I had begun to do my HBO Max Pilot Series centered around their fantastic television catalog, but I thought it would be good to review some of the exclusive films that HBO Max also presents to us.
So today, I will be reviewing, for the first time, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.
For a long time, a variety of people from my Co-Host Jacob, to co-workers, to Twitter have been trying to get me to watch Harry Potter. So after watching Lord of the Rings for the first time last week, Hannah came up with the idea of watching Harry Potter for the first time on her “Call Me By Your Commentary Podcast”, and I obliged.
I will be honest; my expectations were modest because these films never seemed to capture my eye. I had once visited Harry Potter World at Universal Studios and was enamored by the park and how cool it was, but it did not make me want to run and watch the films.
So, this past Sunday evening, I sat down and experienced Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone with Hannah, Kenzie, Jacob, and Christian, and here is my review.
An orphaned boy enrolls in a school of wizardry, where he learns the truth about himself, his family and the terrible evil that haunts the magical world.
We open with an artistic score, beautiful cinematography, and a tad bit of wizardry. We find ourselves in the troubled home of young Harry Potter, and while some would say his Uncle being a bit of a jerk, you could also see it as him trying to protect Harry, even though it might not be in the way we would want it. I will admit tossing all those letters written to him into the fire right in front of him was such a dick move.
But once we see Harry leave the homeland, we witness the transition from normalcy to the world of Hogwarts. This is where Chris Columbus did light years better than Peter Jackson within showcasing this magical world. The Lord of the Rings never felt like it was world-building, or even attempting to share with us the ideas behind the story. Columbus and the writers bring you into this world, make you understand even the complex world of Hogwarts, and share it with you in this somewhat dumb down way for the viewer. They made the layers matter, each piece of the puzzle within this early sequence was pivotal in learning the world Hogwarts, and it was fantastic.
A score has a way of making or breaking a film, a bad score in this world equals a dud, but this score is breathtaking. John Williams takes us to the highest of highs and the lows of lows, and the score does a beautiful way of enticing us into this majestic world. It carries from the beginning of the film to the end. The melody that keeps your spirits high throughout.
I would be remiss not to talk about the breathtaking cinematography within the film. John Seale has this color palette that transitions from scene to scene, which is just breathtaking.
My biggest issue with this film was the transition from the end of act two and the beginning of act three. It wasn’t bad per-say, but it was cheesy and felt different from the previous hour and half of the movie. I am thankful Columbus made the transition back to where we were going because they could have lost me here.
As we come to the closing moments of the movie, I found myself engulfed in this little world of Hogwarts, being happy with the victories, being sad with the somber moments. It was a testament to the writing and the directing for making me feel like I was apart of this world.
For a first viewing, Harry Potter works on every level. Is it the perfect film? No, but it is extremely well shot, filled with an outrageously beautiful score and layered storytelling that made you want more.
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