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lMovie Review
"Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone"
By Mira Harber
    If you haven’t read any of the Harry Potter books, don’t worry - Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone is slavishly faithful to the book. The basic story is a classic, and the first, in a planned series of seven books by British author J. K. Rowling. Harry Potter is an orphaned, young boy living with mean, dreadful relatives. On Harry’s 11th birthday his life changes drastically when an amazing new world opens up to him. After being inundated with a mountain of mail, Harry receives an invitation to attend Hogwarts, a kind of magical Oxford for witches and wizards to be.  Harry, you see, is destined to become a great wizard, and is already famous in the wizarding world because of the miraculous way he cheated death at the hands of a powerful dark wizard. 
    The film deals with his first year at Hogwarts. The sets are positively, well ‘magical’. The school is set in a fabulous Gothic looking castle and  the mix of real and computer-generated effects are used to brilliant effect. Staircases move daily (be careful where you walk!), the characters in paintings move , they’re not just sitting there like they are in the non-magic, Muggles, world. 
    The casting in this film is brilliant - if you’ve read the book(s) you’ll know what I mean, and if not, you’ll feel like you already know the characters - they are absolutely spot-on. Bespectacled Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) is befriended by the feisty red-headed Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint), and a know-it-all smarty pants young girl Hermione Granger (Emma Watson). Together these three become embroiled in a variety of suitably scary (but not totally terrifying) escapades. The adults in this movie are a who’s-who of British actors; Richard Harris plays Headmaster Dumbledore with suitable gravitas, but still has a twinkle in his eyes. Maggie Smith (Prime of Miss Jean Brodie) is the Transfiguring Professor McGonagall.  Robbie Coltrane is pitch-perfect as the loose-lipped giant Hagrid and Alan Rickman (best bad guy in Die Hard & Robin-Hood ) steals the show as Professor Snapes who sports a  fabulous sneer as we wonder just who’s side he is really on.
    Don’t get me wrong, I by no means thought that the movie was perfect. ‘Too many notes’, too much info - it’s not necessary to put every single detail from the book into the movie, it’s ok to leave some things out. I know that some children view the book and movie as an almost religious experience, but sometimes less is more. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone seemed more like an opportunity to introduce the main characters and compared to the later books the plot was a little thin. This movie serves as a 2+1/2 hour introduction to the world’s largest ever children’s franchise. I also felt, and here I will probably be lone voice in the wind, that the movie somehow lacked ‘heart’ - everything looked perfect, but somehow the soul of the book was missing. How you define soul is individual to each of us, but I know it when it’s missing. That said..
anything that uses special effects to serve the story, not be used instead of a story is a refreshing change. Children’s imaginations are fired up by Harry Potter’s world. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone is destined to become, if it is not already, a  children’s classic in the tradition of Wizard of Oz.  HP and the Sorcerer’s Stone might not be perfect, but it certainly leaves the audience waiting impatiently for next installment in the series HP & The Chamber of Secrets. Stay tuned.

 
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