Harry Potter enchants public

“Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” stormed theaters and delighted kids of all ages. Readers of the popular book series left the movie satisfied since producer Chris Columbus’ (“Mrs. Doubtfire” and “Stepmom”) kept the script as close to the book as possible.

The movie chronicles the life of young Harry Potter, played by Daniel Radcliffe, as he begins his first year at Hogwarts Academy for Witchcraft and Wizardry. He has lived in a closet under the stairs at his aunt and Uncle Dursley’s since his parents’ death when he was an infant. Through strange letters delivered by owls and a visit from the huge Hogwarts groundskeeper, Hagrid (Robbie Coltrane), Harry discovers his parents were wizards and he is to become one too. Hagrid takes Harry shopping for supplies in the hidden Diagon Alley. Here Harry begins to realize he is a bit of a celebrity in the magical world. One disappointment for readers is the omission of the roller coaster-like ride Harry and Hagrid take at Gringott’s Bank to get to Harry’s vault of money.

Once on the train to Hogwarts, Harry quickly meets up with his soon to be friends. The first is the poor but loveable Ron Weasely. Rupert Grint played the redhead and stole many of the scenes with his facial expressions alone. The other is Hermione Granger, played by Emma Watson. Harry also meets his nemesis Draco Malfoy, played by Tom Felton, who also appeared in “Anna and the King” and “The Borrrowers.”

Many special effects came off as fake. The Quidditch match, a hockey-like game played on broomsticks, was exciting to watch until the Harry’s broomstick attempts to buck him off. It was then obvious the scene was computer generated. Other effects such as the dining hall decorated with floating candles and pumpkins, the talking sorting hat, and the wizard’s chess game were all impressive.

The story does use the different talents and abilities of Harry, Ron and Hermione during the climax. The children’s eccentricities are portrayed as assets.

The two and half-hour movie holds the attention of the moviegoers both young and old. The audience can follow and enjoy the movie without having read the book. The supporting cast makes the movie even more enjoyable. Maggie Smith has been acting on stage and screen since 1963 with notable roles as the Mother Superior in “Sister Act” (1992), the housekeeper in “The Secret Garden” (1993), and the aged Wendy in “Hook” (1991.) Smith portrays the strict Professor McGonagall. She is also in charge of the Gryffindor House, where Harry resides at Hogwarts.

Coltrane steals the show as the loveable Hagrid. His affection for dangerous creatures, such as dragons and three-headed dogs, and unfortunate habit of talking too much often get him in trouble but endear him to Harry and the audience.

Richard Harris plays the headmaster Albus Dumbledore. His experience as King Arthur on both stage and film, give him the grace, presence and authority to portray this character.

Alan Rickman has made a career of playing characters the audience loves to hate. He began playing the German terrorist in “Die Hard” (1988). Rickman then continued as the Sheriff of Nottingham in Kevin Costner’s “Robin Hood” (1995). In Potter, Rickman plays the seemingly evil Professor Snape. Whether he is against Harry or not, audiences leave the theater not liking Snape at all. Unfortunately, the movie does not divulge Snape’s reasons for not liking Harry.

The leaves some questions unanswered. However, if it explored every topic in Rowling’s first book, the movie would be five hours long. Then, what would be left for the sequel, which began filming the Monday after Sorcerer’s Stone release?

If viewed as pure entertainment, with a touch of morality, the movie is enjoyable and worth seeing on the big screen.