Daniel Radcliffe in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (2001)

Just Wizard

Unlike many I never went wild about the "Harry Potter" movies, in fact I only watched the first three when they came out and have never read the books but it doesn't mean I disliked them. In fact I think "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone" is one of the best children's movies to have been made so far this century delivering the key ingredients of characters, magic, story and adventure which make up some of the best children's movies. What is also more impressive is that even over a decade later "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone" is still as entertaining and magical as when I watched it for the first time and that is as much to do with all the computer trickery which creates a wonderful fantasy land as it is for the well worked screenplay and John Williams magical score.

Now not being a "Harry Potter" fan I can't remember how many of the books had been released when "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone" nit the big screen but I do remember that J.K. Rowlings' books were already hugely popular with many of fans being adults despite being books for children. And that is one of the key things about this movie is that whilst it is entertaining for children it is just as entertaining for adults even those like me who never read the stories. And the reason why starts with the actual basics because this movie does a brilliant job of introducing us to the wizardry world of Harry Potter, introducing us to a plethora of interesting characters especially are trio of Harry, Ron and Hermione and then giving us an adventure with someone who is evil. It is classical in style as so many movies which start a series do exactly the same but never has it been more important because this first "Harry Potter" movie got it so right that it got audiences hooked who would not normally care for a children's adventure movie.

Emma Watson and Rupert Grint in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (2001)

As such "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone" has us warm to Harry and friends Ron and Hermione, whilst being whisked off into a fantasy world of Hogwarts and then enjoying are trio trying to save the day on their conquest to protect the Philosopher's stone. But then it also adds bits of mystery which nicely pave the way for the next movie making us want to know more about Harry's background, the scar on his forehead and want quickly emerges to be a bitter rivalry with Draco Malfoy.

Now it is impossible not to talk about "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone" and not to discuss the visual impact and the imagination used to create this fantasy world is phenomenal. I could easily mention things such as The Great Hall and the ceiling with floating candles or the fantastic feasts which fill up the tables as it is all magical. I could also go on about the costumes and make-up which all add to this wonderful visual world which never grows boring. But it is in fact all the little details, those things which don't always get noticed which for me make it more than just a nice looking movie. It is things such as Hagrid's pocket watch being tiny in his large hands or a scene where Harry is the school infirmary and in one of the paintings on the wall a nurse is tending to the patient in the picture. It is the attention to detail, from the way a lamp half obscures an image to the colours of a dragon egg which Hagrid has obtained which makes it visually captivating.

Adding to that is some wonderful dialogue which walks that thin line of being too grown up and being too childish. I say this because the dialogue is what makes it fun for adults as well as children as we enjoy what Hagrid says and often how. It is the same with Ron with his down to earth way of speaking.

Talking of Ron are trio of stars Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson are simply brilliant in their roles especially Watson who is amusing as the initially bossy Hermione. There is such believable chemistry between the trio that whilst Radcliffe is technically the focus of the movie Grint and Watson are as much the movie's stars. Plus what a supporting cast with Maggie Smith, Robbie Coltrane, Richard Harris and Alan Rickman all delivering wonderfully elaborate characters. Even those in this first movie who don't have much to do such as Julie Walters as Mrs. Weasley give it their all to make their characters spot on.

What this all boils down to is that whilst I'm not a huge fan of Harry Potter I can appreciate that "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone" is a brilliant movie and one which I am pretty certain will go on to become a true children's classic. It gets it right all the way through from the basics of giving us story, characters and adventure to the big wonderful production full of detail that it never grows old and with the magical music from John Williams "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone" is still Just Wizard.