Volume 95, Issue 44
Tuesday, November 20, 2001
ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT
Imagination brought to life
Harry Potter makes a magical world
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, Maggie Smith, Robbie Coltrane, Richard Harris
Directed By: Chris Columbus
Four 1/2 stars (out of five)
By Lindsay Satterthwaite
All aboard the Hogwarts Express!
Wizards and Muggles (non-magic people) of all ages can now be transported on a scarlet steam engine to the enchanting world of wizardry as Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone brings imagination to life on the silver screen.
By tapping a combination of six bricks, you can enter Diagon Alley and purchase anything you want, from magic wands to potions. You can visit Gringotts Wizard Bank with goblin tellers or take a tour through the Forbidden Forest to see endangered unicorns.
The first in a possible series of seven, this film consists of a reasonable amount of background information and a very slim plot. In the film, we meet young, orphaned Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe), learn of his secret wizard heritage and watch him develop his inherited magical talents.
Along with his friends Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint) and Hermione Granger (Emma Watson), Harry's curiosity and determination put him in many interesting predicaments that only improve his magical skills.
Although newcomer Daniel Radcliffe offers a refreshing change from the typical Hollywood-type child actor, he appears stiff and scared to use more than one facial expression. As a boy who just discovered he is a wizard, Radcliffe's performance is less than convincing.
The portrayals of inferior sidekick Ron Weasley and the headstrong leader Hermione Granger are more successful.
Richard Harris plays Professor Dumbledor and Maggie Smith plays Professor McGonnagal. They portray their stiff upper-lip characters with a Shakespearean flare.
Despite lessons on levitation and transfiguration, appropriate manners are required and severely enforced in keeping with the standards of an English boarding school.
On screen, the majestic Hogwarts Castle is an overwhelming sight.
With trapdoors, moving staircases and hidden doorways, the castle sets a perfect scene for Harry's mysterious adventures. The magnificent size of the castle is consistent with the excess size of many things in the movie, such as a three-headed dog and an evil troll.
The visual highlight of the movie is the Quidditch match. Quidditch is an airborne cross between football, lacrosse and cricket. This intense scene is an exciting, visual roller-coaster on broomsticks.
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