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Oliver Moor
Apparently there have been armies of kids ... disappointed that they can't visit Platform 9 3/4. My advice to them is go down to platform 10 and to run at the wall very hard a few times.

Feeling Somewhat Harryed
Well, it's here, and it's exactly right. The film mirrors the book absolutely perfectly. The leaden prose has been transformed into a leaden film. The splendid middle-class wannabe values are displayed in all their glory. The marked absense of humour of any kind reflects accurately the mood of the new 'serious' breed of children we are, allegedly, currently producing. Harry Potter And The Philosopher's Stone is a mistake, although JKR should be delighted with the result: her tedious little book will have the chance to have yet more dosh wrung out of it.

Is this too harsh? I don't think so. But let's, for the moment, concentrate on what is right about the film. Firstly, it looks phenomenal, simply sensational. The effects are very good, although the troll, the centaur and the three headed dog look like they’ve escaped from an early version of Quake. For the most part they are totally seemless. But then again, so what? These days you'd pretty much expect that - it isn't an issue any more. What is desperately lacking in this, as with so many movies, is basic plot -- or characters who, to be frank, anybody could give a flying fuck about.

The basic premise is all very Enid Blyton: isn't boarding school smashing! The master's high table, the importance of healthy outdoor sports, the gowns… it's all there, just like Malory Towers. Pity the poor parents who are now being nagged by their dullard offspring to send them to a Hogwarts-like institution.

You'd think that such an amazing school would be populated by really exciting, interesting people.
Apparently, however, this is not the case.

Richard Harris as Dumbledore is acting in his sleep, but he's almost dead, so perhaps we could forgive that. Potter is played by the winsome Daniel Radcliffe, Hermione by the Bonnie Langford-esque Emma Watson, and various other previously unknown child stars take their bows as Harry's mates or Harry's nemeses. Of these, Radcliffe is the worst: his main function is to grin manically at certain key moments and to recite the JKR's Holy Dialogue very, very carefully.

The array of adult stars queuing up to get their snouts into the trough is mind-boggling: John Hurt, Julie Walters, even the now godawful John Cleese, who gets to do his raddled 'posh bloke' routine one more time. The characters are all as flat as steamrollered pancakes - the one exception being Professor Snape, played by Alan Rickman, who, as he so often does, steals what there is of a show.
Robbie Coltrane as Hagrid is worthy but dull, although he is the nearest the film has to comic relief.

"Oh I shouldn't have told you that" isn't really the most hilarious catchphrase you've ever heard, though, is it?

The movie takes an age to actually get going: it's so in love with itself. Almost two hours go by before the movie appears to decide to get itself some sort of purpose: there are all sorts of pretty, but fairly pointless episodes which all look very nice but which do nothing to advance the plot. When we finally come to the film's high point, we get effects stolen from "Total Recall" and a philosophy pinched from "The Fifth Element". At least at this point one knows that the end is near: cue triumph for Griffindor House and defeat for the poor old Slytherins (what an imaginative name that is for the bad guys, eh?)

Apparently there have been armies of kids turning up at King's Cross station and being sent away in tears, disappointed that they can't visit Platform 9 3/4. My advice to them is go down to platform 10 and to run at the wall very hard a few times. That should put them off the scent of Harry Potter pretty quickly. And not before time.

© Oliver Moor 2001 - Who will not be wanting his Nimbus 2000 for christmas then.

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