Ranking the Harry Potter Movies

This doesn’t really tie in to anything, but I haven’t had much (if any) Harry Potter content on this blog. Thankfully, my next guest writer Elijah Chen is a huge fan and he volunteered (or rather I pleaded with him) to rank the eight films. No, Fantastic Beasts is not included. I have known Elijah for quite a long time; in fact, we still live next to each other back in Ithaca. He may not be the biggest general movie fan, but if there’s one franchise he loves to death, it’s Harry Potter. So enjoy, all you Potterheads!

Before I start, I just want to thank Jeffrey for giving me the IMPOSSIBLE task of ranking the original eight Harry Potter movies. As an avid fan who’s read all seven books a hundred times over, seen all eight movies multiple times, and taken every single quiz on Pottermore (Gryffindor, Ragdoll Cat, silver lime wood with a unicorn hair core at 12 1/4″ and quite bendy), I still found it extremely difficult to rank these eight fantastic films. No matter where each movie falls on the list, the Harry Potter movies will always hold a special place in my heart as well as atop my all-time list. These rankings are based on several factors; I compared the movies and the respective novels to see whether or not the former closely followed the latter. I also looked at the storylines in the event that incorporating more from the novels would’ve been better. Without further ado, here is my list of the Harry Potter movies ranked from worst to best.

8. Order of the Phoenix: Some people will argue that there are worse movies than the fifth installment (mainly the second one); however, if forced to choose, Order of the Phoenix would be the worst installment of the eight. I mainly put this movie last because the fifth book was my absolute favorite. It was the longest and I get that you can’t fit it all into 138 minutes. But there are some parts (*cough* Quidditch *cough*) that I would’ve liked to see as well as some key character development moments like the St. Mungo’s scene where Harry discovers the truth about Neville’s parents. Nevertheless, David Yates told a great story, with the darkness of the film playing perfectly into the plot. However, this movie was still a disappointment considering how much I loved the fifth book.

7. Chamber of Secrets: At 161 minutes, Chamber of Secrets is the longest movie in the series. It’s also the movie that gave us Professor Gilderoy Lockhart, a character I just hated before even watching the movie. It accurately follows the novel, but takes too long doing so. The set design was amazing, but the Chamber of Secrets was nothing like I imagined; it should’ve been so much greater. Ultimately, the sheer length of this movie and the fact that it tried to cram everything from the novel into a nearly three-hour movie makes this one of the worst Harry Potter films.

6. Goblet of Fire: To me, this movie was just about bringing Lord Voldemort back to life. The way it got there was all right at best. There were some great scenes and others that needed some work. The Yule Ball wasn’t overly impressive, but the three tasks were very enjoyable to watch. We also see Harry ask a girl out on his first date (too bad she said no). That part was just cringeworthy; at least they kiss in the next movie. In addition, can I just say that Ron being jealous of Hermione going to the ball with Krum is downright pathetic? It was infuriating to watch Ron complain about her (on top of the fact that Harry and Hermione make a much better couple). While we’re on the topic of couples, the scenes with Hagrid and Madame Maxime were really awkward. Goblet of Fire is definitely a great movie; it just doesn’t stand out as one of the better entries.

5. Deathly Hallows Part 1: Some people didn’t like that the last movie was split into two parts; I rather enjoyed it since this gave me more Harry Potter movies to watch. Unlike other movies that start out slow, the seventh installment came out firing on all cylinders. The opening scene with Ron and Hermione coming to terms with their impending journey is emotionally gripping. The fight between the Order of the Phoenix and the Death Eaters in the sky is awesome. The following scene with Harry and Ginny sharing a look is such an “aww” moment. Even though I think Harry and Hermione should be together, he and Ginny make a cute couple. However, after our three protagonists visit the Ministry of Magic, the movie almost trails off. The scene with Nagini was cool, but there wasn’t much after that. Deathly Hallows Part 1 is a great opening to a two-part finale. It couldn’t have done much more considering how in the novel, the bulk of the action took place in the second half.

4. Sorcerer’s Stone: Considering it had to introduce the whole world of magic to us Muggles, the first installment was quite good. Sure, the visual effects don’t quite hold up, but keep in mind that this came out in 2001. In addition, I feel like Chris Columbus did an OK job at adapting the novel into 152 minutes. There are some problems I have with the movie though. One is the fact that Peeves the Poltergeist is not introduced. It would’ve been great to see him constantly pulling pranks on the students. Furthermore, in the sequence where Harry, Ron, and Hermione are trying to save the Sorcerer’s Stone from Lord Voldemort, Professor Snape’s obstacle is cut out. It doesn’t detract from the greatness of the movie, although it certainly added to the suspense while reading the book. All things considered, Sorcerer’s Stone was a great start to an amazing series.

3. Half-Blood Prince: Was I the only one who got chills at the end when Professor McGonagall pointed her wand at the Dark Mark and, one by one, everyone followed suit? Talk about a powerful scene. Although Half-Blood Prince starts out slow, it steadily improves. I have a tiny problem with the way the movie portrayed Harry and Ginny’s budding romance. The novel did a much better job building that relationship; to me, their kiss in the Room of Requirement felt a bit forced. The music in that scene was great (I’m a sucker for romantic background music during a kissing scene), but David Yates could’ve developed their relationship beyond a couple of scenes. The last sequence starting from Harry and Dumbledore finding the Horcrux to everyone gathering around Dumbledore’s body significantly elevates this movie.

2. Deathly Hallows Part 2: RIP Alan Rickman. You were amazing as Snape throughout the whole series. The role could not have been portrayed by a better actor. Part 2 brings so much action. Picking up right after Harry and company escape from Malfoy Manor, we witness a grave robbery, a funeral, and a fight at Gringotts that ultimately leads to the Battle of Hogwarts. We finally learn the secret of Severus Snape and find out that it was all for love. The scene where Harry and Snape have their moment while the latter is bleeding out was so well-executed that I got a bit teary-eyed watching it. The only reason this movie is not ranked higher lies in the final fight between Voldemort and Harry. As epic as it was, I think it would’ve been much better had it stuck somewhat closer to the novel. In the book, Harry has a whole speech about a special kind of magic which he never really touched upon in the movie. The part about love conquering all did wonders for that scene and gave it something extra rather than just Harry beating Malfoy and earning the Elder Wand. The movie as a whole was excellent and the final Hogwarts battle scene was great; it just needed one last push to carry it over the top.

1. Prisoner of Azkaban: Most people would agree that Prisoner of Azkaban is the best movie in the series. This is the installment that gives us Sirius Black and introduces the Marauder’s Map; after all, who wouldn’t want a map that shows the location of everyone in Hogwarts? Although we don’t get to discover everything from the books (mainly who the Marauders were), it is still a great movie that starts to explore the characters more deeply, which can be seen through the developing romance between Ron and Hermione. Prisoner of Azkaban does amazingly well as a movie that doesn’t rely too heavily on the novel. It still hits the main plot points while further fleshing out our heroes. After the first two movies, which relied heavily on quickly getting to the big fight with Voldemort, Prisoner of Azkaban pleases fans of both the books and films. Hermione punching Malfoy in the face also helped.

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