With Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald coming soon, I decided to review all the Harry Potter movies in the lead up to its release. On top of that, I decided to rank the movies. Really I like all the Harry Potter movies, I grew up with them and they were a part of my childhood, before re-watching them I thought that it would be very difficult to rank them. However, it turned out to be much easier than I thought it would be. They all have some great elements to them but it’s pretty clear that some are significantly better than others.
Also on a side note, I won’t be including Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them in this list as I’m ranking just the Harry Potter movies, not all the movies in the Wizarding World universe.
8. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
I will admit rewatching Goblet of Fire recently that I really didn’t like this movie as much as I used to. It still has some great parts to it without a doubt, enough for me to call it a solid movie. However, this movie is lacking a lot of elements that should be there and just isn’t as good as it could’ve been.
The Harry Potter movies are known to cut a lot of things from the books, but Goblet of Fire seems to suffer the most out of all of them (even though it’s the second longest of the movies). In between the Triwizard Tournament, the Yule Ball and graveyard climax, it feels like there’s nothing else is happening, like Harry doesn’t have anything in his life besides the Triwizard Tournament (with the exception of like one lesson he has early on). Because of that, it feels a little empty, like so much story is really missing from the movie. Add on top of that some weird directing decisions with regards to some of the performances and the story, and the movie feels rather uneven (with plot and pacing). Goblet of Fire does have some great elements to it at the same time. The three Triwizard challenges were great and the graveyard sequence was truly fantastic (being one of the highlights of the whole movie series). Also, whenever the movie got dark, I loved the tone and the atmosphere it had. There are even aspects of the direction by Mike Newell that I liked. Not to mention that Ralph Fiennes is absolutely magnetic as Voldemort whenever he’s on screen. I still think that Goblet of Fire is pretty good overall when everything is considered, but its by far the worst in the main Harry Potter movie series.
7. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone started off the Harry Potter series well back in 2001, it brought people unfamiliar with the Harry Potter world into it with ease, establishing everything to them and guaranteeing it to be a commercially and critically successful franchise. While there are better Harry Potter movies in the series, it is really worth praising for really beginning the series.
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone manages to establish the Harry Potter world to general audiences efficiently and effectively, and director Chris Columbus did a great job with it, managing to balance everything nicely. Some of the dated elements do affect the experience a little bit, some of the acting by the child actors are hit or miss in parts and plus the movie can be really cheesy at times, but that’s more of a preference thing. Really outside the datedness and cheesiness, Philosopher’s Stone really doesn’t do anything wrong, I just prefer most of the other Harry Potter movies over it. Even if you aren’t a big fan of it, you have to give it to Chris Columbus for bringing non readers into the world of Harry Potter.
6. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix does suffer some faults, most of them similar to Goblet of Fire’s faults (in that a lot of things from the book is missing). However, Order of the Phoenix does still manage to keep the core of the story and ultimately comes out as one of the more underrated movies in the series. Making it even better was the newer direction by David Yates and certain aspects of the story just personally really worked for me personally.
This movie takes the longest Harry Potter book and turns it into the second shortest of the movies. Watching the movie and having read the book, it really does feel like it’s missing quite a bit, like it should’ve been a little longer. Adding 10 to 20 minutes to the movie might’ve made the movie even better. With that said, capturing the whole book in a movie is extremely difficult, in the case of Order of the Phoenix it would’ve had to have been over 3 hours to showcase everything in the book. They essentially got the core of the story here, unlike Goblet of Fire it doesn’t feel like there are some basic fundamental plotlines or scenes missing from the movie altogether. There’s also a lot of entertaining moments throughout the movie, the wizard duels sequences are great, especially the third act which had lots of them. On top of that, I think with Order of the Phoenix, Warner Bros finally found the right tone for Harry Potter with director David Yates, which really established him as the person to direct the Harry Potter movies (and all Harry Potter related movies apparently). The whole feel of the Harry Potter movies had kept changing up to this point but I think they really got it right with Phoenix, it feels like the Harry Potter that I imagined the movies having, so I’m glad that they stuck with Yates. I really get a lot of the big criticisms of the movie (mostly to do with the things cut from the book), and I do wish it was a little better than how it turned out. But I can’t deny that I still really do like this movie.
5. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
When I was younger, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets was my favourite Harry Potter movie. From what I can gather though, Chamber of Secrets seems to be considered one of the worst of the Harry Potter movies and I cannot understand why. Maybe it’s a bit long and the pacing can get a little slow at times, but I think everything else is really good.
While Chris Columbus directed Philosopher’s Stone, a pretty light movie, he actually did a pretty great job with a darker tone, the cheesiness is gone, the whole story feels darker and appropriately so. The whole third act that takes place in the Chamber of Secrets is really great, the set design, the effects on the basilisk, everything worked incredibly well. Chamber of Secrets is the longest of the Harry Potter movies, and while it does have some good pacing at times, at other moments it can drag a little. That’s really the only criticism I’ve really heard of Chamber of Secrets and while it is valid, I don’t really see that pulling down the whole movie. Overall it still is a really good Harry Potter movie, like with Philosopher’s Stone it is filled with magic and wonder, just this time around it’s a little bit darker.
4. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1
For some, Deathly Hallows Part 1 is on the lower end of the spectrum when it comes to the Harry Potter movies. Watching it recently though, I was surprised at how great it actually was. It gets a reputation for sort of setting up for the second half, and while it does that, it’s a little more than just that. Yes it’s long but it uses its length to develop and focus on the main characters, and all in all I’m glad that they split the story into two parts instead of having one very long movie.
Deathly Hallows Part 1 is one of the darkest movies in the Harry Potter series and you really feel the stakes and danger throughout. David Yates and co. achieved what they set out to do and even more. Deathly Hallows Part 1 can feel slow especially in the second act and it does contain one of the worst scenes in the movie series (Wormtail’s final scene), but on the whole Deathly Hallows Part 1 is great and probably one of the more underrated Harry Potter movies.
3. Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince
David Yates’s second Harry Potter film improves vastly over his last and was pretty great overall. It’s darker, more personal, much more character driven and has such a great atmosphere, it all just really worked for me. I don’t think it quite gets the credit that it deserves, it has a lot of great things to it.
Half-Blood Prince feels like a much more character driven movie, something more smaller scale and personal, and I just really liked the story overall. It’s also now established to the Wizarding World that Voldemort is back, and there is a constant sense of dread throughout the movie, and Yates did such a great job at conveying that. Most of the humorous moments also work well and fit in well with the overall movie, lightening the mood but not taking away from the stakes. It’s also one of the best looking Harry Potter movies (although the lighting can be a little too washed out and grey at times). I’m not sure what the general consensus on Half Blood Prince is but it really worked well for me and I personally thought that it’s one of the best Harry Potter movies.
2. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2’s job was straightforward, deliver a satisfying end to the beloved and long running series. However that is much easier said than done. Nonetheless, I think they really succeeded at it for the most part, with it being a visually amazing, entertaining and emotionally satisfying movie.
Deathly Hallows Part 2 ends the Harry Potter series really well, it ties up all the loose ends from the previous movies and as it’s the final battle of the series, the battle sequences are appropriately visually amazing and epic. There’s also an emotional weight to everything going on throughout the movie, from the very first scene to the last. There might be some aspects in the book that might’ve been nice to see in the movie, and there are some bits in the third act and particularly the final battle between Harry and Voldemort which I’m a little iffy about. However, those complaints aren’t enough to ruin the overall experience. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 met the large amount of hype and ended the series on a high note.
1. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban>/h1>
It came between Deathly Hallows Part 2 and this when it came to the best Harry Potter movie. While I really do love Deathly Hallows Part 2, having watched all the movies recently, I leaned more toward Prisoner of Azkaban because outside of some of the effects which can be dated (it being made over a decade ago), there isn’t much wrong with it. Maybe there are some odd stylistic choices made but overall almost everything fits nicely in place to deliver a great story.
Prisoner of the Azkaban is seemingly known by most people as the best of the Harry Potter movies, and having rewatched it recently I can understand why. The additions of Gary Oldman and David Thewlis were great, Alfonso Cuaron’s direction of the film is nothing short of magical and the story was solid, smaller and personal. The only things I remember having issues with is the Knight Bus sequence and the freeze frame ending. I pretty much loved everything else. Prisoner of Azkaban is all around great and is the best of the Harry Potter movies.
What do you think about my ranking of the Harry Potter movies? What were your rankings?