The first adaptation of several from J.K. Rowling’s hugely popular adolescent novels. And an enjoyable one at that, too.Taken as little more than a charming children’s movie (directed without a style or voice by Chris Columbus as he slaves away to the accuracy of the source), the winning element is that it never claims to be more than the aforementioned. That, in my books, is where Harry Potter wins more points than The Fellowship of the Ring and all of its pretenses. Harry Potter is particularly brought to life by the three lively leads — Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson. There is some fun as well in the sleuthy Scooby Doo nature of the movie (especially when the villains find the need to explain all their motives to the audience), but the “event” isn’t without its detractions. The movie is clearly without any subtleties, jumping slowly over every hurdle to avoid any ambiguity; the special effects scenes tend to be under-polished and over-erected (the quidditch match is all very prodigal and excessive); and most of all, the villain — Lord Voldemort, or “He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named” — is nothing more than an evil scalp! (So far, at least.) In the process, it is constructing another franchise and sets to raise the bar higher in hopes of the next being even bigger. Pop-culture has a way of blowing egos up like inflatable water-wings, though if there is a concerned effort being made to stay as faithful to the origins, it can be as painless as this installment.
With Maggie Smith, Robbie Coltrane, Richard Harris, John Hurt and Alan Rickman.[Worth-seeing.]