Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (3/9/12)

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's StoneMovie Forty Nine

The first Harry Potter book/movie, known in the US as Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, set the stage for a grand series of mass appeal. Transcending ages, races, and genders, the magical world of Harry Potter is a truly splendid one.

You may notice that in the title I called the movie Harry Potter and Philosopher’s Stone, which is the name in the UK, and as far as I know, the rest of the world. I’m not sure why there is disparity with the titles, but I watched the UK version of this movie. The UK box set has extra features not yet available in the the US.

I will unabashedly claim my love for the Harry Potter books as well as the movies, so I was quite excited to see the first movie again after so many years. Unfortunately, I was very disappointed in rewatching what I had remembered as a very good movie. Obviously, since this was the first movie in a series of seven books, some of which had not even been released at the time of the movie’s release, the studio did not want to give Harry Potter a large budget yet. It shows.

One thing that I truly applaud is the casting. Nearly all of the actors from the first movie went on to portray their characters in all eight movies and they all fit the bill quite well, even the supporting characters. The special effects and some of the dialog are less impressive. While watching the first 20 minutes or so I thought that Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone could have passed for a really good made-for-TV movie. Now, I do not remember the movie giving me this impression a few years ago, so I can only guess that I have been spoiled by the high quality of the more recent movies in relation to this one.

Still, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone is not a bad movie, just not very good compared to some of the others from the Harry Potter series. I would recommend the books over the movies, since the later movies have to omit small details in their movie counterparts that are charming, but not crucial to the story. While I was disappointed that Harry Potter and Philosopher’s Stone has not held up as well as I remember, I would still recommend it as I love the series as a whole and it is a necessary beginning.

I give it 3 young Nevilles out of 5.

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