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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 Susan Granger
4 stars out of 4

Rev up your Nimbus 2000 broomstick 'cause we're off to see the wizards of Hogwarts! In this chaotic world, no diversion could be more welcome than the first of J.K. Rowling's best-sellers - and I can assure you that the film version is, indeed, faithful to the book.

Harry Potter is the bespectacled lad who - on his 11th birthday - learns that he is a wizard. Years ago, as an infant with a very special scar on his forehead, he was deposited on the doorstep of his aunt and uncle, the Dursleys, in Surrey. The Dursleys are "muggles," mere mortals who despise Harry, forcing him to sleep in a cupboard below the stairs. But when Harry is invited to attend the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, his entire life changes. As the bewitching tale unfolds, Harry befriends clever Hermione Granger and courageous Ron Weasley - and they embark on an incredible adventure involving an insidious plot by the dark wizard Voldemort to steal the Sorcerer's Stone which conveys immortality and the elixir of life.

Screenwriter Steve Kloves has so cleverly adapted the character-driven fantasy that even J.K. Rowling found it as flawless as the perceptive vision of director Chris Columbus, particularly as reflected in his impeccable all-British casting. Radiating impish intelligence, Daniel Radcliffe is perfect as Harry, as is Emma Watson as the bossy but brilliant Hermione and Rupert Grint as the wry, irreverent Ron; this trio is unbeatable. Only Robbie Coltrane could have embodied the gruff-yet-gentle giant groundskeeper Hagrid and, similarly, Richard Harris, Maggie Smith, Alan Rickman, Ian Hart, and Zoe Wanamaker are sternly superb as Harry's teachers. As the distrustful Dursleys, Richard Griffiths, Fiona Shaw and Harry Melling are appropriately dastardly and dreadful. John Cleese adds zaniness as Nearly Headless Nick, plus there's Warwick Davis, Julie Walters, John Hurt and Tom Felton.

Pivotal to the visual enchantment is the production team of designer Stuart Craig, costumer Judianna Makovsky, and director of photography John Seale. They've created a richly textured, incredibly intoxicating world, filled with surprises - like the invisibility cloak, the mysterious Mirror of Erised, moving paintings and sliding staircases. John Williams' sweeping soundtrack, utilizing strings and brass, effectively evokes the changing mood, particularly during the climactic Wizards Chess match. The breath-taking action scenes revolve around Quidditch, a high-speed aerial sport played on turbo-powered broomsticks. The Quidditch match is truly dazzling, comparable to the excitement of the pod race in "Star Wars: The Phantom Menace."

Rated PG for some scary moments and mild language, the 2 1/2 hours flies by. On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" is a spellbinding 10 - the magical movie against which all others will be measured for the rest of the year. It's a young Indiana Jones meets The Wizards of Oz!

Steve Kloves has already completed the screenplay for the second J.K. Rowling installment, "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets," and is currently adapting the third Harry Potter novel, while Ms. Rowling gears up for the publication of her fifth novel, "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" in spring, 2002.

Copyright 2001 Susan Granger

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