Archive for July 21st, 2011

I don’t think I have ever made a secret of the fact I’m not a Harry Potter fan. I have nothing against the franchise I just haven’t seen the movies, nor have I read the books. I have seen the third movie, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, this was the result of a rainy afternoon, my admiration of its director Alfonso Cuarón and the chance occurrence that I turned the TV on just as the movie was starting; It had nothing to do with the Potter Hype. So as the rest of the know universe is getting exited about The Deathly Hallows: Part 2, I have just seen the first movie, Harry Potter And The Philosopher’s Stone for the first time. So what did I think?

I’m not going to review the movie in full, that has been done to death in the past decade, nor am I going to dwell to much on the synopsis, anyone reading this probably knows the film(s) much better than I do, so briefly: Harry Potter is an ordinary 11-year-old boy, orphaned at an early age he lives with his fairytale evil aunt and uncle. Despite the best efforts of his guardians Harry discovers that he is a wizard and is invited to attend the Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry. What follows is a combination of magical adventure and pre-teen school drama.

The story is well told and well paced, the two and half hour running time is about right, it packs a lot in without outstaying its welcome, however the depiction of time is very poor. There is a cleaver device whereby the movie is set in the space of a single school year, I understand this comes directly from the source material. The problem is that there is little indication of the passage of time, this in itself is a minor issue but it does devalue development of the friendship of the three young protagonists in its most formative time.

The budget is believed to be around $125million, approximately half that of the later movies, the money is used well with pretty good special effects are, and decent sets, but the real success is the cast of first rate actors (including: Richard Harris, Maggie Smith, Robbie Coltrane, Fiona Shaw, Richard Griffiths, Ian Hart, John Hurt, John Cleese, Alan Rickman, Zoë Wanamaker). The only drawback to this the quality of the supporting performances is such that it makes some of the acting from the child stars seem a little wooden at times, I am led to believe it gets better in later movies.

Having never read the books I don’t know how well it works as an adaptation but taken on its own merits it is a well crafted and enjoyable film that doesn’t insult younger viewers or bore older ones. On the whole it makes for an enjoyable film, if a little safe and predictable. I will be checking out the rest of series in the coming weeks.

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