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Scarey Potter enjoyed by all

PUBLISHED: 16:21 12 November 2001 | UPDATED: 10:49 03 March 2010

HARRY Potter is not just another children's hero. He's a phenomenon!

This weekend, hundreds of families eagerly packed into the Odeon and UGC cinemas in Ipswich to see the most eagerly-awaited new film of the year, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (PG).

HARRY Potter is not just another children's hero. He's a phenomenon!

This weekend, hundreds of families eagerly packed into the Odeon and UGC cinemas in Ipswich to see the most eagerly-awaited new film of the year, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (PG). JUDY RIMMER and her son MAX GEATER, aged seven, were among the crowds.

SO can Harry possibly live up to all the hype?

The answer has to be a resounding yes! Chris Columbus' 125-million dollar epic really is a spell-binding experience, with plenty to enchant viewers of all ages.

Well, almost all ages. Parents should really be warned that some scenes are very scary for the youngest children, with monsters not so far removed from those you might seen in a horror film.

My son, Max, aged seven, just couldn't look at some of the darkest and spookiest scenes, and I suspect a four-year-old would have been terrified.

At two-and-a-half hours, this is a long film for children and probably could have been cut without much harm - though it was originally even longer at four hours. But it is so compelling and atmospheric that you won't be complaining.

Purists will be delighted to see how closely the film sticks to the book, but even if you haven't read it - and millions have by now! - there's plenty to enjoy.

The three young leads dominate the film and are all excellent.

Twelve-year-old Daniel Radcliffe has already proved what a fine actor he is in the acclaimed BBC version of David Copperfield, and he is perfect as Harry, living and breathing the part.

Newcomers Rupert Grint and Emma Watson are equally good as his two best friends, Ron and Hermione.

Robbie Coltrane is the best of the adults as the bumbling eight-foot giant Hagrid, who says something he shouldn't every time he opens his big mouth.

Richard Harris and Maggie Smith might be in charge of the school, Hogwarts Academy, but they are comfortably upstaged by Alan Rickman as the sneering and sinister Professor Snape.

The most amazing thing about the film, though, is the stunning Gothic world it creates. After being rescued from his ghastly uncle, aunt and spoilt cousin Dudley, who are Muggles (non-magic folk), young wizard Harry wanders through a stunningly imagined world of Victorian-style backstreets and dark tiny shops, where he buys himself his magic regalia, from snowy owl to wand.

Then, aboard a steam train leaving from the secret platform seven-and-three-quarters, he arrives at Hogwarts itself - and finds not just a boarding-school but a fantasy castle full of secrets and hidden passages.

The special effects are all brilliant, from the airborne game of quidditch (hockey on broomsticks) to John Cleese's all-too-brief appearance as the ghostly Almost Headless Nick.

How long do we have to wait for the next film in the series?

Judy's son Max, aged seven, gives his view:

I THOUGHT this film was funny and scary.

My favourite characters were Harry, Hagrid the giant and the magic sorting hat that puts the children into the four houses - Ravensclaw, Gryfinder, Hufflepuff and Slitherin.

I loved the hat because it had a silly voice that made me laugh and I liked it when Hagrid kept

saying: "Oops, I'm not supposed to tell you that!"

It was a bit too long but I still liked it, except I didn't like the evil spirit - I hid my eyes in the frightening bits!

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