Therefore, in celebration to this wonderful series that J.K. Rowling shared with the world, and in appropriate timing for the spinoff, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them to hit theaters, here is what I believe is a definite ranking of the cinematic adaptations. Bear in mind that this is judged purely by the movies, not by the books.
This first addition is perfect for kids and fans of the book thanks to its creation of the grand, imaginative, and wondrous mythological world. Yet some of the key actors, Daniel Radcliffe included, are rather pathetic. It does not help either that the screenplay is written with a plot-first perspective, rushing past important character-development scenes and crucial world development details. Thankfully, that’s all improved upon in the later films.
#7. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets 2002
This one steps it up from the first movie with its creation of fantastical creatures. Yet similar to Sorcerer’s Stone, Chamber of Secrets prioritizes plot over emotion with its question-and-answer dialog, removing any sense of character growth like in the books. But that’s still relatively easy to forgive as one crucial element of the world remains untainted: the historic struggle between muggles, wizards, and muggle-borns.
#6. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban 2004
What makes Harry Potter stand out from other franchises is that the books/films smartly mature in tone and theme as their audience does. Prisoner of Azkaban sets that concept off with the believable connection Harry builds with the richly dense Professor Lupin and his compassionate godfather Sirius. But don’t be fooled, the dialogue is still weak, as is its continued “kids outsmart the grown-ups” scenario utilized from the first two films that I personally cannot stand.
#5. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire 2005
Goblet of Fire triumphs in the way it resonates with all sorts of teen problems, primarily dating relationships. It’s equally as enjoyable to see the spectacle of the Triwizard Tournament, ranging from the glamorous (Beauxbatons) to the spooky (Black Lake) to the disturbing (Mad-Eye Moody). But I got to say that of all the films, this by far has the most unbearable acting, with no thanks to David Tennant or Robert Pattinson .
#4. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince 2009
I love the way that teenage love is treated in this film, despite the odd arrangement of its poorly explained, disjointed events. It’s also hard to get into the plot when the “Half-Blood Prince” is only mentioned a couple of times, and in moments that are not central to the key conflict. Yet the chillingly spooky feel of this monumental part of the series leaves its greatest impression with a strict color palette of pale, brown, rust, and black.
#3. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix 2007
Everyone remembers Order of the Phoenix for its creation of the repulsively nasty Dolores Umbridge. Although the government may have received a poor reputation from this book/movie, the fresh creation of all characters (especially Luna Lovegood) generates a more densely emotional, more socially relevant addition from what the previous films brought to the table. Although I still would not say that Daniel’s acting is getting any better at this point.
#2. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows- Part 2 2011
Wow, so many feels in just one-half of a book adaptation. Every death is tragic, every familiar character and place breathes a gloomier tone from Sorcerer’s Stone, every battle places me right into the action, and the scene with the pensive is pure perfection. Yet I can’t put this at the number one spot because of the poor handling of the romances, and the complete absence of any muggle-wizard conflict. Still makes me choke up with happiness in the end though!
#1. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows- Part 1 2010
The only real things that this movie absolutely messes up on is the dialogue (which has always been weak) and the choppiness in balancing each character's story arc. But otherwise, all players from the actors to the technicians go all-out in their craft, handing the heavy suspense and conflict with tremendous respect to its source material. With cold-looking yet breathtaking landscapes that match the greatness of the heroes’ struggle, Deathly Hallows- Part 1 stands as the perfect allegory toward racial differences in the form of wizards and muggles that will best prepare coming-of-age teenagers as they face the disturbing realities of life and death.
But no matter, the series has had the magical ability to deeply move and affect each of us in a profoundly different way, as J.K. Rowling wrote an imaginative series straight from the heart that spoke out to the fears of death and self-worth that every child, teen, and adult was feeling. With this little mental escape into a world where we are all wizards and witches, we can learn more about ourselves and one another, whether if we're a Gryffindor, a Hufflepuff, a Ravenclaw, a Slytherin, or a muggle or anywhere in between.
It's not every day you can say that about a franchise.