Welcome to this blog of my film reviews. Some have been drafted carefully on paper, others I have sat and typed. I'm going to make it clear right now that I don't expect you to agree with my (re)views, or to like my style of writing. However, I want my views to be just out there and open, as a person who wishes to express himself from deep within. Feel free to comment and debate with me, but I do ask that you are civil and not harsh, as any comments which are basically swear words and insults will automatically be deleted. Also any text that is in orange (and often bold) is a Hyperlink to either a source, or a previous post for background reference.

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone


Ten years after the murder of his parents (Adrian Rawlins, Geraldine Somerville), Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) learns he is a famous wizard and begins at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. There he quickly becomes a popular student, and best friends with Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint) and Hermione Granger (Emma Watson). However, mysterious events connect together to propose a threat to the Wizarding World and the three friends go on an all-out investigation to stop a catastrophe from happening.

After four years as bestsellers under its belt, it came as no surprise that JK Rowling's beloved fantasy series was adapted for the big screen, before the last three books - The Order of the Phoenix (2003), The Half-Blood Prince (2005) and The Deathly Hallows (2007) - were even published. More surprising is the fact that it became the highest grossing film series of all time, after the release of the first six installments (2001-9), even outgrossing James Bond (1962-) and Star Wars (1977-2005). To have achieved this the series would have had to have started out strongly, and by heck it does.

Hogwarts is brought to life with such glory - the castle being colossal and rightfully dominating, a jaw-dropper of an ancient architectural masterpiece; the lake, the fields and the background mountains are vast and stunning landscapes; the Quidditch pitch feels like such a grand stadium; and the Forbidden Forest is dark and creepy. The Wizarding World is bright and colourful, with all of the Wizarding tools, clothing and, of course, Diagon Alley, made so eye-catching and beautiful to look at, thanks to vast amounts of bright and careful detail.

Very loyal to the source material (first published 1997), the film is carried, not just by the three leads, but by the supporting characters, brought to life by superb British talent. The late Richard Harris is wise and powerful as Professor Dumbledore, the Headmaster; Robbie Coltrane is heartwarmingly gentle and kind as Gamekeeper Rubeus Hagrid; Alan Rickman makes Potions Master, Professor Snape, cold and spiteful; Dame Maggie Smith is both strict and caring as Harry's Head of House, Professor McGonagall; and Ian Hart makes secondary antagonist, Professor Quirrell, a nervous, yet determined, deep and complex individual.

All-in-all this film is a heartfelt, beautifully designed and choreographed, loyal and visually stunning start to the biggest film series to date, fully utilising some of this nation's finest acting talent, and making a film that the whole family will really enjoy.

Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, Richard Harris, Robbie Coltrane, Alan Rickman, Maggie Smith, Ian Hart, Richard Griffiths, Fiona Shaw, Warwick Davis, John Hurt, John Cleese, Tom Felton, Sean Biggerstaff, David Bradley, Zoe Wanamaker, Matthew Lewis, Harry Melling, Leslie Phillips.

Oscar nominations: Best Art Direction (Stuart Craig, Stephanie McMillan), Best Costume Design (Judianna Makovsky), Best Original Score (John Williams).

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