Now that all the little ones have seen it twice and us big folks have a chance to see this flick here’s a quick rundown based on previous Harry Potter exposure.
If you’ve never read the books this is a relatively light, sometimes hokey movie that provides a fun (if slightly overlong) two hours and twenty minutes of (mostly) neat effects, solid performances (despite a skeletal script) and lighthearted humor. Definitely worth your time if you’re looking for some easy to digest eye candy, just don’t go in expecting grand cinema.
If you’ve read the books (and presumably enjoyed them) and have the memory, imagination and inclination to fill out this truncated telling of the tale then you’ve definitely got a reason to fork over a few bucks to see this one in the theater. The casting is generally superb with Rupert Grint (Ron Weasley), Emma Watson (Hermione Granger), Robbie Coltrane (Rubeus Hagrid) and Alan Rickman (as a scene stealing Professor Severus Snape) standing out as particularly inspired. The production design also rang true throughout, presenting a believable, purely fun-to-watch representation of the “Harry Potter Universe.”
There are problems with it, of course, and if you’re going in order to see a step by step recreation of the novel you’re sure to be disappointed. It’s basically a Cliff’s Notes version of the story. There’s plenty missing or glossed over. Most notably Quidditch is unfortunately downplayed. That really bugged me; especially since the one match that is shown is one of the highlights of the film.
Even with the above, as someone who falls into the second category, I really enjoyed this adaptation. I felt like what was shown was honest to the books and offered enough of what I was looking for to get the job done.
This review may or may not have been originally published in Boston's Weekly Dig (now digBoston) in November 2001. I really don't remember!