This is a movie that I’m sure will become a long-standing classic. All the characteristics are there: a great story line, likeable characters, brilliant special effects, and most of all, the appeal to children. If you consider what are now considered modern classics (E.T., Star Wars, Raiders of the Lost Ark,) “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” shares many of the same qualities. Not having read the entire first novel in the Harry Potter series, I can’t personally vouch for how true the movie really is to the book. From what I’ve gathered, though, the die-hard fans are quite pleased with the theatrical interpretation.
Many people say how the movie looks exactly as they had imagined the novel. This can have its drawbacks in that you already know the story and the plot twists. The challenge for the filmmakers is to interpret the book in such a way to make the movie appear fresh. They succeed time and time again with their visual effects. The Quidditch match nearly rivals The Phantom Menace’s pod race. One would swear the sorting hat was actually alive. You almost smell the breath of Fluffy, the monstrous three-headed Cerberus-like beast.
Daniel Radcliffe pulls off the roll of Harry Potter well, almost too well at times. I fear for his acting future, seeing as he’s under contract to play Harry Potter for the next two movies as well. My favorite acting performance is Alan Rickman’s portrayal of Professor Snape. Rickman is the consummate snidely, arrogant bad-guy. Going back to “Die Hard,” you love to hate him. Yippe-kie-yea, mother f*****.
The transfer to DVD is quite good. Colors are natural, yet seem to need a bit more saturation at times. Although scenes taking place at night lose no detail. The Dolby Digital sound showcases the move perfectly. You’d swear wizards on broomsticks during Quidditch match were flying through your living room. The destructive troll rumbles the floor. And had I owned a big enough TV (like the Dweeb!) I could have been a pawn during the chess match. The sound envelopes you while not drowning out vocals in the center channel. At one point you hear Firenze, the centaur, come charging into the scene from the left rear surround channel. I’m surprised there’s no DTS or 6.1 mix.
The rest of the DVD, suffice to say, is barely mediocre. Upon seeing the packaging and perusing the DVD’s clunky and hard to maneuver menus with my remote control, it was very obvious this DVD was thrown together to get a fast entry into the rental market. To help keep Harry Potter mania rolling, the timing of the release of the DVD is spaced nearly six months between last November’s first movie and six months before the upcoming release of the next movie in November 2002. The second disc serves nothing more than to fatten the list of features. They’re rather dull, even for children. My guess is there’s some sort of “special” or “limited” edition in the works, most likely in time for Christmas. And try as we might, Mrs. DVDave and I couldn’t find the section with the deleted scenes! Maybe we’re just too old and only the magic of an eleven year old boy can locate them.
Over all, the movie itself is very well represented on the DVD, but the features leave the entire DVD package rather flat. Unless you’re a hard core fan or if you have kids tugging at your pant leg, this one is better left as a rental.