ninth symphony films - movie reviews

HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERER'S STONE (2001)


DIRECTOR  -  chris columbus

RATED  -  pg

GENRE  -  fantasy

LENGTH  -  152 minutes

RELEASED  -  16 november 2001

DISTRIBUTOR  -  warner bros.

OFFICIAL SITE  -  harry potter

ESTIMATED BUDGET  -  $130,000,000
harry potter and the sorcerer's stone - a shot from the film

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SYNOPSIS:
steven spielberg was offered the position as director, but was later refused when he couldn't agree with jk rowling's insistence on an all-british cast. he wanted to use haley joel osment for the part of harry.




MOVIE FACT:
about harry potter, a boy who learns on his eleventh birthday that he is the orphaned son of two powerful wizards and possesses unique magical powers of his own.


MOVIE FOTOS:

picture from harry potter

picture from harry potter

picture from harry potter



RATING:


two out of four possible stars

Large scale and heavily laden with special effects, this movie is sometimes fun to look at, but with a plot that has no bearing on the film and a length that Rip Van Winkle would find long, this film lumbers along like an ogre. So while the audience is wrapped up in special effect after special effect, the filmmakers try to slip a fast one. This movie really doesn't have a plot and, because of that all the events that happen in the film, all the wizard type things that occur are just a distraction, never moving the film along. There's sequence after sequence of Harry Potter and his little friends getting into trouble.

There is a light amount of concern on the characters' parts about the mysterious sorcerer's stone, but mostly, it's just a sprinkling. In trying to be loyal to the original book, which I suspect is the fault of J.K. Rowling, the witch who wrote the novel and looks to have had her sticky fingers into everything, the filmmakers were forced to create a movie that looks better on paper, than it does on the screen. Film and the written word are, because of their mediums, not usually complimentary toward one another. That's why you'll never see the latest John Grisham book being used on the set of one of his films.

They use scripts instead. Movies that are made from books have to be tinkered with and thrown about a bit in order to make them suitable for the screen. It's impossible to stuff everything into a film that was in a book, but Harry Potter attempts to do just that. And, clocking in at one hundred and fifty something minutes, this film's first concern is in getting everything talked about in the book onto the screen. Now, I saw this film in an audience comprised mainly of adults, but there were a few children down the row from me and about an hour of the way through the film, these little tykes were squirming.

And it's kind of incredible, but the words "Sorcerer's Stone" aren't said by any character until about seventy-five minutes through the film. The title for this film should have been "Harry Potter and the Fun Things He Does At Wizard's School." It's just not possible to expect this film's target audience to be content in sitting in front of the screen for so long. The little girl sitting down the row from me with her parents started moving around and fidgeting around minute sixty. And by that time we weren't even half-way through the film. A little more restraint in the editing room would probably have saved this film from becoming more of a miniseries than a film.

I will not deny though that this film had some moments that enjoyable. There's a fast paced scene somewhere in the middle where harry and his classmates take part in a game that resembles soccer on broomsticks. Although the special effects aren't really that special, it's a scene that moves along fast and includes some remnants of the plot. This film had a gigantic 120 million budget which was probably eaten up by the special effects that were present in nearly every shot. Sometimes these effects though looked no better than early blue-screen work done a decade ago. There was much switching back and forth between completely cgi images and their real counterparts that became somewhat jarring.

For example, when the children were on their broomsticks, their characters were represented by CGI versions in shots where using stunt persons would have been impossible. And after seeing earlier this year the special effects in The Mummy Returns and Jurassic Park III, the effects in this film really paled in comparison. That's not to say that every look in the film was kind of shoddy. The person responsible for the set decorations and the art decoration for this film was more than just creative. Craig Stuart did a terrific job in creating Harry Potter's world and the sequence where that is most apparent occurs when Harry goes to a part of the city which seemingly can only be reached through a magic wall.

The world Harry steps into is dressed from top to bottom in fantasy elements, and the people are dressed in very colorful and interesting costumes. Now I know the people leading the art direction department were probably also responsible for these scenes, and I just have to compliment them all on a job well done. And speaking of compliments, another element of this film which deserves at least a few kudos is the supporting cast. Reading like a veritable who's who of English acting, this film sure packs in the talent. The adults in supporting roles all have a little bit of humor in their performances and this allows the lack of plot to sometimes be forgotten.

But even with a strong supporting cast, the actor responsible for Harry Potter's character, Daniel Radcliffe, wasn't that impressive. Now I understand that he doesn't have much acting experience, but with the amount of special effects in this film and the large supporting cast, Radcliffe was really not able to embody the character of Harry Potter to the fullest. It was as if the casting director picked him because of his looks, more than for his acting ability.

Review by Kelsey Wyatt.


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