Friday, January 28, 2022

'After all this time?': Ranking the 'Harry Potter' movie series

November 30, 2021
Illustration by Maddie Echlin.
Illustration by Maddie Echlin. —

Nov. 14 marked the 20th anniversary of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone making its big screen debut in movie theaters across the nation.

So of course, like the diehard Harry Potter fan I am – ("After all this time?" "Always.") — I figured it would be a fun little idea to rank the eight movies from my least favorite to my most favorite. Again, this is all my own opinion, so don't take it like a stinging jinx.

Grab your wands and hop aboard the Hogwarts Express to reminisce alongside me, wizards and witches.

Warning: Controversy will arise.

#8: The Chamber of Secrets (2)

Release date: Nov. 14, 2002

I feel bad because this is such a timely piece of art. But, in comparison with the rest, there is a reason this movie was never one my fingers automatically jumped to in the DVD case.

I like how it leads your brain one way and then hits you with a swift Levicorpus hex and before you know it, you're hanging up in the air by your ankle in shock because WHAT?! The heir of Slytherin WASN'T Draco Malfoy?! (Even though I knew this before watching because I read the books first like a real fan...)

But, there's a level of cringe to it that makes this movie unappealing and that seems to be a mutual agreement in the fandom, from my perspective.

#7: The Sorcerer's Stone (1)

Release date: Nov. 14, 2001

My mother, bless her heart, popped this bad boy into the VHS player for me one night around the age of nine and I have been hooked on the lore of the wizarding world ever since. You could say she created a monster, but, as Rubeus Hagrid said, "'I am what I am, an’ I’m not ashamed. 'Never be ashamed ... there’s some who’ll hold it against you, but they’re not worth bothering’ with."

This movie is a classic. I enjoy watching it for the sole purpose that it makes me feel like a child again.

I had always wanted to receive my Hogwarts acceptance letter by owl on my 11th birthday. I had dreamt of walking down Diagon Alley, getting my robes fitted by Madam Malkin, having a wand choose me at Ollivanders, collecting my books for potions class at Flourish & Blotts and running through the barrier at Kings Cross on Sept. 1 at 11 a.m. sharp.

I'm sure you can imagine the crushing hurt I felt when it never came and I was forced to enroll in sixth grade instead. Yes, I am still angry about it to this day.

#6: The Deathly Hallows (part 1) (7)

Release date: Nov. 19, 2010

This two-parter really did itself in. The first half was good, but the second half really took the cake here. I enjoy the scene at Bill Weasley and Fleur Delacour's wedding and the animated retelling of the Tale of the Three Brothers. The scene in the Malfoy Manor, however, still makes my blood curdle no matter how many times I've seen it. I don't even want to talk about Hermione Granger's screams as Bellatrix dragged that knife across her arm – they were ringing in my ears for hours after my parents had taken me to opening night.

This movie is only the beginning of the evidently long journey ahead for the Golden Trio. They go through a lot more in the second half, obviously, but the first half is crucial for that build up so please do not ever skip it. I'm begging you.

#5: The Order of the Phoenix (5)

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Release date: July 11, 2007

Two words: Dolores Umbridge. The daughter of the devil, or maybe she is the actual devil. Regardless, I hate her more than I hate Voldemort, and that's a lot. She truly deserved to be killed off after Harry and Hermione left her in the woods with the centaurs near the end of the film. I said what I said.

This movie never used to be high on the list for me. It and the Chamber of Secrets shared the same dust in my DVD collection. But, I recently rewatched it over quarantine and fell in love.

It's one of the sadder movies in the series with the death of Harry's only remaining family member, his godfather Sirius Black. And, I would like to say, it's quite the slap in the face to Harry, who couldn't even get his closest friends to fully believe what he'd seen in the graveyard until later on. It sets up a not-to-early, but not-too-late chance to see how the students of Hogwarts are beginning to prepare for the long road of death and destruction ahead while life goes on like normal outside the Room of Requirement.

#4: The Prisoner of Azkaban (3)

Release date: June 4, 2004

This movie introduces us to what came before – the Marauders, a.k.a. Harry's father James Potter and his three friends, Remus Lupin, Sirius Black and Peter Pettigrew. It exposes the truth behind why Harry's parents were targeted by the Dark Lord in the first place and allows Harry to learn what heartbreak and forgiveness truly are for the first time in his teenage years. It provides a lot of needed context and connection to why things are the way they are.

#3: The Goblet of Fire (4)

Release date: Nov. 18, 2005

This movie is the turning point for the entire series. Harry finally sees the man who ripped his world apart in the flesh for the first time and it goes on to prove how hard it is to get a community of people to believe something. It's a great take on "The Boy Who Cried Wolf" theory and it's an early indicator of just how blood-hungry people have it out for Harry's life. There's evidence we viewers can see, but it's hidden quite easily by high power reputations Death Eaters like Lucius Malfoy uphold.

#2: The Half-Blood Prince (6)

Release date: July 15, 2009

One of my favorite scenes in the entire series is in this movie: The burning of the Burrow. It makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up in anticipation, even though I know exactly what's coming.

This is the last movie we truly see Hogwarts as a home, and not as a battlefield scattered with our beloved characters dead bodies. The way that we see each person has their own lives and their own secrets, whether that be Draco Malfoy with the vanishing cabinet task or Hermione with the sole fact that even her muggle parents are no longer safe, even Dumbledore going Horcrux hunting. It is the ultimate downfall of the light and the rise of the dark.

#1: The Deathly Hallows (part 2) (8)

Release date: July 15, 2011

Truly, I'm not typically a "the last movie is my favorite movie" type of gal. It feels cliche and makes me look like I'm just someone who only watched the series because it was mainstream. When in reality, it's quite the opposite – I binge the series at least once a year, if not more.

I used to tell people the only reason this movie is my favorite was for that split second we see Draco at the end of the battle at Hogwarts.

That was always a joke, nonetheless, because I really think the entire movie itself is heavily well-crafted. The attention to detail was immaculate and this was a great way to both honor and wrap up the series.

While I greatly dislike J.K. Rowling as a person, her creation of the wizarding world is something I am never not amazed by.

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