Harry Potter is one of the most successful book franchises of all time, so it was pretty much a given that Hollywood would turn them into movies, and that’s what Warner Bros. did. I’ve watched them (multiple times), and now I’ve ranked them in descending order.
#8: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. The sixth book became the worst movie for a variety of reasons, but the biggest problem is that it’s boring as fuck. The book was mostly exposition and setup for the final installment, and nothing that exciting happens. And as a result, nothing that exciting happens in the movie. It loses all the momentum that the series was building up. You go from Goblet of Fire to Order of the Phoenix and suddenly everything slows down. It’s huge step backwards.
#7: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1. The final book was split into a two-part movie because there would be no satisfactory way to wrap up the series in a 2-hour movie. And because they would make a shitload more money. You don’t really need to see this movie; it’s mostly just Harry, Hermione, and Ron hiding in the woods for the duration of the running time. You might like it if you’re a fan of wizard camping. It’s slightly less boring than Half-Blood Prince, which is why it’s slightly higher up on the list. But not by much. I actually own all the Harry Potter movies, except for this one. It’s not essential viewing.
#6: Harry Potter and Sorcerer’s/Philosopher’s Stone. The first Harry Potter movie deserves a lot of credit for introducing the Boy Who Lived to the big screen. But it’s too much of a kid’s movie. It’s too light, too family friendly, and it has the worst acting and special effects in the whole series. Some parts are truly painful to watch.
#5: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. This is one of the most loyal adaptations in the series, and it’s almost a direct translation of the book. The special effects and acting have only slightly approved over the first movie, and it’s still a children’s movie. The basilisk scene is one of the highlights of the first two movies, but I really hate the flying car scene (especially when Harry falls out of the car for no fucking reason other than to add unnecessary tension).
#4: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. There was a lot of internal debate from the studio about breaking up Goblet of Fire into two movies because the book was so long. They decided not to, and the movie suffers as a result. It’s too incomplete and leaves too much stuff out. It’s really annoying when they go to the Quidditch World Cup but they don’t show any fucking Quidditch. Or omitting most of the cool shit that happens during the final task in the maze. And they eliminate the mystery by practically telling you that Mad-Eye Moody is really Barty Crouch, Jr. The biggest redeeming qualities of this flick are the scenes with the Hungarian Horntail and the graveyard return of Voldemort.
#3. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2. This is the epic conclusion to the HP saga and they do it right. Everything comes down to this, and the bulk of the film happens during one long day. The special effects, the acting, the action sequences are all amazing. It’s a roller coaster ride, and you don’t want it to end and then it does, and then you realize you have nothing else to look forward to. There are no more books to read, no more movies to watch, and a part of your life is over when the movie is over.
#2: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. This was the longest book and it became one of the shortest movies in the series. They leave a lot out. But they capture the tone and feel of the book. Whenever they leave something out, they still allude to it. The movie flows and it works. Gary Oldman doesn’t get much screen time as Sirius Black, but makes his presence known with a few key scenes and subtle dialog with Harry. The battle at the Ministry of Magic was everything you hoped it would be. And the epic fight between Dumbledore and Voldemort is one of the best moments of the entire series. I will put on the movie just to watch that part.
#1: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. This was the movie that inspired me to finally read the books. It’s not perfect, but I still think it’s better than its bookly counterpart. I don’t like the whole time travelling subplot, but the film handles it better than the book. And it’s not the movie’s fault that the book had a stupid time travelling shtick. Alfonso Cuarón is responsible for the best movie in the franchise. He successfully turned a kid’s book into an art house blockbuster. He was able to take Chris Columbus’ foundation and J.K. Rowling’s book and delivered a faithful translation to the source material, but he still able to make it his own. You can enjoy the film even if you aren’t a Potter fan.
Critically Rated at 15/17
Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young