Cast: Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Alan Rickman, Richard Harris
Running Time: 2hr 32min
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone follows the first year of the eponymous Harry Potter, an orphan who lives with his aunt and uncle in the cupboard under the stairs, at number 4 Privet Drive, Surrey. On his 11th birthday, the half-giant Hagrid tracks Harry down and tells him that, like his parents, magic runs through his veins. Harry Potter is a wizard and will be enrolled in Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry – unaware that he is a famous name, with a huge destiny.
While at the school, Harry befriends outsiders Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger and becomes enemies with pure-blood wizard Draco Malfoy, who comes from a wealthy and respected wizarding family. Harry begins his education in the world of magic, joins the Quidditch team, and becomes the subject of much of Professor Snape’s scorn. He also learns he is famous in the wizarding world as The Boy Who Lived. Surviving an attack by the dark wizard Lord Voldemort, which killed his parents, but left baby Harry with just a scar.
After hearing about the mysterious Philosopher’s Stone being stolen, Harry and his friends set out to find out more. They encounter a troll in the bathroom, play wizard chess, and discover that Lord Voldemort isn’t quite as dead as they first thought. Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher Professor Quirrell is revealed to be the one who stole the stone to try to strengthen Lord Voldemort, who has been living on the back of his head! Harry defeats Quirrell to keep Voldemort dormant, if only for a while, and heads back home for the holidays.
And so begins the adventure that would capture the imaginations of the entire planet. Harry Potter has become a global phenomenon, and the films, based on the best-selling book series by J.K. Rowling, have been hugely successful. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (Philosopher’s Stone in the UK) is where the story begins, and it’s definitely a magical and captivating start. Chris Columbus, director of Home Alone, helms the movie, and you can definitely see his influence throughout.
The first installment in the Harry Potter franchise is definitely more child-centric, as is the sequel Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. But they grow progressively darker, with more adult themes. You might prefer some of the later films, but this one definitely has a charm to it and is the perfect family-friendly fantasy-adventure flick. It’s also important because it is what kicked off the franchise and made it the success it became.
The kids are all newcomers, and hold their parts well – Emma Watson as Hermione shows the most natural talent of the three. Everything about the movie has been painstakingly made to perfectly capture the Harry Potter universe – Rowling had a hand in the production of the film. Everyone is wonderfully cast, but it has to be the late Alan Rickman who dominates the film in his role as Severus Snape.
If you’ve never seen this movie make sure you check it out now, it’s perfect for kids. Yes, the movies get better, but this one is where it all began, and for nostalgic purposes, we highly recommend checking it out.