Monday, December 13, 2010

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (2001)

My expectations bore out during my first foray into the Harry Potter universe. The first film is a bit kidsy, the fx kinda cheesy, but I could tell there was a good fantasy story underneath it all, which I was able to enjoy. Of course, it helps that I was engrossed in Emma Watson's performance as the smart and sassy Hermione Granger.

Particularly compared to a fantasy story like The Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter lacks the grit and realism that I enjoy in a good story (yes, even a fantasy story). Although I suspect that may change as the series progresses, and the characters grow. As such, The Philosopher's Stone is a good introduction to the magical world of Harry Potter. The main trio of protagonists are still quite young, so it makes sense that the trouble they'd get into is on a relatively small scale (even if there are serious implications), allowing for time to concentrate on introducing the audience - simultaneously with the characters, who are themselves first-years - to the Hogwarts school.

The magic feels a bit empty. I want to know how it works. I know, I know, it's magic. But magic is so much more fun when it has a logical mechanism behind it. Still, some of it is pretty cool. I like the idea of carrying a magic wand that can cast neat spells, and the invisibility cloak was awesome. I want one. The mirror device was interesting too. I wonder what I would see. I have a pretty good idea. Yeah, I could totally get lost in a dream. It's happened to me before, even without a magic mirror. I like that they recognize how dangerous such a device can be.

Some other aspects of the movie kind of left me scratching my head, like why they would trust so many secrets to a person who so easily (and frequently) lets them slip out in casual conversation, or why the gamekeeper would be in such close company with the head wizard of the academy in the first place. But he was still a likable character. None of these problems got in the way of my enjoyment of the film. In fact, I'd watch it again right away (if I didn't have five more to watch in the next few days), but mostly just to see Emma's performance again. ;-)

Emma Rating: Absolutely Adorable

Spoiler talk: I have to admit, I fell for the trap of thinking Snape was the baddy. He's just so stereotypically bad, mannerisms and everything. I mean he even has a snakey name! But I guess that just goes to show. Like how everyone thought Jimmy Page had an alliance with the devil just because he was obsessed with Aleister Crowley and the occult (and played rock music and all that). I should feel guilty, but I still don't think Snape is entirely innocent.


  1. Can't say I'm happy about you watching the films as opposed to reading the books (although I understand WHY). It's like you're listening to Crosby, Stills & Nash play through Neil Young & Crazy Horse's discography... the songs are still good but it does not cut it. I hope once you've finished the movies you may become inspired to read the GOOD stuff.

    I AM however, absolutely thrilled (and quite a bit excited) to see you finally enjoying one of my favorite storylines of all-time. And I absolutely envy where you are, at the start of it all.

    I wouldn't say HP's magic has a logical mechanism behind it, but I would say that there is a decent amount of rules and principles which Rowling keeps to for the most part, and overall I was satisfied with the 'realism' of the magic for that reason.

    Anyway, can't wait for the rest of your reviews! I'm also thrilled at the prospect of getting to see HP7-1 with you in theaters. I'm sure it'll be in theaters for a while yet.

  2. Oh and re: reading the books, you know you'll always see Emma in your mind the whole time! I sure do. The casting in HP is really spectacular, I have a hard time not seeing all those people when I read, which is surprising given my opinion of the movies...

  3. Yeah, I know what you mean. I was adamant about people reading The Lord of the Rings before they went to see the movies, but in all honesty, Emma Watson is far more important to me than the integrity of the Harry Potter story. ;-p

    I'd probably be interested enough to read the books, I'd just need to find the time!