"Holy cricket! You're Harry Potter!"
★★★★ Though it may not be the best of the Harry Potter films, watching Sorcerer's Stone is required viewing after reading or rereading the first book. I've been rereading the Harry Potter series this year and seeing the books brought to life is really enough to get any of the films a pass in my book. Sorcerer's Stone is more concerned with hitting all the plot points more than creating a living, breathing world. But it does get extra points for establishing the incredible cast of actors in the iconic roles they will continue throughout the series.
"I can tell you how to bottle fame, brew glory and even put a stopper in death."
Alan Rickman was born to play Professor Severus Snape. Robbie Coltrane, an actor I was unfamiliar with embodies Rubeus Hagrid. And Richard Griffiths plays Uncle Vernon Dursely with the perfect amount of frustrated crazy. He's respects the fact the Vernon is ignorant, not stupid and plays it well. I could go on this way about Rupert Grint (Ron Weasley) and others but I'll end my praise of the cast with Tom Felton who plays Draco Malfoy. The way he slips into the role of Harry's smug, self-righteous nemesis is spot-on and we love to hate him.
Being 12 years old, the film's special effects are starting to look a bit dated. We especially see this anytime the Hogwarts' ghosts make an appearance. There's also a flashback to Lily Potter's murder that's done in dramatic slow motion which doesn't do the scene any favors.
The Quidditch scenes are underwhelming and border on ridiculous especially when Harry stands up on his broom to catch the golden snitch. If they made this film today I think the Quidditch scenes would become really fun in 3D using some first person shots to put us on the broom with Harry. The film already has some first person moments during Harry's adventure in the invisibility cloak, which would be really fun 3D sequences as well. But I'm speculating here, and as Albus Dumbledore tells Harry, "It does not do to dwell on dreams, and forget to live."
Being more concerned with hitting all the right notes, the film adds quite a bit of exposition to get us from event to event. But the score is spot on throughout. John Williams did a wonderful job painting an audio portrait of the magical world of Harry Potter.
The film critic Richard Roeper called Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, "The Wizard of Oz of its time." I don't know if I'd go that far about this film, but I'd certainly say that about the book. The innocence and fun of the first three Harry Potter novels is enchanting. The series gets darker starting with The Goblet of Fire, but those first three are perfect, even if the movies aren't.