Volume 95, Issue 44

Tuesday, November 20, 2001
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Imagination brought to life

Hank beats up on Joe

Imagination brought to life

Harry Potter makes a magical world

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
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
Gazette Staff

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.

Gazette File Photo
ANTHRAX ISN'T A PROBLEM IF YOU DON'T TOUCH THE MAIL. Harry Potter is caught using magic to impress his friends in the much-anticipated Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, which hit theatres this weekend.

Before the release of the movie, avid Potter fans were concerned that J.K. Rowling's Potter books may lose some of their wonder in the screen translation. Rest assured, there is no need to worry that director Chris Columbus has taken too much freedom in the adaptation.

Each and every character is used and almost every scene from the book is implemented, extending the length of the movie to a long two and a half hours.

To maintain the authenticity of the book, both cast and location are almost strictly British. It was extremely important that Harry be placed in the appropriate context and not be school chums with valley girls and jocks.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone drives the imagination to new heights and will hopefully continue to do so for another six enchanting movies.

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Copyright The Gazette 2001