Let the magic begin.
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone is a 2001 fantasy film directed by Christopher Columbus, written by Steve Kloves, produced by Warner Bros. Pictures, Heyday Films, and 1492 Pictures, and distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures. The film is based on J.K. Rowling's 1997 novel, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. It stars Daniel Radcliffe and Rupert Grint. It was nominated for Best Set Design, Best Costume Design, and Best Original Score. This is the first film in the Harry Potter franchise, which consists of eight films with an additional two spin-offs. It is followed by Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.
"You're a wizard, Harry." -Rubeus Hagrid
When young Harry Potter gets a mysterious letter that tells him he has been accepted to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, he is ecstatic to leave his boring and often abusive life with his aunt and uncle. As Harry unravels the adventures of the wizarding world, he becomes friends with Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger. Together, the three of them try to solve the mystery of the sorcerer's stone.
First off, I think the Harry Potter franchise is one of the most fun and creative worlds to go to. It all kicks off in this movie, as we are as new to the Wizarding World as Harry is. There are so many cool things that you see in this movie and the rest of them, like Diagon Alley or the enchanted ceiling at Hogwarts or wizard's chess. They do an amazing job of world-building throughout the series, but it is the best in Sorcerer's Stone, because they have to introduce everything.
The movie also stays very true to the book. Now, I know that that isn't always necessarily a good thing, but the Harry Potter books are some of the greatest series' of books ever. The translation from the book to the screen is so parallel and perfect that it is almost impossible for fans of the book to dislike the movies. They literally bring the book to life perfectly.
The characters are great. This is one of those groups of heroes that everyone knows. Harry Potter is one of the most popular protagonists in pop culture, and this is his rise to fame. While Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger may not be as well known, they are still pretty famous. This trio of kids that fights evil in a wizarding world is such a great idea, so kudos to J.K. Rowling and her incredible imagination. While Lord Voldemort is not very present in this film, he is still a great villain. His rasping, bone-chilling voice fits his snake-like appearance, and he is made even creepier by being stuck on the back of Professor Quirrell's head. The ensemble of characters are still household names. Albus Dumbledore as Harry Potter's Merlin is one of the best mentor figures in movies. Draco Malfoy as the snooty bully is a formidable nemesis for Harry. Severus Snape is the drawling and suspicious anti-hero. He's always been one of my favorite characters in the franchise, because sometimes you root for him, and sometimes you don't. Rubeus Hagrid is the rambling buffoon that can't keep his mouth shut, but they make him funny and likable in this, so he doesn't just seem like an idiot.
The story is pretty good. It is relatively simple compared to the other books and films, because it has a much smaller scale than the later books do. This film is really just about the kids trying to foil a robbery. They know that somebody wants to steal the stone, so they act on it. They do a good job of making this movie dark and foreboding to set the tone for the rest of the series while also making sure that it can work for all ages. The movie's main plot line is about the stone heist, but the film doesn't really focus on that until the second half of the movie. They really make sure that you get to know the characters and the setting. Like I said before, world-building.
The acting is okay. I mean, the three main actors were ages 10 and 11 when acting in this. And they had very big roles. They are still surprisingly good for their age. Look, it isn't fantastic, but there are more positives than negatives. Sure, each line is clearly scripted and doesn't always have the most organic delivery, but it isn't a monotonous and boring performance from any of them. While none of the acting is outstanding, the casting is still astonishing. They got actors that are the characters in the book. Daniel Radcliffe is Harry Potter. Robbie Coltrane is Rubeus Hagrid. Maggie Smith is Minerva McGonagall. Alan Rickman is Severus Snape. The people who casted this film nailed it, and it makes the movie pop on screen.
The score is also amazing. John Williams is obviously the best film composer of all time, and he brings his A-game in this film. Hedwig's theme is a classic, and joins Star Wars and Indiana Jones and Jaws in some of his best themes ever. While that may be the most recognizable and best of the score, some of the other songs fit the scenes like a puzzle piece. It isn't just one song that makes the music in the film great. It's all of them.
Finally, the design in this film is breathtaking. These are some of the best sets, costumes, and practical effects I have seen since Star Wars. The Hogwarts model is the best of the best. If you ever get a chance to, go see it in London. It is one of the coolest movie models ever made. Diagon Alley, the Forbidden Forest, and the Hogwarts halls are all incredibly, incredibly cool. The practical effects are great. The best is the third act in the trapdoor, with the devil's snare and wizard's chess. The crew that designed this should be recognized for some of the best design that I have ever seen.
Unfortunately, I don't think that the script in this movie is particularly good. The dialogue is childish and immature at certain points, and they have a good fifteen lines that are the characters describing something that is right in front of them. I think that the writing lowers my liking of the acting. Sometimes, the actors will say a line that doesn't sound completely right, and it will feel like an out of key note in a song. It makes you cringe and you think "Oh, boy. That did not sound great.".
I think that the final stand-off between Harry and Quirrell is underwhelming, to say the least. It isn't entirely the fault of the movie, as it was the one thing that I thought didn't translate great to the big screen. The entire thing with getting the stone from the Mirror of Erised was a little bit too confusing and complex for a five minute scene. To rebound off of that, I think that the scene could've been longer. It feels like a very quick pay-off to two hours of build-up. They could've done some more with the stone and with Voldemort, even though that didn't exactly happen in the book.
The effects are also very 2000s. They are clearly computer-generated and you can tell the difference between practical effects (which look cool) and CGI (which does not look cool). The troll is the worst of the bunch, as he just looks like he's out of some modern video game, especially when he's swinging around a club and getting a wand stuck up his nose.
There are also some plot holes and inconsistencies in this. Back to the troll, it doesn't make sense that Harry and Ron would be able to defeat it with a simple spell that seemingly anyone could've done. If the Forbidden Forest is so dangerous, why let Draco and Harry roam it alone? What did the dragon have to do with anything in the rest of the film? Once again, not entirely the movie's fault, because it did originate from the book, but it was still ultimately their choice to use those scenes and stories or not.
Despite a bad script, an underwhelming finale, some spotty visuals, and plot holes, Sorcerer's Stone gives us an amazing world, story, and characters that we know and love to this day.
I will give it a Savory rating. Age range is 7+.
SWEET N' SOUR SCALE
Sweet (Great) Savory (Good) Sour (Bad)
"Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone"
Fun Factor: 8.5/10
Directed by Christopher Columbus
Released on November 16, 2001
Rated PG for some scary moments and mild language
2 hours and 32 minutes
Daniel Radcliffe as Harry Potter
Rupert Grint as Ron Weasley
Emma Watson as Hermione Granger
Robbie Coltrane as Rubeus Hagrid
Maggie Smith as Professor Minerva McGonagall
Tom Felton as Draco Malfoy
Richard Harris as Professor Albus Dumbledore
Alan Rickman as Professor Severus Snape
Ian Hart as Professor Quirinus Quirrell
Richard Bremmer as Lord Voldemort
Matthew Lewis as Neville Longbottom