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!
8. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
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.
7. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
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.
6. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
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.
5. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
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.
4. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows, Pt. 1
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.
3. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
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.
2. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows, Pt. 2
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.
1. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
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. 🙂
I have to be the only one who dislikes the last movie the most…well after HBP. The problem with HBP is that they stuff in stuff which doesn’t even is in the book and instead leave out important stuff which is, and I HATE how the portrayed the romance between Harry and Ginny. But the last movie, that one was for me the biggest let-down of them all. Because it wasn’t ballsy enough. It didn’t allow the audience to truly feel the dramatic and sadness of the battle of Hogwarts and THAN it didn’t get at all what the final confrontation with Voldemort in the book actually is about.
For me the Yates movies are by far the weakest of the series, because Yates never really got that those books are about the world, the characters and complex themes and not about the action. Hell, you could give the guy a script written by JKR personally and, as we have just seen, he will still manage to mess up the ending with the BS, because he is just not ready to allow the audience to actually grief about anything.
I wouldn’t say that Prisoner of Azkaban was perfect, but it came the closest to adapting the books while still being a movie. Not a working movie, mind you. This was the point at which the directors just assumed that the audience had either already read the book or would inform themselves if they really cared to.
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Well, there was one particular flaw, I think, in the last book, and that was how Harry was a spectator for so much of the battle. Especially right at the conclusion, he’s basically just standing there watching until the cloak comes off. That was the problem with having the entire series told almost exclusively from his perspective alone. It was easier to work around that in the movie, and at that point, just following Harry alone with the battle raging around them would have not have made for a great cinematic finale. But, you are also right, that final confrontation turned out to be a clash between people who were just pointing their wands as hard as they could, and missed the sum point of the entire series. And Voldemort’s death, I rather liked how it was done in the book more than the movie as well. Dumbledore’s saintly visage was stripped away, and so was Voldemort’s mask of invincibility and immortality. In the end, they were just men.
Yeah, exactly, that was the whole point of the series. But they cut out every single dialogue regarding the main theme of the books. I didn’t necessarily needed to see the finale exactly how it was in the book, but I really needed to see the point at which Voldemort is unable to kill anyone because Harry has put protection on all of them. I didn’t really care about the detail with the wand, but I cared about the sacrifice motive. As it is, it is just a random fantasy battle…honestly, I feared that would happen from the moment I saw the Goblet of Fire. There the focus on pointless scenes over character development for the sake of “action” happened the first time.
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