Harry Potter charmed our screens for ten years before departing on Platform 9¾.. ‘Harry Potter Mania’ gripped the world by storm, and when it ended, we were left feeling as Harry, Ron, and Hermione did at the end of Deathly Hallows – unsure what to do with ourselves! The Harry Potter films were allowed to expand and mature just like the novels did, with four different directors bringing a diversity of flavours to the series from film to film without compromising character, plot, or continuity. It’s a great achievement made all the more astounding by the fact that there isn’t a single terrible film among them. As the franchise remains as popular today as it was a decade ago, and with Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return to Hogwarts coming up soon, it seems like a good time as any to revisit the Harry Potter films and rank them from best to worst—a somewhat difficult task given the high standard of quality throughout.
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Every film franchise has its “definitive” instalment, and in the case of Harry Potter, I believe it is Prisoner of Azkaban, a film that perfectly encapsulates the essence of everything Hogwarts and the Wizarding World. And the fact that it spends just as much time outside the school, in places like Hogsmeade and on the Knight Bus, adds to the film’s wonderful sweep. The storyline, though, is its strongest element, there’s an escaped killer on the run, evil Dementors on the hunt, a mystery werewolf on school grounds, and even a bit of time travel along the way! Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is pure magic, at the risk of sounding cliche.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2
Fans are normally quite concerned before the final instalment of a large franchise, because there’s always the chance of feeling unhappy afterward, whether because loose ends are left untied or simply because the film is bad. Deathly Hallows Part 2 is, nevertheless, everything we could have dreamed for and more. Deathly Hallows – Part 1 was almost entirely set up, whereas Deathly Hallows – Part 2 takes off from the first frame and never lets up. This is a payoff film in every sense: emotional payoff, action payout, and relationship payoff. We also witnessed the deaths of cherished figures in battle. Hermione and Ron exchanged kisses. Oh, and old Voldie eventually passed away. The action and visual effects were unrivalled, as all of our favourite witches and wizards fought in one spot. The word epic is an understatement.
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Some of the series’ funny moments can be attributed to The Half-Blood Prince. Ginny and Harry experience their first kiss, Ron and Hermione get so petty that they refuse to express their feelings for one another, and Harry drinks liquid luck. It’s a breath of fresh air before we get to the meat of the matter. The plot builds to Dumbledore’s death and Snape’s “betrayal” without the climax feeling abrupt, and Yates and screenwriter Steve Kloves seamlessly weave in Voldemort’s backstory and the introduction of the horcruxes. This great balance is what makes Half-Blood Prince one of the series’ most moving flicks, bouncing from laughter to tears at the drop of a hat.
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Order of the Phoenix is clearly a different picture from the start, as the movie opens in the heat of July, in a new setting, with a layered confrontation between Harry and Dudley. The subsequent appearance of the Order demonstrates that Harry is A) not alone in his quest; and B) severely lacking in information about what’s truly going on. And the return of Sirius Black (Gary Oldman) heightens the emotional impact of the picture and deepens Harry’s arc, while the film also contains some of the best Harry-Snape scenes in the franchise.
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
While it may not be as spectacular, polished, or striking as the other films in the franchise, Sorcerer’s Stone (or Philosopher’s Stone for Potter enthusiasts) deserves a lot of respect for setting up the series so well and building a brilliant foundation on which the subsequent films could be constructed. However, I must admit that it’s the nostalgia that propels this film to the head of the pack, introducing us to the original cast we’d witness grow up on the big screen over the next decade. In an effort to impress fans with book-to-film features, we were treated to elements that would become rare in subsequent films in the franchise: moving stair cases, talking pictures, and Nearly Headless Nick. The Sorcerer’s Stone is also responsible for Hermione’s most famous line: “It’s leviOsa, not levioSAH!” Finally, it established the bar for all that was to come, establishing that the Harry Potter films would be unlike anything we’d ever seen before.
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
If we were to choose two films from the Harry Potter series to compare, it would be Sorcerer’s Stone and Chamber of Secrets. As a result, it’s fair to say they’re the Harry Potter series’ ‘Fred and George!’ The sequel to the first film, Chamber of Secrets, is a solid follow-up, but Harry’s second year at Hogwarts isn’t much easier. While it is ranked lower than Sorcerer’s Stone, its third act is significantly more fascinating and creepier. What more could you need than huge spiders and giant snakes?
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1
The main purpose of Deathly Hallows: Part 1 as the series’ final movie was to build up the grand climax of the biggest cinematic franchise in history. And, under such duress, it did the best it could, depicting Harry, Ron, and Hermione embarking on a quest outside of Hogwarts that could literally save the world. As a result, practically every scene was plagued by painful dread, because we knew the end was near—and we weren’t sure we were prepared for it. Ramione aficionados were pleased, and it was refreshing to see the Golden Trio mature into adults in the real world. In addition, the backdrop was stunning, and the mystery of the Horcruxes is an important plot point. Aside from that and the first hour’s action, this one fell flat.
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
The fact that Goblet of Fire is ranked eighth does not imply that it is a bad Harry Potter film; rather, it is the most tiresome of the lot! Love triangles, squabbles, and the identical haircuts all over – yup, the beautiful little witches and wizards from the first three films have consumed Polyjuice potion and evolved into teens! Fortunately, among all of the high school drama, there are some memorable scenes, ranging from a battle with a dragon to a spine-chilling third act in a graveyard.
Which movie from the list is your favourite? Share your honest opinions with Pinkvilla in the comments below.