Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone

Film , Family and kids Now Showing
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Orphaned Harry (Radcliffe) is billeted in the suburbs with his cruel aunt and uncle until a blizzard of letters arrives from Hogwarts School offering a chance to study wizardry. He is yet to learn that he bears a famous name in that skill, and that the lightning-flash scar on his forehead was the result of a clash with the Most Evil One, Voldemort, in babyhood. Harry goes from deprivation to elevation in true fairytale style, school career benignly supervised by headmaster Dumbledore (Harris), the assistant head (Smith) and the kindly, hulking Keeper of Keys and Grounds, Hagrid (Coltrane), but threatened by sneering contemporary Draco Malfoy (Felton) and malevolent Professor Snape (Rickman). All the boarding school stuff is terrific, and the lessons quick and funny. Harry's pals are Ron Weasley (Grint) and Hermione Granger (Watson), both jumps ahead of the Children's Film Foundation. The game of Quidditch, the most eagerly awaited visualisation from JK Rowling's first book, is as fast as Top Gun, but then becomes incomprehensible. What a feast for children! Long, and engrossing. Kids will love it! Wizard!

Release details

Duration: 152 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Chris Columbus
Screenwriter: Steve Kloves
Cast: John Hurt
Zoë Wanamaker
Tom Felton
Ian Hart
David Bradley
Maggie Smith
Richard Harris
Robbie Coltrane
Rupert Grint
Daniel Radcliffe
Fiona Shaw
John Cleese
Emma Watson
Elizabeth Spriggs
Julie Walters
Richard Griffiths
Alan Rickman

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Tara P

The first film in the Harry Potter franchise, Philosopher's Stone was always going to suffer from the curse of reality: nothing was ever going to live up to the world that had been created in different ways in millions of individual minds. I was devastated as a child at the elements I'd felt they'd got so 'wrong'. Watching it again as an adult, with some distance, there are many things that the film does well. It provides an engaging gateway into the story for those who hadn't read the book, whilst bringing elements of Rowling's text to life. Diagonal Alley, recreated now at tourist attractions across the world, is truly wonderful - a chocolate box for young minds. The adult cast is drawn from the UK acting elite, with the redoubtable Maggie Smith as McGonagall and the unforgettable Alan Rickman as Snape. Even Zoe Wanamaker and John Hurt make a lot of impact with small cameos. There are too many fantastic names and performances to mention them all (oh go on then, Fiona Shaw is ace!) The child actors are the main flaw of the first film. They aren't terrible by any stretch of the imagination, but there is the sense that they haven't quite settled into their characters and the main trio don't have much chemistry. Emma Watson in particular is rather wooden, but she shows promise, and Hermione is a difficult character at first. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone may be rather forgettable in the series as a whole, but it lays the magical groundwork for future brilliance.