With my rewatch of all of the Harry Potter movies in the core series being completed, I have finally come to a ranking of how I feel about each of the films and how they stack up against each other. It took some time trying to determine which ones fit in which place because they all have some fantastic moments that really highlight the saga, but they also all have some downsides. Of course this ranking isn’t going to sit well with everyone and many people are going to complain or argue against my feelings towards each of them, but hey this is my ranking of them and how I personally feel about them. There’s one particular movie on this list that I know people are going to have a problem with where I ranked it, but hey like I said this is my list and how I felt about them after watching each of them again. Feel free to comment your ranking of them below. Let’s get to it!
8. The Deathly Hallows Part 1
Coming in last place is none other than the infamous split movie starter in The Deathly Hallows Part 1. In my review of these last two movies, I really highlighted how I felt that they should never have split the final book into two movie, but on the other hand I’m not sure if one movie would have been as good as Part 2 was, so it could go either way. Unfortunately, out of the two movies, this one takes the biggest blow by not having as much going on or being interesting enough for me to want to go back and revisit it. I would much rather come off The Half-Blood Prince and skip this one just so I can get to Part 2. Sure there are important things that happen, but I just don’t care enough to want to sit through it. It’s just a boring Harry Potter movie.
A few of the key highlights that I mentioned in my review were the death of Dobby and how magic was utilized in the real world more in this movie than any of the others. I like that we got to see our heroes on the run and on an adventure of sorts because it gives a fresh take on the wizarding world away from Hogwarts, but the actual story doesn’t live up to what could have been. I also really enjoy the animation of the retelling of the Deathly Hallows story in the movie, it’s a small moment but one that I always enjoy watching. There are things that are setup in this movie that have their payoff in Part 2, but that’s the problem. Nothing setup in this movie is paid off until the next one except for Ron destroying the locket. Worst moment by far was Ron again being at odds with Harry for reasons that I just want to roll my eyes at.
Keep talking about that little ball of light Ron.
7. The Sorcerer’s Stone
The next one on this list is the first film of the franchise, the one that started it all. Here’s where the list gets a little tricky for me. The Deathly Hallows Part 1 to me was just not a great movie, but had moments. This movie is good and has a lot of heart and fantastic moments that really set the stage for what the series would become. Without it we wouldn’t have what we do now, but it suffers from a few things that just can’t be helped. The younger actors while not bad, just don’t carry the movie as well as they do in the later films when they’re older and more experienced. On top of that, we also have the lack of truly impressive magic visuals. What they did was good and what we got to see was impressive at the time, but a lot of the visuals don’t hold up as well, but again that’s because the movie came out almost two decades ago.
Since this is the first movie for our heroes who are just learning magic and have no real experience outside of the simple spells, we don’t get a chance to really explore what some of the other spells are. The movie as I said does have a lot of heart and charm and certainly is crafted in a way for us to be introduced to this impressive world. It hooks us into wanting to see more and sets up many potential possibilities for what we could see in the future. The biggest highlight moment for me was the chess battle towards the end of the movie. It has always made me wish there was some way that we could have that kind of chess game, but really gave a highlight to Ron as a character and his importance come the end of the movie. The worst part has and always will be every moment when someone is on a broom in a swift moment of action. They CG the actors and it’s just terrible to look at all these years later. I wish we could go back and somehow remaster the visuals for some older movies, but hey it’s a minor negative point. This isn’t a bad movie, but the others just took what this movie did and made it better.
It has to be Snape.
6. The Chamber of Secrets
I’m a lot nicer about this movie than other people are. I know many lists that I’ve seen before usually has this as the worst movie or second worst movie, but on watching it again I very much enjoyed it more than I thought I would. I’m not sure why exactly this movie has such a negative buzz around it. It has an interesting story and mystery that starts to really delve deeper into the lore of the wizarding world and the eventual outcome of certain events in future movies. I think this movie really benefits from being seen again after watching all of the other films. There’s only one movie in the saga that directly references the events that happen in this movie, that being The Deathly Hallows Part 2. Not only does it reference events from that movie, but it also utilizes certain elements in that movie, such as a revisit to the chamber.
While the new professor played by Kenneth Branagh isn’t the best character, it does give us an interesting look into a different kind of professor. It gives us someone who lied and cheated their way to fame, and while not great, it is performed very well by Branagh. The other actors all have more time to shine in this movie and have clearly grown from the first film as far as acting ability. It starts to thrust us into the history of Hogwarts and Tom Riddle and lays the foundation for the next movies. It’s much darker than the first film and has a decent pace of keeping you invested in what’s going on, along with some redeeming moments like Dobby being freed. The visuals also hold up much better in this movie than the others, so that’s another plus that it has over the first film. Highlight moment would definitely be the end fight against the Basilisk. Truly down moment is the flying car. I like how they did it visually and it was a cool and different perspective of getting to the school, but I just don’t enjoy it all that much.
5. The Prisoner of Azkaban
This is where everyone is starting to yell at me and tell me how stupid I am for putting this movie so low. I understand the complaints and I understand that many love this movie, but watching it again I just don’t see the appeal as much as some of the others. There’s a lot to love about this movie, but at the same time there’s a lot I didn’t like about this movie. As I said in my review, I’m looking at this as a movie not basing any opinions on the book. When I say that I don’t think the time travel works that well in this movie, it’s because I don’t think it works. It has nothing to do with the director or the fact that “that’s how it was in the book” or whatever. It just doesn’t work for me in the grand scheme of the universe. The story was good when we finally got to the moment where they use time travel, but I think it’s the reveal that makes the movie for some people.
I don’t think it works because it’s never brought up again in any of the other movies and kind of sets up something existing that could be useful in certain cases but nobody ever talks about again. It’s not all on the time travel though. I felt like the Dementors and Sirius were all pretty cool, but none of it really got interesting until the end when Sirius and Harry finally meet face to face. This movie is incredibly important to the saga, but stepping away from Voldemort I think hurt it in some ways. I know that the storyline does directly involve Voldemort, but at the same time he never really has an appearance of any kind in this movie. I was just expecting something else going into it from Chamber of Secrets. Highlight moment is anytime Gary Oldman is on screen as Sirius, absolutely perfect. Downside moment, the whole first half of the movie. There’s a lot of good in this movie, but it really doesn’t pick up till a little after the halfway point.
4. The Half-Blood Prince
Before watching these movies again, this was originally my favorite movie out of all of them. I’m not sure exactly why before, but now I think it mostly has to do with the last third of the movie. As we started to learn more about the Horcrux’s and when we got to see Harry and Dumbledore get the Locket, I started to really love where the story was going. Dumbledore’s death is what really topped it off for me because I was always expecting him to survive at least to the last movie, so it was a great surprise. Especially when it was Snape who did it. That last third is some of my absolute favorite of the whole saga. The reason why it dropped so low on my list though was everything else in the movie.
There’s a lot of love and love potions and love triangles going around that’s enough to make you want to sleep or puke. Everything we see is stuff that has already been explored in previous movies and really doesn’t hold any weight. I think when I first watched this movie, I forgot about all of that stuff because I loved the ending so much but watching it again I realized just how bland it was. A real highlight moment outside of the last third of the movie was when Harry followed Draco into the bathroom. (Wow that doesn’t sound appropriate so far) We get to see them have a brief spat of spells against each other that was fun to see and I only wish we could have seen more. Real downside, everything that dealt with somebody being effected by a love potion.
3. The Goblet of Fire
This one initially was lower on my list and I’m not exactly sure why. I wish I would have made a list prior to watching them again so that I could compare, but this one sat closer to the middle of the pact originally. There’s not a lot to not like about this movie. I mean sure there are a few moments that are kind of bland or weird like how nobody has their hair cute for some reason, but the tournament serves a great purpose as a backdrop to what exactly is going on with Voldemort. We get introduced to other wizarding schools and get our first taste of what some high level magic can look like. That’s always what I’ve wanted to see in these movies, some impressive highly skilled spells that show what an experienced wizard can do and this movie did not disappoint.
We also had the introduction of Robert Pattinson who’s time in the saga was short lived unfortunately, he would have been a cool character to keep around for the future, but I think his death really adds some stakes to the world. Of course we know characters die, but seeing someone close to Harry being killed adds a little more to what could happen to our characters moving forward. The highlight for me is easily the cemetery scene at the end of the movie. From Pattinson getting killed to us finally getting to see Voldemort in the flesh and seeing him strike a spell with Harry was absolutely perfect for an ending with the setup. The downside moment is easily the ball. The whole dance part of the movie towards the middle is eye rolling to watch. I understand the point of it, but it is by no means my cup of tea, I would much prefer to fast forward through that part.
Hagrid told Hermione who told Ron who told Sally who told Bob who told Jerry who told Sebastian that Hagrid was looking for you.
2. The Order of the Phoenix
This is an interesting placement on this list for this movie. I always really enjoyed this movie and never had much negative opinion about it, but I never realized how much I liked it until I made this list. It comes in at second because this movie might be the most complete of all of them. It does everything right whether it be building on the world, great character moments, or drama. Everything works in this movie on so many levels. There has always been a rotation of dark arts professors at Hogwarts and this time was no different except that the Ministry of Magic was stepping in and to my surprise we got a villain who ended up being one of the best/worst characters of the saga. Umbridge serves as a main villain for this movie but also a secondary villain to Voldemort and she is absolutely vile and evil and you hate her, but that’s what makes her such a good and well written character. I hate her character with a passion, but it makes it that much better when she gets what’s coming to her in the end. Outside of that we get that topped by the deatheaters and Voldemort appearing at the end of the film.
As I said before, one of my biggest wants in these movies has always been to see what kind of spells experienced wizards can use when necessary and how cool it could be. This movie was the first up to this point chronologically that we finally get to see two powerful wizards going at it and it was amazing to see. Dumbledore vs Voldemort was a sight to see and gave us fantastic visuals as far as what they’re actually capable of. Outside of that though, we had another death with Sirius that pushes Harry into being all in on defeating Voldemort and we get a lot of world building whether it be the Ministry or the Order. There’s just so much that this movie does right and I love watching it because it doesn’t have any of those snooze fest moments. The highlight moment is the whole ministry fight at the end of the movie whether it be Harry and co vs the deatheaters or Voldemort vs Dumbledore. The one downside I had was the whole prophecy plot. It just never made much sense to me as far as it actually being necessary to either Harry or Voldemort, it could have been explained better.
You may not like him, Minister, but you can’t deny: Dumbledore’s got style.
- The Deathly Hallows Part 1
I always felt like this movie would end up being around 3 or 4 when I made this list, but it all changed after I watched them all again. I always liked this movie and everything that happens in it, but I always felt like it was held back by the fact that it’s a part 2 and not just one movie on its own. This may be controversial because really The Order of the Phoenix is the most complete film out of all of these, but this one is the one that really gets my heart racing and for different reasons. Thinking back on it and making this list, I take into consideration my overall enjoyment of the film as its own regardless of anything else like it being a part 2. While that is an issue I have with both films, this movie as its own gives me everything I could want in a Harry Potter movie and as a finale. It nails everything for me in closing out the series and has so many moments that were setup in previous films and gives everyone a chance to shine. On top of that, if you had never read the books or had no idea of anything going into this movie then the Snape twist is arguably one of the best twists in recent memory. It could have come off as cheesy or forced, but when realizing everything that went into it, you realize that it all makes sense and it works.
I think that’s the major point of this movie. It does a lot that could have come off as being forced or not work overall, but they manage to hit the nail on the head each time. It’s a real testament to the writing and execution of taking a hated character who also killed another main hero and making him into one of the most beloved and heroic characters of the series. I always hated Snape, but this movie does his character justice and redeems him in one of the best ways that I’ve seen in a movie. On top of that, we also have the incredible action from start to finish. This movie has the best visuals of any of the other movies and gives so many characters a moment to shine in the final battle. While it’s not the best movie of the saga, it is the one that gives me the most enjoyment and excitement out of all of them. That’s why it sits up top here as my favorite film of the franchise. The best moment for me is the Snape reveal. That’s easily one of my favorite movie moments and it’s incredibly sad when everything is revealed. The worst part is probably the whole beginning until our heroes get back to Hogwarts. It’s not bad by any means, but when I watch the movie I just want to skip past it to get to the school where everything goes down.
You are named after the bravest man I ever knew.
With all of that said, I have finished watching all of these movies and have compiled my ranking for them. This is of course my personal opinion about how I feel towards each one and many of you won’t agree and that’s okay! Film is subjective so if you have a different ranking then just let me know because I’d love to see how everyone else feels. This is one of the most important sagas in film. It’s the best book adaptation franchise and overall one of the most enjoyable franchises that we’ve had. Every year I try to make it a point to sit down and watch them all and every time I enjoy each one. With this ranking I will however be shelving my Harry Potter talk until I get around to watching the Fantastic Beasts movies again. A little hint: I don’t like them.
With that, I bid this franchise farewell until the next time I sit down to watch them all again. Like I said, if you have any comments or your own version of a ranking then just comment below or send us an email at TowerCityMedia@gmail.com and make sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter @TowerCityMedia