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Reviews
STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
Poor 2 Stars
Tragic 1 Star

FILM DETAILS
Certificate
PG
Cast
Daniel Radcliffe
Rupert Grint
Emma Watson
Robbie Coltrane
Richard Harris
Alan Rickman.
Directors
Chris Columbus.
Screenwriters
Steve Kloves.
Running Time
152 minutes

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Harry Potter And The Philosopher's Stone
J.K.Rowling's magical tale finally makes it to the big screen


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Plot
On his eleventh birthday, orphan Harry Potter discovers that he's a wizard, so off he goes to Hogwarts School to learn the ways of the wand. But it isn't all lessons and making friends: Harry is destined for a showdown with the evil Lord Voldemort.


Review
Sometimes the best plan is to do things by the book. With over 100 million Harry Potter readers desperate to rush down cinema aisles to see their hero on the big screen for the first time, you can't blame Chris Columbus for sticking close to J.K. Rowling's novel. It's one thing to let your imagination loose with the words on the page; it's another to have those images backed up by a multi-million dollar Hollywood budget. And from the very first sight of an owl perched on the Privet Drive road sign to the closing shot of the Hogwarts Express pulling away from the station with the majestic school sitting high on the hills behind, we know that every golden galleon has been well spent.

That's why this faithful adaptation won't fail to win over the book's fans with its 'wow' factor. It thrives on audience recognition. John Williams' score swells at the key moments - Here's your first glimpse of Hogwarts! Isn't Diagon Alley crammed with Dickensian detail! - as Columbus pulls back curtain after curtain to reveal all of the avid readers' favourite bits. The stand-out sequence is the Gryffindor versus Slytherin Quidditch match, a fast-paced medieval Rollerball with broomsticks. It soars where The Phantom Menace's podrace stalled on the third lap.

Harry Potter And The Philosopher's Stone has one advantage over so many other blockbusters: it already knows that it's the first in a series, so it doesn't have to become a self-contained hit movie before its sequels can receive the green light. This means it deliberately takes its time setting up the characters and the scenario before, like the book, pulling in a quest-cum-whodunnit plot to provide a climax. This structure is fine for the initiated, but it might leave first-timers feeling a bit uncomfortable with the shape of the movie. And because it's more of a kids film than the book was just a kids book, the two-and-a-half hour running time is bound to provoke some cinema squirming from young viewers.

That said, Columbus ensures there's a bit of on-screen magic coming our way every couple of minutes, and not just in the shape of expensive effects. Near-perfect casting ensures character colour from the adult actors and allows the central trio of kids (Radcliffe, Grint and Watson) to prove that three heads are better than one (unless your name is Fluffy).

Coltrane as cuddly giant Hagrid and Grint as Harry's cheeky chum, Ron, steal some scenes, but it's Radcliffe who leads us through Harry's journey from open-jawed underdog to pint-sized hero. Sympathetic and strong, brave and believably ordinary, he becomes the audience's counterpart in this weird world of witches and wizards.


Verdict
Even though a few of the book's scenes have been cut, fans probably couldn't hope for a better adaptation. It bodes well for the rest of the series, when strong stories start taking precedence over set-up.


Reviewed by Alan Morrison


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Your Reviews

Average user rating for Harry Potter And The Philosopher's Stone
Empire Star Rating

Too CHILDISH!!!

Radcliffe was so irritating as well! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by stp123192 at 18:23, 10 February 2012 | Report This Post


Too CHILDISH!!!

Radcliffe was so irritating as well! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by stp123192 at 18:22, 10 February 2012 | Report This Post


Uter drivel

Like the book really ! Uninspiring and not well thought out. Mind you that's hardly suprising considering the book wasso badly written in the first place! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by stp123192 at 18:20, 10 February 2012 | Report This Post


Uter drivel

Like the book really ! Uninspiring and not well thought out. Mind you that's hardly suprising considering the book wasso badly written in the first place! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by stp123192 at 18:19, 10 February 2012 | Report This Post


Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone Review

Being so faithful to the book is both the movie's strength and weakness because the movie unfolds exactly as written in the book so there is little room for surprises or discoveries, but for Potter fans, what more can you ask for? ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by the film man at 21:27, 13 December 2011 | Report This Post


With the upcoming release of the very last film of the series (and because of the fact that I haven`t seen the last 2 films!) I started rewatching the whole series today: tp://www.imdb.com/title/tt0241527/]Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stonet still is very clear that we deal with a first part in a series and that it`s a first acting job for many cast members: the built-up of the story is very explainatory and the explaining and introducing of characters takes up a big chunk of the story.... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by TheGodfather at 21:41, 09 July 2011 | Report This Post


Easy to Ignore its Strengths

This is a excellant family film capturing the books magical warmth and humour. If you are unconvinced with the worthyness of 4 stars you should consider that its plot is engaing and characters near perfectly casted and acted, William's beautiful and now iconic score which has become so familiar is another bonus. All of this achieved with such a small tight budget. Although it slightly alienates older viewers at times and I don't personally like watching it too often it is a true success. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by trainedasninja at 15:19, 07 July 2011 | Report This Post


The beginning of something great

This is where it all started and it couldn't have been a better start. This was one of my favorite childhood films and It still is ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by S1lent B0b at 17:49, 12 October 2010 | Report This Post


its not amazing

I still think its excellent, sure, but some of the acting is so painfully bad (I understand they're child actors, but there a younger kids who do a great job) that the atmosphere is killed. The adult cast makes up for it on the most part but all in all this is only a decent adaptation of a very short book, I digress once more, excellent film, but they cut so much in favour of some of their own ideas. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Shikea at 20:37, 03 March 2009 | Report This Post


Deserves 5 stars

I think the reviewer gave a fair overall analysis but the marks out of five didn't reflect the quality of the film. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by hellboy22 at 14:13, 08 January 2009 | Report This Post


Deserves 5 stars

I think the reviewer gave a fair overall analysis but the marks out of five didn't reflect the quality of the film. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by hellboy22 at 14:13, 08 January 2009 | Report This Post


Very entertaining adap

I really enjoyed this. Excellent performances ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by blaud at 13:32, 05 March 2008 | Report This Post


I thought this was great in primary school, but now its unbearable, I don't get why adults still like, guess I'm completely out of touch with my inner child, which is sort of a good thing. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by dgribble at 17:18, 21 February 2008 | Report This Post


I thought this was great in primary school, but now its unbearable, I don't get why adults still like, guess I'm completely out of touch with my inner child, which is sort of a good thing. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by dgribble at 17:18, 21 February 2008 | Report This Post


Harry Potter

This film is probably one of the best family films out there. It will satisfy children who yet haven't read the books and it will also satisfy all who have read the books. It is also the most successful adaption of a book to date ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by davieboy at 17:20, 20 January 2008 | Report This Post


Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone

Magic, charming, great score, great cast, fantastic set design... great family film. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by jncorbett at 22:43, 13 August 2007 | Report This Post


Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone

Magic, charming, great score, great cast, fantastic set design... great family film. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by jncorbett at 22:43, 13 August 2007 | Report This Post


Well acted, good effects, charming, and wonderful ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by lynnshep at 17:59, 18 July 2007 | Report This Post


Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone

This is not a bad first attempt at Harry Potter and as Iv always said about this film it is one of the best adapted films from the book. The set up is amazing with many fantastic magical effects although the Quiddich game was slightly average CGI. However the casting of Richard Harris was perfection for Dumbledore who is unbelievable. Also brilliant are Maggie Smith, Alan Rickman and Robbie Coltrane respectively. The young stars as well are pretty impressive for their first movie although clearl... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by DrachirFilm at 06:36, 16 May 2007 | Report This Post


Rubbishiso

Yes the film was great, but am i the only person who was SERIOUSLY annoyed that Peeves was taken out, and that the hat didn't sing?? In my opinion it was a good film, no probs, but not a good representation of the book. Ipse Dixim. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by TheHumanSpork at 14:59, 15 September 2006 | Report This Post


Rubbishiso

Yes the film was great, but am i the only person who was SERIOUSLY annoyed that Peeves was taken out, and that the hat didn't sing?? In my opinion it was a good film, no probs, but not a good representation of the book. Ipse Dixim. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by TheHumanSpork at 14:59, 15 September 2006 | Report This Post


good family film

Enjoyed the first film, a bit different from the book though. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by alexisreaver2132 at 10:00, 16 May 2006 | Report This Post


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