[MOVIE REVIEW]'Potter' misses the magic

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[MOVIE REVIEW]'Potter' misses the magic

In making the film version of perhaps the most popular children's book in history (100 million copies sold and counting), Chris Columbus seems to have aimed not at greatness, but merely at not lousing the thing up. So when you go to see the film "Harry Potter and the Philospher's Stone" this Christmas (and you know you will), which kicks off Dec. 14 in theaters nationwide, expect a lot of razzle-dazzle and even some smoke-and-mirrors, just don't expect the film to be full of magic.

An adaptation of British author J.K. Rowling's hit novel about the mystical adventures of a boy wizard, this highly anticipated film faithfully follows the storyline of the original book, but falls flat when it actually plays out on the screen.

The main synopsis of the film follows a conventional structure of Western fairy tales such as "Cinderella and "Snow White." The orphaned Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) lives under the stairs, raised by an evil aunt and her family.

Everything changes, however, when he receives a letter of admission from the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and discovers his wizard heritage. Like Cinderella who had the glass slippers that attracted the hottest prince in town, Harry bears a portentous scar on his forehead, marking him as a wizard of exceptional power.

Unfortunately, the film often tends to be too literal when it lays out the story on the screen, relying too much on gaudy computer graphics. As a result, Columbus, the director of "Mrs. Doubtfire" and "Home Alone," fails to create a dreamscape that measures up to the magical splendor of the book.

Even more seriously, the running time of 152 minutes is way too long for most children to sit through without torturing their mothers.

There are, however, some sparkling moments. The moving pictures on the wall which often come out of the frame and interact with the children at Hogwarts is an innovative idea. The adventure that Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger, Harry's two best pals, go through during the last half hour of the film is heart-pounding and thrilling, especially for those in the audience who didn't read the book.

But despite mixed reviews, Potter-lovers will doubtlessly flock to the theaters as overwhelmingly as they have in the West. It may not make film connoisseurs forget about "Citizen Kane," but for the book's fans, the results are spellbinding.

by Park Soo-mee

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