does a cameo in this film which was fun watching. He doesn't play to many (if any) of these types of characters, and judging from his performance in this film, he should do more.
Plot-wise, this film follows the book almost to the letter. There are no major changes or ommisions from the book (except for the Norbert story-line). The changes that do take place (in regards to the story) didn't bother me at all.
You would think in a film like this (a guaranteed blockbuster), the filmakers would make sure that the plot moves along at the speed of light so they can cram in as much as possible, but they didn't do that. Don't get me wrong, this film moves by very quickly, but I was pleasantly surprised that there were some quieter and more reflective moments in the film. I know, all action films should have these 'down' times in them, but in this case, they actually serve a purpose (other than to let the viewer catch there breath) and they succeed. For example, the Mirror of Eressed (i think that's right) scenes...
If you've read the books, you know that this mirror has a profound effect on Harry, and that he needs to make a choice about how to deal with this mirror. I didn't think that the film would be able to translate what that mirror can do to people who look into it as effectively as it is done in the book (emotionaly anyway). Well, I was Wrong! It's not that there's any special effects involved with these scenes that would help us understand what this mirror does. It's just that Chris Columbus really does flesh out the emotions evoked by this mirror without visuals (except for the set designs). He just keeps it between the actors and the mirror. A very smart and mature move by Mr Columbus. One of my favourite scenes in the film is the scene where Harry is sitting in front of the mirror, just staring at it. You can almost feel what he's contemplating during this moment. (...happines, hope, despair...) . No effects, just...the actor and the furniture. Truly intense.
Kudos to Chris Columbus and the producers for treating these scenes with as much respect as the rest of the film. It would have been very easy for them to rush these scenes and concetrate on the effects, but they didn't. It shows that, wether they succeed or not, they will try to be honest to the spirit of the books.
The sets were incredible. There was never a scene which did not look interesting. The Dursley's home was suburbia-hell. Diagon Alley looked very Dickension, which is how I have pictured it, and Hogwarts had many facets to it. Lush and exquisite in its common areas and the great hall. Dark and grimy in it's dungeons, and quaint in its living quarters.
The special effects were quite good. The moving photos and paintings looked so good that hallfway through the film, you probably wont even think of them as effects.
The invisibility cloak was one of the more impressive effects. When Harry puts it on and takes it off, it looks ...well... right. This effect doesn't look flashy, but it's so effective, you may not even notice that it's an effect.
The Quidditch match Is friggin brilliant! One of my biggest concerns was how these kids would look flying around on a broom. I figured it could look really dorky if it's not handled right. I must say though, that it looks absolutely cool watching these kids fly around on their brooms. The game between Gryffindor and Slytherin i would dare say, ranks up there with the pod-race scene from Phantom Menace for the sheer adrenaline rush you get just from watching it.
I also loved the chess game during the climax of the film. You definately got the sense that this particular chess game is gonna have some serious ass-kicking going on.
John Williams music is great. Although that Hedwig theme is a little to prevalant. His best cue though, is during the final chess game. Brilliant...
..and now to the things which i did not like about the film...
The actor who portrayed Draco Malfoy was actually pretty bad. He just sounded and looked really cartoonish. Now in a film with so many young kids, I'm certainly not going to expect great things from everyone, so this isn't something that affected my overall enjoyment of this film.
The actress who played Hermione was OK, but not as good as the actors who play Harry and Ron.
Like I said above, I was very happy about the translation of the film from the book. There was only one thing that dissappointed me.
The humour in the film definately doesn't match what is in the book. Except for a few lines mentioned by Ron, and Hagrid, most of the one-liners were lame and seemed forced. There are many times in the book (all the books actually) where while reading, I laugh out loud. I don't mean giggle, or chuckle, I mean laugh-my-ass-off! This doesn't happen in the film at all and one of the reasons is ...FRED and GEORGE WEASLEY. Where the hell are they in the film ?!!!! Oh sure they've got some screen time, but not nearly as much as they deserve. Their 'toilet seat' gift isn't even mentioned in the film. All i can say is, That's A Classic!
I was impressed with a lot of the effects in the film, but not all. I was dissappointed with most of the cgi stuff. I mean, it looked good, but it still looked like cgi, not like it actually fit withing the live action stuff. For example, the centaur was as bad as the scorpion king in The Mummy Returns (and that was really bad!).
OK, enough nitpicking about the film.
I'm sure there's a lot of stuff about the film I haven't mentioned (and I'm sure I'll remember it all as soon as i click on the send button, oh well...) but, overall, this is one of the most enjoyable films I've seen this year. It certainly surpassed all the garbage we had to suffer through this past summer. This film will definately make a shitload of cash for Warner Bros.(until, of course, LOTR pummels it to the ground, he-he...). It's a great start for this franchise, and things will only get better if they stick to the spirit of the books (ie they better not sugar-coat the dark and disturbing aspects of the third and fourth books).
...and one final reminder to the film-makers. FRED and GEORGE WEASLEY RULE!!
Thanks, and see ya...