Ranking the Harry Potter Films

With the final Harry Potter film just around the corner I thought I’d do an extra post about the Potter films. As many of you know I am a huge fan of the Harry Potter books and films. Even though I still hold that aside from a few minor things that the books are completely superior to the films I have grown quite fond of the films as well. So for this reason I thought it would be fun to do a countdown of the Potter films starting with my least favorite and working my way up to my favorite film. Remember this list is for the films only; the order does not reflect my feelings on the order of the books

7. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Why: The Chamber of Secrets was Chris Columbus’s follow up to the Sorcerers Stone and the look and tone of Chamber is pretty much exactly the same as Sorcerer’s Stone which it not necessarily a bad thing but the film also feels more generic and less memorable because of it. That being said we got to see more of Chris Columbus’s take on Harry Potter which was still a fun ride. We get to see Harry, Hermione, and Ron try and solve another mystery with higher stakes this time around because of the Basilisk that is attacking Muggles borns and wizards that weren’t pure blooded wizards. What intrigued me about this film was the introduction to Voldemort’s back story. Even though we would get to see quite a bit more delivered in Half Blood Prince it was still very interesting to see that Voldemort was just a human and he had gone to Hogwarts just as Harry had. While Chamber of secrets may not advance the plot of Harry Potter a whole lot it still manages to give us more depth to the magical world that was established in Sorcerer’s Stone.

6. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

Why: This was the movie that introduced all of us to the magical of Harry Potter that was bursting with creativity, imagination, and adventure. While this film is still pretty far down on the list it had the remarkable task of taking the beloved first book and adapting it to the big screen. While Chris Columbus is my least favorite of the Potter director’s, he should still be commended for delivering in the way that fans had been praying for.  The movie decided to stick as close to the source material as possible with few modifications which was exactly what fans wanted.  On top of the quality of the adaption the movie had pitch perfect casting. If there was one great thing that Columbus contributed to the series it was the casting. While the leads Daniel Ratcliff, Rupert Grint, and Emma Watson were all lucky choices, Columbus casted acting legends such as Alan Rickman as Snape, Maggie Smith as Professor McGonagall, the late Richard Harris(who would later be replaced by Michael Gambon) as Dumbledore, and Robbie Coltrane as Hagrid. This all star supporting cast one of the greatest things about the entire series and the idea of casting famous and excellent actors was established in Sorcerer’s stone.  Aside from the casting this movie really did a fantastic job at setting up this world and characters that we would get to explore more in later films.

5.  Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Why: Order of the Phoenix has its problems but in general it is a really solid film that fleshes out the actual connection between Harry and Voldemort.  Newcomer David Yates had the difficult task of adapting the largest book into the shortest movie. Along with this difficulty Steve Kloves who had adapted all of Potter films until that point decided to take a break so needless to say the film has scripting problems. With all of the cuts that are made to many important sub-plots and even some minor plot points it is a miracle that the story in the film was even coherent. What makes this movie really stand out is the dark and edgier direction of David Yates who took a note from Alfonso Cuaron and goes darker than previous films.  Aside from the direction we get introduced to one of the most evil and easily hatable characters I have ever seen; Dolores Umbridge. While the movie never goes as far as the written version of the character, it succeeds at making Umbridge fun to hate. This is another one of the times I really have to applaud the brilliant casting because of the perfect picks of Imelda Staunton  as Umbridge and Helen Boham Carter as the incredibly crazy and evil Bellatrix Lestrange. Order of the Phoenix may be one of the weaker installments of the franchise, but it still establishes a darker more mature direction that will only become more so in later installments.

4. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Why: The Goblet of Fire was a very poor adaption of its source material and is missing most of the character work that the book featured. That being said I still think that as a film The Goblet of Fire is a very entertaining and visually pleasing. The film cuts out pretty much every subplot the book has as well as changes the history and use of the character of Barty Crouch. The biggest thing that is missing from the movie is the sense of mystery and wonder of who is trying to kill Harry, why he had his name in the Goblet of fire, and what Voldemort has to do with any of it. Had the film been written differently it is very possible that this film would be near the top of the list. These criticisms aside I felt like the movie was very entertaining with each of the tasks being cool to see unfold. The scene near the end in the graveyard is also a really cool one as we see the Potter movies take yet another step into a darker more mature sense of immersion. Overall the film doesn’t offer fans the best adaption, but it does offer a movie that still carries the spectacular action, looming sense of darkness, and character growth that fans wanted to see.

3. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Why: Half Blood Prince may have had its share of adaption issues(attack on the Weasley house; only 2 Voldemort memories), but as a film it offered a beautifully filmed atmospheric and in the end character driven film. Unlike Goblet of Fire and Order of the Phoenix, Half Blood Prince decides to slow down the pacing and enjoy some time with the characters. The movie is filled with mystery, romance, and character moments that probably make many Potter fans very happy. As I mentioned there were some problems with the adaption quality, but in this case the film still succeeds as a movie because we get to see Harry and gang enjoy their last time at Hogwarts as students(although they don’t realize it). The movie succeeds at creating plenty of drama as well as a pretty emotional revelation at the end of the movie with the death of a major character. The immersive environment, character driven story, beautiful cinematography, and amazing acting put this film a step higher than its predecessors.

2. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban 

Why: After the first two films which were decent it was time for a change. Chris Columbus was removed from the project and Alfonso Cuaron was hired to direct the film. He was the director who launched the series into the darker and more atmospheric tone that the series would have all the way through the latest film. His entree probably remains the most influential because of this bold new direction that fans didn’t even know they wanted.  Prisoner of Azkaban gives us a very character driven story as we explore Harry and gang as they find out about the mystery surrounding the death’s of Harry’s parents and the betrayal of one of their friends. Characters like Remus Lupin and Sirius Black are introduced and for many fans they would become some of the most beloved of the series. The movie also features some very interesting and well thought out creature designs that would only make the art direction for the film that much better. I will admit that this is not the best adaption because there is a pretty significant amount of arguably important material that is left out of the film. Despite this Prisoner of Azkaban still makes one of the best films of the series.

1. Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows: Part 1

Why: Deathly Hallows Part 1 grabs the top of my list because it is the darker and more mature film that Potter fans had been waiting to see. Sure it isn’t the most action packed film, but it does a tremendous job at setting up the action packed, emotionally charged finale that is yet to come. We get to see these characters now that they have grown up and we get to see what type of people they have become.  Much like the journey of life Harry, Hermione, and Ron are all left unsure of what to do and how to accomplish their goals. They have found that outside of Hogwarts things are as simple or as risk free as they used to be. The film also looks fantastic because of a brilliant art direction and some really great cinematography. This is not just a good movie, but also the best adaption the series has seen since The Chamber of Secrets. Sure there are some little things tweaked here and there, but overall almost all of the events of the book are kept in tact which made fans of the book very very happy. The biggest problem with the film is that it ends without a conclusion, but I have a feeling that that complaint will evaporate once Part 2 comes out this weekend. I would say that this was the darkest, best looking, and most character Potter film to date which makes it my favorite.

I hope you enjoyed the list and I hope that you are looking forward to the final movie as it comes out this weekend. Hopefully it will have all of intensity and emotional impact of the book plus an epic final confrontation that the book shied away from. Where will the final movie fall on this list? Hopefully the very top.

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2 comments

    • Part 2 has been a really tough one for me. I loved it and it had some amazing payoff but the problem is that it can’t truly stand on its own. It would definitely be at least tied with Azkaban. I would really like to lump Part 1 and Part 2 together as one movie just because they both feel incomplete without the other.

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