Ponderings for Parents: “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” is an excellent film for anyone elementary school age or older. It’s frightening enough that children younger than six or seven will probably find the flying sequences and numerous scenes of physical danger too intense.
“Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring” is a film for teens and above. The intense, although not overly gory, battle sequences may be too much for younger viewers.
This winter has been a wonderful one for fantasy fans. Between “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” and “Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring,” released barely a month apart, it’ll be a shock when they’ve left the theatre and viewers who like a little literal magic at the movies have to go back to the usual action fare of spring and summer. Naturally, these two fantasy films are constantly being compared to one another, with various people claiming one is “better” than the other. This is fruitless, because beyond the fact that both are excellent films based on books and both are works of fantasy, the two movies have almost nothing in common.
In case you have been living under a rock, Harry Potter, star of the series of books by J.K. Rowling, is an orphan who learns that he is a wizard and has been accepted at the wizard-world-famous Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The film centers on his discovery that there is a parallel world to the normal one he has grown up in; the world of wizards, where he is famous for surviving an attack by the greatest dark wizard in a century. The dark wizard is still around, albeit in a much weaker form, and Harry winds up facing him a second time. The film is remarkably loyal to the book, and while some of Rowlings’ imaginative storytelling has been left out to keep the film to a manageable length, the cuts are covered over smoothly and nearly everything on the screen is lifted straight from the book. From the floating candles that light the Great Hall at Hogwarts to the game of Quidditch (something across between basketball and rugby and played on flying broomsticks), the film gives one the feeling of watching the book come to life. Although the CGI effects sometimes fail to dazzle, the film is an excellent ride for both the young and the proverbial young at heart, full of excitement and characters you can love.