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*** Official "HARRY POTTER AND THE PHILOSOPHER'S/SORCERER'S STONE" Review Thread (1 Viewer)

DaveF

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Much of what I might say, has been said better. But that won't stop me :)
The casting is sublime; I felt that I entered the world Of Harry Potter, seeing the characters and not various actors portraying them.
Dan states perfectly my feelings about the greatest weakness:
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.
I'll add that the primary story line seemed to be not presented strongly, due to the somewhat disconnected scenes.
As always, it suffers from the "doesn't live up to the book" syndrome. Most lacking is not a specific scene, though, but the charming whimsy from the books. For example, in the book the use of owls as the postal service was tremendously funny and clever. In the movie, it lacked some of the whimsy, for me. But if I'd not read the book first, this would not be a weakness.
Despite its few weaknesses, Harry Potter is thoroughly enjoyable film. I enjoyed it from start to finish, never wishing for it to end. I also look forward to watching this at home -- I wanted to watch it, stretched out on my catch, a bowl of ice cream in hand, and just luxuriate in the world of Harry Potter.
For closing, a prediction: Hermione will be the object of affection for many 11-14 yr olds, much like Princess Leia was for my generation :)
 

Dawn_R

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Aug 13, 2001
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15
Hi all,
I unfortunately don't know how to use those black spoiler bars so you'll have to bear with me, I'll just put in a fair dollop of spoiler space instead....I don't *think* it'll be anything too major or spoilerish, but you never know. There's always someone who hasn't yet seen it....though personally with HP I consider that downright heretical. :)
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Okay, now, that should do it. Well....I think the words of Ron Weasley will sum it up best for me - bloody *brilliant*, that's what it was! I knew it was going to be something spectacular and spellbinding, truly involving, but I don't know that even I could have fathomed that "Harry Potter" was going to be *that* amazing....I mean, I was sitting through it all the way alternately with my mouth hanging open in shock and wonder, then shivering in delight or fear, then clapping and laughing and all but cheering....the whole theatre was like that, and it was truly one of the most unifying experiences that I have ever known.
I just wouldn't know where to begin in singing the praises of Harry Potter....and to a large extent I'm still mulling over it and still recovering, as it were....and to compound it, there were just so many gorgeous subtleties, so many edge-of-the-screen gloriously distracting moments that I'm going to have to see it again and again, and *again*, in order to properly take it all in. Overwhelming, yes, but in the most wonderful way! :)
But some moments that really stick out for me....I mean, the *whole* thing does of course, so that makes it rather difficult for me to pinpoint just one thing or another....but here goes anyway, the ol' college try. I well remember that moment where Harry is sneaking around in the Invisibility Cloak and he happens to come across Snape threatening Quirrell, and in watching this little interplay, surprised and curious, Harry doesn't realize that the quiet sound of his breathing might unintentionally give him away....at least until Snape *seems* to sense or hear something and slowly, so slowly, turns around as if he's looking right at Harry....obviously can't see him but it's as if he *knows*....and then, when Snape started to advance on Harry, reaching out his hand - oh, *brrr*, I was literally cringing back in my seat....my friend can attest to this, she actually felt it beside me....that I was cringing back so much I felt as if I gladly could've gone right through the chair. It was just that tense to me, and man oh man, who *knows* what could've happened....brrrrrr! ::shivers reminiscently::
Another thing, well, there's no way I can say anything about the movie without *having* to mention the Quidditch match....oh, Quidditch....I knew it was fast and could only imagine beforehand how it must look, but actually seeing it - *man*, it was unbelievably fast and certainly rather rough as well....like rugby on broomsticks. :) Of course, methinks that it may not be quite so rough if Slytherin's not playing, and *especially* if they're not playing Gryffindor - seems to be a real grudge match thing going there, whether or not Draco Malfoy's the Seeker for Slytherin - but still, *wow*....the speed of it, the brutal pace and hecticness and dizzying altitude....it was at once breathtaking and enthralling, and absolutely *the* most amazing thing I've ever seen....like I'd always imagined it but *so* much more! :) Really, though, surely I can't be the only one who left the theatre afterwards thinking, "Damnit, now I *really* want a broomstick!" Nimbus 2000 would sure be nice....hm....
And as for Voldemort....oh, man, how I shivered in those last moments....I don't think I was breathing at all, and it was so tense, so edgy with excitement in the theatre that *no one* was making a sound, not so much as a peep. It was truly terrifying to see Harry facing off against the ultimate enemy he'd never known, the one who had robbed him of the only real family he'd ever had....yet who had not truly destroyed him, and *could* not, because Harry was stronger than that. And it was readily apparent to me that of *course* Harry was nervous, downright scared even - how could he *not* be? - but he still did what he had to do, he *still* fought back hard....because as the old saying goes, courage is not an absence of fear. Rather, courage is being afraid yet still doing what you must. I'm sure I butchered that horribly yet the point still stands. :)
And the fact that Harry could face his worst enemy without buckling, that he *was* afraid yet still fought to win, for survival....that's a noble lesson indeed, and one that I think everyone could learn from. I don't think I'll ever forget how deathly quiet the theatre was, though, in those moments as Quirrell was slowly unwinding his turban, facing the mirror....hearing the voice of Voldemort, disembodied, whispering and very spine-chillingly terrible....no one was *moving*, much less making a sound, though I was starting to cringe already. And the actual appearance of Voldemort....weakened but not destroyed, but still very awful to behold, very frightful....yet still Harry stayed standing, which was more than I suspect most folks could've done in his place when facing off against the evil one who killed his parents, tried to kill him but failed....yet who would try again.
And it's the notion that Voldemort would return, that though Harry would've desperately wished otherwise it wasn't yet over between him and You-Know-Who - this of course is very unnerving, very chilling to consider....yet Harry will emerge from it, and survive it. He'll be just fine with whatever is to come, no matter how traumatic or painful or difficult, because even though he may be afraid he still does what is necessary....he is courageous enough to keep on going, to keep fighting, and that says a *lot* about him, young though he is. ::sighs deeply::
Everything about "Harry Potter"....spectacular, I couldn't have asked for more, it was absolutely *perfect*. I drank it all up....savoured it....and there's just *so* much to take in, in every detail, that I am sure I'll be mulling over it for a great while yet. Amazing stuff, this....the very thing we need to cheer us up, to lighten our spirits. Couldn't ask for better! :)
Praise be to Harry Potter!
Dawn. (honorary Gryffindor)
 

Patrick Sun

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Bear in mind that I haven't read any of the Harry Potter books (just not my cup of tea w/r/t reading material).
I thought the film, while trying to put everything in the book and the kitchen sink into it, probably would have been better served with about 20 minutes of editing to shorten it up and trim up that lagging midsection (when the kids are punished and sent into the woods looking for the unicorn). The film lost a lot of momentum there, and it took forever to get back on track with a resolution that, as many had said before, lacks any emotional impact since the audience doesn't have any idea what's going on in Harry's head, and sort of stumbles into the "solution".
I will say that the "origin" portion of the film was done pretty well, as was the introduction of the Hogwart culture.
I think they probably watered down Harry Potter a little too much for an older audience member like me, and from what I could, the kids were enjoying most of it. There was this one girl who was really jazzed whenever something from the book was realized on the big screen, and judging from her reaction, she was very happy with how things looked and sounded on the big screen.
The child actors were pretty decent. Daniel Radcliffe sort of grinned his way through the whole film. I like the boy who played Ron a little more just due to his role. The girl actress who played Hermione seemed to be just right for her part as well. I could see where their personalities would progress in future Harry Potter books from the 1st one. Robbie Coltrane always for a laugh in his scenes, "but I should have not said that."
I sort of liked the Quidditch/Rollerball on broomsticks game, very nice velocity in the game (though the rules are rather silly if you ask me - why even try scoring 10 point zingers when the seekers end the game when they capture the snitchy-thingamabob). The DVD will offer plenty of surround sound workout for the HT.
You know you'll going to see this film if you're a fan of the books, and if you have 2.5 hours to kill, it won't totally bore you to tears.
For me, I'd give it a grade of B-, or 2.5 stars.
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Pete-D

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I'm reviewing this not having read the books.
What I loved about the film is it took me back to being 11-years old again, when I enjoyed going to school (gasp!), and being around friends, and when you're still young enough
that even regular things in life can seem like an adventure.
I was also 11 when I first really got into the fantasy genre, as I had to do the Hobbit as a book report for 6th grade. So it brought back a lot of fond memories.
I loved that about this movie. It took me back to that age completely.
The set pieces in this film are fantastic. Its the ultimate kids movie in that regards. You have Halloween and Christmas
"themed" sections of the film as well, I'm sure the kids will get a blast outta that. And you have all the environments that kids love, a castle-like school with hidden passage-ways, the dark, mysterious forest, the train.
All that was fantastic. The atmoshphere here is almost second to none. It's magical. I imagine someday there will be a Harry Potter amusement ride/attraction.
The storyline itself, however, is a bit on the weak side. There isn't much of a villian here, and you can tell its more of a setup for the "real" story to come (no doubt Warner Bros. is licking their chops in anticipation of several more of these movies). The ending is pure Scooby-Doo, and I was surprised that some of the dialouge seemed to really be derivative of Star Wars.
I was half-expecting a line like "and this Harry...this is your father's Light Saber...a more elegant weapon for a more civilized time". The ending with Voldomort (sp?) talking to Harry is straight Empire Strikes Back (join me, and together we'll rule the galaxy!) without the snap.
The movie is a bit on the long-side too, I could tell certain scenes where put into the film to appease the fans of the books but really didn't do much to furthur the storyline.
Harry Potter is definitely heavy on the magic, I found the actor who plays Harry to be fine. The action sequences (the Quiddich match) are fun, infact the movie as a whole has a sense of "fun" to it that some blockbusters are forgetting about.
The story itself however, is a bit on the thin side. I don't believe this movie will beat Titanic or even Star Wars, because its not really that kind of an epic, sweeping type of film so people will be more content to see it once or twice and then wait for the DVD.
Its still great, I don't really have much of a desire to read the books, however (which I thought I would). Maybe I've been spoiled by Tolkien's LOTR, but the story doesn't seem to hold a lot of water to me. Its solid, but its the atmosphere and the sense of magic that makes Harry Potter work IMO.
I'd give it a very solid 3 1/2 stars out of 5. I think kids are lucky to have this kind of entertainment now, its great to be that age and to be able to experience this and it also encourages kids to read, which is a plus.
 

Max Leung

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Pete-D pretty much said what I thought of the movie as well. Hmm, we both live in Calgary...nah must be a coincidence. :)
Overall, I thought the movie was "good", but not particularly brilliant. I intentionally skipped reading the book, as I wanted to watch the movie on it's own terms. I found the editing rather abrupt. For example, after the troll was defeated, they were suddenly at their rooms, in the other part of the castle, which I found jarring and distracting.
The performances were good, but I could not properly sympathize with Harry...not enough background! I agree they should've spent a little more time outlining his life with the Dursleys. I had no problem with Ron or Hermione though.
I was impressed with the dark look of the picture. However, there was never a moment where I felt any suspense, not even in the dark forest! I guess they didn't want to scare the kiddies.
The movie has a confined feel to it...everything happens in small spaces. Even the dark forest felt like a camping excursion in somebody's back yard...no "epic feel" to it that you often find in the better fantasy movies. Of course, the first book didn't have thousands of rampaging orcs besieging a fortified city, while the inhabitants are outnumbered 10-to-1 and just barely hanging on. Ooops, that's LOTR. :D
It's a good movie, but I don't think I would enjoy repeat viewings very much.
3.5/5
 

Keith Yatsuhashi

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There were 2 scenes that I thought came off brilliantly in the movie. First was the wand shop in Diagon Alley. That was just magical. The second was Harry and the Mirror. The movie really made the metaphor that the Mirror was our pop culture, our TV and Movie driven culture. I missed that in the book. Watch the movie again, you see that Dumbledore is talking about our need to live vicariously through movies and TV. That was brilliant. As I said before though, I was disappointed on the whole. Some magic was missing. Maybe with book to film adaptations, you need to go twice. The first time to purge the book from your mind, and the second to see the film as a film without the preconceived ideas. LOTR will test that theory well.
 

Todd Terwilliger

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I also so saw Potter without having first read any of the books.
I liked the movie. I enjoyed watching it but I did not love it. SOme aspects of the movie I felt were really done well but, at the same time, other parts I felt did not live up to the rest.
First, the strong points: I thought all of the actors, especially the kids, did a great job and came across utterly believable. Also, the production of the various locations and sets: the school, the hidden shopping street, were top-notch. The magic of these places really came through in spades.
Now for the weak points: the quiddich (sp?) match. In my mind, this was a waste of time. It didn't show me anything and the climax was too over-the-top. It took me out of the atmosphere. I had to lean back and mutter "oh, come on!".
The centaur: I didn't like this CGI effect at all. I think they could have done a much better job using an actual actor enhanced with some CGI than a total effect. It was not convincing. The final villian was also badly done. I did not like that effect either. I think you really need a real actor for that and not an effect.
I'm torn on the chess match. On one hand, I really like the idea (though I had to hold myself back from yelling, 'everybody on the queen!'). However, I don't think they set it up properly. For instance: why couldn't the boy get off the knight's horse after his move? Why were these chess pieces bursting into flame? How is this kid able to out-play the board? I think they could have added something to make it a bit more sensible.
My meaningless rating: 3.75 out of 5.
 

Chris Skerik

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I hate to be the lone dissenting voice, but I hated the movie.
I did not read the book, and i felt I needed to in order to enjoy the movie. I feel that many enjoy the movie because it does take from the book rather well.
I thought it was a good hour too long, the intro was way too long. I got the point, his aunt and uncle are not very nice... great, if you are going to make it that long, at least tell me why, not just scene after scene of showing how bad they are...
there were other scenes throughout the movie that just dragged, lingered too long.
At the same time, I don't feel like I know who any of the characters are. I don't know why snape doesn't like harry, I don't know why the aunt and uncle hate harry, I don't know anything about anybody.
The plot didn't start till two hours into the movie and lasted about 15 minutes... great...
there were scenes that were stolen out of star wars, there were several times I started quoting lines from star wars because the scene reminded me of it. particularly with Palpatine trying to convert luke, and the talk with the bad guy and harry, don't remember which guy it was though.... I know that it is based in myth, much like star wars. The problem seems to come from Lucas took the myth from the writings of Joseph Campbell. Rowlings seems to have taken the cliff notes version of Star WArs....
other scenes seemed out of Raiders and it had the classic scooby doo explanantion of what we just watched. Tell the whole story in a minute... problem was it worked, they told the whole story in the minute, without really missing anything.
To its credit I think it had much of the same problems that Episode I had. it had to set up these characters for those that know the story and for those who don't and set them up for several other movies. I just think that much like Episode I it failed to remember that it had to move the story along as well. Fortunately it avoided most of the juvenile jokes of and Jar Jar of Episode 1 :)
I enjoyed the acting, the special effects and even the story, I just thought it was terribly executed, I don't know if it is the fault of Rowlings or the fault of Columbus. maybe I just missed something. maybe I was biased since i was really upset that the theater I was at didn't show the star wars trailer, which is the sole reason I went to see the movie... who knows, but I didn't like it. I am a 28 year old guy with no kids, and I'm not a big fan of mindless kids movies. I like kids movies that are not just kids movies, i.e. Toy Story and the like, two different levels. this lacked that....
I didn't think I'd like it, but I didn't like for much different reasons than I thought I wouldn't like it.
I realize this isn't the most well written review, but that's why I'm not a reviewer.... don't slam me for my opinion, it is only that. I'm glad everyone likes it, it just wasn't for me.
 

Paul W

Second Unit
Joined
Dec 17, 1999
Messages
459
Plot:It was OK, but I wish Harry would have killed his family.
WTF????? Where did this come from? Did you never read the book? Did you forget this was a children's film? How gruesome! I hope you don't let your children watch these kinds of movies!:eek:
Seriously, I thought this was a very good movie. Unfortunately, I don't think it is everything it was hyped up to be, but WB and AOL-TW got their $90M first-weekend, so I'm happy for them.
I agree with Dan: I wished they hadn't cut out some of the interesting parts and had left some of the more dull parts out. Oh well. I'm seriously waiting for LOTR:FOTR now.
 

Derek Duncan

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Mar 17, 1999
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I thought this fil was amazing, I can't wait for the dvd, it better be widescreen with a boatload of features. Any way this is Tuesday at 2:00 and there were still lines. WOW. But I did notice one problem. The audio was slightly out of sinc with the film, why is this, it wasn't in dtd, but DD 5.1, isn't the audio on the film itself. I know it wasn't dubbed, because it is english, and I know that was the older actors voices. And as far as there being grain because this was a super35 film, this was one of the cleanest prints I have ever seen in a theater, grain and film damage.

Derek
 

Sam Davatchi

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Just saw this today. One word, magic! Actually the lack of it. Now I see what people were talking about. People were talking about how they had problems with the editing of the movie and how things looked disjointed. Well, the problem is not actually with the editing but the direction. It's very uninspiring and unfortunate. This story had the potential of becoming an instant classic reference movie but it fails to achieve that. You don’t get involved in the movie and it lacks passion. Yes it’s true that it looks wonderful but it seems that all of Columbus’ occupation was how to accurately bring the pages of the book to the screen. They look like moving illustration of the story and fall very flat. It's like watching beautiful images one after another without emotion. But after all it's better than the Phantom Menace. The first thing WB should do is to fire Chris Columbus and find another director for the second movie.
:star::star::star: out of 4
 

Dan Hitchman

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Jun 11, 1999
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Terry Gilliam was on tap to direct I've been told. Too bad he didn't get a shot at it. His zany British-like, dry wit (even a bit "devilish" at times) found in Barron Munchausen and Time Bandits and even Brazil would have played well with Harry Potter. Read the books with a that kind of Monty Python sly humor/satire in mind and tell me I'm wrong.

Chris Columbus' direction is stale and uninspired. The sense of wonder and heart that abounds beneath the words in Harry Potter were totally lost on him. Mrs. Doubtfire should have been a big clue for Warner Brothers.

I agree that the set up with the Durley's was chopped up way too much.

Take for instance the few times in the novel that Harry gets his first ever Christmas and B-Day presents. He's overcome with emotion since the Dursley's never cared for him in the ten years he'd been with them. What about when he finds he has true blue friends for the first time? Totally glossed over in the movie-- they don't even have him naming his owl. The emotional, human level is missing throughout-- it has kind of an empty, shallow, and hollow feeling about it (even when Harry sees his parents for the first time as you never are allowed to get emotionally attached to the character up until then). That's what made the family movie E.T. so great for young and old.

The CGI effects and digital compositing were downright atrocious! The Quidditch match was played like a computer game on speed and was edited and paced poorly. I have never seen more fakey computer generated puppets than with this movie and they say they spent much of the 150 million dollar budget on the effects. More likely it went to marketing and P.R. as stated in a Rolling Stones magazine blurb.

The best actress in the whole thing was the little girl (Emma Watson) who played Hermione. Brilliant casting!-- although she's not as homely as the Hermione in the book, but that's not a bad thing in and of itself. Other than that the huge roster of famous, talented British stage/film actors was totally wasted; even Alan Rickman (Prof. Snape) who usually chews up any scene he's in seemed bored. The casting for Harry Potter himself wasn't that inspired either other than the fact that Daniel Radcliffe bears a striking resemblance to the character in the book.

Ho hum is how I felt afterwards. A totally forgettable 2 1/2 hours.

Bring on TLOTR's!

Dan
 

Rob Willey

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Apr 10, 2000
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Caught up to this one last night without reading any of the books beforehand and loved it! A fine story well told.

I went in with two main questions: 1) would the film stand on its own (as it must) for those who haven't read the book, and 2) would the young cast be able to carry the load alongside the brilliant adult cast. The answer to both questions is a resounding yes!

I enjoyed the look of this movie and the pacing, two and a half hours seemed to fly by (no pun intended). There was a lot of needed exposition which could even have been increased IMO.

The John Williams' score was wonderful and standout performances were turned in by Robbie Coltrane, Maggie Smith and John Hurt. Young Radcliffe wasn't quite up to the perfomances by Watson and Grint, but he makes a perfectly serviceable Harry and should improve as the franchise proceeds.

Highly recommended.

Rob
 

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