Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.
USA/United Kingdom, 2001. Warner Bros., Heyday Films, 1492 Pictures. Screenplay by Steve Kloves, based on the novel by J.K. Rowling. Cinematography by John Seale. Produced by David Heyman. Music by John Williams. Production Design by Stuart Craig. Costume Design by Judianna Makovsky. Film Editing by Richard Francis-Bruce. Academy Awards 2001.
Spirited adaptation of the first of J.K. Rowling’s phenomenally successful children’s books is so keen on being faithful to its original source that it loses a bit of its magic but is marvelous entertainment nonetheless (particularly for the kids). Harry Potter is a young orphan boy raised by his mean uncle and aunt and one day learns from a gruff giant named Hagrid (Robbie Coltrane) that he is a wizard, and has been accepted into Hogwarts, a school of sorcery for the magically-abled. Once there he experiences all sorts of adventures with new best friends Ron and Hermione, many of them to the chagrin of the school’s kindly headmaster Dumbledore (Richard Harris) and the sharp-as-tacks Professor McGonagall (a wickedly zesty Maggie Smith). Perfect casting all around is a plus, not to mention state-of-the-art visual effects, a boisterous score by John Williams and inspired production design by Academy Award winner Stuart Craig. Fans of the book will delight in seeing all their favourite aspects of Hogwarts brought to life so accurately, but those less familiar with the world of Harry Potter will lose their patience by the time they get to the anticlimactic last third. It’s not as winsomely funny as the book, but it’s still quite the charmer.