Muggles and wizards and wands, oh my!! Box office records will be broken and promo sales outspoken as Pottermania hit the theatre with an egregious team ready to cast their spell on ye. To namedrop just a wee Brit : Daniel Radcliffe, Maggie Smith, Robbie Coltrane, John Hurt, Richard Harris, Alan Rickman, John Cleese, and Julie Walters are all part of this huge, largely British, cast.
The spot-on characterizations, true-to-form storyline, and superb special effects combine to render J.K. Rowling’s vision with intelligence, charm, and imagination. Daniel Radcliffe is perfect as the young wizard, Harry Potter, who’s whisked away from abusive relatives to hone his special skills at Hogwart’s School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Co-whiz kids Hermoine Granger (Emma Watson) and Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint) join him in enough high-flying, wand-waving, magical escapades to keep you justifiably spellbound for the entire
Aside from its stellar cast and scarier narrative, Harry Potter films succeed in upholding the magic of JK Rowling’s vast imagination, while providing its fan base with popular set pieces they (by now) expect: exciting car chases, the action-packed Quidditch match, magical gadgets, and enough mind-boggling visual effects and animatronics to satisfy both the pre-MTV demographic, and their parent
In most instances book to film translations are disappointed and while the books are still better in this case the Harry Potter films have been pretty good all the way through. I would even argue that from front to back this has been the best film series in cinema history. So there!!
Watching it you cannot help but get a little nostalgic about the three young actors and how they have grown over the ten year run of the series. When it began they were all 10 or 11 years old and now they are all in their early twenties. Much maturing and growing (except maybe on the part of the diminutive Daniel Radcliffe, tee hee!) has gone on over the decade they have been onscreen. Over this time the characters friendships have been tested and then solidified and even love has been found. Over all of this time we have cringed, laughed, cried, and been filled with awe while watching magic come to life before our own eyes.
While the focus has been on the three young actors the ensemble cast has also been amazing. When you can boast Maggie Smith, David Thewlis, Emma Thompson, Ralph Fiennes, Alan Rickman, Michael Gambon, Jason Isaacs, Gary Oldman, Ciaran Hinds, Julie Walters, Jim Broadbent, Robbie Coltrane, and Helena Bonham Carter you have some of the most talented actors in Britain. A veritable who’s who and they all bring their own unique flavours and talents to their roles.
Here are all eight films ranked from weakest to best done:
8) Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets: Year of Release – 2002. Director – Chris Columbus. This was the second film in the series and the weakest. It was too dark and way too long at 162 minutes. Due to the dense plot you have to give Columbus a little bit of a pass in his attempt to transfer the novel to screen but I do not completely excuse him. A big part of the problem is that he has tried to remain too faithful to the book. This causes things to drag and for you to wish for the magical ability to make it done.
7) Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince: Year of Release – 2009. Director – David Yates. The sixth film in the series is weakened by its overly solemn nature and tripped up by all the raging hormones amongst the characters. During the dark moments I found myself wishing for some light and during the light parts I wanted to go back to the dark. The inherent problem with this film is that it is a set up film. Meaning that it just hints at things to come. Big things. But nothing much really happens in the present.
6) Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone: Year of Release – 2001. Director – Chris Columbus. The first film in the series had to reveal this JK Rowling created world of magic and that is a heavy load. When it comes to first films in inevitable series you cannot really expect much but this one was fairly good. There is the disappointment of what is up on the screen not measuring up to what your imagination created while reading the book. Columbus does a good job not omitting anything from the novel.
5) Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1: Year of Release – 2010. Director – David Yates. Yates took particular care with this one knowing it was the second to last film. Much attention was paid to detail. Dark and foreboding but not overly so. What was handled better than in the Half-Blood Prince is the romance. Less annoying and more realistic, the love adds to the film rather than distracting. The intensity is amped up noticeably and it creates a breathtaking ride through the magical world of the boy wizard.
4) Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix: Year of Release – 2007. Director – David Yates. The fifth film in the series is based on the longest of the novels but it does not feel weighed down. Director David Yates is very economical in his direction only putting on screen what is absolutely necessary. We get Harry’s first kiss, the introduction of Dolores Umbridge and the wonderful Luna Lovegood.
3) Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire: Year of Release – 2005. Director – Mike Newell. The fourth film in the series is a winner. It is scary. Wonderfully so. The dastardly Lord Voldemort is back and the unrecognizable Ralph Fiennes is fantastic as the villain. What might even be a little scarier is the maze that Harry and others have to navigate through. There is plenty of powerful emotion as Harry is now a teenager and has a better understanding of his powers. He knows what he has to do and it is a big burden for such a young person.
2) Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban: Year of Release – 2004. Director – Alfonso Cuaron. The third film fully visualizes the world introduced in the first two films. It is a dark and dangerous world but one we cannot get enough of. Cuaron has tinkered with the format of the the first two films and has succeeded in improving upon them. Beloved amongst fans due to its surprise ending.
1) Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2: Year of Release – 2011. Director – David Yates. The last film was the best. Harry makes his final stand against the evil Lord Voldemort. Filled with wonderful moments. The destruction of Hogwarts is incredible. Secrets revealed have an effect despite the fact that we all read the books and knew what was going to happen. Ralph Fiennes and Alan Rickman demonstrate what good actors they are. The battle scenes are eye popping. A fitting ending to a strong film series.