Ranking the Potter Movies

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Can you name another film franchise that can boast six films that are all decent, if not great? The Harry Potter films have quite a track record with a combined domestic box office total of $1.5 billion (so far) and an average Rotten Tomatoes score of 83.5% through six films. The boy wizard series has already established itself as one of the most successful in history.

When ranking the Harry Potter movies I imagine, everybody Potter fan’s list would look quite different. The genius of author J.K. Rowling is that she captures seven years in the lives of the protagonists as they come of age and lose their innocence. Each reader will interpret and react differently based on their own personal experiences and based on which year in the lives of the wizards speak to them personally, ideologically, etc.

Having read and re-read all seven books and watched the movies, I thought I would post my rankings of the six Harry Potter films so far:

(After the Jump)

chamberofsecrets

6) Film 2: The Chamber of Secrets
Directed By: Chris Columbus

The second book is my least favorite of the series and the problems in the story find their way into the film as well. Christopher Columbus does a good job to start the series, but his fantastic view of the adventures doesn’t capture the tone that the books were trying to portray. The film clocks in over 2 and a half hours, and rather than thinking that there was too much from the book that was missed, I had the rare feeling that things needed to be moved along. Also, the scene at the end of the movie with basilisk just didn’t work for me. It just looked too goofy and did not entirely make sense.

sorcerersstone

5) Film 1: The Sorcerer’s Stone
Directed By: Chris Columbus

This was a tough one, because I really do like this film. It just doesn’t quite reach the scope of the other Potter films and doesn’t do Rowling’s book justice. The brilliant actors aren’t given opportunity to flex their thespian muscles because the characters come across more as portraits than living, breathing characters. However, thank goodness for the brilliant art direction that gave the Harry Potter films a wonderful setting. A setting that hasn’t changed much in appearance, only in attitude over the length of the series.

halfbloodprince

4) Film 6: The Half-Blood Prince
Directed By: David Yates

As you can read in my review posted yesterday, I really enjoyed the latest addition to the Harry Potter series. Director David Yates is taking the series in the right direction. One of my only issues was that the book had more than enough to fill up a 2+ hour film, yet at times the film seemed to focus on the least exciting events in the book.

gobletoffire

3) Film 4: The Goblet of Fire
Directed By: Mike Newell

One of the best books in the series translated excellently to film. The first glimpse we get of a life-size Lord Voldemort does not disappoint. The Tri-Wizard tournament lends itself to one of the most exciting Potter premises and a great chance for the Art Direction department to show off their stuff. Also, I have always felt that this book/film represents a turning point in the Potter series, and director Mike Newell does a great job of portraying that. You get the sense that the innocence of the students’ youth is over and a darker, more serious world is upon them.

orderofthephoenix

2) Film 5: The Order of the Phoenix
Directed By: David Yates

This movie gets points for how much of a refreshing surprise it was, mainly because I didn’t think much of the fifth book. Director David Yates has a great grasp on the dark humor of J.K. Rowling and this is perfectly embodied in Imelda Staunton’s portrayal of Dolores Umbridge. Also, this is one of the first times when you realize that the movie is about the students of Hogwarts and the battle against the dark forces of Lord Voldemort will have to be fought alone, without the help of most of the professors.

prisonerofazkaban

1) Film 3: The Prisoner of Azkaban
Directed By: Alfonso Cuaron

This is the only film in the Potter series that really feels like it is made by an auteur. Alfonso Cuaron’s stamp is on every frame – from the beautiful tracking shots, to the splashes of snow on the camera. This is also the first time that the films and its actors start to feel grown up as the students are forced to admit their fears and confront them through the use of a Bogart. Also, the portrayal of the time turner could have gone all wrong, but thankfully Cuaron makes the sequence wonderful.

There it is. What are your ranks of the films?

My Rank of the Books:
1) Book 7: The Deathly Hallows
2) Book 4: The Goblet of Fire
3) Book 6: The Half-Blood Prince
4) Book 1: The Sorcerer’s Stone
5) Book 3: The Prisoner of Azkaban
6) Book 2: The Chamber of Secrets
7) Book 5: The Order of the Phoenix

  • Owen

    From least favorite to favorite-
    2- In comparison to the others, clearly the worst. As a stand alone film, not terrible.

    1- A good start to the series, but as the actors have grown, the films have gotten better.

    6-Brought Quidditch back, the acting was there (I still love how Helena Bonham Carter plays Bellatrix, and Jim Broadbent was great), and I feel like it accurately captured the tone of the book. However, it didn’t reach the top because of some of what they chose to leave out of the movie.

    First off, the description of the remaining horcruxes, or lack thereof. I know they will get into it in the next movie, but it was written into book 6 and should have been in movie 6.

    Second, in the final scene, a few things didn’t make sense and would have been better had they followed the book more closely.

    I also liked that they showed Malfoy’s struggle with his responsibilities in the movie, a deviation from all the other movies, where we mostly see from Harry’s perspective.

    I agree that the movie was a little slower than some of the others, and there was a good amount of romance, but overall I feel like its a great lead in to the final movie. The romance was needed mostly because it was a big part of the book, and it couldn’t be just left out.
    The movie and the book were written mainly to create motives and reasons for many of the things that happen in the final book, thus the reason it was so slowly moving. In that regard, I think the movie did its job, as I feel like we are being led into a compelling final movie. Lets just hope Yates does that great final book justice with the two part finale.

    5- I felt like it was a step back after the Goblet of Fire, but not huge one. It was a much darker movie, capturing accurately the changing tone of the books. I particularly liked how they filmed the duel scenes, with spells meeting in the middle and spewing what looks to be colored lava. It isn’t how I would envisioned these scenes in my head when reading the books, but I feel like they were captured amazingly on film. From the dementor scene at the beginning to the final battle at the Department of Mysteries at the end, the movie was the best that I could have hoped for after reading the book. I think this is one of the only movies that was actually an improvement on the book, as they took the worst and most drawn out parts of the book (the school year and Umbridge making new rules) and condensed it heavily, and made the compelling scenes last longer on the screen.

    4- This one was just awesome. Definitely my favorite book besides The Deathly Hallows. The movie definitely did it justice.

    3- Agree with everything you wrote.

  • G1000

    Films (from worst to best): #5, #3, #4, #1, #2. Haven’t seen the sixth one yet.

    Don’t get why everyone thinks the first two movies were the weakest. To me, they are much better than the other ones (don’t get me wrong, I liked them as well).

    Books (again from worst to best): #5 (which I didn’t like very much), #7, #6, #2, #4, #1, #3.

  • andrew bell

    I absolutely agreed with your article and much of what you said. I’m going on a bit of a limb here but I would have swapped the 6th film with the 5th in your rankings as surprisinlgy i actually liked the 5th book. Otherwise great work. Thank you.

  • Billybob

    Movies
    3,4,6,5,2,1
    Books
    6,7,5,4,1,3,2

    goes best to worst in both

  • atique

    Perfect.

    Azkaban is awesome!!!!! Faar ahead from the other.
    Half blood is the worst one

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