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Harry Potter And The Philosopher's Stone [DVD] 
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Harry Potter, the bespectacled boy wizard, has his first feature film outing in this blockbuster box office hit. Newly enrolled at Hogwarts School, Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) and his chums Hermione (Emma Watson) and Ron (Rupert Grint) have a surpise encounter with a three-headed dog guarding a secret trapdoor. They then begin to suspect that something important might be hidden beneath the school, and when they investigate it leads to an encounter with the evil wizard Voldemort (Ian Hart). Will Harry be able to keep up with his studies, lead his team to victory in the school sport Quidditch, and still triumph over the dreaded Voldemort?
To try and please all the fans of JK Rowling's novel was a challenge that the makers of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone met head on. The result of their efforts is one of the most lavish, beautiful and magical cinematic treats to hit our screens in years. Director Chris Columbus and screenwriter Steven Kloves (thankfully with the help of Rowling herself) prove that although you can't translate everybody's reading of this much-loved book onto the cinema screen--maybe Fluffy was a bit more Fluffy in your imagination or Hagrid (superbly played by Robbie Coltrane) a little more giant-like--it is nevertheless possible to transfer Harry's adventures with fidelity as well as superb energy and excitement.
If there is a downside it's that the performances of the child leads tends to verge on the Sylvia Young-tastic in places. Nonetheless, the three young stars are both likable and watchable, showing great potential to grow into the parts as the adventures continue. The main disappointment is the substantial cutting of the ghost scenes and what promised to be a fine comic turn by John Cleese as Headless Nick, though with more Potter films on the way the ghosts will surely assume their rightful prominence later. There are, of course, some areas of the story that may frighten smaller children--such as the entrance of the evil Voldemort--and undoubtedly for any true Potter fan that cinematic entrance cannot live up to the images created in their imagination. All in all, though, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone is what it should be: an unmissable treat for the whole family.
On the DVD: Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone really is a magical experience in this lavish two-disc set. Disc one offers the film in all its surround-sound glory along with trailers and links to the Harry Potter Web site, but, disappointingly, there's no commentary.
Disc two is where the real wizardry can be found, with a vast and beautifully designed selection of special features. Entering the Great Hall a mysterious voice invites you to explore and find the secret hidden within (though it's frustrating that in some cases you have to re-enter the Hall after viewing a feature). Various options let you tour around Harry's world: from Diagon Alley to a virtual 360-degree tour of Hogwarts. The interactive component is excellent, with real thought having been put into ensuring that, instead of just the standard behind-the-scenes stuff, there is material aplenty to keep children and adults alike entertained for hours. Throughout the emphasis is on the disc's educational value: yes there are insights to be had from the film crew, but it's in the Classroom where you will find the real precious stones! --Nikki Disney
"Widescreen" vs. "Full Screen"
Widescreen preserves the original theatrical picture ratio of the film (Panavision 2.35:1), which will appear in "letterboxed" format on a normal TV screen.
Full Screen (or "pan and scan") crops the theatrical picture to 4:3 ratio (i.e., 4 units wide by 3 units tall), which is the shape of a standard (non-widescreen) TV screen. There is no letterboxing, but up to a third of the original picture is lost. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.See all Product Description
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The discs themselves are housed in a separate fold-out dvd set:
Disc 1: Blu-Ray Movie (Theatrical Version)
Disc 2: DVD Movie (Theatrical Version)
Disc 3: DVD Movie (Extended Version)
Disc 4: DVD Special Features (Additional Scenes, A Conversation With The Film-Makers, Visit Diagon Alley, Enter The Library, Attend Classes, Learn More About Quidditch, Seek The Mirror of Erised, Gallery of Art & Architecture)
Disc 5: DVD Creating The World of Harry Potter Part 1: The Magic Begins (1. The Magic Begins 2. Characters 3. Magical Creatures 4. Sound & Music 5. The Evolution of Harry Potter 6. Special Effects 7. Growing Up Potter 8. The Harry Potter Phenomenon)
Although this set is marketed as a Blu-Ray set please note that only one disc is Blu-Ray which is why I don't think it's perfect. Unlike the US version of this boxset, the UK version does not contain a Blu-Ray extended version of the film which is very disappointing. The special features from Disc 4 are not unique to this set but the hour long documentary on Disc 5 offers a spectacular behind-the-scenes look at the movies and how it all began. The real highlight is definitely the extended version of the film.Read more ›
My fears were groundless. From the moment Dumbledore walked onto the screen in the first act they were mesmerised, their sweets and drink were left untouched as they were transported to the magical world of Hogwarts. The time passed far too quickly as they were taken on a roller coaster ride of fun and excitement.
The atmosphere created by Columbus is engrossing, totally convincing. I watched my children's faces as the story developed, from looks of pure delight as the Dursleys house was bombarded with owl post, to hatred as Alan Rickman's Snape bullied the kids and finally to tears as Ron was knocked from his Knight.
The film is not perfect, some of the children's acting is a bit wooden (not helped by the script, which tries to stay too close to the book), some scenes should not have been cut (lets hope we see some of these on the DVD !!) and some subtle clue's provided in the book for eagle eyed kids are missing, but none of this detracts from the overall experience.
As we left the cinema, the first thing my children said to me was "when can we see it again ?". "Soon", I replied. I began to realise that I had probably enjoyed the film as much as they had.
But there is menace but it waits until the end of the film where you realize these kids really are going to go up against something evil and the tension builds and builds before resolution and you get that nice tea and cake feel at the end.
Some of the concepts doesn't make it good for young kids or overly imaginative kids prone to nightmares but for the rest of us it's a good family round the televison after Christmas/Sunday Dinner kind of a film.
The video quality is not very good. Contrasts are surprisingly poor, with many scenes too bright (Harry and his owl during the Xmas holidays) and the children's faces often looking vampirically pale due to excessive contrast. There is also far too much soft focus and too little sharpness for the film to ever really shine let alone 'pop' as the jargon has it. Scenes which are just made for HD, lingering close-ups, for example, often appear surprisingly soft and lacking definition. There are moments of HD magic - like the moving bricks in the wall before Diagon Alley - but they are far too rare and are never of reference character. Faces, particularly the children, often lack detail almost as though some form of digital noise reduction (DNR) had been applied! I say "almost" because the film is not short of grain/noise.
Audio quality is pretty good but well short of what it could have been. The PCM track is only 48khz and sometimes lacks the extra detail and spaciousness associated with HD audio. Surround sound is very well used though, particularly in the Quidditch match.
All in all a disappointing BD. The new audio-mix on the "Ultimate Editions" available in the US and continental Europe seems to be an open admission that the soundtrack wasn't good enough. But I wouldn't hold your breath for a new transfer.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
My son absolutely loves Harry Potter! I've lost count as to how many times we've watched it! Fab :)Published 11 days ago by Hel15
I got this DVD to study English.
I watch this without subtitles several times , then with subtitles.
Wonderful story with a great set of young and older actors. The film sets are fantastic and really add to the magic of the whole story. Read morePublished 21 days ago by Samh1