As Warner Bros. takes us back to the wizarding world this weekend with the release of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, I thought it be fun to rank all eight Harry Potter films from worst to best. There will be a SPOILER ALERT in place for the following rankings so tread lightly. For the record, I enjoy all these movies to some degree so just because the movie is lower on my list does not mean I don’t like it.
#8: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (2001): I give the Sorcerer’s Stone a ton of credit for creating the universe that is Harry Potter. It does a great job of introducing you to all the intricacies that J.K. Rowling created when she first wrote the book. The thing that holds it back (and has it ranked in the last spot on the list) is that it is largely focused towards kids and the actors involved have yet to mature yet at their craft. I still really enjoy the third act, however, especially the reveal of Voldemort on the back of Professor Quirrell’s head.
#7: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 (2010): Deathly Hallows Part 1 is solidly acted and beautifully filmed (it might be the most picturesque of all the Harry Potter movies). However, it largely feels like the set up it is to the grand finale that is the Deathly Hallows Part 2 and feels too much like a camping trip for my liking. Despite it’s inherent deficiencies, it packs the full amount of emotion that Harry’s ever-darkening story line deserves. If you didn’t shed a tear the first time you saw Dobby die, then you’re made of stone.
#6: Harry Potter and Chamber of Secrets (2002): The Chamber of Secrets builds upon the Sorcerer’s Stone in dramatic fashion, going darker and a little more mature. I really enjoyed how the movie delved deeper into the backstory of Tom Riddle AKA Voldemort, showing us how he was a child and student. Also, you’re lying to yourself if you don’t think Gilderoy Lockhart’s actions are hilarious once he looses his memory.
#5: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2007): Director David Yates does a solid job condensing the longest Harry Potter book into the shortest Harry Potter movie. Though it does drag at times to give exposition, Order of the Phoenix continues the darkening tone of the Harry Potter movies with a deeper understanding of the link between Harry and Lord Voldemort. Also, the battle between Dumbledore and Voldemort in the third act of this movie is so riveting and may be the best action sequence of the entire franchise.
#4: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005): While the Goblet of Fire is known for giving us the haunting introduction of Voldemort into actual human form, I don’t think this film gets enough credit of continuing the world building of the franchise. The introduction of the Triwizard Tournament and the other wizard schools. It really speaks to the writing (the writers of the script certainly had some decent source material to choose from) and direction of the Goblet of Fire that it feels fresh even though it’s the fourth installment of the franchise.
#3: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009): I don’t think this film gets enough love from Potter fans. Arguably the darkest Harry Potter movie, the Half-Blood Prince toys with your emotions in every possible way. You feel sad upon seeing Dumbledore die, you feel angry once you see Snape betray Dumbledore, and you even feel happy during the scenes where Harry uses the liquid luck (in which my favorite moment of levity in the entire franchise occurs when Harry talks about the spider’s pincers). Moreover, this movie also has heart-pounding action as Harry and Dumbledore begin to look for horcruxes.
#2: Harry Potter and Prisoner of Azkaban (2004): Prisoner of Azkaban is the most unique of all the Harry Potter movies. It uses its time travel storytelling device to perfection behind the direction of the great director Alfonso Cuaron and is arguably the first movie in the series that is fully emotionally satisfying for adults as well as children. It’s also the introduction of Sirius Black into the franchise who is played brilliantly by Gary Oldman. It even adds the Dementors to Harry Potter lore which absolutely helps contribute to the more mature tone and dark imagery.
#1: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 (2011): Was there any doubt that this would be number one? The Deathly Hallows Part 2 is one of the most satisfying last movies to a franchise ever put to film. It’s complex, dark, but also incredibly hopeful at the end. As if the first seven movies didn’t already do it, it even further explores the link between Harry and Voldemort and offers arguably the best redemption to a character ever in Snape. The Deathly Hallows Part 2 isn’t just a great fantasy movie, it’s a great movie period.
There’s the list! What are your thoughts? Do you think there should be a Harry Potter movie higher/lower on the list? Let me know your thoughts!
What should I review next? Whether it is old or new, the choice is up to you! Thanks for reading!