This reverent but rather unremarkable condensation of J.K. Rowling’s inaugural Harry Potter
book by director Chris Columbus (Bicentennial Man
) and writer Steven Kloves (Wonder Boys
) is driven more by special effects and costume, set and art design than characterization. The story begins just after Lord Voldemort, a Darth Vader-like sorcerer from the Dark Side, has murdered the wizard and witch parents of baby Harry. It eventually moves to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry where Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) learns about spells, potions and All Things Mystical, and that Voldemort may return to murder the young Potter. I loved the book. The film is entertaining, but isn’t as comic, breezy or savory, and its 140-minute run time feels 30 minutes too long.