Friday, August 20, 2010

Canon Movie Review: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

Since I reviewed the book Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone last week. I decided to watch the movie and see how it matched up to the book. The film version was directed by Chris Columbus (Home Alone, Mrs. Doubtfire, Nine Months) and stars Daniel Ratcliffe as Harry Potter. The movie also stars Emma Watson, Rupert Grant, Richard Harris, Maggie Smith, and Alan Rickman, among others. The movie was released in 2001, and set a then record for the highest grossing opening weekend in movie history. The film made 974.7 million dollars at the box office worldwide, which is currently the seventh highest grossing film of all-time. A few thoughts about this movie, and I must warn you that there are spoilers ahead:

- Unlike some movies based on books, the movie's script follows the original source material rather closely. Sure, there are some scenes that are taken out of the book, and the manner in which Hagrid gives up his dragon is changed, but other than that, the script nearly follows the book to a tee. In fact, it kind of impaired my enjoyment of the film because I had just read the book, and therefore I knew what was coming.

- The special effects in the movie are really well-done. Particularly the scenes with the three headed dog and the little dragon of Hagrid's. Heck, they look so life-like that they almost look real. The giant troll looked kind of silly, though, especially when Harry jumped on his back. But overall, the special effects were well done and did not subtract at all from the movie.

- As I said before, one of the strengths of the movie was that it followed the book so thoroughly. However, I must say I was disappointed by the exclusion of Snape's defense mechanism in guarding the Sorcerer's Stone. That was one of my favorite parts of the book, and also the scene would have only taken a minute or so to do. But instead they went right from the chessboard to the final confrontation. Oh well.

- One odd thing about this film is that for a fantasy film, the movie almost seems too practical. Compared to the Lord of the Rings movies, with its gorgeous scenery and larger-than-life characters and effects, Harry Potter looks kind of run-of-the-mill, to be honest. Yes, some of the special effects are nicely well done, but most of the settings in the movie look like settings that you've probably seen in other movies before. I don't know, I guess overall I had imagined a far grander film than what I ended up watching.

- Last week, my sister Maggie warned me not to watch this film because the actors were just kids then and therefore the movie wasn't all that good. Well, after watching the film I'd say she wasn't wrong. Of the three main characters, I thought that Rupert Grint as Ron Weasley turned in the most convincing performance. Daniel Ratcliffe played Harry Potter, and even though I don't want to be too critical, it seemed as if he turned in a lackadaisical performance. Emma Watson as Hermoine Granger was all right I guess, but I felt the movie made her too much of a know-it-all. Actually, the movie made Hermoine out to be somewhat unlikeable, whereas the book portrayed her as a misunderstood overachiever, the movie kind of made her out to be a stuck up know-it-all. The adult actors all played their parts rather well, particularly Robbie Coltrane as the gentle giant Hagrid and Rickman as Professor Snape, although I felt he wasn't in the movie enough.

- One problem I had with the movie is that, while the events took place almost identically as described as the book, it seemed as if something was missing in the retelling. For one, in the book Harry was kind of freaked out in the beginning about being a wizard and discovering this new world and all that, but in the movie, he seemed to accept everything rather quickly, and just acted as if all of these new things were just normal everyday stuff. Also, in the book Harry and the gang were always scared about passing classes and gaining acceptance, but you hardly see any of that in the movie, other than Hermoine worrying about Harry and Ron getting her killed "or worse, expelled".

- The movie also cuts out a lot of scenes featuring Harry's family the Dursleys, who are much more important in the book but only get a couple of minutes in the movie. Also, Draco Malfoy's character in the book was a rich stuck-up bully who tormented Harry and Ron all year. In the movie, he's more of a troublemaker who serves little purpose but to advance the story.

Overall, while the movie is very faithful to the original material, it comes off as a flat retelling of the tale instead of adding to it, if that makes any sense. It lacks a lot of the emotion and suspense of the book and the movie kind of drags in the middle. To me, the film is simply a by-the-numbers retelling of the book I found it okay, but something was lost in the translation from the book to the film. I'll give it a 5 out of 10. Well, thanks for reading, and if you have any thoughts about this post, or ideas for future reviews, than share those thoughts and ideas either by leaving a comment on the blog or by sending me an e-mail at


  1. I also would have loved to have seen Snape's defense mechanism in the movie, as that was the best one, I thought. Hardly anyone, besides Hermione, would have been able to get past that. Alan Rickman is a wonderful Snape, I think! :D

    And yes, Ratcliffe did give a shoddy performance, but he was like 12, so I can kind of forgive him. Though, he does get better as the movies advance.

    But I'm glad that you liked it enough. I don't have any of the other movies, so you can either watch them online or borrow them from Rose if you like. Whenever mom sends me the third book, I'll send back the second so you can read it, and since I now have two of the third, you'll already have that one there. Number 3 is my favorite of the series, so it's quite good.

  2. I wouldn't say shoddy, just a little too one-dimensional. It would have helped if he acted more amazed and shocked at all of the different things happening to him. For example, he didn't seem all that shocked when a huge giant came bursting through the door with a birthday cake. But, that's just my opinion.

    I don't know how many of the movies I'm going to end up seeing, all in all. If you want me to review the second book than I guess I could do that soon.