With the 20th anniversary of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone approaching on HBO Max for a reunion, there have been many highs and lows in the wizarding franchise. Harry Potter has embedded itself into popular culture akin to Lord of the Rings and Superhero films. With that being said, it would be impossible not to talk about the entire saga.
The first eight Potter films were highly praised by critics and lauded by audiences. As a result of the success, Warner Bros. made a prequel series entitled Fantastic Beasts. However, the first two films were deemed inferior to their Potter counterparts.
Here is a definitive ranking of all the films in the wizarding franchise.
(Disclaimer: This article is based on the author's views)
How the 'Harry Potter' and 'Fantastic Beasts' movies rank amongst themselves in the world of J.K. Rowling's creation
10) Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them
Where to begin with this film? It follows Newt Scamander trying to track down the “fantastic beasts” that he lost. Meanwhile, a disguised Gellert Grindelwald attempts to find an obscurus which feeds on a host of magically-talented people.
The biggest problem with the film is that it fails to maintain a consistent tone and devolves into Scamander running around finding beasts. There is very little character development and it takes away from everything that made the original Harry Potter series great.
9) Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
This Harry Potter flick was probably the least desired and remembered among fans. Harry and the gang attempt to find the mystery behind the Chamber of Secrets. They encounter house elves, spiders, and giant snakes.
Even with all of that fluff in the midst of the story, the film was largely forgotten by the Potter fan base and was often shoved into the furthest corners of Hogwarts. To make matters worse, it was overlong, and still somehow thin on expanding the lore of the wizarding world.
It’s also hard to take teenage Voldemort seriously after realizing Ralph Feinnes came after him.
8) Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald
On the surface, this film was mired by critics, but it proved to be an improvement over its flat predecessor. The story sees Scamander attempt to stop the nefarious Gellert Grindelwald, played brilliantly by Johnny Depp, with the help of Jude Law’s Dumbledore.
While it is darker and more edgy than its predecessor, it is still over-complicated in its twists and packs in a few too many Easter eggs. What might be more of a let down than anything is the fact that young Dumbledore doesn't play a huge part in the film. Moreover, it juggles too much like watching a middling DCEU film.
Understandably, the film is trying to bridge the gap to the original Harry Potter series and bring in familiar people and things. However, cramming them into an already-tight jar won’t do it any favors.
7) Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
This was the movie that started it all. It had magic and wowed audiences when it was released in 2001. It was a simple film that followed Harry Potter, "The Boy Who Lived."
Looking back on the film now, it seems more….MEH. It hits hard in the climax but it seems like it takes forever to get to the payoff. To its credit, it does get a pass for kickstarting a phenomenon that could never be remade or rebooted even if Hollywood tried.
However, even with all that being true, it still seems slightly juvenile for die-hard fans.
6) Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
This entry sees Harry maturing and battling against Death Eaters as Potter attempts to take a stand against Lord Voldemort. Harry steps into his own with more confidence by becoming a teacher to his classmates when their new Dark Arts teacher refuses to teach magic. Fans even get to see their hero’s first on-screen kiss.
The film has heart and is more action-packed than the previous entry. What really takes away from some of its greatness is the fact that the editing seems off and the pace is uneven. With the role of director being passed to David Yates, it may have been jarring for fans to adjust.
5) Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1
This installment has a lot to be proud of. Fans were greeted again by Dobby, the polite house elf and plenty of suspense. Harry and his friends go on the run to find a series of horcruxes scattered across the world to defeat the Dark Lord.
Director David Yates accelerates the action to a whole new level while maintaining grounded storytelling. Admittedly, it remains in the shadow of its successor, but it still remains thrilling and palatable as a film by itself.
4) Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
The film where Harry first learns about the horcruxes that Voldemort has created. The film has more heart than most in the series and utilizes its dark themes to create a compelling story.
What makes this entry so satisfying is the fact that Harry learns more about the relationship between Dumbledore and Tom Riddle a.k.a Voldemort. Shrouded in murky memories and frightening themes, Harry learns that a young Riddle was taken into Hogwarts by Dumbledore, who ultimately regretted the mistake.
The suspense of the film is almost too much to handle at times. It’s a shame Ralph Feinnes’ Voldemort didn’t make an appearance, but that is a small thing to complain about in this case.
3) Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
This was often cited as the best Harry Potter film and it’s not hard to see why. We find Harry being hunted down by an alleged killer named Sirius Black.
The film is phenomenally acted and has the best visual effects in the series. What really makes it so great is that at the center of it, it has a moral of second chances. People make mistakes and we shouldn’t be too quick to judge.
What’s even better is that Gary Oldman’s dark performance steals the show almost every time. It’s a story of betrayal, family, and occasional time travel with Hermione’s time turner which is probably the closest fans will get to Back to the Future IV.
2) Harry Potter and the Goblet of FIre
A Potter film that is often overlooked and dismissed as plotless is the fourth entry. However, the contrary can be claimed just as easily. The film takes the stage as Harry competes in the Triwizard tournament after his name is intentionally put into the Goblet of Fire.
This installment walks in the same vein as a horror movie, working perfectly in the Potter-universe. It’s easily the darkest film in the franchise.
This is the film that began the descent into themes of darkness for the Harry Potter series. Not only that, but fans were treated to the most frightening villain intro of all time: Ralph Feinnes as Lord Voldemort.
1) Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2
Finally, it has come to this. The final film in the Harry Potter saga, at last. The film draws the series to a close and wraps everything up in a nice little bow.
Arguably considered to be one of the greatest fantasy films and sequels of all time, the film stands on the shoulders of The Terminator, Avatar, and Star Wars.
Harry and his friends hunt down the remaining horcruxes to finish off “He Who Must Not Be Named”. With the use of some explosive action, moments of awe and sheer spectacle, this final Harry Potter film amazes and tugs at the heartstrings of all fans.
Poll : Which 'Harry Potter' film was the best?
The Goblet of Fire
The Deathly Hallows Part 2