The "Harry Potter" Franchise Aug 30, 2017 19:46:59 GMT -5
Post by StevePulaski on Aug 30, 2017 19:46:59 GMT -5
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (2001)
Directed by: Chris Columbus
Directed by: Chris Columbus
Emma Watson, Daniel Radcliffe, and Rupert Grint in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.
The Harry Potter franchise, in print and on screen, caught fire quickly with not only the series' target audiences but adults and seniors hungry for an original adventure with likable characters and great mystery. Part of its mass appeal I've come to learn lies as much in its secular nature as in its myriad of imaginative possibilities. Unlike The Golden Compass or The Chronicles of Narnia, Harry Potter doesn't have notable or intentional religious subtext in its stories. As a result, it doesn't look to offend even the most hardened fundamentalists of any religion (except the fundamentally fundamental) by being blasphemous. It's strictly committed to being a story summoned and carried by the wind of its own zeal.
This is part of what makes Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone such an enchanting motion picture, one where almost everything goes right when so much could've went wrong. Like the books and the narrative arc that unites each one, it's firmly focused on entertainment and wonder without rewarding the audience too easily with a sound and lights show. It brings us a story, where each scene offers a new whirlwind of characters to meet or instances to admire while establishing a thoughtful framework on which to build.
For 152 minutes, we remain as wide-eyed as our trio of young stars, encapsulated in memorable wonderment. We are in the company of characters and actors who we would eventually watch grow up with the children that were captivated enough to stand outside in the bitter cold in the late hours of the day in order to be the first of their friends to read the latest installment cover-to-cover.
The film opens with Rubeus Hagrid (Robbie Coltrane), the hulking groundskeeper of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardy, Headmaster Albus Dumbledore (Richard Harris), Minerva McGonagall (Maggie Smith), the head of the Gryffindor sector of young wizards, delivering an orphan by the name of Harry Potter to his last surviving relatives in the wee hours of the morning. Ten years later, Harry is heartbreakingly mistreated and neglected by his aunt and uncle, but is soon given a blizzard of letters requesting his return to Hogwarts until these ignored messages prompt a visit from Hagrid to take him back himself. He informs him that he is a wizard with a backstory that will soon not be so foreign to him.
Hagrid shows Harry around Hogwarts, letting him play with his newfound fortune a bit, choose a wand (or allow a wand to choose the respective wizard), and remain aghast at such commonplace occurrences as delivery owls dropping in mail or the abundance of kids his own age testing out their gifts. He befriends the quirky but amiable Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint) and eventually the smart and spunky Hermione (Emma Watson) before the three get accepted to the houses of Gryffindor. Just when Harry thinks he's got Hogwarts and being a wizard down to a science, he learns he's got the chops to be the house's best Quidditch player, a sport where players fly on broomsticks to retrieve flying balls, or that the head of the Slytherin house, Severus Snape (Alan Rickman), and his student Draco Malfoy (Tom Felton), aren't as innocent as they appear.
The titular object is the name of a stone (also known as the "Philosopher's Stone" in some parts of the world, as the film also goes by the title Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone) that has the power to grant immortality. It's guarded by a three-headed dog named Fluffy, owned by Hagrid, and Harry fears Snape is trying to obtain the stone to grant his own immortality, something that would be detrimental to Hogwarts given his demeanor and intentions.
For three young actors to command the screen so frequently and in such a gifted manner, Radcliffe, Grint, and Watson deserve all the praise. Their chemistry with each other is remarkable because, through all their special abilities as characters, they are still treated like ordinary children, even if ordinary children don't memorize unpronounceable spells and engage in activities aided by flying broomsticks. They're given room to breathe and ample space to be who they must embody over the course of seven more installments, as well as appropriate footing that sets up so many possibilities for the future endeavors.
One must credit director Chris Columbus for a lot of the actors' success. Be it in Home Alone or Mrs. Doubtfire, Columbus knows how to successfully utilize young, inexperienced actors in order to get the most out of their performances and placement in a project that is so much larger than them. Columbus also maneuvers his camera and his actors very effectively through a maze of special effects; the real magic present is the way the visuals never overtake the performers. They are what they should be and that's conservatively employed effects that do their part without ever overdoing it.
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone holds up far better than I remembered. Even the opening moments where Harry takes a trip with his aunt and uncle to an aquarium is better than I remembered, with the perfect tone and elements employed. Although this will change in the coming weeks, this is still the only Harry Potter film I've seen in its entirety. Despite appreciating it the first time around, nothing ever drew me back to continue anticipating the events of Harry, Ron, and Hermione. I thought I was ahead of my age, watching Friday the 13th and Final Destination films, learning and studying the marks of those franchises and others beyond my years when kids my age were salivating over the next book or movie in this franchise. It turns out, I was, and still am, miles behind.
Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, Robbie Coltrane, Alan Rickman, Richard Harris, Tom Felton, Maggie Smith, John Cleese, and Warwick Davis. Directed by: Chris Columbus.