152 Min. | Adventure – Family – Fantasy | November 2001
IMDB Rating: 7.5
Director: Chris Columbus
Staring: Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Richard Harris
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone Review: We live in a world where economics is hard. This forces practical limitations when making a movie. Time and money are sadly finite, cinema owners need to be pleased as well as fans and computer animation ain’t perfect. Given these limitations, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, is about as close to human perfection as it is possible to achieve. However, it’s extremely clear what an immense challenge it is to turn Philosopher’s Stone from book to film. Two and a half hours is not long to explore a wonderful, magical world. Furthermore, the directors have bowed to the inevitable temptation to show us things that cannot be communicated so effectively in a book. The consequence is the feeling of a slightly breathless sprint in places.
The humour of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, is inevitably more visual than that of the book, no belly laughs, but a lot of smiles. Some punchlines have changed, but the reasons why the jokes are funny remain the same. Not knowing exactly what’s coming next is a good thing! It’s all kept tasteful, classy and above the belt, there’s nothing to cringe about. The voice acting is almost uniformly brilliant. However, there are occasions where some of the actors are required to convey high emotions and are only given a second or two of face shot, or head-and-shoulders shot, to do so. This isn’t as much freedom as they need and they fall a little short. The blame here must fall on the decision to give the actors too much to do too quickly, not on the actors themselves. Other than these rare jarring instances, the physical acting is frequently excellent and seldom less than completely adequate, judged against the highest of targets set by the book’s clear emotion descriptions.
The feel of the whole movie is everything fans could have hoped for. The dialogue is intensely measured, the colouring is suitably epic, the selection of what to leave in is really tightly considered. You get chills in your spine at the right places, you feel the triumphs as all-encompassing endorphin highs. It’s clear that the production have thought long, hard and lovingly. They are true fans of the story, they are the right people for the job, it all bodes very well for the second film. So it could never have been the film that the hyper-literalists were hoping for, then, but it is as good as the practicalities of the real world could possibly permit. Don’t expect miracles and you’ll love it. I look forward to watching Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone again and again.