Ethan Colburn’s review published on Letterboxd:
I think this was my most shocking rewatch in recent memory.
I hadn't seen this film in around 10+ years and it struck a completely different tone than the way I had remembered it. While it was much scarier at the time, this is a straight up kids movie with pretty bad special effects. For better or for worse, it's cheesy, a bit absurd but adorable nonetheless.
The special effects certainly improved from here in the franchise, but there were times in this one where it almost doesn't look rendered. The quidditch scene is particularly bad, with the actors just turning into floppy CGI bodies from time to time. I know it was 2001, but this would have been questionable in the 90s, and the sequel only a year later is much improved.
The kids are not great actors here. I laugh when Daniel Radcliffe touches his forehead, and pretends to be hurt. They're adorable and must have again gotten more training before the second movie.
All this being said, you can't help but smile when you're watching this. It's an immersive world and with a great score. This did a great job working as a standalone story, but intriguing you to dive deeper into the world they created. And the John Williams score is absolutely masterful!
Also, can I just talk about how messed up it is for Dumbledore to ANNOUNCE Slytherin as the winner, only to revoke them for points he just awarded. I get it makes for dramatic effect, but you don't just give someone a trophy and take it away 2 minutes later, not very classy.
It's campy fun but if all 8 of them struck this tone, that franchise would have been dead in the water by the fourth. Luckily they figured out how to use what worked and what didn't and let the franchise evolve. I haven't seen this movie before and just felt like I'm totally not the target audience. It feels more like a prequel to the franchise that I love than the franchise itself. Will be revisiting the second one soon!