I know all of you have probably seen this movie by now, and most of you have it memorized, but I still will review it.
What I like about J.K. Rowling’s books are that they are no particular work of literary genius. There is no breakthrough “hallelujah” writing, in face it is comparatively simple to the works of other authors. This doesn’t matter though, because her books have a way of holding your attention and keeping you entertained. The simple style attracted millions and started this new craze of popular reading. Think about it: before Harry Potter came around the world’s youth was focused on things like Pokemon and Yu-Gi-Oh (I don’t know how to spell that second one). If it weren’t for J.K. Rowling we wouldn’t see the craze we do today with Percy Jackson or Twilight, but let’s not blame her for those.
The movie is no different from the books. I’m not saying events in the book and movie are the same, but both have that captivation that when you step back and look at it escapes understanding. It is a story about a boy who becomes a wizard and goes to school, there is nothing special about that. But there is an intangible aura to the movies and the book that keep you hooked.
For those of you who don’t know, here is the plot outline:
Harry Potter is an 11 year old boy who was raised by his miserable Aunt and Uncle since his parents died in a car accident when he was an infant. He escaped the car accident with nothing but a lightning bolt scar on his forehead. Harry is kind but quiet, having spent his life being bullied by his cousin Dudley, a horrible spoiled brat of a kid. He lived in a small storage room under the stairs in his Aunt and Uncles house, cleaning and doing chores. When Dudley was sent to the best schools, Harry went to the worst. His Aunt and Uncle spent no money on him, and he lived in Dudley’s hand-me-downs.
For his whole life weird things happened around Harry. Men and women in the streets bowed to him or wave. When he went to the Zoo on his cousin’s birthday, Harry had a conversation with a snake, and somehow his horrid cousin wound up behind plate glass in the snake’s pen while it escaped the Zoo. Just before his 12th birthday, a letter arrives in the mail for Harry uniquely addressed, including the line “The cupboard under the stairs” under his name. His uncle destroys the letter, but more and more begin to arrive along with a flurry of owls.
No matter what he does, Harry cannot get a letter. One Sunday hundreds of owls swarm his house and the entire place explodes in a flurry of post. He still can’t get a hold of any of the letters though. His uncle takes the family and moves them all to a small shack in the middle of a stony island to escape the messages. That night Harry turns 12. At midnight a giant figure breaks down the door to the shack, scares back Harry’s Aunt and Uncle, and delivers to him a letter.
The letter is an acceptance to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, an elite private school for those gifted with magic. The man, an old friend of Harry’s parents, is Hagrid, the gamekeeper of the school. He explains to Harry that his parents did not in fact die in a car accident, they were murdered by a horribly powerful and evil wizard who then tried to kill him. No one knows why, but Harry was unharmed, save for a scar on his forehead, and the evil wizard who kept the world in fear was annihilated. For this Harry became a hero (hence the bowing), and so he was sent to his Aunt and Uncle (who knew the magic thing all along, but hated Harry’s mother and father for their powers) for safekeeping.
Harry is taken by Hagrid and given his inheritance- a massive sum of money kept safe in the wizard bank. He is given a ticket to board a special secret train to Hogwarts and Hagrid departs. Harry cannot find the train however, and whoever he asks thinks him crazy. When he overhears another family going to the platform, he follows them and is shown the way by a kind woman and her children.
On the train Harry sits with one of the boys, and the two become fast friends. Ron and Harry then meet Hermione, a bossy know-it-all who is the first witch in her family. At Hogwarts Harry meets Malfoy, a wicked boy from a powerful family. He is placed in Griffindor House, traditionally home of the bravest Wizards. He is also placed on the school Quidditch team (a mixture of soccer and baseball), and is the youngest player in a century.
The school is dangerous, as the staircases change direction abruptly. Harry, Ron, and Hermione are returning from classes when such a thing happens while they are on the stairs. They end up in a forbidden hallway at the school. Upon examination they find a massive three-headed dog. Events occur around them that lead them to believe hidden somewhere behind the dog is a mysterious thing called the “Sorcerers Stone” which is said by legend to be able to make any who drink an elixir created from it immortal. They must discover who is trying to steal the stone and for what purpose, avoiding teachers and the culprit at the same time.
This movie is nearly flawless in the acting. The performance given by the young leads is incredible. There are few slip-ups, one that bothers me enough to tell you about. In the early scene where Dudley knocks Harry over to look at the snake, the actor turns his head along with the sweep of his arm, watching Harry fall and making sure he is down before pressing his face to the glass. It looses the image of the kid mesmerized by a snake, and you can definitely tell he’s watching the actor fall onto a mat.
Daniel Radcliffe (Harry), Rupert Grint (Ron), and Emma Watson (Hermione) were chosen out of millions for the role. While Daniel Radcliffe had a bit part in a BBC adaptation of David Copperfield a year before auditioning, the other two had no professional acting experience. Rupert Grint sent in a video audition of him in drag as his drama teacher, and Emma Watson’s school principle pushed for her to audition. However the cast came together, the three have amazing chemistry from the beginning. Each responds to the other two naturally, and they even became great friends in real life.
They loose MAJOR points for one glaring editing mistake: Daniel Radcliffe’s voice. Halfway through the filming the lead actors voice changed. This wouldn’t be a problem, except they filmed some of the last scenes first. Halfway through the movie itself Harry’s voice changes, and it would work if it was consistent. However, in the final scenes suddenly Harry’s high voice is back. They should have gone back and re-recorded the audio for his voice, but the jump back is just sloppy.
They also lost a point for Harry’s eyes. I know there is the whole fan-geek-out about Harry having green eyes in the book and blue eyes in the movie. I usually don’t care, and they only will loose points on this for the first movie. The only reason they lose points at all is that the editing crew ADMITTED they meant to make Harry’s eyes green, but the actor couldn’t handle the green contact lenses and they FORGOT to fix the eyes in the editing room like they were supposed to. If they had just chosen not to care what his eye color was, then I wouldn’t take points off. But for forgetting they lose points.
This is a great movie for kids, and people of all ages will be able to follow it easily. I highly recommend it. I think almost everyone in the world has seen this movie so far, or at least heard of it, but if you haven’t I’d give it a viewing. It went down in infamy after the first movie, and since then it has only gotten more popular. This movie will be a legend for generations to come, and I would be surprised if a remake is ever allowed, let alone in the next century.