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MOVIE REVIEWThe wizard, the witch and the Sorcerer’s Stone

Jessica C. Millman

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Magic spells. Flying broomsticks. Wizards and unicorns. Goblins and witches. From early childhood, children believe that somewhere in the world, magic exists. If they can just find it, magic will be theirs to possess, their power to rule. And then children grow up and find that the world is just too small to hold magic.

This helps explain why the “Harry Potter” book series, while no cornerstone in children’s literature, is so popular. A boy named Harry Potter, who for the first 11 years of his life is a real nobody, finds out that not only is he a wizard, but the most famous wizard who ever lived.

And now the movie “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” may be one of the most famous movies ever made, at least for its opening weekend box office.

An orphan who lives with his mean aunt and uncle, Harry discovers in the movie that wizards co-exist with muggles (wizard-speak for humans). He is thrown into their world, attending Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

Due to public belief that the movie should be as faithful to the book as possible, coupled with the input of the author, J.K. Rowling, the movie almost could be a scene-by- scene recount of the book. It clocks in at more than two and a half hours.

But aside from the length and a few minor flaws, the film was thoroughly delightful. Its strong point is that it brings to life Rowling’s world of wizards and the Hogwarts School.

Created in rich colors, the huge sets — whether it be the school, with moving staricases, the twisting and turning Diagon Alley or the prosaically named Forbidden Forest — are fun, magical, charming entertainment, peopled with colorful characters.

Most movies based on a book come into the theater with baggage, courtesy of the high expectations of readers. “Harry Potter” is no different. The weightiest piece of baggage is the expectations of the millions of readers of the four “Harry Potter” books.

The storyline is as detailed as the book, as evidenced by the imaginative sets. (A Harry Potter theme park might be a good investment one day.)

When Harry arrives at the Hogwarts School, all the students already know his name. He is sorted into Griffandor House, one of the four houses at the school, and he quickly becomes involved in his classes, which include charms and potion making.

Director Chris Columbus was chosen to head the film. He is a veteran of family-orientated comedies starring children, such as “Mrs. Doubtfire” and “Home Alone.”

The cast of “Harry Potter” is British, adults included, and many acclaimed actors portray the eccentric teachers at Hogwarts. Alan Rickman is especially good as evil Professor Snape, sneering around and using a clipped, cold tone to his least favorite student, who happens to be Harry.

Zoe Wanamaker also is striking as Madame Hooch, the flying teacher who stalks around with glowing amber eyes and spiked silver hair. She referees all Quidditch games, the most popular sport in the wizard world. It is a combination of basketball and rugby gone mad, played high in the air on broomsticks.

Virtual unknown Daniel Radcliffe plays the title role, and along with the rest of the child actors, especially those who play Harry’s best friends Hermione and Ron, he physically embodies his character well. The trademark lightening bolt-shaped scar on his forehead, the glasses and the messy hair are all there.

All the children act adequately enough, but don’t quite convey to the audience the emotion that the characters should be feeling. However, they are quite young, and have plenty of room for growth..

Hopefully, the next movie will have slightly more character development, because there was not much time besides telling the initial story.

The Sorcerer’s Stone is an object that causes conflict between those who want to use it for good, or evil. The stone causes one to have an everlasting life. Harry and his friends uncover the stone’s secret while having to pass various tests of character.

While the movie suits all ages, children will enjoy it most. All the magical characters here are brought to life. Unicorns and centaurs run wild in the Forbidden Forest. Young wizards fly brooms for sport. Three- headed dogs guard secrets found under trap doors and dragon eggs are hatched. It is a world unto itself, free of the worries and frets of day-to-day life.

The movie should satisfy fans of the book. For those who have not yet read the book, this will certainly introduce them to the the magical wizardry that is Harry Potter.

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MOVIE REVIEWThe wizard, the witch and the Sorcerer’s Stone