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Harry, Ron and Hermione

Harry flying


Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
Originally released in the UK as Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone.

Warner Brothers Theatrical release November 2001, 2 hours 32 minutes.

Directed by Chris Columbus. Story written by J.K. Rowling. Screenplay by Steve Kloves.

Story written by J.K. Rowling. Screenplay by Steve Kloves.

Starring Daniel Radcliffe as Harry Potter, Rupert Grint as Ron Weasley, Emma Watson as Hermione Granger, Richard Harris as Albus Dumbledore, Robbie Coltrane as Hagrid, Harry Melling as Dudley Dursley, Tom Felton as Draco Malfoy, Alan Rickman as Professor Snape, Maggie Smith as Professor McGonagall, Matthew Lewis as Neville Longbottom, Richard Griffiths as Uncle Vernon Dursley, Fiona Shaw as Aunt Petunia Dursley, Ian Hart as Professor Quirrell / Voldemort, Warwick Davis as Goblin Bank Teller / Professor Flitwick / Voice of Griphook, Zoe Wanamaker as Madame Hooch, and John Cleese as Nearly Headless Nick.

The evil wizard, Voldemort, kills Harry's parents. When he attempts to kill the infant Harry, the spell backfires, almost killing him, and leaving Harry with a scar on his forehead. Hagrid and Dumbledore give Harry to his aunt and uncle, Petunia and Vernon Dursley. His aunt and uncle force Harry to live under the stairs and treat him like a slave.

Harry's aunt, uncle, and cousin Dudley are a bit too far-fetched to take seriously. Although well played, they are ridiculous and not believable.

Once Harry gets to Hogwarts, he meets Hermione and Ron. All three are placed in Gryffindor House and become fast friends.

Although the title would lead the viewer to believe that the movie revolves around the sorcerer's stone, most of the time is spent in setting up Harry's life, introducing the characters, and exploring Hogwarts.

The stone plays a crucial role but not until the movie's end.

Alan Rickman is just wonderful as Severus Snape. He just looks and sounds evil, although he isn't.

Hagrid is another well-cast character. At 6'1", Robbie Coltrane is tall but not nearly as tall as Hagrid. The special effects used to make him appear so big work perfectly.

This is not a plot-driven movie. Instead, it focuses on the characters and the society.

There were many places in this movie where the music strongly resembles Star Wars. John Williams wrote the music for both movies. Star Wars Episode 2 Attack of the Clones was released in 2002, as was The Sorcerer's Stone, so he might have been working on both scores at the same time or one right after the other.

It is interesting to see how Ron and Hermione stay with Harry, giving him help and support until just before Voldemort comes into the picture. The chess game disables both of them, and they tell Harry that no matter what happens to them, he must continue.

This is a common and useful plot contrivance. The hero must prevail without help. For example, in The Lord of the Rings, Sam is right there supporting Frodo all the way up Mount Doom. But at the last minute, Sam is left behind, and Frodo fights Gollum all by himself. Of course, this isn't the end of Voldemort. That would be the end of the story, and there are too many more books and movies to defeat the source of evil in episode one.

Reviewed by Romana Drew July 22, 2022.




Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Directed by Chris Columbus. Story by J.K. Rowling. Screenplay by Steve Kloves.

Warner Brothers Theatrical Film, eeleased November 2002, 2 hours and 41 minutes.

Starring: Daniel Radcliffe as Harry Potter, Rupert Grint as Ron Weasley, Emma Watson as Hermione Granger, Richard Harris as Albus Dumbledore, Alan Rickman as Professor Snape, Robbie Coltrane as Hagrid The Giant, Matthew Lewis as Neville Longbottom, Tom Felton as Draco Malfoy, Maggie Smith as Professor McGonagall , Shirley Henderson as Moaning Myrtle, Christian Coulson as Tom Riddle, Jason Isaacs as Lucius Malfoy, Toby Jones as Dobby (voice), Richard Griffiths as Uncle Vernon, Fiona Shaw as Aunt Petunia, Harry Melling as Dudley Dursley, James Phelps as Fred Weasley, Oliver Phelps as George Weasley, Julie Walters as Mrs. Weasley, Bonnie Wright as Ginny Weasley, Mark Williams as Mr. Weasley, Chris Rankin as Percy Weasley, Tom Knight as Mr Granger, Heather Bleasdale as Mrs Granger, David Bradley as Argus Filch, and John Cleese as Nearly Headless Nick.

The Chamber of Secrets begins with the Weasleys rescuing Harry from his aunt and uncle's imprisonment using a flying car. Harry and Ron miss platform nine and three quarters. They take the flying car and follow the train to Hogwarts. There they crash into the whomping willow. A very exciting and enjoyable opening.

The whopping willow reminded me of the car in the tree in the 1993 movie Jurassic Park.

Once at Hogwarts, things go bad. Harry hears voices that no one else can hear. Students are injured. The Chamber of Secrets is open. Evil has been released. And Harry is in danger.

Hagrid is accused of opening the chamber and sent to Askaban.

This movie has lots of spiders, messages in blood, petrified people, and giant snakes. Unlike the The Sorcerer's Stone, Chamber of Secrets puts the main characters in jeopardy early in the movie so more time is spent solving the mystery than exploring the society.

New characters are introduced in this movie, especially Moaning Myrtle, Ron's family, Dobby the house elf, and a dubious character named Lucius Malfoy, Draco's father.

Harry, Ron, and Hermione each contribute to the search for who opened the chamber and what monster it might hold. But, as in the previous movie, something happens to take Ron and Hermione out of the picture near the end, leaving Harry to confront Voldemort alone.

The movie does tell us something of Voldemort's early life, but not why he turned so evil.

Moaning Myrtle is a great character. She looks, sounds, and acts about twelve, is supposed to be fourteen, but the actress who plays her, Shirley Henderson, was thirty-seven at the time. Costuming and makeup help, as does the fact that Myrtle is a ghost so we don't ever get a clear picture of her. But most of the credit goes to Ms. Henderson's acting skill. She makes Myrtle one of the most memorable characters in the movie.

The Chamber of Secrets is a deep maze of caverns and a monster of sorts. The Basilisk is quite will done. The giant snake slithers along looking both huge and real. Although it is obvious that Harry will prevail, the battle is filled with tension. And, the way the characters exit the deep caverns is unique and quite wonderful.

The Chamber of Secrets is a great movie, fast paced, with lots of excitement and humor.

Reviewed by Romana Drew August 7, 2022.