I promised you I would, and here it is, humble though it may be. 😉
The Harry Potter series is fantastic, both the books and movies. With eight movies to choose from, all well done and all so similar to one another, ranking them as favorites was a bit harder than I expected. It’s a very narrow spectrum from one end to the other, and, of course, these are only my own opinions. You are perfectly free to disagree. 😉
And so, without any ado at all, and for what it likely my shortest Countdown ever, let’s get to it!
Not that I have anything really against it, but this movie probably suffers the worst from having to condense such a lengthy novel into a couple of hours. What’s more, the material takes a decidedly more dramatic turn towards the dark, yet it also feels kind of boring at times. The entire series was rising towards a crescendo, they were trying to do too much, yet very little happened until the very end of the movie. When Snape revealed himself as “the Half-Blood Prince,” it actually didn’t seem all that important, especially right after Dumbledore’s death.
As we went along in the series, the books got longer, and the movies simply could not keep up. This is the first book to really suffer from that. Watching it is quite nearly a cliff notes version of the book. However, they managed to hit all the most important bits and still keep us entertained. I think the Quidditch World Cup might arguably be the funnest moment in the entire series.
It’s actually been quite awhile since I’ve seen Sorcerer’s Stone, but from what I can recall, I remember watching it and enjoying it, but not entirely in an ecstatic way. It was magical, in a cute way, but I was occasionally bored. I was even felt a little let-down when one of my favorite moment, Hermione’s speech towards the end, was edited to feel a bit more forced and less important. But, hey, this was the first in the series, so they hadn’t hit their stride yet.
As the second movie, this was where the series began to develop into something more gripping than merely cute. There was plenty of work still to do, but the mystery and danger were increasing, and while Harry still got very lucky, his victory wasn’t due solely to that. Of course, he rescued his future wife, Ginny, from a terrifying evil, and the scene with the giant spiders was forever Ron’s comedic moment to shine.
They made a very smart move in dividing the last book into two movies, and they chose a spectacular stopping point. The children we’ve watched grow up are adults now, and fighting a genuine war against implacable enemies they continually have to evade and avoid on their quest to undo the dark lord, who is also looking to safeguard himself with ever greater power. Really, this one isn’t even higher on the list probably because it just sets up the epic conclusion rather than delivering it.
Yes, it suffers from too much abridging, like others at this stage of things, but it did so in a mostly tactful, enjoyable way. The kids were starting to grow up and come into their own, even if they, like most youths, fell into the trap of trying to do so too quickly and too soon. We also saw a more complex dynamic between Hogwarts and the Ministry, as daring youths barely out of childhood rebelled against the system for the sake of challenging the true threat of Voldemort.
The conclusion. It is epic and fantastic, as the final battle commences, and the fate of the world is decided. But, it also has to sacrifice most of the brain-food that made the last book so great, thus losing much of what makes the series as a whole so great and poignant and worthy of becoming a classic. And it simply does not stand on its own, needing everything else, especially Part 1, to stand at all.
I know I’m not alone here: this was the best in the entire series. It balanced everything about the book and the challenge of adapting it into a movie perfectly. It was funny and tense, smart and scary, and Emma Watson’s Hermione was absolute perfection. It was just excellently done. Just excellent. 🙂