This is my second draft of this article. I felt like the first one wasn’t really honest. The dishonesty in my initial take on Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone actually says a lot about the film and the mentality of 'Potter-heads'.
Philosopher’s Stone is not a good film and believe me it pains me to say it. It isn’t a bad film, I've seen worse, but in my humble opinion it isn’t even close to being a worthy adaptation of what I consider to be a very good book.
One of the problems I have with Philospher’s Stone is that it isn’t nearly dark enough. Now I know it is aimed at children but frankly so are the books. The imagery presented in the book just don’t translate to the screen. For example, the forest scene where Harry sees Voldermolt drinking the blood of a unicorn is devoid of any horror or tension. In the book, this section is fucking frightening, so much so that it haunted me for weeks (don’t judge me). The same can be said of the finale between Quirrell and Harry – the gasping horror described in the book doesn’t marry with what is shown in the film, which is a real shame.
Another beef I have with the film is the special effects. Now I admit this might be an unfair criticism because I am looking at this film with 2013 eyes. The special effects in this film look terrible, so bad at times that you just end up laughing. So bad that I started to play, spot the video-game graphics (with that said, I thought the three headed dog looked alright).
A film such as this was always going to hinge upon how well they handled the extraordinary imagery and predictably they threw money and pinned their hopes on the CGI. I mean, the effects are so bad they make Quidditch appear as preposterous as it actually is (I grew to love Quidditch in the books).
My biggest problem with Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone is the acting. Now the film has a legitimate excuse to excuse the bad acting – it’s full of kids. Daniel Radcliff was 11 at the time of shooting for crying out loud, you can’t expect a kid to put in masterful performances. I sometimes got the impression that I was watching a school play which isn’t a bad thing… if it was actually a school play and not a multi-million pound endeavour.
I thought the kid who played Malfoy was actually very good, I hated the SOB (Tom Felton I think he’s called). I also think the film makes an admirable attempt to disguise the bad acting by injecting the film with a stellar adult British cast – best of all Alan Rickman who is bloody good in this.
If you have read the book, chances are you will ignore the bad in this film and just love the things it gets right. The set design in this film is incredible and pretty much mirrors what I had in my mind while reading the book. You get a warm feeling in your heart when you see Diagon Alley and Hogwarts come to life in this film.
That is why I wrote the first deferential article, making all sorts of excuses for this film.
If you haven’t read the books, then I wouldn’t recommend this film at all. The first time I watched this film I absolutely hated it. It put me off reading the books for years. You don’t understand the nuances, the relationships and the complications in the film unless you read the books. In my opinion, the fact that this film can't stand on its own two makes it even poorer.