JK Rowling's debut novel with a reverence that wasn't even accorded
to The Bible, Hollywood serves up a two-and-a-half hour fantasy that
gets the introductions out of the way, paving the way for more plot-driven
tales in what's sure to become the biggest franchise of all time.
(On the big screen, incidentally, the story's similarities to "Star
Wars" are even more pronounced.)
you've read the novel - and if you haven't, why not? - impeccable
casting means you'll feel like you've met all of these characters
already. The three young leads - Radcliffe, Grint, and especially
Watson - deliver likable, natural performances, while the film's
biggest joy is watching the spot-on performances of their peers:
Maggie Smith plays Professor McGonagall like Miss Jean Brodie with
a pointy hat, while Robbie Coltrane steals the show as loose-lipped
Hagrid. Alan Rickman, meanwhile, sneers for England as Professor
the whole film plays like an advertisement for historic old England
- if this doesn't get Americans buying our castles and cathedrals,
or at least coming to look at them again, nothing will. Hell, even
King's Cross station looks pleasant.
film's not flawless, though. It's half an hour too long and much
of the book's humour is jettisoned. Still, it's refreshing to witness
a big-budget movie where the impressive special effects complement
the story, rather than merely compensate for the lack of one.
Potter" may not leave you spellbound, then, but it'll definitely
leave you wanting to discover the "Chamber of Secrets".
Hennigan, BBC Films
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