Seriously, what better time than the holidays to revisit old movies in the collection and give them a proper review?
The disclaimer follows here – generally, I am a book fan first, and a movie fan second, however I would be hard pressed to say which medium I’ve experienced Potter more in – the books or the movies.
Harry Potter is one of those series you almost wish they would have waited until JK Rowling had finished crafting her magic, so they’d know exactly what to keep in and what to take out. Except we wouldn’t have gotten the excellent casting of the trio Radcliffe, Watson, and Grint. Made during the early phases of Pottermania, they didn’t take out much of anything in Sorcerer’s Stone, which makes for one really long movie. It’s almost too much of an assault on the senses if you’re not used to it, and by and large, it explains why the movie was a smash hit yet the reviews were profoundly mixed and even a bit negative. It really is a lot to sit through. But for a fan? Wonderful!
Authentic and charming touches include Harry’s wonderment at the wizarding world and all it contains, Aunt Petunia’s simpering at Dudley and Quidditch. While I am not a huge fan of Quidditch, I would much rather watch it than have to read about it. As Sorcerer’s Stone is an introduction to Harry’s magical world, it may as well be complete as possible. Sure, Harry’s a bit one note “wow” through the whole film, but then again, he’s a lot like that in the book as well. The movie is sugary, bright, and sweet. The acting from the kids is not fantastic (Emma Watson stands out a bit here in a good way), but it is a bit earnest and sincere in its efforts.
The adults are delightful in this outing, from Richard Harris as Dumbledore (a bit too understated) to slick and sneering Alan Rickman (Snape), to Dame Maggie Smith (McGonagall).
Like every movie, it’s going to leave things out and stress some of the wrong things. Cutting out the tasks at the end wouldn’t have been where I made the major hacks (it shows the trio working as a team! That’s important!) but it could have been worse. One thing the movie did do right is how Professor Quirrell never touches Harry’s hand before the end of the movie. Personally, I just want to know where Voldemort took over doing half-head duty on Quirrell, because if it’s not between the time he saw Harry at the Leaky Cauldron and the first part of school, then there’s something critically flawed in the book. Of course, this is not really a new observation of mine, this has always bothered me, and it just bothers me when I watch Sorcerer’s Stone.
I’ll admit, when I want a movie that I can fall asleep safely to in a tired haze (because I know what’s going to happen), or am particularly holed up and not feeling well, I reach for Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. That’s not to say the movie is dull (though it probably could be tightened up here and there), it’s just there’s no face mashed up against open book discomfort in falling asleep and I don’t feel like I’ve critically missed anything after the several dozen viewings. The only thing that could surpass the experience for absolute laziness on this? The audio book. While this may sound like a horrible recommendation for the movie – it isn’t. It’s a kid’s movie, and a decent enough blanket to curl up with. Flaws aside, Sorcerer’s Stone isn’t as bad as everyone says it is.
But wouldn’t it be better if years from now someone like the BBC revisited the whole series? You know what I’m saying.