Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
|Series:||Part 1 of Harry Potter|
|Distributor:||Warner Home Video|
In this enchanting film adaptation of J.K. Rowling’s delightful bestseller, Harry Potter learns on his 11th birthday that he is the orphaned son of two powerful wizards and posseses magical powers of his own. At Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, Harry embarks on the adventure of a lifetime. He learns the high-flying sport Quidditch and plays a thrilling game with living chess pieces on his way to face a Dark Wizard bent on destroying him. For the most extraordinary adventure, see you on Platform 9 3/4!
Here’s an event movie that holds up to being an event. This filmed version of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, adapted from the wildly popular book by J.K. Rowling, stunningly brings to life Harry Potter’s world of Hogwarts, the school for young witches and wizards. The greatest strength of the film comes from its faithfulness to the novel, and this new cinematic world is filled with all the details of Rowling’s imagination, thanks to exuberant sets, elaborate costumes, clever makeup and visual effects, and a crème de la crème cast, including Maggie Smith, Richard Harris, Alan Rickman, and more. Especially fine is the interplay between Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) and his schoolmates Ron (Rupert Grint) and Hermione (Emma Watson), as well as his protector, the looming Hagrid (Robbie Coltrane). The second-half adventure—involving the titular sorcerer’s stone—doesn’t translate perfectly from page to screen, ultimately because of the film’s fidelity to the novel; this is a case of making a movie for the book’s fans, as opposed to a transcending film. Writer Steve Kloves and director Chris Columbus keep the spooks in check, making this a true family film, and with its resourceful hero wide-eyed and ready, one can’t wait for Harry’s return. Ages 8 and up. —Doug Thomas
Barnes and Noble
A remarkably faithful adaptation of J. K. Rowling’s bestselling children’s novel, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone brings its characters vividly to life and presents their supernatural adventures with verve and imagination. Director Chris Columbus (Bicentennial Man) hews closely if not slavishly to Rowling’s original, but his few embellishments enhance the yarn’s cinematic effectiveness. Daniel Radcliffe is enormously appealing as Harry, the wistful and gifted orphan whose life changes radically when he is accepted into the Hogwarts School for aspiring young wizards. Accompanied by new friends Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint) and Hermione Granger (Emma Watson), the bespectacled sorcerer-in-training makes a name for himself and figures prominently in the perilous search for a long-lost talisman. Fans of Rowling’s books will be delighted with the film’s visualizations of their favorite Potter people, including headmaster Dumbledore (Richard Harris), professor McGonagall (Maggie Smith), and gamekeeper Hagrid (Robbie Coltrane). The special effects are truly dazzling, but Columbus doesn’t rely solely on virtuoso visuals to thrill his viewers; he takes time to flesh out the characters and imbue their surroundings with the proper mystical atmosphere. Ultimately, what he creates isn’t just a rousing fantasy film—it’s a unique, magical little world that will envelop and entrance all who venture near. Ed Hulse
You needn’t see the film of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone to appreciate the wonder, magic, and fearful chills of J.K. Rowling’s phenomenal bestseller in John Williams’s outstanding score. Williams typically avoids the source material for the films he scores, but he reportedly derived great pleasure and inspiration from Rowling’s first Harry Potter adventure, and created a perfect motif (fully expressed in “Hedwig’s Theme”) to dominate his score. It’s first heard as a dreamy celesta waltz and embellished through myriad incarnations and moods, often…
Harry Potter has never played a sport while flying on a broomstick. He’s never worn a cloak of invisibility, befriended a giant, or helped hatch a dragon. All Harry knows is a miserable life with the Dursleys, his horrible aunt and uncle, and their abominable son, Dudley. Harry’s room is a tiny closet at the foot of the stairs, and he hasn’t had a birthday party in eleven years.
But all that is about to change when a mysterious letter arrives by owl messenger: a letter with an invitation to a wonderful place he never dreamed existed. There he finds not only friends, aerial sports, and magic around every corner, but a great destiny that’s been waiting for him…if Harry can survive the encounter.