Plot: Following along the lines of the book of the same name, eleven year old Harry Potter is living with his cruel and neglectful aunt, uncle, and cousin when he receives a letter telling him he has been accepted to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Prior to this Harry had not known he was a wizard. And, as it turns out, Harry’s famous in the wizarding world for not succumbing to an attack by the evil wizard Voldemort. Once at Hogwarts, Harry, along with his best friends, Ron and Hermoine, get enmeshed in the mystery of the sorcerer’s stone, a magical crystal with the power of immortality. With encounters with an angry troll, a three headed dog, and a baby dragon, the three friends show a great deal of resourcefulness, determination, and bravery, but danger seems to lurk around every corner. Will they be able to save the sorcerer’s stone from the evil wizard searching for it? Will they get through their first year of Hogwarts alive?
Review: Exciting and entertaining, this movie stays amazingly true to the book upon which it is based. The characters are well developed and intriguing, with a cast of talented actors. The special effects are well done, if not perfect. There is a need to suspend disbelief anyway, so why not forget they’re special effects and sit back and enjoy? The scenery is beautiful and once immersed in the magic of the movie, most viewers will not want to come back to real (I mean, muggle) life.
Genre(s): Fantasy, Adventure, Family, Mystery
Viewing/Interest Level: 8+ years
Available in: DVD; Blu-ray; Wide Screen, Full Screen, and Ultimate Editions
Subjects: magic, wizardry, spells, growing up, coming of age, family, friendship
Series Information: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone is the first movie in an eight movie series, movies two through eight are: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 (to be released later in 2011)
Content: Urban legends, rumors, and myths are put to the test by the “myth busters,” lead by hosts Jamie Hyneman and Adam Savage, with help from co-hosts Tory Belleci, Kari Byron and Grant Imahara. The myth busters are a multi-talented group with expertise in engineering, technology, geometry, science, firearms, explosives, physics, robotics, and more. Each show features two to three myths that are brought to life, in the safest possible way, and tested for veracity. Myths can either be confirmed, busted, or plausible, if they are not confirmed or busted with certainty. The hosts are witty, intelligent, creative and hilarious (word provided by my tween son). The process of testing myths is often tricky, as some of them are difficult to duplicate accurately. The shows are often messy, sometimes dangerous, and occasionally gross (see MythBusters Double Dipping episode). The hosts create elaborate props and settings with which to test the myths; they often provide controls for their experiments, and they try to think through what possible problems could arise to make the test inaccurate. Some tests are more accurate than others, but the show is entertaining and enlightening every time.
Review: There is science to be learned in MythBusters and, even more, each show is a lively demonstration of problem solving skills. There is a myth, and the hosts have to figure out how it is going to be tested. The beginning of each shows gives the viewer some insight into the process the team used to figure out how to test the myth. Then viewers watch the preparation for and finally the demonstration of the myth, this can include multiple iterations, if something in the original demonstration goes wrong. In any given episode, viewers can learn about science, engineering, and physics, as well as learn creativity, reasoning and thinking skills. Sometimes I find the test methodology to be flawed thus the results may not accurately measure the myth being tested, but there is always a valiant effort to do a high quality job. This show is a great choice for tweens, as it is entertaining enough to draw them in and keep them attentive, meanwhile, there are many lessons to be learned, including the oft heard, “Do NOT try this at home.”
Bonus for Bay Area Tweens: this show takes place in and around San Francisco, so scenes of the area are often in the background.
Genre(s): Non-fiction, Science
Viewing/Interest Level: 8+ years
Available in: Cable TV Discovery Channel, DVD
Similar Programs: Dirty Jobs
Subjects: urban legends, myths, science, engineering, physics