Ranking the ‘Harry Potter’ Movies (UPDATED: Now Includes the Final Film)
This film franchise is incredible and despite all the nitpicks a critic could make about each one, there is no denying that every Potter movie is at least good if not great. I started this week with my ranking of the books, therefore it is only fitting that my last countdown of the week be a ranking of the films.
UPDATE: Deathly Hallows Part 2 is coming on Blu-Ray this week. I thought it would be nice to celebrate the completion of everyone’s collection by re-evaluating my lists from over the summer and adding in the final film. So where does it stand? Read on to find out.
Its fitting that the worst book made for the worst movie as well. The film has a lot of the same problems as the book in that the plot just isn’t that exciting when compared to the others. It doesn’t help that Chris Columbus’ translations are pretty lifeless. However, Dobby is characterized well and we get an exciting climax as Harry fights the Basilisk. Also, the dueling club scene is fantastic. But overall, this film is clearly the weakest and least memorable of them all.
It was so exciting to see that this movie was coming out so soon after books gained their popularity. For the most part, the first film lived up to expectations. The world that J.K. Rowling created proved to be a great world to explore on the silver screen. However, Chris Columbus did not make his films as exciting as the books were. They seem rather lifeless. Also, the movie suffers from a similar problem to the book, it has the weakest climax of the series. All that being said, the person in charge of casting for this movie deserves so much credit for how great this series would eventually turn out to be. The collection of British actors and inexperienced children are perfect for almost every character we see.
By the fourth film in the series, the filmmakers were beginning to realize how great of a cast they had and how to make these films look a certain way and have a certain style. Goblet of Fire is a great movie however it is a poor adaptation of the book. Where is Dobby and the house elves? Where is the touching moment where Molly Weasley comes as Harry’s family? Where is the growing tension between Dumbledore and Fudge? And worst of all, where is Sirius Black? Its a shame that all of this got cut out because if it was kept in, this would possibly be an easy frontrunner for the best film. The graveyard scene is a standout however, and director Mike Newell very much understood how to make a movie about teenagers.
This is probably the most difficult book to adapt in the whole series largely because a good portion of it is in Harry’s head. The book truly dissects Harry and who he is as a person while the film mostly focuses on Umbridge. Speaking of Umbridge however, Imelda Staunton carries the film, along with Gary Oldman as Sirius Black. Sirius and Harry have a great chemistry in this film and it works as the emotional core of the movie. David Yates does what he can with the source material and creates an exciting film with some really great moments.
Alfonso Cuaron took over for Chris Columbus at the right time. Cuaron turns the Harry Potter franchise into art. The third movie is filmed gorgeously (see the scene where Harry rides Buckbeak for one of the most entrancing moments in the series) and has a darker style more that is more in line with the books. Had this ambitious blockbuster not come out, the series would likely have remained as flat and boring as the previous two installments were.
This movie accomplishes a lot. It is the first movie to completely understand the tone of the book that it is adapting and bring that tone to the screen without losing any of the emotional impact that comes with the book. The film also has an artful style that is among the best of the series. This is about as good as book adaptations come. So why isn’t it number one? Half-Blood Prince is simply not one of the better books in the series. The plot is a little boring before we hit the climax. That being said, had every film been directed by someone who truly understood how to translate the source material, we would have a more consistent series of Harry Potter films.
David Yates continues to show his understanding of Rowling’s novels as he again flawlessly takes the tone of the book and translates it to film. The first half of the film is exciting with a lot of familiar characters and action sequences. However, the second half of the film is truly incredible. Dan, Rupert, and Emma finally all become their characters and make all their scenes alone together incredibly emotional. There is nothing like it in the rest of the series. After seeing this film it is obvious why they chose to split Deathly Hallows into two parts. All of the great moments we got in this film would likely have been cut.
That’s right, the franchise ended with its best film yet. The epic conclusion to the series benefits from everything that the past seven films got right. At this point there is not a bad actor in the bunch (aside from Cho Chang). Each character has been played perfectly and is ready for their big moment in the climax. The plot is ready to roll. Not only does this movie start out with a bang, the infiltration of Gringotts and subsequent escape on a dragon, but it keeps the pace quick and doesn’t hold back on the action. However, what truly send this entry over the edge is all the moments between the action that reveal secrets we have wondered about since Sorcerer’s Stone. Snape’s memories stick out to me as the highlight of the film. Harry Potter went out in style with the best film any fan could have asked for.
There you have it readers, my final ranking of the epic saga. Do you agree with my assessments? What is your order? Post in the comments section!