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Monday, 5 November, 2001, 11:04 GMT
Critics spellbound by Potter movie
Harry Potter
Actor Daniel Radcliffe is set to become a huge star
The UK's press has hailed as "magic" the film of JK Rowling's bestselling children's novel Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone.

The most eagerly awaited film of the year had its preview before a star-studded audience at Leicester Square, in London's West End, on Sunday evening.


Seeing Harry Potter is probably the best moment of Barney's life so far

Kate Muir, The Times
Critics were not put off by the film's hefty 152-minute running time.

Writing in the Sun, Dominic Mohan said the film lived up to its hype and would keep families under its spell for years to come.

"It's dark, it's scary, it's funny. It's a Willy Wonka for the new millennium with special effects that will make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up," Mohan wrote.

"I didn't want this movie to end and I don't know how I'm going to be able to wait for the sequels," he added.

Daniel Radcliffe
Magic moments: Harry at his Hogwarts desk
The Daily Mail's Baz Bamigboye said anyone who skipped the film was a "muggle", or non-wizard, and predicted it was bound to surpass Titanic as the biggest box office draw of all time.

"I am happy to report that it truly is a wizard show," he said.

"I suspect that fans of all ages will want to see it again and again...repaying its 110m cost many times over."

"Harry's first spell is captivating stuff," he added, confident that more Potter adaptations were bound to follow.

The Daily Telegraph's John Hiscock said director Christopher Columbus had successfully remained faithful to the book.

"He has managed to keep the saccharine to a minimum, and instead allows Rowling's story to unfold almost exactly as she wrote it," Hiscock wrote.

JK Rowling
The film faithfully adapts Rowling's tale

John Walsh, in the Independent, observed: "At its heart, this is an old-fashioned film about courage, loyalty and belonging."

Its "narrative of decency and fair play" was extremely British, he noted.

Kate Muir of the Times, who attended the screening with her six-and-a-half-year-old son, Barney, said: "Seeing Harry Potter is probably the best moment of Barney's life so far.

"Had the film butchered the text, we would have been gutted. Instead, it was faithful to every word - for two and half hours that passed in an instant.

"I turned to see Barney's face lit up with excitement and pleasure, and I had to prevent myself from sniffling embarrassingly.

Barney himself was scarcely less enthusiastic.

"This is great," he said - "the best film I've ever seen, way better than any of the Disney cartoons I've seen."

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BBC News Online's Jayne Douglas
"London fell under the spell of Harry Potter"

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