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Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

movie reviewmovie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Robbie Coltrane
Director: Chris Columbus
Rated: PG
RunTime: 152 Minutes
Release Date: November 2001
Genres: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Kids

*Also starring: Emma Watson, John Cleese, Richard Harris, Ian Hart, Rupert Grint, William Hurt, Alan Rickman, Maggie Smith

Review by Steve Rhodes
2½ stars out of 4

If you're in the eight to twelve age group, have I got the perfect movie for you -- HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERER'S STONE. If you're under eight, the movie will be too scary and long for you, and, if you're over twelve, you'll likely be bored.

Directed by Chris Columbus (BICENTENNIAL MAN and STEPMOM) and scripted by Steven Kloves (THE WONDER BOYS), the movie is, of course, based on J.K. Rowling's first novel in her wildly successful series about the exploits of Harry Potter, wizard extraordinaire.

The movie has two serious flaws. First, Daniel Radcliffe, as Harry, is almost devoid of personality. Reportedly Steven Spielberg, when he was considering the project, wanted Haley Joel Osment (THE SIXTH SENSE) to play Harry. Osment could have given Harry some real energy and life. Second, the film is a full hour too long, coming in at just over two-and-one-half hours. What was Warner Brothers thinking when they let the director deliver a PG movie that long? Kids will be fidgeting like crazy before it is finally over. At an hour-and-a-half, I might have been able to recommend it but not at its bloated final cut.

Don't get me wrong, this is a movie filled with some great visuals. In fact, the visuals are the movie, and the story, for those who haven't read the book, will seem at best inconsequential and at worst confusing. There is a wonderful, life-sized, killer chess game -- one of many scenes that make the film questionable for those under eight -- and a sort of polo game played in the air on broomsticks. There is also an extremely ferocious three-headed canine monster that guards the sorcerer's stone. The sets and the special effects are almost certain to get Academy Award nominations.

Some of the acting, with the aforementioned significant exception, is quite good. Easily the best is by scene stealer Emma Watson as Harry's companion, Hermione Granger. This first-time screen actress has an endearing type-A personality that reminds one of what Reese Witherspoon must have been like when she was young.

One thing is certain. Whether you like the movie or not, you'll be incapable of getting its catchy tune out of your head. I predict that you'll be humming it in your sleep from now until the next edition of the Harry Potter saga comes out at this time next year.

HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERER'S STONE runs way, way too long at 2:32. It is rated PG for "some scary moments and mild language" and would be acceptable for kids around 7 or 8 and up. A PG-13 rating would have more appropriately reflected the level of fright in the film.

My son Jeffrey, age 12, gave the movie ****, saying that it was one of the best films of the year. He thought it was an excellent movie that stayed true to the book.

Copyright 2001 Steve Rhodes

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