There’s a handful of movies that transcend their genre and stand the test of time to reach beyond the audiences that they are geared towards at the time of their release. There are also movies that are time capsules, frozen in the state that must be viewed when they’re fresh in order to be properly appreciated. When I missed watching Harry Potter upon its release it was because it came out the same year I turn 19 years old. I didn’t read the books because I wasn’t into it. So I missed the opportunity to grow up with something that was available when I was still younger but not the right age
Upon completing my first viewing 20 years after its release almost I can say this, it has a universal appeal that transcends the time it was released and the intended audience. Fans who grew up with the franchise as kids and growing up with it into adulthood will tell you that it’s fun and magical, maybe even whimsical if that word is in their vocabulary. Adults may be hesitant because it’s a children’s picture not made by Walt Disney Studios, the masters of that style of film. Unlike several pictures out there that attempt to capture the Disney Magic but come across as cheap imitations, I can safely say Harry Potter is the real deal. And I’m glad I enjoyed it because I would have really hated myself if I had watched this movie and couldn’t find anything to like knowing I missed out on it all these years.
As for the movie itself there’s a lot to love: the characters are relatable and interesting, the villain has got a mystery about him that makes him foreboding, and there are enough twists and turns and exciting sequences to get your adrenaline going. And even unlike the pod race scene from the Star Wars movie that predates it by only a couple of years the Quidditch sequence is not unbearably drawn-out nor is it unnecessary to the plot. It doen’t feel tacked on to give the heroes something to do. It’s a brief little sequence that is there to entertain the audience and establish a mythology in this world.
I watched the movie over the course of 2 days, not because as I was watching it I became bored and disinterested, but because it’s long and I didn’t have time to commit to a two-and-a-half-hour movie all in one sitting. So I stopped it at the exact halfway point according to the timeline and finished it today. The first half of the movie certainly has some moments that will entertain and even interject a smile upon the viewer if they are willing to be honest. It does have a couple of moments that make me remember that this is definitely a movie trying to appeal to children and it has a an overall tone that makes it accessible to kids. As a lifelong Nintendo fan I will tell you that being accessible to children does not mean being made for children or exclusively enjoyable by children.
Fortunately for the film, and its fans, I suppose it was released at a time when CGI had developed enough that the special effects in this movie do not take me out of the film: there’s nothing so jarring that makes me go “oh that looks like a PlayStation game not a movie effect.” That’s not to say the effects are perfect just that they’re done in a way that don’t interfere with the storytelling and I can appreciate that.
The film was a bit anti-climactic to say the least. It was definitely a world-building picture establishing the main characters and its mythology while setting up the premise as well as dropping hints at what the greater villain might be up to. That being said the final battle wasn’t entirely without suspense. At least the chess sequence was pretty damn cool!
I like the characters. My favorite is the bookworm, the girl I didn’t register her name but I really appreciated her passion for learning. To be fair it always takes me awhile to learn names. I was kind of a bookworm nerd myself and I was one of the only kids that I knew who enjoy taking tests maybe it was because I was good at them and I guess I liked feeling good knowing I could get an A on the test. It definitely has similarities to other movies at the time especially the aforementioned Star Wars prequel. But I won’t hold that against it as I enjoyed those other films.
Still it’s not necessarily a relic of the time either. I think this movie has something for everybody and longtime fans know that it has a universal appeal. As someone who is only now discovering it for the first time I can say I’m glad I enjoyed it. I look forward to seeing the remaining films in the franchise and I’m only slightly disappointed or even a little sad that I didn’t discover it earlier in life.
Overall I would give it five out of five stars I think the movie is certainly deserving of that. I enjoyed it enough that I imagine I will work it into my regular viewing at some point in time.