Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone Review

The first Harry Potter movie is a pretty solid kids movie for its time. The only problem is that they played it a little too safe. If you look at other kids movies from around that time, it’s pretty obvious that they stuck to the basic formula of what was popular. It’s the only one that doesn’t have its own unique tone or style, and it reeks of age (and not just because of the terrible early-2000s CGI). But what it lacks in objective originality, it more than makes up for in heart. Chris Columbus knows how to tug at the audiences heart strings, and he’s able to establish a likeable protagonist who we care about through the whole movie. It’s amazing how much of a difference that can make in an action/adventure movie. If Harry had just been some faceless kid being lead through adventures by adults and more charismatic side characters, this movie wouldn’t have been nearly as good. And it sets up a solid foundation to see the character grow and change in later films. It’s also pretty obvious early one that they’ve made some amazing long term casting decisions. I mean, the three kids are kind of shitty actors in the first one, but it’s amazing that how well they all eventually grew into the roles. But what’s really great are all the veteran actors in the adult roles, casting like Robbie Coltrane as Hagrid and Richard Harris as Dumbledore (who was way better than his replacement in the later movies), and my personal favourite, Alan “I can’t kill Bruce Willis” Rickman as that greasy old fuck Severus Snape. There’s also a lot of fun action set pieces in the movie, such as the Quidditch scenes, the troll, and the three headed dog. However, I always though that once they got down into the hidden trapdoor, the ensuing several trials with the broomstick and the giant chess were a little boring, and kind of a disappointing climax to the movie. This movie, though not a superhero story, is also a big sufferer of OSS, or Origin Story Syndrome, which is when a movie spends half it’s runtime setting up the character, that then a completely new and unrelated plot starts like an hour from the end of the movie. We spend so much time setting up Harry and Hogwarts and everything, and then the whole plot with the stone almost seems like an afterthought. Overall, this movie isn’t super memorable, but it does a great job laying the groundwork for the rest of the series.

Ruling: Kinda Holds Up

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