by • February 20, 2012 • Columns, NewsComments (7)439



I don’t understand HARRY POTTER. I haven’t read a single book and I’ve only seen one movie (out of context). Any conversation about the subject ends with me making an ass of myself. I’m up-to-date and informed on nearly every topic in pop culture but J.K. Rowling’s massive wizard universe remains elusive to me. Join me as I watch every HP film in order and report my results. Will this HARRY POTTER virgin fall in love with the films or will I get even more confused by a series created for children? Grab your wands (very funny, sickos) and let’s get started!



YEAR: 2001

Director: Chris Columbus

Rotten Tomatoes score: 80%

And so it begins. The first movie in the HARRY POTTER series, released in 2001, seems to have a lukewarm response online. Everyone I asked said THE SORCERER’S STONE isn’t their favorite film. Not as bad as CHAMBER OF SECRETS, they say, but still rather forgettable.

I was afraid going into my first HP film. People said it wasn’t that great. What if I got bored right out the gate? What if I hated it? Would I have enough energy to push through on to the next, which people say is even worse than the first? Blagh! Damn you Chris Columbus!

Side bar: Chris Columbus doesn’t age. Seriously, the dude looks the same now as he did back in the 90’s.

Luckily, my worries weren’t necessary. HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERER’S STONE isn’t that bad. Sure, it probably pales in comparison to other films in the franchise but I rather liked it. It’s fun, it’s light and it feels like the pilot of a TV series. In short, it left me wanting more. Also, it made me want to know more about Quidditch.

Can we talk about Quidditch for a minute, please? I watched this movie with my girlfriend, a HARRY POTTER aficionado. Thank God I did because she was able to explain to me (several times…) what Quidditch is. Even with her help, I’m in the dark. There’s a snitch, right? And the snitch is the most important part of the game. In fact, the snitch is the only part of the game when you think about it. If you catch the snitch, the game is over. But instead of only focusing on the snitch, the rest of the team tries to make baskets while one person – only one! – chases the damn snitch. Hey, wizards, focus all your energy on the snitch! That’s all you need! Meanwhile, a crazy ball that growls flies around knocking people off their sticks. Because, you know, why not?

I get the impression that Quidditch was made by a bunch of drunk wizards. Drunk wizards who like to see children in peril.

What's up, snitch?

Speaking of danger, Hogwarts definitely seems like an unsafe place. Staircases that move, three-headed dogs, trolls running wild in the bathroom! But don’t worry, security is run by that creepy dude with long hair and a fat cat.

But back to the movie. I was impressed by how convincing Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson were. They were so young and yet their performances – while not perfect – are really strong. However, I guess I’m alone in that regard. Hopping online, I find that many people don’t care for Radcliffe’s take on Harry. Well bah humbug, I say. I think Radcliffe and his young co-stars did a fine job. I’m excited to see them grow as performers.

The plot of HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERER’S STONE is kind of flat. There’s the storyline about the Sorcerer’s Stone, which is really just there to teach us about Voldemort and his return. The bad guy reveal isn’t very surprising and the ending is a bit anti-climactic but, hey, it sold me. I’m ready to move on to the next adventure. Let’s hope Harry doesn’t murder Dudley when he returns home.

God, that kid is unfortunate looking.


Confusing as it was, I got a kick out of Quidditch. Columbus had a tough job, seeing as no one has seen Quidditch performed before. He did a good job at capturing the excitement. I will say this: I thought the announcer in the stands (Lee Jordan) was a girl. Oops.


I wasn’t crazy about the chess scene. Why did Ron have to ride on the knight? Why couldn’t he jump off before it was destroyed? Also, whose idea was it to build that giant chess set? They understand they can only use it once, right? It’s going to be completely destroyed after one game. Way to think ahead, wizards.


Come on, you can’t go wrong with ol’ Hagrid. It’s great that Hogwarts entrusts the safety of students in a man who is clumsy and forgetful. Also, he plays the flute and loves dragons! He’s like a big kid! Adorable.


  • What is the deal with Draco Malfoy? Is he evil or just a douche?
  • So the Sorting Hat is used only once a year? Where do they put this living creature with feelings after that? Does he get stored in a closet? Locked away in a box? That seems kind of cruel. No wonder he’s always frowning.
  • What’s going on with the ghosts? Do they have free reign at Hogwarts? They just roam around, doing whatever they want?
  • Invisibility cloak – that’s convenient!
  • Why does Voldemort have a nose?


One down, seven more to go. I’m pleased to report that I was quite happy with HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERER’S STONE. It seems more child-friendly than the rest of the films will be so I’m excited to see how dark and bleak the series gets. From what I understand, things get pretty hairy for Harry.

Sorry about that. I needed at least one pun.

Feel free to leave a comment below or at my Twitter account (@MrBrandonMarcus) but please don’t spoil anything for me!

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  • Trystn

    Brandon, I love your take on the Sorcerer’s Stone. It’s definitely light and fun and you will see as the movies go about, the content gets heavier and it’s exciting to see how the characters evolve! Honestly, I think JK Rowling is brilliant because she had the entire story in mind (books 1-7) from before she even started writing Sorcerers Stone. My personal thoughts on Draco Malfoy is that he’s just a douche, but you can judge that yourself as you see more of him. Quidditch really is great and adds another fun element throughout the movies, its borderline crazy fanatic that Harvard actually has a “Quidditch team.” That’s a bit obsessive for me but if you youtube it, it can be entertaining to see students from one of our Ivy league schools running around with broomsticks looking quite silly. I can’t say I have a favorite film because I love them all for different reasons, but I do appreciate the first movies for their lightness and cheery “child-friendlyness” as you mentioned and as the story thickens. The later movies are amazing, things definitely get intense and darker, but the excitement builds and the world of Harry Potter becomes more alive and fantastic! Can’t wait to read your thoughts on the following movies.

    • Brandon Marcus

      Thanks, Trystn. I’m surprised at how much I liked the first one – flaws and all. That being said, I really can’t wait until the series gets darker. I’ve heard Rowling doesn’t pull any punches. Thanks for reading.

  • Kim

    As a fan who grew up with the series, I have to defend the giant chess set… I don’t think this is mentioned once in the films, but in the books ‘Wizard’s Chess’ is a favourite kids’ game. Basically — magic. So it isn’t a disposable game. Reparo!

    Other than that though, it’s interesting to see the films from a POV without any knowledge of the books. I think things are going to get a lot more confusing for you!

  • shaley

    Good review, but not great. I remember dragging my mother and sister in the movie theater to watch the first ever Harry Potter Movie and I haven’t read a single book at that time cause it was so darn expensive. My mom had to drag me out of the movie because I wanted to see it at a 3rd repeat.
    To give clarification about the “chess part” = its a wizard’s chess, IT’S MAGIC. It’s not science fiction, it’s not meant to be explained in a scientific manner. the chess pieces were transfigured, a wizard has to ride it to control it. Like Kim said, you can repair it with just a little swish of the wand and one word “reparo”
    ~ I’m sure you have met a Draco Malfoy once in your life. They are those egoistic, power-drunk people who thinks they know better.
    ~ The Sorting Hat is for students of Hogwarts. Other living creatures are not sorted into any of the 4 houses. In england, they have schools where students are divided into groups called houses. I think it’s fun to compete against each other, it gets you ready in the real world.
    ~ Voldemort is a horcrux, a dark-magic that allows an almost dead person to come back to life, in his case, he is incomplete, not a whole person. again, its not sci-fi and he is not Frankenstein.
    ~ I suggest you read the the book before watching the movie, you’ll understand it better. The movie is just for the visual, the books is for people with great imagination. I happen to have a bad habit of reading the book, then watch the movie and because it’s Harry Potter, read the book again.
    Hope you enjoy the rest of the movies. You’re lucky to have a girlfriend who knows Harry Potter.

  • Daan

    Actually, regarding Quidditch, the game is over when the snitch is caught but that doesn’t automatically mean the team who catches the snitch wins. You get 150 points for catching the snitch, so if the other team is more than 150 points ahead of you and you catch the snitch, you still lose.