It’s kind of hard to review this film now, after more than a decade has passed, and I’ve seen all seven of the sequels. When I first heard about the Harry Potter books I was underwhelmed. Wow. A kid in a wizard school. Sounds super exciting. (Sarcasm.)
But I’m a sucker for a splashy movie event, and I saw this one at one of those midnight-the-night-before-the-premiere-date showings, and it blew me away! Maggie Smith! Alan Rickman! Robbie Coltrane! Richard Harris! And, yes, the three kids at the center of the proceedings only got to be better actors with age, but man, they still bring it pretty well at the age of eleven.
That said, the simple truth is that I saw most of the future of the series in that film. I knew Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) was Luke Skywalker. I knew that Hermione Granger (Emma Watson) was Princess Leia. I knew that Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint) was Han Solo. So I knew that Hermione and Ron would end up together. I knew that Obi-Wan (I mean Dumbledore) would die pretty soon. The only thing I was wrong about was that I was sure Harry would discover Voldemort was a relative (like Luke and Vader, or Paul and Baron Harkonnen, for that matter).
It’s hard not to see the story for the contrivance-laden thing it is. How many things does Harry overhear? How ridiculous is it that the teachers have hidden this super-important artifact so well that three first-year students are capable of getting to it (let alone Voldemort himself).
After seeing this film, I immediately sought out the books and read them all, then eagerly waited for every next one. Yes, the books are awesome, but a huge part of the goodwill I have for this series is bound up in that first film experience.
John Hurt was in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone with Robbie Coltrane. Robbie Coltrane was in…