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Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
Review written by: Alex Sandell

If you thought the book was spectacular, you'll think this movie is good.  If you liked the book, you'll think this movie is okay.  If you thought the book was okay, you'll feel indifferent about this movie.  I'm one of the people that thought the book was okay (the series really picked up for me with Order of the Phoenix), and found the movie to be far, far from an "event" picture.  This may have been an "event" television miniseries.  The film has its moments, but it seems incredibly similar to one of those NBC made-for-TV movies featuring Ted Danson.  Sure, the production is huge and nearly everything from the book is included (a few key things are missing, including one of my favorite little sidekicks), but it all seems overlong, underdone, poorly paced and drab.  

Director Chris Columbus (Mrs. Doubtfire, Bicentennial Man, Home Alone), usually one to overdo everything, seems to sit way in the background, so scared that he might anger people if he strays too far from the book, that he actually forgets to make an interesting movie. All you're really seeing is a less colorful play-by-play of what you've already read.  If you haven't read the book, you'll probably leave the theater scratching your head and wondering what the fuss was about.  So many things are crammed into the 2 hours and 30 minutes the film runs that there isn't really time for any one thing  to develop (did that come off sounding like a "boner" joke?).  It all seems entertaining enough, but this strange feeling of boredom looms just over the audience, threatening, at any time, to put them to sleep, or nudge them into a lobby to sneak a smoke.  While I didn't succumb to the boredom looming over me, and I quit smoking over a year ago, I still never really believed in what I was seeing.  

I was aware, throughout the film, that if I hadn't read the book, I would probably be hating this thing.  Why?  The movie relies heavily on kid actors.  The movie also relies on the audience to already be emotionally involved with those kid actors' characters before watching the film.  The only reason you tolerate any of this is because of what you read in the novel.  The kids themselves bring nothing special to the film.  It's your imagination that has to bring something special into the theater, to believe in the kids.  This is like Jake Lloyd (the annoying kid Anakin in The Phantom Menace) starring in a Willy Wonka remake.  There's no chemistry here.  There's no charisma.  There's no anything when it comes to the child actors.  I know Haley Joel Osment, and Daniel Radcliffe, you're no Haley Joel Osment.  

So, when all is said and done, why am I giving this film an incredibly weak thumbs up, rather than a rotten tomato?  Because it succeeds amazingly well at being a mediocre recap of the book.  Essentially, I'm saying that it isn't bad, because it could have been worse.  It's like meeting up with your high school crush at a class reunion; nothing's quite as good as you remember it being, but it still really isn't all that awful, either.  

On a scale of 1-10?

Agree? Disagree? Email me at alex@juicycerebellum.com 

Text (Copyright) 2001 Alex Sandell [All Rights Reserved].  If you copy this, without my permission, I'll sick J.K. Rowling's lawyers on you!

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