I’m sure every Harry Potter fan was really excited for the original release of this movie, and I’m sure most of them were completely satisfied when leaving the theater. It was really awesome for me to see the book come to life with this film, but I had nothing to compare the movie with back then. Now I can only say that it was a great start, and each each sequel just keeps getting better, like the books and games also have. The movie was very true to the book, I thought, but it was almost too straightforward compared with later movies.
One thing that really threw me off, and about the only change in the storyline, was when the threesome go off to visit Hagrid and watch Norbert hatch and they’re caught for being out of bed at night, what seems to be just a couple minutes later, they’re serving their punishment with Hagrid, who no longer has the dragon, because Dumbledore sent him off to Romania. That was not at all how the book went, but I suppose it really helped to shorten up the movie a bit to make room for the better parts, like our first views of Hogwarts and Quidditch.
I really enjoyed my first real-life view of Hogwarts, and it really felt like home for me. The first day of classes scenes were also great, because it rather felt like I was late for Transfiguration, or I was being lectured by Snape. In the case of Quidditch, however, I felt more comfortable placing myself within the audience and just take in the energy and excitement of the sport as if I were really there. Books can really unleash your imagination, but to be able to better put myself in Harry’s shoes for a while, or even just within Harry’s world, with something I can actually see for myself rather than in my mind’s eye, is a completely different experience.
Now if I were to be nit-picky about some other things in this movie, I could start even with the first scene. I can understand that, from a movie standpoint, moviegoers who haven’t read the books need to understand who the characters are, but it annoyed me that in the very first scene the characters referred to each other as “Professor” Dumbledore and “Professor” McGonagall. As a teacher, I have to refer to others by Mr. or Mrs. when students are around, but never when it’s just me and another teacher in the room. Then we use first names. I think in this scene it would have been more appropriate to use Albus and Minerva, even if it means confusing the illiterate members of the audience.
Hagrid’s line “bits and bobs for doing your wizardry” in Diagon Alley annoys me to no end. So does Ron’s use of “by the way” twice within two minutes on the Hogwarts Express. He says both “I’m Ron Weasley, by the way” and “This is Scabbers, by the way.” Some variety in lines, please?
Another line that drives me nuts is Hermione’s later in the film: “Spells: I’ve read all about them. You have to keep eye contact and Snape wasn’t blinking.” Why that line? Because a “spell”, I think, is to general a term for what Snape and Quirrell were doing, and Hermione is clever enough to know that. She should have had a more specific name for what they would were doing while not blinking. Or, at least, don’t say she’s “read all about spells” like it’s something significant that Harry and Ron haven’t done. Of course they’ve all read about them! Spells are the staple of wizardry!
Another Hermione line that annoys me is: “But why would anyone go near that dog?” She’s the one that made such a big deal in a previous scene about using your eyes, noticing the trap door underneath its feet, and pointing out that the dog is “guarding something”. She’s the one who deduced that it’s guarding something, so why is she asking why anyone would go near the dog? Obviously, because they want to get at what it’s guarding! Duh!
Although I admire Molly Weasley as a character, she also delivers a line that bothers me: “Filled with Muggles, of course… Come on… Platform 9 3/4 this way!” Harry, as you notice, picks up right away on the word “Muggles” and follows him. She does not need to announce loudly to her kids, and to all the Muggles around them, that they are heading to some ludicrous (to the Muggles) platform located between 9 and 10. One line I do love, though, is Hagrid’s “I should not have said that” which is used multiple times throughout the film. Kudos to the screenwriter for that one!
I think it’s fairly obvious that the acting, especially among the children, is terrible in this film. Dan Radcliffe has said himself that he is not sure what he was doing in the first two films could be called “acting”. But, I think, in a way, this makes the film that much more endearing. Speaking of Dan, though, one matter of intense contention among the fandom is that he doesn’t have green eyes. His eyes are blue. I think he tried contacts, but wasn’t able to wear them as they adversely affected his eyes, and computer graphics probably weren’t advanced enough to change his eye color and make it look believable.
During the last scenes of the movie, when the three friends attempt to follow Snape (Quirrell) through the trapdoor, I also don’t like that the goal is to fall through (underneath) the Devil’s Snare. Besides, if that’s goal, why can’t Hermione tell the others that? And how does Hermione know that? Is there always a secret room under a Devil’s Snare? There’s just something not right about that whole scene. I mean, Lumos Solem? I don’t remember that spell being in the books. Why couldn’t Hermione have remembered the bit about the Devil’s Snare not liking sunlight while being choked by a Devil’s Snare? That would have made for a more intense scene, I think, and it would have made more sense.
After all those scenes, though, Harry is in the hospital recovering, where Dumbledore visits him. But after that scene, we see him in the Great Hall, bandaged still as if he is still healing. They seem to be fairly minor cuts and bruises. Here’s what I have to say about that: MADAM POMPFREY CAN HEAL ANYTHING! WHY IS IT THAT HARRY STILL HAS MARKS ON HIS FACE AND A BANDAGE ON HIS WRIST DURING THE HOUSE CUP CEREMONIES?! Anyway, that’s probably another movie thing, to emphasize his injuries.
Finally, this soundtrack is the only one in the first few that I can really listen to anytime, anyplace, even while driving in the car. Awesome selections from the movie are featured in this soundtrack. There is nothing on this CD that I don’t like listening to. However, I missed the theme from the students first entrance into the Great Hall. I wish that had been included on the CD too.