Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone 10/11/01

From: Viv
Category: Films
Date: 12 November 2001


After waiting for this film for more than a year, it was always going to be something of a disappointment, and I was not blown away as I'd hoped to be.

Ironically, the film's problem might be that it is too faithful to the book. Suffers from the same defect first book suffers from i.e. one half is introduction to the magical world, other is a (rather weak) adventure story. I felt they were trying to cram in too many plot details and this resulted in some rapid location jumps. People not familiar with the book may have difficulty following the story at points. Adaptation fails to explain some of the details - the Dursleys relationship with the Potters, why Quirrell wears a turban

Achieves a nice balance between humour and poignancy. Comic moments are very well done.

Interior locations good - suitably dark and gothic, but exteriors too bright and sunny. Both flying lesson and Quidditch match (which are supposed to take place in the autumn/winter) set against lush green grass and bright blue skies. Exterior of Hogwarts look too much like a gothic interpretation of the Disneyland castle. Diagon Alley far too Dickensian.

Quidditch match a little disappointing. Special effects let it down in parts. Centaur is very obviously CGI but Fluffy, troll and Norbert are well animated.

Acting generally good. Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter) a bit erratic. He's good at subtle, not so good when he's required to get angry. Rupert Grint (Ron) and Emma Watson (Hermione) both excellent. Draco also good, though not posh and languid, as he's described in the book. Other kids give mixed performances. Neville and Percy both a bit dodgy in parts. We don't see enough of the Weasley twins.

Adults are only as good as their character. Robbie Coltrane best because Hagrid's part is the most well developed and he gets the best jokes. Alan Rickman excellent as Snape although he does not get enough screen time, and we lose the sense of his hatred of Harry. Richard Harris is an okay Dumbledore but he lacks twinkle. Dursleys good, but their portion of the plot very curtailed.

Film is best when the pace slows down. When Harry sees his parents in the mirror of Erised was the stand out scene, in my view. Both Radcliffe and Harris excellent. Other good scenes are first confrontation with Draco, Ollivander's wand shop, Snape's potions lesson and the flying lesson.

These, however, are minor quibbles and, as I'm a big fan of the books, very much my taste.

Overall conclusion, good but not great and I am left with the view that Harry Potter may be unfilmable.

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