Warner Bros. continues to tap J.K Rowling’s imagination for more stories within her Wizarding World, expanding the universe beyond just Harry Potter and his stories. Potterheads will always hope for more from this world, so if these movies continue to be financially successful, we’ll keep getting more. Let’s take a look back at this franchise as a whole:
#10: Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald (2018)
The Crimes of Grindelwald feels like a first draft of a book written by J.K. Rowling; it’s incredibly overstuffed and overly long, trying to juggle a dozen characters while fleshing out this world. Jude Law is pretty fantastic as a young, attractive Dumbledore that captures the mischievous twinkle that Rowling always imagined in the role, but other than that, there’s simply too much going for anything to feel fully realized.
This movie marks the first film in the Harry Potter universe to earn a rotten score from Rotten Tomatoes, and it’s probably well-deserved.
*To read the site’s full review of Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, please click here.
#9: Harry Potter and Chamber of Secrets (2002)
The Chamber of Secrets is the bridge between the younger, more childish Harry Potter films and the more mature, heady Harry Potter films that would come later. As a result, it’s a bit forgettable in the grand scheme of things in this universe and the actors aren’t quite mature enough to carry this stilted narrative on their shoulders. It’s a faithful adaptation of one of the lesser Harry Potter novels, so while a decent watch, it fades to the background.
Still, you’re lying to yourself if you don’t think Gilderoy Lockhart’s actions are absolutely GOLDEN once he loses his memory.
#8: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (2001)
I give Sorcerer’s Stone — or Philosopher’s Stone depending on your country of origin — a ton of credit for creating the universe on the big screen; it does a great job of showing all the intricacies that J.K. Rowling created when she first wrote the book. The thing that holds it back is that it is largely focused towards kids and the actors involved have yet to mature yet at their craft. Chris Columbus‘ direction style is a bit bland for my taste as well.
But still, The Sorcerer’s Stone does exactly what it set out to do: act as an introduction.
#7: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 (2010)
Deathly Hallows Part 1 is solidly acted and beautifully filmed — it might be the most picturesque of all the Harry Potter movies. However, it largely feels like the setup it is to the grand finale that is Deathly Hallows Part 2 and feels too much like a camping trip for my liking.
Despite its inherent deficiencies, it packs the full amount of emotion that Harry’s ever-darkening story deserves. If you didn’t shed a tear the first time you saw Dobby die, you’re made of stone.
#6: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016)
The first Fantastic Beasts film acts a prequel and reboot of the series and mostly succeeds thanks to a likable cast headlined by Eddie Redmayne and Dan Fogler. I appreciate that the lead character in this new series isn’t your typical hero figure. He’s introverted and awkward, unable to truly connect with his fellow man. It makes sense that he would confide in his fantastical animals rather than creating many meaningful relationships with people.
Although Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them suffers from the same issues that would later plague The Crimes of Grindelwald, it’s still a fairly solid piece of escapism.
*To read the site’s full review of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, please click here.
#5: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2007)
Director David Yates does a solid job condensing the longest Harry Potter book into the shortest Harry Potter movie, managing to make much of the Ministry of Magic proceedings interesting. Though it does drag at times, Order of the Phoenix continues the darkening tone of the Harry Potter movies with a deeper understanding of the link between Harry and Lord Voldemort.
Also, the battle between Dumbledore and Voldemort in the third act of this movie is unbelievably riveting and is easily the best action sequence of the entire franchise.
#4: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005)
While The Goblet of Fire is known for giving us the haunting introduction of Voldemort into actual human form, I don’t think this film gets enough credit of continuing the world building of the franchise, most notably the introduction of the Triwizard Tournament and the other wizard schools. Many of the other Harry Potter films stop dead in their tracks to expand the lore whereas The Goblet of Fire does it in a far more natural manner.
This film is the turning point where the series became far more adult, and I truly appreciate that the tone of the films grew with its audience.
#3: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009)
I don’t think this film gets enough love from Potter fans. Arguably the darkest Harry Potter movie, The Half-Blood Prince toys with your emotions in every possible way. You feel sad upon seeing Dumbledore die, you feel angry once you see Snape betray Dumbledore, and you even feel odd tinges of melancholic happiness when Harry uses liquid luck.
The Half-Blood Prince feels the most Shakespearean in its construction out of any of the films in the franchise; it’s a nice change from the formula!
#2: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 (2011)
The Deathly Hallows Part 2 is one of the most satisfying last movies to a franchise ever put to film. It’s complex, dark, but also incredibly hopeful at the end. As if the first seven movies didn’t already do it, it even further explores the link between Harry and Voldemort and offers arguably the best redemption arc to a character in Snape. The Deathly Hallows Part 2 isn’t just a great fantasy movie, it’s a great movie period.
#1: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004)
The Prisoner of Azkaban is the most unique of all the Harry Potter movies thanks to Alfonso Cuarón’s impeccable direction. This the HP film that most feels like it came from a director with a vision as Cuarón uses his wonderful humanist touch to add life and layers into what is the most complex narrative in the entire series.
I like to think that Alfonso Cuarón is quietly one of the best directors working today, and The Prisoner of Azkaban shows what he can do within the studio system: faithfully adapt a beloved story and make something that is also completely his.
Thank you for reading! How would you rank all the Harry Potter films? Comment down below!
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