RELEASED 2001 RUNTIME 152 MIN LANGUAGE ENGLISH DIRECTION CHRIS COLUMBUS SCREENPLAY STEVE KLOVES STARRING DANIEL RADCLIFFE, RUPERT GRINT, EMMA WATSON, JOHN CLEESE, ROBBIE COLTRANE, WARWICK DAVIS, RICHARD GRIFFITHS, RICHARD HARRIS, IAN HART, JOHN HURT, ALAN RICKMAN, FIONA SHAW, MAGGIE SMITH, JULIE WALTERS MUSIC JOHN WILLIAMS
Harry Potter, an orphan child whose parents got murdered by the “you-know-who” and who himself survived the attack, gets called to enroll into Hogwarts, the school for witchcraft and wizardry.
The first film tells the story of the first year of Harry’s enrollment, where he discovers a secret plot behind a stone that may have something to do with lord Voldemort and his parent’s death.
I have been a fool for never watching Harry Potter. All these years I have missed out on some of the greatest and most imaginative film franchises (hopefully). If all the other movies are just nearly as good as this one, I will become a big fan.
Imagination! That’s the key word. The world is so fantastical imaginative, it makes your heart smile.
The production design is spectacular and screams creativity. Everything is handled with so much care, from the sets, the costumes, the make-up, to the visual effects. But the best thing is that even though it looks so fantastical, it also feels real and believable.
The effects are practical when they can and CGI when they need to be. Everything is seamless. The music by The great John Williams works perfectly to create an atmosphere of awe and wonder. Just everything about the looks makes you feel like a kid again.
STORY (NO SPOILERS)
But it’s not all about the production design. The story is really fun as well, and not as shallow as you may think from a movie aimed at the younger generation. Even though it’s the first film in a 7 part saga (8, if you count the last two movies as separate stories, which they are not apparently) you can already feel the epic scope. Things are set up left and right, while you follow an intriguing plot about Harry’s past.
Characters are introduced who have small roles, but you can feel the history behind them and the way it’s cast, you know there is bigger things to come with some of the players. Just in general the producers (including J . K. Rowling) have done great world building here. Top!
The story is essentially a detective story where Harry and his friends investigate something called the sorcerer’s stone, which seems to have a connection to a big villain which the movie builds up for the future.
There is some dark elements, but mostly it’s lighthearted in tone and provides lots of humor which doesn’t seem too childish, but mostly fitting. Sure there is some over the top characters, especially the foster parents of Harry feel overly caricatured and silly. I mean, who acts like that? But we are supposed to hate them and the movie does a great job at it.
But overall the tone feels right and fitting. It’s supposed to be a fun, fantastical adventure, which it certainly is.
Another fine thing is the Cast. Since it’s a British production we have a lot of British newcomer kid talents like Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson acting alongside major British heavyweights, such as Alan Rickman, Richard Harris, Maggie Smith and Robbie Coltraine. It’s a perfect mixture of talent and let’s the newcomers act against the big professionals, which in turn lifts up their performance.
I must say, Daniel Radcliffe and Rupert Grint, while doing a good job, there are some scenes, where their acting seems a little corny. Daniel seems to underact a few scenes, while Rupert tends to overact quite a bit, even for a kids property. I’m sure they will warm up in the movies to come. But you can see the burden of the property sitting heavyly on their backs. However, it never takes you out because the bigger stars can support them enough to make them appear better and more legit in their roles as they may be at this point. I mean, Alan Rickman as Prof. Snape, that’s just great stuff! 🙂
One thing I didn’t expect was the running time. I thought it may run close to 2 hours, but man oh man, it really takes its time and clocks in at almost 2.5h. Nothing to criticize for me, since I like long movies, but it shows that the makers mean serious business with this franchise. Plus, I never was bored. Sure not every scene seems absolutely necessary, but I like how the movie takes its time to paint us a picture of a world full of wonder.
I don’t know what else to say. It’s a really great film in my opinion and can be enjoyed by anyone, no matter what age. There is something for everybody here, weather it’s the humor, the production value or the great plot. It reminds you a lot of some of the older Steven Spielberg classics, like E.T. or Close Encounters Of The Third Kind.
If you like fantasy, you should not miss the film.