26 of 30 people found the following review helpful
A magical thrill ride - Fans of the book rejoice!,
Okay, some viewers will nitpick over discrepencies in characters' appearances, but all the IMPORTANT stuff is here. The relationships between the characters are spot-on. The film also successfully convinces us that the magical goings-on are part of the protagonists' everyday lives, whilst at the same time instilling a sense of wonder in the audience. This difficult balance is one of the main reasons the books are so successful.
Some of the child actors are a little wooden at times, but generally the all-British cast is excellent. The rich characters of Rowling's books have translated perfectly. Robbie Coltrane IS Hagrid. Emma Watson (Hermione) and Rupert Grint (Ron) have immense fun delivering most of the film's best lines. Dan Radcliffe does well in the difficult task of communicating Harry's thoughts, when the audience is unable to see them written down. Deserved mention, too, for Maggie Smith's McGonagall, Alan Rickman's Snape and Tom Felton's nasty-yet-vulnerable Draco Malfoy.
The quality of the production is excellent. The sets and costumes are fabulous, and the attention to detail is breathtaking. The effects are superb, obvious highlights being Harry's invisibility cloak, and the Quidditch match (an adrenaline-pumping spectacle right up there with anything Star Wars has to offer).
In between the showpieces, director Chris Columbus remembers to let his audience take a breather with quieter moments. Harry staring out of his bedroom window, and he and Ron opening their presents on Christmas morning, are endearingly down-to-earth. And the scenes of Harry in front of the Mirror of Erised brought a tear to my eye (If you've read the book, you'll know why).
That's not to say the movie is without its faults. In an attempt to please purists, ALL the subplots have been included (though pared down a great deal), when omitting a few entirely may have helped the pacing of the film. The opening half-hour may be difficult to grasp for those who are unfamiliar with the book. A few of the magical artefacts seem rather more mechanical than mystical.
But these are all small niggles, really. The bottom line is that 152 minutes fly by as if it were half an hour. The only wish you have is that it were longer, and there can be no better sign of a good film than that.