Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (2001)

harry potter and the sorcerers stone

This was originally written in September 2006.

Sometimes I suspect I am the only English speaker left who hasn’t read nor seen any of the Harry Potter series. A few years back I attended a midnight sale when one of the books first came out. I went for a good laugh with some friends who were completely hooked on the series.

The place was packed! Elbow to elbow they were all lined up to get the new book. It seemed very strange to me. I’ve attended my share of movie premiers which kind of makes sense, being the first to see a film and all, but they are only a few hours long. A book takes a couple of days to get through at least, and by the size of those Potter books I’d suspect a week or more of reading. Were these people then going to go home and read the book? Could they not have waited until tomorrow and made the purchase?

Scores of them were dressed up like Potter or, I guess other characters. It was like Halloween or a Star Trek convention. I went home mystified by the fandom.

In the years since most of my friends have become Potter fans and often chatter on about it. There are marketing goods, knock-offs, and even the odd religious book condemning Potter and his odious witchcraft. The little boy in the round glasses is everywhere.

I bought the books for my wife last Christmas, secretly thinking I’d read them too. Neither of us has cracked a page.

We borrowed the films from a friend a few months back but returned them having never seen a scene. At the time we thought we’d rather read the books before viewing the films. Last night while browsing Blockbuster we finally decided to rent the blasted thing and see what the fuss was all about.

I’ll start with all the problems I had with the film and there were a few.

I hated, detested, and loathed the large CG creatures. They looked fake, they moved like plastic dolls and they totally distracted me from what was going on in the story.

Perhaps the budget wasn’t up for it, or maybe the technical department wasn’t up for it, but to me, that’s a signal to go with the old-school puppet variety. Maybe it shows my age to say that, but my eyes can suspend their disbelief with a great puppet more than with  decent CG any day of the week.

The rest of the special effects were dandy. I totally believed the flying on broomsticks, the floating keys, and the like, but the three-headed dog, the giant ogre, and other larger-than-life CG characters totally irritated me. Like Jar Jar Binks only less vocal.

There were several moments in the plot that felt brushed over. For instance, there was a harsh rule mandated on the first day of school that all students were to stay out of the woods. Yet when Harry and his pals get detention they are forced to not only go into the woods but are left alone in them. Sure enough, Harry is almost killed. Not very practical on the school’s part, I’d say. I suspect this is explained a little better in the book, but if a big item like this can’t be understood by those who haven’t read then the filmmakers haven’t done their job.

The directing was fair. A few choices seemed to lack any real vision. The ball game is filmed almost entirely in close-ups with only a few long shots showing the overall action. For a game that is only partially explained I would have enjoyed trying to figure out how to play. But with the close-ups, all I could tell was that a few characters were carrying a ball, or Harry was searching for the little one.

For all the problems I had with the film, it was very enjoyable to watch. The acting was good and the characters interesting. It is always difficult for the first film in a series because there is so much background work that you have to do, and they pulled that aspect off well. I’m sure that if I was a few years younger it would sit on a shelf alongside Goonies, Gremlins and Indiana Jones.

I’m definitely looking forward to the sequels and reading the books.

8 thoughts on “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (2001)

  1. Crytsal Godwin got me reading the series last year. She is into the Disc World stuff and all that kind of stuff so naturally she loves the Harry Potter. I LOVE THE MOVIES. For a year straight I would fall asleep to one of them every night. They remind me of the feeling I got when I first watch Bedknobs and Broomsticks.
    I am pretty excited because I am currently reading the Order of the Pheonix which is the fifth book and I can’t put it down. The first two books were slow for my but the rest….well they keep me entertained and I hate to read.

    Ahhhh….Dang you and your blog…my porkchops are burning.

  2. Wait, now I’m confused. There was a Godwin and a Goodwin. One had a brother and was in Delta, the other was in AAA right?

    You reminded me of the skinny country girl with a brother in Kappa. But I know the AAA girl a little too.

  3. Ah yes. Thanks for clearing the goodladies up.

    You may have to wait a long time for ROTJ. I don’t review every movie I watch and I don’t wind up watching every movie highlighted as being “in the dvd player”

    I watched about half of ROTJ then rewound and watched the same half with commentary. I’m afraid I didn’t get back to it and now have a stack of asian horror to get through.

    Of course I’ve seen Jedi a dozen times and could review it easily by memory. Actually I did review it once for the Faulkner paper way back when. However, I have no real desire to review any of the Star Wars flicks. THere are too many reviews out there, I’m a big stinking fanboy and the review would read like one, and I’m just mean. So there.

    For the record I rate them in order as:

    New Hope
    Revenge of the Sith

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