I’m a huge fan of Harry Potter, well J. K. Rowling’s books and the incredible world that she created at least. I’m actually less keen on a lot of the film series. But they are certainly part of a huge worldwide phenomenon that has made stars of its main actors and been a touchstone for the lives of countless people. So with the release of the first spin off, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, tomorrow I decided that it was time for me to rank all 8 of the films in the original Harry Potter franchise.
8) Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix – David Yates’ first entrance as a director into the Harry Potter universe is a completely forgettable one. Despite being the novel with some of the richest lore and best moments in the series, that just wasn’t captured for me. In particular the final sequence in the Ministry of Magic just left me feeling incredibly underwhelmed. There is so much in that section of the novel that could have been brilliant cinematically, but just felt flat and uninteresting. Sure it’s not all bad, but I genuinely struggle to think of what I really enjoyed about Order of the Phoenix because I’ve forgotten everything that didn’t really bother me.
7) Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire – As with Order of the Phoenix this is one of my favourite books and one of my least favourite films in the series. Both of these films can be summed up in two words for me, wasted potential. The books for both of these are just too big to adapt, so they could only really keep the Central Harry plot line, but that was always the least interesting part of the world to me. We completely skip over a lot of the amazing stuff from the Quiddich World Cup, and the final task just lacks all the awesome things that Rowling imbued it with. Oh and I don’t know why they decided to include so much teenage angst that really gets annoying quick on screen. Sure the dragon sequence is pretty cool and the ending is fairly emotionally charged, but I always found myself really disappointed by Goblet of Fire.
6) Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 – I actually like the first part of the Deathly Hallows as a film, but as a Harry Potter film I’m far less convinced. It feels like more of a road film than a Harry Potter one, as we spend almost no time in any of the classic Potter locations, and never visit Hogwarts. Watson and Radcliffe are right at their very best, and I enjoy their journey throughout the film. But as much as I like Deathly Hallows Part 1 it just isn’t a Harry Potter film, and that’s caused by the fact that the final film was split in two. I can’t really put it any higher because of how far removed it is from the world of the rest of the series.
5) Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets – Let’s be honest the kids still hadn’t really developed great acting skills, and as one of the shorter books there just isn’t as much to from. It did extend the world; we got to visit the Burrow and Knockturn Alley. As well as bringing some incredible creature effects in the Dobby, the Basilisk and Aragog and the giant spiders, which are still the most terrifying giant spiders I’ve seen on film. It also brought more great British actors into the fold with Kenneth Branagh and Jason Isaacs. With the exception of the Death Day party it includes pretty much everything from the book and that’s why I prefer it to the fourth or fifth film, it captures more of what I love.
4) Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone – Sure Philosophers Stone has its problems, but as the film that kicked of the franchise it still deserves huge credit. They found a pretty talented group of young actors, even if it took a couple of films for that to really come through. It also introduced us to Alan Rickman’s Snape, Robbie Coltrane’s Hagrid, and Maggie Smith’s McGonagall, amongst countless others. It also brought us that now iconic John Williams score that is still the flagship of the franchise today. Sure a lot of the film is pretty corny and some of the dialogue has some cult status for being a little rubbish. But without this successful first installment we wouldn’t have had all the films that followed it, and that has to count for something.
3) Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 – It was never going to be easy to finish off such a popular series of films, but the second part of the Deathly Hallows did a very good job. The scale of the Battle of Hogwarts is really captured and it looks amazing, and we still get some of the quieter character moments, and the brilliantly awkward Draco/Voldemort hug. It does have some of the major problems from the book, where important and beloved character’s fates are brushed over so quickly and like they’re nothing. But on the whole this was a pretty fitting finale for the series, and gives us one of the best Alan Rickman performances ever.
2) Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince – I was fairly turned off the series by the fourth and fifth films so I never even saw Half Blood Prince in the cinema. And that’s a real shame because when I did eventually watch it on DVD it really brought me back into the film series. It’s probably because the whole story is so Harry centric, and so there wasn’t great chunks of the best material missing like there was in the previous two installments. Tom Felton really gets a chance to shine as Draco, and that finale at the top of the tower is probably the most memorable moment in Harry Potter history.
1) Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban – Alfonso Cuarón’s only film in the Harry Potter franchise is by far the best. It changed up the more childish tone of the first two, and went quite a lot darker. The Dementors look fantastic, and I’m sure have terrified many children. We also finally started getting some really great performances from some of the younger actresses, especially Emma Watson. I capitalises best on the great ideas from this book, and the time travel elements work brilliantly. This is the one Potter film I could watch anytime; the whole final act is brilliantly put together. Azkaban is unquestionably the best Potter film, and stands head and shoulders above the rest.
Whats your favourite Harry Potter film? Are you more of a book or film fan? And are you excited for the new film?