Widely anticipated, "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" is finally here in film form after J.K. Rowling's book series captured imaginations the world over. Based on the English tale of young Mr. Potter, an especially gifted boy with a mysteriously famous past, who discovers a world of witches, warlocks and goblins - none of which lives under his bed or in his imagination.
Directed by Chris Columbus and co-written by Rowlings and Steven Kloves, the result is pure magic -- over two hours of it, to be specific. Young Harry is played right down to the forehead lightening scar by Daniel Radcliffe -- likable, befuddled, with a mischievous little boy smile.
We briefly meet Harry as an infant but come to know him as the 11-year-old wunderkind with strange abilities. For his personal safety, Harry was left on the doorstep of his Aunt and Uncle Dursley and their fat spoiled child, Dudley -- horrible, shameful, greedy, non-magical people, also known as Muggles. They are frightfully ordinary, hideously so.
After several hundred owls attempt to deliver an urgent letter to Harry, it becomes evident that he is destined for a life not so ordinary. Harry has been accepted at Hogwart's School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, where his destiny awaits.
His immediate best friends are Ron, played by red-headed gem, Rupert Grint, and Hermione, played with crisp smartiness by Emma Watson. Pound for pound, however, none is a bigger friend to Harry than Hagrid, the very large, immensely hairy groundskeeper at Hogwart's, played with tremendous love and affection by Robbie Coltrane.
A very pointy hat's off to the special effects crew on this film -- every detail was executed with care -- the haunted oil portraits, the moving staircases, the floating candles, the resident ghosts -- especially John Cleese as Nearly Headless Nick -- were spot on. It was the kind of film you wanted to step into, except perhaps once the giant three-headed, snarling, drooling guard dog came on the scene. Alan Rickman is especially delightful as Professor Snape, the conniving master of potions who seems to have it out for Harry
Potter fans will not be disappointed and new Potter fans will soon be borne without ever having read a single word. Finally, an intelligent kid hero that movie audiences can grow with. I certainly hope young Mr. Radcliffe isn't doing anything else for the next decade or so for it looks like he could be the James Bond of the magic world.
© 2002 - Heather Clisby - Air Date: 11/14/01