So… I kinda went on a fantasy movie marathon a few weeks back. The first day, I watched The Princess Bride, Princess Mononoke (I’ll be talking about that one real soon, probably) and the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Then, the next day, I started a Harry Potter binge. Sort of like I was revisiting my youth.
Now, I know that we’re not allowed to like Harry Potter anymore. Not after all that J.K. has done to ruin both it and her own image.
But we’re not gonna think about that! Let’s ignore… that mess and go back to simpler times! Come on, we’re gonna rewatch Harry Potter together! I’m sure it’ll be a great time! Not at all dated and mediocre!
Alright! Let’s go!
Story: You Know It
Seriously, do I need to even say it? We’ve all seen it! We’ve all read the book!
Harry Potter is your average abused kid living under the stairs. On his eleventh birthday, he finds out he’s actually a wizard and heads off to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Not too long into the school year, he and his new friends, Ron and Hermione, stumble upon a three-headed dog guarding a trap door. Now, they must solve the mystery behind it because… curiosity? Good thing for it, because turns out, the dark lord Voldemort is trying to use the item hidden within to resurrect himself!
Spoilers for a book everyone’s read and a movie that everyone’s seen.
It’s a pretty solid and fun premise, especially for a kids movie. It’s got some fun little setpieces and it provides a fun little adventure. A perfect choice to put on for your kids in the living room.
Especially since the mystery driving the story is actually really well-written! The movie provides all the necessary clues for you to solve it while also cleverly guiding you in the wrong way with what seems like the obvious solutions. If nothing else, it’s a fun little mystery movie!
But it ain’t perfect. Many scenes last for either way too long or not long enough, creating some major pacing issues. The Quidditch match, for example, is waaaaaay too goddamn long, spending too much time on pointless, poorly animated action. It’s mostly a problem in the middle, when we’re hopping all around the school year. Thankfully, it’s much better in the beginning and end of the movie.
The characters are also pretty forgettable. All this movie really does is introduce all the main players. It won’t be until the later movies that they get properly fleshed out and become more interesting.
Also, general nitpick of both the book and the movie: why did they change it from philosophers stone to sorcerer’s stone? The former is so much cooler-sounding than the ladder!
Presentation: Look at Those PS2 Models!
Alright, right off the bat: the music in this movie, and all the movies, is amazing. No joke, I still love this music. I’ve come to dislike this franchise for a lot of reasons, but I can still admit that it sounds amazing.
You know what looks great? Practical effects! What better way to convince your audience that something is real than for it to be actually real! When executed well, they can make a movie’s special effects truly timeless!
And in fairness: all the practical stuff in this movie looks great! On the rare occasion that we get a puppet or an animatronic over a CGI model, they look great! Plus, all the sets, props, and costumes look amazing!
Then you run into a CGI model. Now, for the fantasy stuff, like the monsters or chocolate frogs, they don’t look that bad. Sure, they still look old, but not terrible.
But when a human CGI model shows up? Good god, they look bad! Both the model itself and how they move! They flail around like a rubber doll, not like an actual person! They’re so bad that it loops back around to become hilarious!
A sentiment I can also apply to the editing. Sometimes, the movie will cut to something completely pointless and sometimes even unrelated to what’s happening! Like, did the editor have a stroke? What’s going on with these?!
These cuts make the Quidditch game nearly unbearable to watch. After every single point, we have to cut back to Harry reacting to whatever happened. Not once but twice we cut to him sitting there and clapping. And… well, actually, let’s talk about the…
Performances: Time to Bully Children!!
Oh boy, my favorite pastime!
Jokes aside, I can’t bully these kids. It’s clear that they’re all trying their hardest. Plus, we know from the later movies in this series that they get so much better. The only thing they lacked in this movie was the proper experience.
That said: they are really stiff and awkward, which is kinda hilarious.
Of course, all the adults are doing a pretty good job. A particular standout is Alan Rickman (RIP) as Severus Snape. He plays a great slithery old man. This dude absolutely killed it here, and it only gets better from here!
Am I talking about his performance? Or the movies in general? I’ll let you decide!
I love how everyone thinks that J.K. Rowling has ‘ruined’ Harry Potter with her recent actions. Now, that’s just silly. Firstly, she only ruined her own reputation. Second: you can’t ruin something that wasn’t that great in the first place.
Wow. I think I just heard all the Harry Potter fans load a gun. Like, collectively. That’s some coordination.
If you’re still somehow a Harry Potter fan after… recent events… then I’d actually recommend rewatching this movie. Try taking off your nostalgia glasses and pretend to watch this movie for the first time, with your adult brain. I want to see what kind of reaction you have to it.
This isn’t a bad movie. Sure, it’s not spectacular, but it’s still a fun kids fantasy movie. It’s mostly just aged. If you can look past that, or if you’ve got some children young enough to enjoy it, then it might be worth your time. If not, you might need to keep those rose tinted glasses on.
Also, try not to pay for it. J.K. doesn’t deserve any more money.