Classic Intel: Harry Potter And The Philosopher's Stone - Blu-ray Review

'the film is a whirlwind, and an involving one at that, of boat and train trips to school, magical ceilings and doors, staircases that move at will and a whole plethora of other paraphernalia besides'

Despite the floppy hair and dubiously 1990s-looking clothes, the first Harry Potter, Harry Potter And The Philosopher's Stone, holds up remarkably well, especially given the at-the-time risky casting of lead trio Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson, who before this, had just two film credits between them, both belonging to Radcliffe.

It is a remarkable feat, for which director Chris Columbus has not received enough praise, that none of them look recognisably out of place, even when trying to push the benefit of hindsight, having seen them grow into the parts over the last few years, to one side. Grint, by far the strongest at this point, gets chipper lines from scriptwriter Steve Kloves to spout regularly and his performance is perhaps due to him having the easiest task. Radcliffe and Watson have much more emotionally engaging moments and, considering the greater demand on these areas, again perform them well.

Outside of the lead trio, Columbus also does well to get fans on his side quickly and to establish the world which production designer Stuart Craig (who, importantly, filled the same role on every one of the eight films) did so well to create and maintain. Although the early scene of Dumbledore (Richard Harris) sucking the lights from Privet Drive is hardly necessary to the story (he's a wizard, do the light from streetlamps make much difference to him?), it introduces the fantasy elements quickly, without hesitation. From then on the film is a whirlwind, and an involving one at that, of boat and train trips to school, magical ceilings and doors, staircases that move at will and a whole plethora of other paraphernalia besides.

If one gripe stands throughout the series it is in the often elongated depictions of Quidditch, which, due to the sport's fictitious nature, add little to the drama and take up too much of the time. It is hard to invest in a sport where a 'real' team does not feel the impact of a result and harder still when said sport seems to have as many rules, permutations and ways to score as the most obtuse real life example you care to mention. I just cannot get excited for it, whenever the series feels the need to put it on screen.

The finale is satisfying and meaty, the odd hint of something deeper left in their by author J.K. Rowling or Kloves (note the Communist-esque 'Restricted Section' of the library) is welcome and developed to an appropriate degree and the sense that something more is to come is left hanging with just the right amount of promise and threat. Despite a very average Blu-ray transfer (particularly the sound), Harry Potter And The Philosopher's Stone had me hooked, something which many a child-orientated fantasy flick has failed to do.

Look further...

'the acting struggles big time, the writing is pretty good, but could have been better, and the direction is alright. But the magic of Hogwart's is here for everyone to see' - Matt And The Art Of Motion Pictures, 7/10


  1. Harry Potter And The Philosopher's Stone has always been my favourite Potter movie. Its a classic.

    1. I don't think its my favourite but I can see why it would be some people's. It's a really great starter. The second film, however...

  2. 4 stars... really? The only Potter movie which creeps over 3 stars for me is the third one. It's the only one with creative originality and a sense of humour. An intelligent review nonetheless.

    1. I really enjoyed it yeah and as a whole I'm quite enjoying going back into the series. I'm not a fan of the books and I've been surprised at how much some of the films have grabbed me this time around. I like a lot about 3, but so far, I think 4 might be my favourite.