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Dan Brecher

Senior HTF Member
Jan 8, 1999
Real Name

My following review contains minor spoilers talked about openly, I'm sorry I can't review it without doing so and I don't want to litter my post with ugly black tag after ugly black tag. That said, bigger spoiler material WILL be hidden via spoiler tags.


Ok, so here we go then, after a seemingly endless wait, last night I popped into London with the family for a screening of Harry Potter at the Odeon Leicester Square. The movie premiered there last Sunday, sadly gone was the giant Hogwarts banner that graced the front of the building last weekend, but remaining was the electric atmosphere of them Potter fans, young and old, waiting outside in the cold for the doors to open.
It was a 9:45pm showing, there were probably no more than 100 children. I was interested to see the ratio of young girls to boys there, it sort of re-confirmed my feelings that with the young audience the adventures of Potter are perhaps that little bit more popular with the chaps where as with the adult fans it seems the opposite.
I'll come right out with it and say that, if you've read the book, you're likely to find the beginning of the movie extremely lacking in its attempt to set the scene. Whilst the scene where Dumbledore and McGonagall await Hagrid's arrival with baby Harry on Privet Drive remains just as delightful as it reads in the novel, what follows is unfortunately subject of really awkward pacing and editing.
Unlike the book, there is little set up as to who the Dursleys are. From baby Harry on the doorstep we go straight to Harry in the cupboard under the stairs, no set up whatsoever of his relationship (or lack of rather) with the family and why they detest him so much. This is the first time the movie makes the SERIOUS assumption that all who are watching have read the book. The action moves quickly (VERY quickly) to the Zoo scene and soon enough we find ourselves in the cabin where Hagrid returns for Harry at which point anyone new to the world of Potter WILL finally get the Dursleys relation to the boy.
I know what you may be thinking, it sounds like I don't like the start at all. I do! Let me tell you that despite these pacing issues in seeing the first couple of chapters hacked away so much, the start of the movie still set up a feeling which I would get many times later on in the movie, the immense feeling of joy in seeing sections of the book come to life (having pictured them in my mind so many times). When the letters flood the Durseleys house I got goose pimples! John Williams' score soars as envelopes flood in through the letterbox in the door. I could not help but smile...
The bulk of Philosopher's stone is strong. As the action moves to the school the editing takes us from lesson to lesson quickly. A little too quickly? Actually no, the pacing here exploring their numerous lessons (charms, potions, flying and so forth) is well executed. Indeed, where the movie lets itself down is that, and I have to quote Time Magazine here, for the most part the movie plays out like a "best of" the novel. To an extent, this is no bad thing, but basically the movie serves to be a string of the key moments from the novel lacking in the good character and story development that came in between such sequences in the book. Come the film's end you really can feel the pressure Chris Columbus was under to cut this movie down, you can sense it in many scenes.
The children are delightful, Ruper Grint (Ron) and Emma Watson especially (Hermione). Radliffe performs well as Harry, despite his delivery of dialogue being somewhat wooden now and again. This can be said for the trio as a whole from time to time, but more so in Radcliffe's case. As the movies grow, so will he and I see great things coming from his performances in future Potter adventures.
The key adult cast, whilst getting little screen time, obviously deliver as you'd expect the likes of Maggie Smith, Richard Harris and Alan Rickman to. Robbie Coltrane is a magnificent Hagrid, absolutely perfect and subject to some dazzling visual trickery in making him look so huge.
Going back to the lack of character development the movie carries from time to time, this hurts the characters in many cases, and I will use Snape as the prime example. Snape in the novels detests Harry, he has a real dislike for the boy which is really never touched upon in the movie and this leads to, what I feel, to be a truly upsetting deletion of dialogue at the end:
Spoiler:In the novel when Dumbledore visits Harry in his hospital bed at the end, Harry asks why Snape dislikes him so much. In the chapter before even, Quirrel alludes to the fact Snape and Harry's father were at school together (this reference is gone in the film) which leades Dumbledore to tell Harry about how his father saved Snape's life, and how resentful Snape was of this.
The absence of this background to Snape in the movie does some damage and I'll admit right out I am upset with this omission. Next to this, perhaps the only other major upset in relation to character progression is that in the movie, Harry never even names Hedwig or brews the strong bond the two have in the books.
At the end, there's just not enough time. This movie COULD have been ten minutes longer fixing the main faults with Harry's place in the Dursley household and the extra length would not have done any damage whatsoever. Time magazine said the movie lacked the magic, I don't agree. It has the magic, just lacks the mystery of the novel.
Spoiler:The revelation the hidden antagonist is Quirrel is, in the movie, not even a real revelation. From time to time the camera is left to linger on Quirrel (an excellent performance from Ian Hart I should add) early in the movie giving the assumption there is more to the man than meets the eye, and because the movie gives so little screentime to Snape who's position in the first book was to essentially serve as a red herring to the reader making them think he is the villain, you're kind of left a little underwhelmed at the climax of the film. Harry runs down the steps, and oh, there's Quirrel, no build up at all in seeing who's really behind it all which was a great shame.
Some careful cutaways to a figure in the shadows before bringing Quirrel into the light would have worked a treat, but again the movie assumes you've read the book and know this is coming...
For what it's worth, Voldermort's appearance in the back of Quirrels head, and Quirrels subsequent demise is well executed and just as scary as I always pictured it (Quirrel's actual death differs somewhat in the movie with a terrifying effect reminding me of a key sequence from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade).

I'll tell you now, for a 2hr and 32 minute movie there was not a single peep out of a child in that auditorium last night, and this screening didn't finish until around 11:45pm. The adults were more restless. Kids are going to adore every frame of it and be demanding more.
A roar of applause came at the film's start, and once again at the finish. Deserved? Yes, again I would think so, and yes I feel that whilst it will likely seem flawed to anyone regardless of whether they've read the book or not, the success the movie is about to have is deserved.
Columbus has done a good job bringing the main aspects of the book to life. I've mentioned this is the biggest thrill in seeing the movie for me, and it is by far. The Quidditch match is violent and fast passed, if a little marred by one CGI person too many... This effect is used a fair bit in the film, and the blend from a live actor suddenly into a CG actor is often flawed visually. You'll notice it as the broom takes Neville for a ride, when Harry battles a certain Troll and in the aforementioned Quidditch match.
On the whole it's a visually pleasing movie. Watching the credits will reveal a whole slew of a effects teams who worked on the film from Sony, to ILM, right through to Cinesite (and beyond), this unfortunately leads to some inconsistency in the special effects, but for the most part the slightly unnatural look of some of the CG and blue/green screen effects works in the movies favor.
In writing, Steven Kloves has done a faithful adaptation. There is no reason to doubt his written draft was even more faithful to the novel then the final cut is, but again, despite the scenes the movie had to drop due to time, Columbus still manages to deliver the charm and magic of the book and I applaud him for it, but may feel the need to prod him with a rather sharp stick for not pushing Warner to let him bring it in at 2hrs 40, as some ten more minutes could have made a real difference in helping forward character relationships and backgrounds for the benefit of those new to Potter if anything. I can't help but feel those who have not read the book may simply come out a little confused because the film drops so much of the book's (well executed) exposition at the end describing why things happened the way they did and so on.
I'll applause Columbus and Kloves again for not straying from the darker aspects of the book. You know Who's appearance is spot on and down right creepy, and they've gone as far as to add their own dark touches:
Spoiler:...in one flashback sequence we see the hooded figure of Voldemort outside on the street by the Potters home. This in turn moves into a terrifying montage showing Lily Potter running with Harry in her arms before being murdered then and there on screen before us, a shot which then sees the evil figure facing baby Harry before giving him that scar.
Should they ever go to do all 7 films, I'd want Columbus and Kloves to remain in their position. They've set up a look and feel that deserves to remain consistent throughout the sequels. All I hope is that one thing, the box office takings for Philosopher's Stone at the length it is will open Warner's eyes in seeing that they could alow the sequels to be just as long, if not longer and that Warner themselves actually KNOW what they've got here. Right now, in my eyes, Warner have bought a franchise, not a story. They need to embrace it for what it is before embracing it for what it's worth...
Final score then? It'd be three if it were not for the the fact that even with its flaws I found myself with this giant grin stretching ear to ear on my face for the whole thing regardless. In that regard...

Dan (UK)
[Edited last by Dan Brecher on November 11, 2001 at 01:04 PM]

Robert Crawford

Senior HTF Member
Dec 9, 1998
Real Name
This thread is now the Official Review Thread for "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone". Please post all HTF member reviews in this thread. Any other comments, links to other reviews, or discussion items will be deleted from this thread without warning! If you need to discuss those type of issues, I have designated an Official Discussion Thread which can be found at this link .
Again, without warning, I will delete all posts that are not a HTF member review!
Thank you for your consideration in this matter.
Peter Staddon: "I didn't say you can put 'Monkeybone' back!"
[Edited last by Robert Crawford on November 11, 2001 at 01:59 PM]

Mark Pfeiffer

Jun 27, 1999
Some good thoughts about this. I went to the preview today (one of the benefits of being a critic), although I had to arrive more than an hour before the screening to assure myself of a seat.
I've read all four books, and I do think that they have been fairly faithful to it. Right now I don't feel quite as high on it as Dan, but we'll see what I think after I've had more time to absorb it. I'd put it at
out of four, but I suppose I'm also slightly disappointed. My general criticism would be that the film justifiably feels the need to cram everything in, but the character and relationship development suffers from it. I think it probably plays better already familiar with the material. There is so much exposition that sometimes it seems to go to thinly connected threads.
There are parts where things looked very close to how I imagined, and this is probably what most people are really curious about. Still chewing on an overall impression but early thoughts are only marginally favorable...
Read my reviews at www.dvdmon.com
Most recent reviews: Bridget Jones's Diary, Withnail and I: The Criterion Collection

Ronald Epstein

Senior HTF Member
Jul 3, 1997
Real Name
Ronald Epstein
Excellent review, Dan!
This brings me back to my old argument that
you should not read the books prior to watching
the movie (though in this case, it is unavoidable
for most).
Naturally, a movie can NEVER fully live up to
the length of a book, nor the imagination one
derives from reading the book.
I may be wrong, Dan, but it seems everything that
disappointed you about this movie was based upon
something that was omitted from book to film.
I, on the other hand, saw this film without any
knowledge of the book. I was thoroughly entertained
(a five-star review) and thus, now I am going to
read the book. At that point, I am sure I'll find
out many things that the movie just could not explore.
It's just my opinion that people who read books
before watching a film ARE going to be disappointed.
You can't fit hundreds of pages of book into the
2-2.5 hours of movie.
And, the reason why you figured out the ending
(see your spoiler) is because perhaps you knew
already and were looking for it. I, on the other
hand, was completely surprised.
I would guess, however, that the film did capture
the overall essence of Harry Potter, and thus, it
should hit well with all the fans.
Again, Dan, a stellar review!

Ronald Epstein (pronounced like the English "Ronald Epstein")
Circa 2000
Home Theater Forum Administrator
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Duncan Harvey

Stunt Coordinator
Mar 27, 2000
Never read the books before seeing a film... thats a bit of a bizarre statement. Notwithstanding the sheer enjoyment from reading the HP books, you'll be denying yourself some great works of art if you apply that rule in a blanket fashion...
I think its clear though that the Potter film works on both levels - ie those who've read and those who havent read the books. As I'm quite familiar with the books, inevitably I tended to notice what hadnt been included, but with the exception of Peeves, I cant say that any ommisions hurt the film.
I do hope that they include an extended cut on the eventual DVD or at least the deleted scenes. The journey to Harrys bank vault at Gringotts seemed a little trimmed as well.
Overall though - an excellent, enjoyable adventure for the whole family - and therein lies the road to box office riches.
Very good casting, and the three child leads were a delight.
One question though - whilst they will have filmed scenes twice to accomodate the philosophers/sorcerors stone differences - does Ron say "ass" in the American version instead of the traditionally British "arse!"

Mark Palermo

Second Unit
Jun 28, 2000
There’s plenty of wowing imagery, flashes of imagination and epic-scale posturing in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, but the movie is never really alive. Director Chris Columbus (Home Alone) reigns the first installment of J.K. Rowling’s literary phenomenon, tracing orphan Harry’s (Daniel Radliffe) immigration and adventure at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Radcliffe can’t be blamed for the banality of Potter’s portrayal. In the books, he functions as a passageway through which the reader can experience the story’s events. On film, he’s a cinder block. Worse, Columbus neglects to significantly imbue the events so that they’re impactful for those who aren’t familiar with Rowling’s book. Like the Ewok TV movies of the mid 80s, Harry Potter meaninglessly shoestrings a new fantastical event with every scene. From dueling chess pieces, to floating pumpkins, to a judgemental hat, it’s two and a half hours of one gadget lined up after another. Not only does it lack subtext (unless one reads into its promotion of scholastic competitiveness), it lacks context. Everything that works–the fine supporting performances by Alan Rickman and Richard Harris, John Williams’ evocative score, the magic authenticity of Hogwarts’ design–is disserviced by Columbus’s flat-direction, and a screenplay that’s unable to make relentless exposition feel like anything but relentless exposition. During the one instance where Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone comes close to developing an emotional core, our hero sits transfixed in front of a mirror which shows him his impossible dream of living together again with his parents. Isolated in its potency, the scene pinpoints what’s wrong with the rest of the film–reinforcing that fantasy is a boring thing when it reflects only itself.

Tyler Ruggeri

Stunt Coordinator
Feb 22, 1999
Ron is exactly right, and I suppose that with most of us here on HTF being more into films than books it makes sense to see the film before reading the book, although for most it would be the other way around. It seems to me that most of the critics are mixed to positive on the film and can only really find fault with what is missing or different from the book.
That said, having read the book I believe that the filmmakers did a wonderful job transferring it to the screen. More things from the novel got into the film than in any other adaptation I could think of. Some critics say the film gets most of the book's events in but lacks its spirit. However, if it were the other way around, people would say, "Well, they got the tone right, but what about this, this, and this?"
I found the film stunning and spectacular, and as previously mentioned, I have read the book. The other criticism I disagree with is that John Williams's score is bombastic and overused. While I agree the main theme does repeat itself quite often, I love the score and think it is one of his best (the other Williams score I find it comparative to is Home Alone, another fine work). In short, Harry Potter is one amazing theatrical experience that I can't wait to see again. I'd rate it **** out of ****.
Tyler Ruggeri

Keith Yatsuhashi

Stunt Coordinator
Jun 30, 1997
Post Edited by Administrator-This is the Official Review Thread!
Regarding the movie, well.....I'm not getting into the book v. the movie bit here because the movie is very faithful. I still found that there was something missing. I just can't put my finger on it. It's almost as if some spark wasn't there. Maybe is was Williams' bombastic score (why couldn't it have been as haunting as A.I.'s score). The music reminded me too much of a cross between Batman and the Hook. I was also put off by the FX. I know alot of people here just hate CGI. I'll state for the record that I'm not one of them. But, in HP, the CG was distractingly noticeable. You'd think that such a high profile movie would have top notch FX work. Did I like the movie....yes and no. It was good, but not as good as I hoped, which is wierd because I'm one of those people who hates it when a movie takes liberties from the books; and HP is very, very close to the book. I'm at a loss to explain that one.
[Edited last by Robert Crawford on November 17, 2001 at 01:37 AM]

Andy Sheets

Senior HTF Member
Aug 6, 2000
Post Edited by Administrator-This is the Official Review Thread!
Just saw Harry Potter a little while ago. It's funny. The movie felt like it started slowly, and I thought I could understand the criticism of Columbus's direction, but yet the movie just got better as it went along and by the end I was very much enjoying it (I have read the book, btw). I think maybe it's really the source material. So much of the story is concerned with simply introducing the characters and moving along in an episodic manner that the real plot doesn't fully emerge until relatively late in the story. I think this is easier to notice in a film, where the story in a blockbuster movie is usually expected to move along quickly, than a book, where a leisurely pace is easier to accept. And despite the abundant CGI, it really is a more old fashioned movie in its tone and approach to the subject matter. Not like most films today in which everything is EXPLOSIVE, BABY! It's more subdued, except for some notable set pieces.
So, yeah, I think it's a good flick. I could probably see it again :)
[Edited last by Robert Crawford on November 17, 2001 at 01:39 AM]

Edwin Pereyra

Senior HTF Member
Oct 26, 1998
I offer the following comments before reading any full reviews.
Book to film adaptations are often faced with two possible challenges: (1) the film adaptation stays very close to the source material or (2) the film takes certain liberties from it. Those who are avid fans of the book will no doubt prefer the former while those who thought that the material was not especially that strong to begin with, might elect for the latter approach. Even with the film remaining so faithful to the book, there will still be those who will no doubt criticize the filmmakers for being afraid of deviating from the source material or failing to inject their own creativity, interpretation and imagination.
Faced with such a dilemma, it appears that Chris Columbus is in a no-win situation. Such were the challenges of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. Even before the film rights were sold, there were doubts whether any director will be able to successfully adapt the book onto the big screen. But the only way to judge this film is to view it on its own merits.
For all you muggles (non-magic folks) who have not kept track about the film’s storyline, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone is an adaptation of the first of seven scheduled novels from author J.K. Rowling. It tells the story of Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe), a boy who learns on his eleventh birthday that he is the orphaned son of two powerful wizards and possesses unique magical powers of his own. He is summoned from his life as an unwanted child to become a student at Hogwarts, an English boarding school for wizards. There, he meets several friends including Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint) and Hermoine Granger (Emma Watson), who become his closest allies and help him discover the truth about his parents’ mysterious deaths at the hands of a powerful adversary.
The film is not without flaws. I hate to say this but one of the problems I had with the film was with Radcliffe. As the film’s central character he had a lot to carry on his shoulders. Unfortunately, he is not a strong child actor to handle such a multi-dimensional character. The emotions just weren’t there – from his mannerisms to his facial expressions. (I wonder what Haley Joel Osment would have done as the young Potter). In addition, the editing was choppy throughout the entire film. The graceful transition from one scene to the next was absent. There was little fluidity. Everything felt rushed. This might be due to Columbus trying to cram so much material into a 2 ½ hour time period.
There is also the problem in which Columbus handles the underlying narrative. The film is about Harry Potter and the character is in almost every scene. But Chris Columbus is unable to bring us inside his head. For the most part, the audience is left out as to what Harry really feels or what he truly thinks. There is an artificial gap that is created between the audience and Potter. We are unable to fully connect and identify with him – his tribulations and predicaments along with his victories.
Furthermore, while John Williams score was good, there were times when it was blaring and did not fit certain scenes. A subtle and subdued score in certain scenes would have been a more appropriate approach.
The rest of the cast, which includes Richard Harris (Professor Albus Dumbledore), Maggie Smith (Professor Minerva McGonagall), Alan Rickman (Professor Severus), Snape), Ian Hart (Professor Quirrell), Robbie Coltrane (Rubeus Hagrid), Warwick Davis (Professor Flitwick) and Zoe Wanamaker (Madam Hooch) were all good. But keep in mind that with the exception of Hagrid, most of them played secondary characters and had very limited screen time. Rupert Grint and Emma Watson were both delightful in their roles.
Finally, a few words about the book to film adaptation with some possible spoilers.
The final scene at Hogwarts was supposed to be a cause for celebration - an exciting and uplifting finale in its own way. This is one of the reasons I thought the book was especially strong because, early on, it laid the groundwork for the rivalry between the four boarding schools in detail. In addition, Draco Malfoy’s character as a bully, who is on his way to become the evil wizard, was also well established. Both of these elements were seriously downplayed in the film making that victory celebration scene a little bit of a disappointment. In addition, the strong bond between Potter and Hagrid was noticeably missing in the film. It is as if Columbus thought that most of the film’s audience will be familiar with the storyline and any short cuts taken with the film’s plot points will ultimately be forgiven or excused.
Now back to the picture. The film definitely has its moments namely, the quidditch game, Harry’s first flying class, the sorting hat ceremony and the final climactic scenes. The costumes, sets and special effects were all fitting. But while I found Harry Potter and The Sorcerer’s Stone to be good, it lacks the magic and exuberance needed to propel it into a great fantasy and action/adventure film. It is a visual delight in many ways but comes short in inspiring us emotionally.
(out of four)

Book To Film Adaptation:

http://www.hometheaterforum.com/uub/Forum9/HTML/005780.html#8 http://www.hometheaterforum.com/uub/Forum9/HTML/006466.html


Senior HTF Member
Dec 19, 1998
I'm in basic agreement with Edwin's review. I don't think it's a great film as a film, mainly because I suspect Columbus isn't a great director. I think a great director could have handled the difficult balancing act and given it that extra cinematic oomph.
Nevertheless, it's a very good film because it's a faithful adaptation of a wonderful story, and I was entranced to see it come to life. I wasn't disappointed in any of the FX. I saw it at the Village in Westwood, considered by many to be the best theater in LA. The experience was a joy--razor sharp, pristine print, and awesome sound system (it's regularly checked by studio types). Good demographics in the crowd--whole families, as well as teenagers and middle aged and older folks.

Jason Whyte

Jun 3, 1999
Link Removed
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
Directed by Chris Columbus
Screenplay by Steve Kloves, Based on the novel by J.K. Rowling
Theatrical Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
Length: 149 minutes
Studio: Warner Brothers
Rating: **** out of ****
Sometimes, no matter how old you are, there's a part of you that thirsts for that feeling of being a kid again. The imagination and free spirit that you want back. For some, they watch their children play school sports. Others go to Disneyland. Me, I go to the cinema, and witness miracles like this film. (And, for the record, I have been to Disneyland)
I watched "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone" with absolute delight. This is a major studio film that finally does it right; by joining old storytelling ideals with new filmmaking techniques, "Harry Potter" achieves a timelessness to it that will make it a family classic for years to come. That, and it's just a whole lot of fun.
The film nicely adapts J.K. Rowling's novel about Harry Potter, a young boy who is led to believe his parents died in a car crash, but discovers his parents were legendary wizards, thus making him one as well. With this information, "The Boy Who Lived" is summoned to a wizardy school known as Hogwarts to learn the tricks of the trade, making friends with fellow wizards Ronald Weasley (Rupert Grint) and Hermione Granger (Emma Watson), getting involved in a game called Quidditch, and into many adventures, particularily the Philosopher's Stone of the film's title.
All of this is fascinating material, and Columbus, with cinematographer John Seale and a top team of art directors, breathe so much life out of Rowling's words. The effects in the film are wonderful, if a little over computer generated at times, yet so unique you wish you could reach in, grab a live chess piece or a floating candle and take it home with you. And the sheer audacity of the Quiddituch sequence, the live-chess game and a troll battle are all memorable cinematic moments.
Harry Potter is wonderfully played by Daniel Radcliffe, who looks somewhat like a little bespectacled, slightly chubbier Alec Baldwin. At only 12, he convincingly plays the spirit and freedom of an eager young child who suddenly has all this news crashing down on him. Rupert Grint makes a good match for Harry as Ron, who reminded me of the clumsiness and scaredy-cat characteristics of Chuckie in "Rugrats." And Emma Watson is particularily interesting as Hermoine, an independent little girl who knows her magic well. And as a nice touch, these young ones are credited over John Cleese, Maggie Smith, Robbie Coltrane, Ian Hart and Alan Rickman, all of whom are so much fun to watch in their supporting roles.
Who knew that such a wonderful and colorful family film could be directed by none other than Chris Columbus, he of the "Home Alone" disasters, many Robin Williams clunkers and weepy dramas ("Stepmom") that never take a chance? Here he comes crashing out of the gate with a sense of style and freedom that is lacking in so many Hollywood films these days. It may be the pen of J.K. Rowling that got the project going, but his adaption is visionary.
I read "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone" last week and couldn't put it down. The 223 page paperback is a thrilling, thought-provoking and fun read. The movie is the cinematic equivalent; you can't take your eyes off of it.
Seen at: Star Cinema, Sidney BC
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"THERE IS...NO....BAND....and yet...we HEAR a band." Mulholland Drive


Second Unit
Oct 7, 2000
I would give the film
out of
. We went last night and had a good time over-all. I'm in the middle of reading the first book, and felt the movie did the best it could to follow (a movie can never set the stage or build a character as well as a book) the book. The effects were fantastic and did a lot to create the wonder of a place like Hogswart.
My main problems with the film are these, one that is the theaters fault, and a few with the film itself. The theater we went to kept the house lights partially lit ( I suppose so the kids wouldn't hurt themselves going to the restroom during a long film), since the movie is filmed darkly (especially outside scenes), it hurt the viewing experience (I love my home theater), cause it washed out some scenes, plus there sound system sucked.
The film held a few problems for me, some that have been mentioned above; 1) the initial set-up of the film on Privet Dr. relied on the audience having read the book to fully know what was up (IMHO), 2) Some characters were not explored well at all (i.e. Dumbledore), 3)The editing in a lot of places was so choppy it became distracting 4)Voldemort never seemed to be as big a threat as they had him in the book.
Criticism, aside, I thought the movie was lots of fun (the Quiddich game had the audience cheering), a touch long for my 8 & 5 yr. old, but mostly "magical". I can't wait for this on DVD so I can see it in a much better viewing room (except screen size), with much better sound.
quote: I want the people to know, they still have two out of three branches of government working for them, and that ain't bad! -Mars Attacks[/quote]
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[Edited last by Todd_Brown on November 17, 2001 at 08:21 AM]


Senior HTF Member
Jan 17, 2001
Las Vegas
Real Name
John Steffens
Thisa movie was fantasic! The stroytelling, the look of the film, special effects..everything was amazing about this movie.
The cast was also fantastic! Coltraine, Cleese, Smith, Rickman, it was so nice to see a movie with all these actors togther.
Now keeping in mind, I have NEVER read a Harry Potter book, nor I probally won't either!(not a book person!) I still enjoyed this movie with much enthusiasm.
This movie SO visual, and I'm glad they added scary elements too it. It wasn't too 'kidish', and I liked it!
Here's looking foward to the sequel in Nov 2002!

Nate Anderson

Jan 18, 2001
I throughly enjoyed the film, and recommend it to anyone who has or has not read the books. I think it's wonderfully imaginative and brimming with wonderful characters.
The performances were all around well done. A lot of people have been ragging on Daniel Radcliffe's performance, and frankly, I find nothing wrong with it. The same goes for Emma Watson and Rupert Grint.
I think my favorite performance though, was Alan Rickman's as Professor Snape. I don't know if it's me, but I just can't seem to get enough of the guy. Alan manages to make any part he has doubley as entertaining.
That's about it from this end...
"This is my verse, hello?"
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Jeff Kleist

Senior HTF Member
Dec 4, 1999
First a technical review (aka bitching):
Who lit the opening? Not only did we have horrific Super35 induced grain throughout the entire film, but the opening, MY GOD it looked like a VCD! HORRIBLE HORRIBLE HORRIBLE! Watch out DNR haters on the DVD, It's going to be cranked to 11. I've seen plenty of Super35 films theatrically that look like they were shot anamorphic compared to this film (For the record, I saw it in a THX cert theater that has always had SUPERB presentation quality).
It was also obvious which shots ILM did, and which Brand X company did things. The creatures were obviously (BAD) CG, and the 3-headed dog, more like a 3 headed Puma! The Quiddich(sp?) match was very well done, only a couple of shots were very obviously done on a stage, for the most part I was VERY happy with it. The set and costumes were great, as were all the performers.
Chris Columbus obviously did some tuning on this script, his brand of cheese was evident in many places, but especially the ending. He also needs to learn how to compose for 2.40:1, it mostly seemed an afterthought
Bitching done, I thought the film was pretty good, not great, but good. I would have
Spoiler:killed the red-haired kid in the chess match
but that obviously wasn't up to the filmmakers
I'll definately be getting the DVD, I hope there's a good amount of deleted scenes that fill in the truncated parts
Jeff Kleist

Elbert Lee

Supporting Actor
May 24, 2000
I enjoyed this movie and admired they way Columbus was able to fit so much of the book into it. From what I can remember, having read the first 2 books, almost all of the critical scenes were included. I appreciated the stately pace of the film and liked how Columbus didn't feel the need to rush each scene like a Michael Bay movie. Most of all, I enjoyed the nuances between the 3 central characters and their relationship.
I do have some critiques. The movie was unable to convey much of what Harry Potter was thinking and feeling throughout his experience at the wizarding school. Much of the novel was devoted to bringing its readers through POtter's insecuries. However, the movie did not convey this successfully and subsequently, the rivalry with Malfoy and fear of Snape are greatly diminished in this movie as well as his fear of failing in school - three of the more important EMOTIONAL elements of the book.
I don't assume to know how Columbus would have gone about trying to bring these 3 emotional story archs to the film. Perhaps a little more scenes in the classrooms and interaction with other characters....

Matty B

Stunt Coordinator
Aug 27, 2001
I just got home from seeing the film. Im not a fan of kids movies, and I'm not one that believes a movie is a movie and if it appeals to kids as well as adults..etc. do the math. Anyway my quick spiel:
Setting:VERY CGI, I wish they could have filmed this someplace in real life, there are PLENTY of castles in Europe.
Plot:It was OK, but I wish Harry would have killed his family.
I give it an 8/10, there were a lot of things I enjoyed (The quiddich match was OK, I enjoyed the basic ambience of the movie, the thought of a special street for shopping, picking a wand, etc.)

andrew markworthy

Senior HTF Member
Sep 30, 1999
I agree most with Mark and Jeff's comments. At the risk of inappropriate imagery, the movie is like most people's early experiences of sex - technically inept, enjoyable (though with the hope it will be much better at future attempts) and an overwhelming feeling of 'is that what all the fuss is about?'.
There are abundant signs that this was a *much* longer movie which has been cut down to get a commercially-viable length. I would love to see a 'director's cut', to see if the movie was any better when it was properly paced. As it is, it's largely like reading the juicy bits of the novel and then skipping over the dull bits of narrative. However, linking passages are there for a purpose - they pace the excitement and flesh out the characters. You very rarely learn much about the nuances of a person's personality in action sequences (and that's really all you get in this movie - one set piece after another). The one bit where you do get some reflection - where Harry is in front of the Mirror of Erised - is perhaps the most effective scene in the film. In retrospect, maybe Spielberg was on to something in wanting to restrict the movie to a couple of strong plot lines and running the first two books together.
At a more mundane level, the severe editing has led to some continuity errors. To give one example, in one scene Prof. McGonnigle chastises Harry et al for being out at night - they leave the room only to be confronted by Snape, who asks what they are doing indoors on such a lovely afternoon.
Visually, a large part of the movie is disappointing, and I agree with what Jeff has already said on this matter. The music is good, but if you've heard the CD, you are likely to be disappointed. Put simply, the range of the music on the CD is missing. To give one specific example, the recorder music for Gringott's and Diagon Alley has been replaced by a rather bland modern orchestral score.
Having thus expressed such negative opinions, did I like the movie? Strangely enough, yes! We took my 8 years old son and his friends to the movie for said son's birthday treat, and they were delighted with it. |For me, it was rather like one of the run-of-the-mill James Bond movies - you know it's not very good really, but you still watch it and enjoy it.


Taken As Ballast
Senior HTF Member
Apr 19, 1999
Metro NYC
Real Name
In the words of Ron Weasley....WICKED!
Harry Potter And The Sorcerer's Stone is a wonderfully faithful adaption of J.K.Rowlings classic book. It is a vividly realized filmed version that retains almost all of the book's wonderful moments and even adds a few.
Of course certain compromises had to be made and some changes were unavoidable. The Dursleys, Prof. Severus Snape and Draco Malfoy come to mind, however these are quibbles compared to what is actually there on screen.
And what a wonderful world on screen that is. I was amazed at how perfect the world that Hary Potter inhabits was realized for the film. It is very much as I imagined it. From the ominous beginning on Privet Drive, to the shopping spree in Diagon Alley, The Hogwarts Express, Hogwarts Castle, The Forbidden Forest, The Quidditch Match..all there alive and in color.
The casting for the most part was excellent.
Daniel Radcliffe as Harry did a fine job, albeit an understated one. His performance was good but I agree that it could have been a bit stronger. Tough times ahead for Harry in future books and films and hopefully, Mr. Radcliffe will be up to the task.
Emma Watson as Hermione Granger was perfect. Just the right amount of neuroses and bossiness in her portrayal.
Rupert Grint as Ron Weasley gave the strongest performance of them all. Perfectly cast and just as I imagined he would be. A "wickedly" good performance.
The children had a warm chemistry and worked well together which was crucial to put it mildly.
The adult actors were all pretty much well cast. Richard Harris as Albus Dumbledore, Maggie Smith as Professor McGonnagall and Alan Rickman as Severus Snape were all fine in the limited amount of screen time that they had. All their characters have have much to do in the future so I will have patience.
Robbie Coltrane as Rubeus Hagrid was the most notable of the adult actors. He did a splendid job of portraying Hagrid and credit must also be given to the FX wizards who convincingly made him appear to be 8 feet tall.
Since I knew going in that this film would be very faithful to the book, what I was looking for was
how well it would translate to the screen. IMO, Chris Columbus did an excellent job considering what he was up against which was indeed almost a win/win lose/lose situation. IMO, he pulled it off.
All the best parts of the book are here and the wonderfully imaginitive story is brought to life impressively.
The tecnical aspects of the film were top notch. Visual effects (for the most part) were excellent and the use of CGI was not overused. John Williams music was appropriately stirring and memorable.
I enjoyed this film immensely and was pleased that I was not disappointed in any major way. Sure I would have liked a bit more character development, some additional scenes from the book, a stonger performance from Daniel Radcliffe, but on the whole, Harry Potter And The Sorcerer's Stone is a wonderful, imaginative film that I plan on seeing at leat a few more times on the big screen.

Draco Dormiens Nunquam Titillandus.
[Edited last by Tino on November 18, 2001 at 09:13 AM]

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