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Friday, 9 November, 2001, 17:39 GMT
Potter bridges generation gap
Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) arrives at Hogwarts
An excellent film even if you have not read the books
Most critics seem to agree that the Harry Potter movie is faithful to JK Rowling's first book. BBC News Online decided to conduct its own test by sending Harry Potter fanatics, Richard Angell and his son Thomas, along to a special preview.


Thomas Angell, aged 12

Well, first off the film is brilliant, there is no doubt about that. But is it as good as the original book?

Yes and no.

At first glance it looks like Harry Potter. There are spells, spectacular buildings, bizarre dogs with three heads , called Fluffy, talking snakes and horrible maroon jumpers - not to mention earwax-flavoured sweets.

But when you look closer, I do not think it does quite develop the characters or the magic enough.

Despite being a 100m film, there is not enough magic. They probably spent most of it on Fluffy, who is shown an awful lot.

Thomas Angell in his Harry Potter wizard's cape
Thomas wishes there was more magic
I know they had problems with time, but they totally cut out Peeves and an awful lot of Neville.

Malfoy and the rest of Slytherin seem nasty, but do not actually do much. Crabbe and Goyle are reduced to tiny snippets as extras.

Another thing is that the director seems to have been watching The Mummy. Quirrell crumbles to dust when touched by Harry, rather than breaking out in blisters and running off screaming.

Most people enjoyed the Quidditch match. I didn't. It is not elegant. It looks like a fast, vicious battle to the death, similar to Gladiator in places.

But overall it is still an extremely good film.

There are lots of good jokes - including a scene with Harry, Dudley and a snake that is even better than in the book.

Ron and Hermione are absolutely brilliant and the film looks good all the time.

Basically it is a great big fun film that varies between good and superb throughout.

If they had just developed some of the characters and showed the magic a bit more, it would be the best film ever. I would give it 9.5 out of 10.


Richard Angell, aged 44

As I sat watching the story develop, I waited for a false step that would make me leap up and cry out: "That's not the 'Harry Potter' that I know and love!".

But half an hour into the film I realised there was no risk of me embarrassing Thomas by getting thrown out of the cinema.

This was, by and large, the Harry Potter of my imagination. And there was still two hours to go!

The atmosphere was suitably brooding and dark when it needed to be - no "Disneyfying", thank goodness.

Rupert Grint and Emma Watson
Ron and Hermione are superb
Beforehand, I had been worried by the idea of Robbie Coltrane playing Hagrid, but he was exceptional.

I even forgave the slight change that made Hagrid the main "comic" adult. This was at the expense of Dumbledore, who lost all his funny lines from the book, making him solely a "wise old man".

The young lead actors were better than I imagined they could be and the casting director should win an award for finding Rupert Grint and Emma Watson.

I suspect that in real life they are exactly like Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger - and wish their respective parents the best of luck!

Daniel Radcliffe held it all together as Harry himself. He did not have the gags or the easily-defined roles of the others, but he did have the inner strength and determination of his character.

However, like Thomas, I felt that we needed to see more of the villains.

When Alan Rickman's Professor Snape was dripping out his acid lines, the words burning like individual droplets from one of his potions, you could sense the collective pulse of the audience quickening.

But these are relatively minor criticisms. Make no mistake, this is an excellent film for children and adults alike, whether they have read the books or not.


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06 Nov 01 | Entertainment
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