Harry Potter has lived under the stairs at his aunt and uncle's house his whole life. But on his 11th birthday, he learns he's a powerful wizard -- with a place waiting for him at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. As he learns to harness his newfound powers with the help of the school's kindly headmaster, Harry uncovers the truth about his parents' deaths -- and about the villain who's to blame.
Ahh, the magic begins.
Harry Potter is an Orphan who on his eleventh birthday discovers he's a wizard and is called to term at Hogwarts School. But Harry is soon to find out that his past, and his destiny, is a truly remarkable, magical, and terrifying thing.
Harry Potter And The Philosopher's Stone arrived in a blaze of publicity, one of the most hyped and talked about motion pictures of the decade had finally arrived. The box office was guaranteed to bulge based on fandom book base alone, regardless of if the film got bad word of mouth or not, it was destined to be a monster smash hit. To someone like me who to this day has never read any of the Harry Potter books, it was easy for me to view objectively without comparison to the source - I enjoyed it immensely upon theatre release, and I still enjoy it equally as much now.
Director Christopher Columbus, I believe has wisely stayed loyal to the source material, and thus pleased the literature masses. Yet not all newcomers to the party were that taken by the magic on show, that's a little baffling to me because the budget explodes from the screen at every turn. Oliver Twist like sets form the marvellous Diagon Alley, dream like smoke cloaks the splendid Hogwarts Express, the school itself is a monolithic delight nestling in among eerie mountains - and what about the exhilarating introduction of Quidditch? Pulsating and frantic with no amount of devilment to keep us intrigued throughout.
The characters are all perfectly formed in the first two thirds of the film, here Columbus pulls off a masterstroke by interjecting the character arcs with dashes of wonder so that we the audience never gets bored. The final reel plays out solidly as per the mysterious "who done it" core of the piece, but it's down to the previous work in the film that we actually care come the finale. Some great casting of the adults really helps to make the film triumph, with Maggie Smith, Robbie Coltrane (one of the best casting jobs of the decade I would say), Richard Harris, Alan Rickman and Zoe Wanamaker all doing excellent work here. The kids are all newcomers that overnight were to become household names, all fresh faced and wet behind the ears, Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint & Tom Felton are a delight to watch, and they all help to keep the feeling of charm constantly glowing up on the screen.
Owls here, witches there, what's that strange three headed dog doing over there? The Harry Potter franchise begins with a bang and a whip of the wand, and I and gazillions of others personally love it. 8/10
Warner Bros. Pictures, Heyday Films, 1492 Pictures by Chris Columbus, J.K. Rowling, Steve Kloves.
Stars: Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Richard Harris.
Genres: Adventure, Family, Fantasy
Keywords: witch based on novel or book christmas party magic school friend halloween child hero chosen one friendship school fantasy world wizard based on young adult novel
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