I think it’s safe to say the ‘Harry Potter franchise is a favorite of many people. Whether you grew up watching the films as they came out, or read each book in the series, Harry Potter has struck the hearts of people of all ages. The list compiled ranks each movie factoring in nostalgia, cinematography, plot, ability to rewatch, and the ‘magic’ of it all. Because “Cursed Child” does not have a movie adaptation–yet—it will not be included in the list, though the book does provide a new magical story to the franchise and is definitely worth the read.
8. “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets” (2002)
Directed by Chris Columbus, the second film in the Harry Potter franchise is faithful to the novel it was made after. Although this addition to the story brings a darker tone to the Harry Potter films, the story falls flat. The film and book alike are not as captivating as the others. The story is slow, and the film only drags this out further. Despite being the shortest novel in the series, the film is the longest running for 161 minutes (over 2 and a half hours). The character Dobby is introduced in this book and provides nothing more than an annoying introductory scene. If you are looking for the nostalgia of an early 2000s movie within the Harry Potter franchise, you’re better off going with the first or third film in the series.
7. “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2” (2011)
Directed by David Yates, this final film ends the Harry Potter franchise, following the original novel series. Although this film does a satisfactory job of bringing the franchise to a close, as followed by the novels, it is one you watch once and then never again. For lifelong fans such as myself, this film does an excellent job of bringing forth all the emotions as it concludes the story of Harry Potter and this magical universe. Watchers are given more backstory and endings to characters, but the plot moves forward quite slowly. Out of all the films, the rewatch value on this one is the worst. The characters spend the film preparing for a battle that ends quite predictably. It is action-packed toward the end of the film but other than an initial watch to see the story enacted, you won’t want to watch this one again.
6. “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” (2005)
Directed by Mike Newell, this fourth film in the series follows the events of the Triwizard Tournament as three wizarding schools compete for eternal glory. This film is jam-packed with magic and new discoveries for its viewers. The introduction of different wizarding schools and competitions fills this film with drama and intense scenes that have you rooting for your favorite character. Unfortunately, where this film falls short, like its novel counterpart, is its length. This film ran for 157 minutes (about 2 and a half hours), the second longest movie in the series. The novel version of this story is one of the longest books in the series. Although this film is the second longest, there are many cuts from the original story that fans of the franchise miss out on. These cuts, and the rushed nature of the film, cause it to fall below others in the series.
5. “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1” (2010)
Directed by David Yates, this film follows the main trio (Harry Potter, Ronald Weasley, and Hermione Granger) as they destroy Horcruxes and traverse the world outside of Hogwarts. This film is the first in the series to truly bring the viewer outside of the safety of Hogwarts, into what happens to wizards as they leave school and are alone without supervision. This new taste of magical experiences brings diversity into the small corner of the world this franchise was kept in. We learn about side characters and see further into their backstory in this film and overall get a greater look at the darkness of the Wizarding World. This film cut the seventh book in the series in half, leaving the viewer with an unfinished story. The cliffhanger that this film ends with leaves it feeling unfinished and the viewer unsatisfied.
4. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (2001)
Directed by Chris Columbus, the first film in the Harry Potter franchise is a charming introduction to the magical world J.K. Rowling created. Although its age shows in the filmmaking and young, inexperienced actors, this film undoubtedly has charm. The viewers are shown the magical world for the first time, Diagon Alley, Hogwarts, and the difference between Muggles and Wizards. This film has the most nostalgia when compared to the other films. Unfortunately, the cuts from the novel leave fans of the franchise disappointed when characters and plot points are missing from the film. The storyline with Voldemort is a lackluster introduction and leaves the film only impressive in terms of nostalgia.
3. “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” (2009)
Directed by David Yates, this film focuses on the character Severus Snape and his influence on the fight between Harry Potter and Voldemort. The cinematography in this film by far outshines others in the series. The plot keeps you on the edge of your seat wanting to see what happens next. Many different plot lines in this story keep viewers’ attention. As a film and story, this installment is one you want to rewatch again and again. Some of Voldemort’s backstory is cut from the film, which viewers miss out on after reading the novel. Though the film is lengthy, it’s safe to say that I would have stayed in my seat for another hour to watch that backstory play out on screen.
2. “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” (2007)
Directed by David Yates, the fifth film in the series introduces the agreeably annoying character Dolores Umbridge and brings together a group of powerful wizards to fight Voldemort. Although the viewer must struggle through scenes with the horrible wizard that is Umbridge, we get the motivated team that forms The Order of the Phoenix along with a student group of ready-to-fight wizards that Harry Potter forms at Hogwarts. We are given more plot with the character Sirius Black who is often a fan favorite. This film is the shortest in the series and is full of action and emotion. The novel counterpart is the longest in the series. This unfortunate difference in length causes much to be missed in the film version. Because so much is missing from the original story, it is not the best movie adaptation.
1. “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban” (2004)
Directed by Alfonso Cuaron, the third film in the series introduces Sirius Black and Remus Lupin, characters of incredible importance to Harry Potter’s dead parents. As the plot darkens, light is brought back by these two characters. Viewers are given the backstory of Harry Potter’s family that they have been missing along with the pieces of them that are still alive. Magic and academics are alive in this movie as the main trio discover more about the world around them, and the darkness of the future ahead. The tone shift introduced with Azkaban—the magical prison—eases us into the fourth film in the series. This film has the most rewatch value and is the most interesting in the series, yet it does not include the main antagonist Voldemort, at all.
Frederick Community College student.