Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone tells the magical tale of Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) who, after eleven years of living with his neglectful Aunt and Uncle, is invited to Hogwarts after learning that he is a wizard. There, Potter not only quickly makes friends with Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint) and Hermione Granger (Emma Watson), but learns he has a famous past and is a celebrity among Hogwarts as The Boy Who Lived. Harry and company soon discover dark secrets hidden behind every corner of Hogwarts, and it's up to the three young wizards to put a stop to the lurking evil that's after the Philosophers Stone, all while dealing with bullies, school and other charming obstacles.
What surprised me the most are the characters and the performers bringing them to life. Harry feels so real, and the discovery of his past and his powers feels very natural. He's just too damn likeable. I was worried, knowing how young the cast is here, but they all nail it. Sure, there's the awkward line here and there, but that is an easily forgivable fault. My favourite character, other than Harry, is easily Hagrid, portrayed by Robbie Coltrane. He's just so loveable, and the goofy father figure is a great contrast to the kids. You just want to give him a big hug. Characters are for sure a highlight of this movie and I can't wait to see them grow and be introduced to new ones down the line.
I do understand that the film was released in 2001, but I still want to mention the special effects. First though, wow, the practical effects/sets in this film are mind blowing. This only helps Hogwarts feel all the more real. But as for the CGI... The computer effects are very hit or miss. Some effects look way ahead of their time, like the snake in the beginning or the giant three headed dog, but other scenes, like the Quidditch match about half way through, look god awful, even for the time. Fully CGI bodies was an idea that was too ambitious, and I think that it caused the film to age like hell, at least for that portion of the film. And that is quite a shame, as the Quidditch scene is very fun otherwise.