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

by Chris Morin

    Am I the only person in the world that is going to highly criticize the new "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" movie? Perhaps. But what I can tell you is that I enjoyed the movie more than I disliked it. There were good things, bad things and great things about this film. But all in all, they all seemed to cancel each other out and I left the theater feeling that a little something was missing.
    My biggest complaint about the movie, and this goes for all movies as of late, was some of the special effects. I can't stand the way most movie makers are making use of special effects nowadays. Most effects look cheesy and just don't look real. It's almost as if the film makers are trying to say, "See, look what I can do!" George Lucas was one of the first ones to take this approach with the "Phantom Menace" especially with the use of Jar Jar Binks. Did we really need to see Jar Jar's ears flap in front of Ewan MacGregor's face? I think it was George's way of telling the audience, "See, look what I can do!"
    I felt sort of the same way when watching Harry Potter. Some of the effects were amazing. The scenes when all of these letters were arriving at Harry's home and when you saw the bricks on a particular wall move out of the way were incredible. Others, like the unnatural flight of Harry's owl and the three headed dog just seemed a little over done. I know it is fantasy but let's be real, an owl is an owl to call a spade a spade. Harry's owl could not make the twists and turns that were shown on the screen. Even the most casual watcher of a nature program could tell you that. And shouldn't a three headed dog look like a real dog only with three heads?
    My other major complaint about the picture was the fact that it was called "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone." I mean, we never hear a word about the stone until perhaps the beginning of the third hour of the movie! They should have titled the movie Harry Potter and the Phantom Stone.
    But there were other things about this film that I did like. The acting for instance was top notch especially Daniel Radcliffe who played Harry. He played the part perfectly and seemed very comfortable playing the world's most famous wizard. My only regret is that he probably won't be in the next movie due to his age.
    I also liked the bad guy in this film but I wish we saw more of him. One scene, which to me was wonderful and used very little if any special effects, was when the cloaked dark bad guy was bearing down on Harry in the forest. The villain was nothing more than a person in a black cloak. You never saw his face but the feeling of doom and danger was incredible. It reminded me of a scene from "It's A Wonderful Life" where George Bailey goes to see Mister Potter. George sits down in a chair in front of Potter's desk and is practically sitting on the floor as Potter, who is sitting in a big chair seems to dwarf George. You can feel the power of Mister Potter in that scene as you can in this one without anyone in the film saying a word. I wish more movie makers would use this approach in story telling.
    I also liked the use of sets in this film especially the secret alleyway where Harry buys all of his school supplies. The alley is crowded with all sorts of creatures selling wands, cauldrons and every other item that a wizard could need. This was a fascinating part of the film. I especially love the way the banking system in this world worked and of the complexity of the vault locks used in the bank. An incredible amount of detail was used and it did not go unnoticed.
    Although I found many faults with this film, it was very entertaining and seemed to tell a decent enough story even though it was told at a snail's pace. For me, who hasn't read any of the Harry books, this was my first introduction to the boy wizard. The film, unlike other movies, did not make me want to read the books. But I would go see the sequel just for the hope that the next film, in what could ultimately be a seven movie series, moves at a faster pace.
    Like I said, I left the theater feeling like something was missing with this movie. Maybe it is not a problem with the film but with me. Maybe I am too old for this film. Or maybe I'm just a Muggle with no affinity for boy wizards.

My Rating - 4 out of a possible 5 score

Chris' Corner