The first thing that strikes you about Harry Potter And The Sorcerer's Stone
is how faithful an adaptation of the book it is. Every scene is almost exactly
as you imagined it in your mind, which is not really surprising considering that
they're rumored to have all been cleared individually by Ms. Rowling herself.
Even storywise, there's nothing new for anyone who has already read the book,
except that large parts of the original story have been left out, which is understandable
considering the size and scope of the book. It is, however, a thoroughly entertaining
film, a good way to spend a couple of hours.
For that miniscule percentage of the population that hasn't read the book (all 37 of you!) here's a quick run through. Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliff) is a wizard whose parents are killed by a bad guy who goes about with the utterly delightful sobriquet of He Who Must Not Be Named (henceforth referred to as HWMNBN). Harry is raised by his not very friendly relatives, who make him live in a cupboard under the stairs. Apart from developing an affinity for brooms, Harry proves one more important point through this upbringing: that traumatic childhoods need not always produce people like Modi - sometimes even far better creatures like witches are born.
When Harry turns 11, he receives about 10,000 letters from the Hogworts School of Wizardry to study wizardry for seven years, and you actually begin to think that maybe Citibank wasn't the pioneer of junk mail after all. Anyway, Harry goes to Hogwarts, where he befriends Ron Weasly (Rupert Grint) and Hermione Granger (Emma Watson), makes a few enemies, plays a totally fundu game called Quidditch and, in the end, fights HWMNBN who, in a never seen before double role, is also Professor Quirril. He also meets several interesting creatures from Western folklore such as elves, mountain trolls, unicorns, centaurs, dragons... George Bush would've rounded it off perfectly well, but I suppose they had an IQ cut-off.
The special effects in the film are quite good, particularly those during the Quidditch match. The character of Rubeus Hagrid (Robbie Coltrane), the Keeper of Keys and Grounds, is quite memorable - especially his favorite line: "I should not have said that." The young cast has done a pretty good job, and if you don't like them, get over it, 'cos they are going to be around in six more Potter films (or till 2003, whichever comes later!). There is nothing much to say about the direction - Chris Columbus didn't have much to do except follow the manual.
If you are a Potter maniac, you might be a bit upset about what has been left
out, but I'm sure when Bollywood comes out with its own version, they'll take
care of that. What the heck - they'll probably even add an item number from Bipasha
Basu to liven up the feast scene!