Metascore
64

Generally favorable reviews - based on 35 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 23 out of 35
  2. Negative: 0 out of 35
  1. 100
    A red-blooded adventure movie, dripping with atmosphere, filled with the gruesome and the sublime, and surprisingly faithful to the novel.
  2. It's eye-filling, well-cast, often very funny and executed with great imagination and flair.
  3. Reviewed by: Todd McCarthy
    90
    The script is faithful, the actors are just right, the sets, costumes, makeup and effects match and sometimes exceed anything one could imagine.
  4. Happily, then, the first movie of the Harry Potter series casts a splendid spell, as screenwriter Steve Kloves has transcribed J.K. Rowling's novel nearly to a T, with precious little tweaked or trimmed.
  5. If the movie doesn't ultimately transport us to places The Wizard of Oz once took us, that may be partly because "The Sorcerer's Stone" is just the first chapter, with more magic waiting to be parceled out in the coming years.
  6. Can there be higher praise for a motion picture designed to capture a beloved book with fidelity, thoroughness and affection? Only this: They made it better.
  7. What saves Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone is what created it in the first place: J.K. Rowling's enrapturing imagination. At those sporadic moments when the film allows us to share in Harry's wonder, it lets us recapture our own as well.
  8. Retains (and in many cases, boosts) as much of the spirit [of the book] as you could reasonably expect. And it makes a worthy attempt to duplicate Rowling's engaging sense of humor.
  9. 75
    Does it immerse the uninitiated into a new, fabulous world? Yes. To the book's many readers, does this feel like the real "Harry Potter"? For the most part, yes.
  10. Columbus has done a rousing job of bringing Rowling's rambunctious story to the screen. The eerie corridors and ever-shifting stairways of Hogwarts are as daunting, haunting, initially bewildering, and ultimately comforting as when Rowling painted them in prose.
  11. As entertaining as it is amazingly faithful.
  12. At its best, the film's visual dazzle equals the tasty wordplay of the novel. But it is overlong, overscored, and curiously misshapen.
  13. Absolutely the best single moment, beautifully presented, comes when the orphaned Harry looks in a mirror and sees his parents there. It is brilliant in its simplicity and very moving.
  14. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    75
    Though the film will undoubtedly please the young viewers who flock to it, ultimately many of the book's readers may wish for a more magical incarnation.
  15. That sense of déjà vu is at once this Harry Potter's balm and its limitation: many charms, but few surprises.
  16. 70
    It may be long, but it's not boring -- how could it be when jack o' lanterns float lazily overhead in the dining hall, and the venerable Maggie Smith turns into a cat?
  17. 70
    Yes, this "Harry" does indeed fly -- just don't expect the movie to soar into the higher altitudes of imagination.
  18. 70
    Is the movie any good? At the dawn of the twenty-first century, when art is defined by commerce, this question is beside the point.
  19. Reviewed by: David Ansen
    70
    Columbus's Harry Potter has many delights, but the magical alchemy that the book seemed to achieve so effortlessly eludes it.
  20. 67
    Columbus' film version is fine, and it's bound to make kids happy while simultaneously generating untold box office, but if you haven't yet picked up a copy, don't let the film override the novel; set aside a weekend, dive in, and then head off to the cineplex to take in this well-done companion piece.
  21. 63
    It's a very busy movie, designed to appeal to short attention spans, and it leaves you feeling full, but not satisfied, because it's missing the most important ingredient of all: genuine magic.
  22. Reviewed by: Jay Carr
    63
    A firm, ringing yes and no on Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. The best thing about it may be that it will lead many back to read -- or re-read -- the book.
  23. 63
    All it lacks are the crucial things an inspired director could have provided: spark, soul and magic.
  24. 60
    This version of the Potter saga is fun and harmless rather than memorable or imaginative. That's certainly no crime.
  25. 60
    There's a palpable avoidance of risk as this new mythology is wheeled gingerly into the marketplace and carefully positioned to zap your pre-sold brain...Solid but uninspired, Harry lacks brio. It's respectable and a bit dull.
  26. What's on screen, though, is a cautious approach to cinema wizardry -- broad, colorful strokes and flash-bang effects that turn J.K. Rowling's words into a long, cheerful spectacle with a Muggle soul.
  27. The English cast is fun; but this is more spectacle than story, and the Steve Kloves script deserves better handling than director Chris Columbus -- plus any number of studio deliberators -- gave it.
  28. 58
    In their hands [Terry Gilliam or Tim Burton or even Steven Spielberg], Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone might have made as terrific a movie as it is a book. When Columbus got the job, however, it was guaranteed only to be a commercial success.
  29. Reviewed by: David Edelstein
    50
    As a movie, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone has no inner life -- no pulse -- of its own: It's secondhand.
  30. Reviewed by: Richard Corliss
    50
    The film lacks moviemaking buoyancy -- the feeling of soaring in space that Rowling's magic-carpet prose gives the reader. The picture isn't inept, just inert.
  31. 50
    Potter-philes are sure to get what they want -- if what they want is, in fact, an exacting version of J.K. Rowling's charming children's fantasy. If it's enchantment they are after, that's quite another matter.
  32. Reviewed by: Anthony Lane
    50
    Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone is, despite its trickery, that plainest and least surprising of artifacts; the work of art that is exactly the sum of its parts, neither more nor less. [19 Nov 2001, p. 78]
  33. I wish Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone had developed more of a life of its own instead of being essentially a flat visualization of the book.
  34. 40
    A clumsily directed, painstakingly faithful adaptation thats heavy on plot, light on nuance, and features in its title role a young newcomer whose most striking quality is an almost preternatural absence of oomph.
  35. 40
    Given that movies can now show us everything, the manifestations that Ms. Rowling described could be less magical only if they were delivered at a news conference.
User Score
7.5

Generally favorable reviews- based on 467 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Negative: 20 out of 175
  1. Sep 23, 2011
    8
    Director Chris Columbus has created "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" a dazzling movie that stays true to its book and adding itself with pure zeal and passion with impressive visuals. Full Review »
  2. EstebanF.
    Feb 27, 2006
    10
    This is the most-"loyal"-to-the-book Harry Potter movie, and it's from one of the best books. Logically, results in a wonderfull, amazing movie. Even if the effects aren't so good compared with the later films, the plot line is incredible. I have to repeat it, the "loyalty" to the book was amazing, that made this film awesome. I watched it 7 times in video and 2 times in the cinema. Yes, you heard well. I repeated a movie in the cinema, without beeing a super-fan. I loved it. Full Review »
  3. Mar 28, 2012
    10
    Amazing this movie, is really interesting, amazing, a bigger sorprise, I think that have some mistakes, but is awesome movie. I love Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone is a classic. Full Review »