In my end of 2011 review, I mentioned that I wanted to get at some series which I had not ranked. With our new Harry Potter Blu Rays in hand (thanks John!), Liz and I decided to watch that group of films first. It’s not hard to convince Liz of this, since she has seen all the HP movies dozens of times. Anyway, I have the last few movies on these pages from seeing them in theaters, but hadn’t seen the first bunch in awhile.

I watched HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERER’S STONE (2001) on 1.6.11. It was, roughly, my fifth or sixth viewing of the film.

This is, without question, not the best film in the series. However, it does set the tone correctly in the sense of wonder and discovery. The scope of this film is smaller. I’m sure some of that was budgetary, and some of that was just the plain fact that they hadn’t gotten going yet. But the special effects are often subpar (any time someone flies, especially) and some of the sets look like studio lots.

On the other hand, much of this looks beautiful. I picked the shot above specifically because it is not one of those iconic Harry Potter moments (i.e., Harry looking out the window, the three kids on the train, or the chess game). I picked it because it showcases how, in many moments in this film, the atmosphere is just perfectly captured.

I like the writing in this film, and think that sometimes the action as directed lets it down. The chess game is a perfect example of that. The smoke puffs are stuff of pure kids movie silliness, and why is there a fire inexplicably on the board (how does stone crushing stone start a fire?).

But the action in here is secondary to launching the series. In that respect, SORCERER’S STONE is wildly successful. It cannot be blamed for later directors changing series-wide decisions made in the first film, and so must be taken on its own merit. In terms of building a foundation, Chris Columbus does a marvelous job of making us feel like Harry: Someone coming into this world of wizardry and witches without and previous knowledge, and allowing us to discover it with him.

The villain is not strong, but that is important. Harry, at this point, shouldn’t be able to overcome some grand wizard. It should be that he is inexplicably able to defeat him in a manner which he cannot control. If he squared off with Quirrell like he does with others later in the series, it would make the character of Harry Potter too powerful. Where would his journey go if he is able to just defeat with magic anyone he wants.

The acting here is not nearly as good as it would get later on, but it is by no means a negative. There are enough veteran actors in here to balance out some of the acting quirks the kids are still figuring out (particularly some of Rupert Grint’s deliveries and exaggerated looks.) I also never noticed that Ralph Fiennes doesn’t show up as Voldemort until the fourth film. Go figure.

I am not someone who has read the books, so I don’t bring that particular dog to this fight. Instead, I’m someone who enjoyed the series more and more as it had gone along, and became an unquestionable fan of Harry Potter the film series. As such, I’ll say that SORCERER’S STONE is what it needed to be: the groundwork on which the rest of the series was able to build.



Love this film score. Having watched a few movies from a decade or two ago lately, I can’t help but notice how far away we’ve gotten from some of these great orchestral scores.



~ by johnlink00 on January 7, 2012.

One Response to “johnlink ranks HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERER’S STONE (2001)”

  1. […] HP1 link here […]

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