As we enter the final stretch until the last Harry Potter movies are released (they are splitting Deathly Hallows into two parts) Warner Brothers is releasing Ultimate Blu-ray editions of all the films.
The first cinematic look at J.K. Rowling's now immortal series, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, is available under the Ultimate moniker. It is a great package for serious fans, but more casual viewers may not appreciate it.
I don't believe anyone needs a lesson on the story of Harry Potter but this is a film review, so here we go. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone is the story of the boy who survived. Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) is a wizard who grew up not knowing his legacy. When he was a baby his parents were killed and his mother's love saved him from the dread Voldemort. Voldemort disappeared, presumed killed, and Harry was left with his aunt and uncle.
They refused to acknowledge his wizardry blood and he was treated little better than an animal in their home. Finally discovering his wizard heritage, Harry is brought by invitation to Hogwarts School of Wizardry. With no prior knowledge, Harry is introduced to the hidden world of magic and then to the majestic halls of Hogwarts.
Along the way Harry meets his eventual stalwart friends Ron (Rupert Grint) and Hermione (Emma Watson) who join him on his journey with different perspectives. Guided through his first year of school by Headmaster Dumbledore (Richard Harris), Hagrid (Robbie Coltrane), Proffessor McGonagall (Maggie Smith), and the imposing Professor Snape (Alan Rickman), Harry learns that he is more important then he ever believed.
The course of the entire Harry Potter series is foreshadowed in this first outing. Harry's rivalry with Malfoy (Tom Felton), his skill at Quidditch, his unwavering courage, and his inevitable confrontations with Voldemort and his minions.
The Sorceror's Stone was directed by Chris Columbus and he was very careful to portray the book exactly as it was written. This is both a boon and a curse. It is truly awe-inspiring at times to see exactly what you read come to life, but during drawn out or over-explained moments you realize why creative license is important when making movies based on books.
Chris Columbus gathered a great cast, the veteran actors a great counterbalance to the newcomers of Radcliffe, Grint, and Watson. While the children's acting is not great, their persona and look are spot on with what any of us imagined when reading the novels.