THE THING ABOUT HARRY...
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.
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 theyve 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
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
You'd think that such an amazing school would be populated by really exciting,
Apparently, however, this is not the case.
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.
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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