Quidditch. Hogwarts. Muggle.
These odd words are familiar to many who've been swept up into Harry Potter's magical world of three-headed dogs and moving paintings. Now the first best-selling book about the orphaned wizard, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, has made its way into movie theaters, smashing box-office records along the way.
As a huge fan of the books, I had to see the film.
If you're among the few people in the world who don't like Harry Potter or never read the books, you are a true muggle - the wizarding world's term for a non-magical person.
Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) is a young boy growing up with awful relatives, leading a mundane life. Unknown to him, he's a wizard - which he discovers through a kind giant, Hagrid (Robbie Coltrane). Harry also finds out he'll be going to Hogwarts, a wizard school. There's a magical gem called the Sorcerer's Stone hidden at Hogwarts to keep it safe from an evil wizard and Harry and his friends Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint) and Hermione Granger (Emma Watson) decide to stop the wizard from stealing it.
The young actors, especially Daniel Radcliffe, had me believing they truly were their characters. Even more amazing is that Rupert Grint and Emma Watson had acted only in school plays before this film.
Veteran actors, including Maggie Smith, who played Professor McGonagall, and Richard Harris, who played kind Headmaster Albus Dumbledore, brought their experience to the screen in remarkable fashion. My favorite adult actor was Alan Rickman (whom I've loved since Kevin Smith's Dogma), who played Professor Snape to perfection - capturing not only his looks but also demeanor.
The movie's visuals were breathtaking, especially special effects in the Great Hall and the quidditch match. Platform 9 3/4 was as I had pictured it, especially with the bright red Hogwarts Express train.
There were a few problems. I felt more scenes should have emphasized the friction between Professor Snape and Harry. Throughout the book, Snape has an enormous dislike of Harry that is evident - and important. From the movie you don't learn that Snape hated Harry's father and carried it over to Harry.
Another part that strayed from the book was quidditch, a sport that combines soccer and cricket and is played on broomsticks. It was a big part of the book but not the movie. I'm not saying the filmmakers needed to include another match, just that they needed to mention that Harry practiced constantly and fell in love with the game.
The seriously underplayed presence of the Weasley twins, Fred and George, disappointed me. They supplied a substantial amount of comic relief in the book, and I was upset I didn't see enough of them in the movie. But I thought they did an excellent job of casting Oliver Wood (Sean Biggerstaff), the quidditch captain.
There were many more discrepancies between the movie and the book, but despite the differences I absolutely will go see this movie again. The acting, visuals and story are so incredible that you can't miss it.
But I suggest reading the book, too, so you don't miss out.
MPPA RATING: PG for mild language and scarry moments
CAST: Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, Alan Rickman, Robbie Coltrane and Richard Harris
DIRECTOR: Chris Columbus
RUNNING TIME: 2 hours, 22 minutes
Teen Board member Allison Young, 16, thinks Oliver Wood was cast to appeal to teen-age girls - especially herself.