Filmmakers have always had a difficult time attempting to translate a novel onto the silver screen. Therefore, it was obviously no easy task for director Chris Columbus to visualize the wildly popular Harry Potter series. His task was to bring to life a world that millions of children have already created in their heads and tell a story that is dear to their hearts. In that respect, he, along with every person involved in the production, succeeded. On the other hand, it doesn’t detract from the fact that Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone is nothing more than a children’s story.
Children’s stories are not bad, necessarily, but few of them have the appeal that crosses over to adults. And while there are exceptions, Potter is not one of them.
So this British kid named Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) is an orphan and his aunt and uncle hate him. Not since Cinderella has there been a foster family so despicable to witness, and even the Dursleys would give Cindy’s wicked stepmother a run for her money. But Harry doesn’t seem to mind, especially when he discovers on his 11th birthday that he has inherited magical powers and is actually a wizard.
He gets a free ride to a secret wizard school, that ironically everyone knows about, called Hogwarts and becomes the star pupil he is expected to be. Because Harry’s real parents were big-time names at the school, he is already a legend.
What ensues is the following of his first year at the wizard school that houses hundreds of snotty British kids who compete with each other on a points system to see which branch of the school is awarded the all-important House Cup.
Along the way, he slowly learns about his family and how to be a good boy. Fortunately for him, he was already perfect to begin with. Harry Potter is the calmest non-Ritalin-taking 11-year-old you’ll ever encounter.
Potter does have its moments, such as a larger-than-life performance by Robbie Coltrane as a 10-foot-tall giant named Hagrid. Hagrid is Harry’s guardian at the school and constantly puts his foot in his mouth. But Coltrane is one of only a handful of aspects to Potter that would make this film pleasing to most people older than 15.
However, as kids’ movies go, Potter does have good messages implanted in its story about three children plotting to stop an evil professor. One of Harry’s friends refers to a mythical figure, and when the freckled-face kid is clueless, she says, “Don’t you read?” Other elements that support good morals are references to loyalty, standing firm to what you believe and doing what’s good even if there is a cost involved. But when you boil it down, all these kids are trying to do is earn points so they can win some silly prize.
Some have criticized the long setup of the story and characters, but that is actually what makes the film work – even if only marginally. The makeup, set design and special effects are phenomenal, and it’s no wonder why kids are flocking to see the film.
Harry is also the son every parent could ask for. And best of all, he’s a nerd. He’s nice and funny and doesn’t have a too-cool-for-school attitude. So, if anything, kids finally have a hero they can admire.
And that’s great.
- Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone is Rated PG
- Contact William Albritton at firstname.lastname@example.org