The Harry Potter franchise is a worldwide phenomenon like few others. It’s to be 13 years due to the fact that the last book was released, nine years due to the fact that the critical movie fight theaters, and yet the IP is as solid as it ever was. Harry Potter is common in the type of intricate theme parks, Freeform marathons (RIP), video clip games, and also of food the very re-readable novels. This sort of longevity is rare, and also it’s every to execute with the top quality of the story J.K. Rowling set out to tell over two decades ago and the lush, tangible people she created.

but Harry Potter doesn’t begin and also end v the books. Just like anything that’s renowned nowadays, Hollywood came calling fairly quickly, and also the very first Harry Potter film was released a tiny over a year after rowling fourth book hit the shelves. However in another minor miracle, the Harry Potter movie franchise to be able to preserve a level of high quality rarely found in film collection that stretch on previous one or 2 movies, permit alone eight.

The Harry Potter movies visualized what publication readers had long fantasized about in your heads, and also with the an imaginative input and blessing the Rowling, they to be able to evolve and grow simply as the novels did, with four different directors happen a variety of spices to the series from movie to movie without sacrificing character, story, or continuity. The a magnificent accomplishment made every the much more impressive by the reality that there’s not an outright negative movie in the bunch.

as the franchise stays as popular now together it to be a te ago, and with the films now play on their brand-new basic cable home at Syfy and also USA and streaming ~ above HBO Max, now seems choose as good a time as any type of to revisit the Harry Potter films and also rank castle worst come best—a somewhat complicated task provided the high standard of high quality throughout.

A quick note prior to we begin, though: because that the functions of this feature, I’m examining each Harry Potter movie as a film first and foremost, not necessarily how it stacks up versus its respective novel re: what was left out, what was added, etc.

with that said, let’s get started…

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harry-potter-and-the-chamber-of-secrets photo via Warner Bros.
in ~ 161 minutes, Chamber the Secrets is the longest movie of the franchise, and perhaps no so coincidentally it’s additionally the last film to shot and fit (almost) whatever from the book into the movie. Director Chris Columbus expands on the world he constructed so beautiful in the first film v a contempt darker and much an ext plot-heavy sequel, and while the film isn’t negative per se, it’s absolutely the most industrious of the bunch.

despite it’s absolutely too long and meanders in places, there’s still lot to like around Chamber of Secrets. Columbus nails the currently of Dobby, toeing the well line between mischievously funny and irritating to provide a visually impressive and also genuinely adorable CG character. Columbus additionally does a fine task at further defining the wizarding human being with problems like the pureblood cause and also Hogwarts’ dark past. Yet while Chamber of Secrets is enjoyable enough (just being in the world of Harry Potter walk a long way), the doesn’t fairly live up to the brilliance that the remainder of the franchise.

Harry-Potter-and-the-Deathly-Hallows-Part-1-image-42 picture via Warner Bros.
It’s hard to referee a film the is self-admittedly fifty percent a story, but because it’s presented together a separate entry right into the Harry Potter series, Deathly Hallows – part 1 must be evaluated as such. Book readers had their worries with the walkabout nature of the very first half of the last book, so numerous were bracing for a somewhat sluggish film adaptation the those initial chapters. And also while Deathly Hallows – component 1 is mighty compelling for the first hour or for this reason (seeing these characters out and around in the muggle human being is a nice change of pace), it definitely loses steam in its 2nd half. This is early out in component to the truth that Harry, Ron, and Hermione space on a directionless hunt, disapparating from one gorgeous locale come the following as lock bicker amongst themselves. This character dispute is essential to set up the emotional payoff the Deathly Hallows – part 2, but the action of watching a film the is almost all setup gets a little monotonous.

and also perhaps Deathly Hallows – component 1’s biggest issue is simply that—it’s a lot that setup for the finale without lot room because that payoff. It’s a necessity, and director David Yates and screenwriter Steve Kloves handle it about as well as they could, yet in one film they need to lay the structure for all the wand business, move Ron and also Hermione in the direction of a suggest where they can express their romantic feelings because that one another, present Dumbledore’s secretive backstory, define the Deathly Hallows, and also solidify the raised stakes leading as much as the battle of Hogwarts—all without wrapping up a single one of these threads.

The film functions beautifully as component of a whole, but as a independent film, it leaves plenty to be desired. That’s not to speak Part 1 doesn’t have merit, however. Over there are even flashes the brilliance, native the strikingly haunting animated Deathly Hallows succession to Harry and also Hermione’s dance—a reprieve from the tomb seriousness the surrounds them, and also a sequence the reminds the audience the these are kids. Kids who have the weight of the civilization on their shoulders, and also who for the an initial time space acting fully and utterly alone.

harry-potter-and-the-goblet-of-fire image via Warner Bros.
that was v Goblet of Fire that J.K. Rowling novels took their big an initial step in the direction of adulthood, widening not only in size but likewise in scope, and director Mike Newell an in similar way rises come the an obstacle of presenting a wizarding people much larger than hogwart while additionally giving the franchise its very first major onscreen figure of Voldemort. That in in between these two hefty tasks, though, that Newell really shines, as he choose up Prisoner the Azkaban’s template of burgeoning adolescence and also moves it into the realm of romance, tackling the teenager characters’ aer feelings about the the contrary sex. He handle this rather well, with plenty the drama for Harry, Ron, and Hermione to go approximately on account that the looming ball and also arrival of foreign students.

The border of Goblet that Fire is unwieldy and the speed of the movie suffers a bit in places, but the emotionally beats of the 3rd act really land even if Voldemort’s arrival isn’t together terrifying as it could/should have actually been. The movie’s themes echo Harry’s series arc, together he is once again challenged with an impossible challenge for which he was given no an option but to participate. It is Harry’s life—he to be bestowed this recognition and reputation as “The liked One” as a child, with no to speak in the matter, and he is constantly compelled to rise to the occasion simply because he has to.

Goblet the Fire is maybe Rowling"s best Potter novel in the entire series, yet here"s wherein things get conflated—just since it"s the best book doesn"t median it"s the best movie. I saw this film prior to I had read the books and also strongly disliked it, however after analysis the series, involved love it. Those acquainted with the publications are may be to meat out parts of the films that loss short, and also such is the situation with Goblet the Fire. It"s definitely not a bad movie, and Newell brings a exciting British power to the proceedings, however it"s not as cohesive as some of the other installments in the film franchise.

harry-potter-and-the-sorcerers-stone picture via Warner Bros.
while it may not be together flashy, refined, or outstanding as the remainder of the films in the franchise, Sorcerer’s Stone (or Philosopher’s Stone for the Potter purists) deserves immense credit for setup up this series so wonderfully, and laying a fantastic foundation off of which the various other films could be built. Director Chris Columbus to be not only responsible for placing together the incredible cast, yet he likewise captured rowling wizarding people on film in a manner the felt relatable and wholly transfixing. Sorcerer’s Stone is told through the eyes of an 11-year-old, and also so the movie was always going come skew a bit younger than subsequent installments, however Columbus refuses to talk down to his audience and wisely sidesteps delving into cartoony kids’ movie land.

and even despite it’s tonally the lightest film of the bunch, Sorcerer’s Stone still functions wonderfully as a wonderful entry in the Potter franchise. The winning combination of charm and smarts permeates throughout, and also Columbus nails the founding friendship of our three heroes, culminating in a grand finale that allows each one of them shine. Who have the right to resist lover Ron Weasley commanding a large chess collection with gusto together he sits atop a stone knight?

harry-potter-and-the-order-of-the-phoenix image via Warner Bros.
In what would note the final director adjust for the series, David Yates provides his debut v the politically-tinged Order that the Phoenix. The film likewise happens to be the just Harry Potter movie not created by Steve Kloves (Michael Goldenberg took on scripting duties when Kloves declined to return, despite he quickly adjusted his mind and was earlier for Half-Blood Prince), but the team forged on to handmade the many adult entrance yet. Yates deftly navigates themes of power and also corruption through the wonderfully realized character that Dolores Umbridge, played to perfection by Imelda Staunton, that just could turn in the finest performance of the whole franchise. The personality is disgusting, disarming, and also terrifying all at once, and her affect at Hogwarts spurs Harry and also Co. To begin taking matters right into their very own hands.

It’s clean from the onset the Order the the Phoenix is walk to it is in a rather various film, together Yates opts to open the movie in the warmth of the summer, in a brand-new location, v a layered confrontation in between Harry and also Dudley. The subsequent advent of the Order once again serves to prove the Harry is A) no alone in his quest; and also B) Severely doing not have in information about what’s yes, really going on. And also the return that Sirius black color (Gary Oldman) bolsters the film’s emotional impact and deepens harry’s arc, when the film additionally gives us few of the franchise’s best Harry-Snape scenes.

It every culminates in a visually arresting and also surprisingly moving fight between Voldemort and also Dumbledore in ~ the set of Magic, i beg your pardon is realized in a manner that’s both unexpected and also deeply impactful. V his clear take care of on character, theme, and set pieces, it’s no wonder Yates stuck about to see this franchise through to the end.

manager David Yates’ second brush with the franchise find him navigating material that’s both several of the series’ lightest and also darkest. Half-Blood Prince is definitely the funniest movie of the franchise, v Yates and also the cast reveling in romantic comedy region throughout lot of the story. Jim Broadbent brings a goofy high quality to Professor Slughorn that never goes end the top, when Harry and also Ron’s many brushes with the the contrary sex provide loads the comedic material, finishing in the guffaw-inducing “Hermione’s got nice skin” exchange during a night chat. Radcliffe, Grint, and Watson light in these moments, and it at times feels prefer they’ve been wait the whole collection to knock these comedic beats the end of the park.

and also yet, for every its levity, Half-Blood Prince tackles part devastatingly dark material. The story beautifully build to Dumbledore’s fatality (Yates’ decision to reduced to a sea the wands pointing up at the skies in the immediate after-effects is a speed of brilliance) and Snape’s “betrayal” there is no the climax feeling choose a shocking transition in tone, and also Yates and also screenwriter Steve Kloves weave in Voldemort’s backstory and the development of the horcruxes with ease. It’s this marvelous tonal balance that provides Half-Blood Prince one of the most affecting movies of the series, swinging indigenous laughter come tears at the autumn of a hat.

and we haven’t also gotten to the film’s technical achievements yet. Yates and cinematographer Bruno Delbonell gain ambitious with the film’s visuals through opting for a softer and also richer palate, causing as lush a movie together you can get; Prisoner that Azkaban is gorgeous, however Half-Blood Prince has actually the finest cinematography of the series hands down. And also Order the the Phoenix composer Nicholas Hooper returns to handmade quite perhaps the finest score the the franchise due to the fact that John Williams’ work, additionally moving deftly between two wildly different tones.

Yates close the door the film through an appropriate farewell come Hogwarts, setup himself up wonderfully because that the one-two punch finale. However the tactful navigating of humor, thrills, and emotional devastation solidifies Half-Blood Prince as among the best films in the series, and a tough act to follow.

Deathly Hallows – part 1 was virtually all setup, however Deathly Hallows – part 2 access time the ground running from the an initial frame and also never allows up. This is a movie the is payoff in every sense: emotionally payoff, activity payoff, connection payoff. Director David Yates had actually the unenviable job of wrapping up the most renowned film franchise because Star Wars in a way that would certainly satisfy even the many rabid the fans, and he absolutely sticks the landing v the most daunting film of the series.

Part 2 is nearly operatic in nature, together it build to a cool finale in ~ the place where it all started: Hogwarts. Not just are the set pieces exhilarating, but they’re anchored by characters we’ve grown to love end the course of 7 films, and also Yates plays right into that attachment to emotionally wrecking results. He handles the deaths of many familiar encounters in unexpected ways—the evident manipulative play would’ve to be to present Fred’s fatality with ede music, yet Yates and also Kloves rather reveal Fred’s fate ~ the fact, surrounding by his family, to much more gut-punching results.

possibly the film’s most challenging task to be to establish Snape as a (or maybe the) hero v a single sequence. Yates, Kloves, and also Alan Rickman rise to the difficulty in one of the franchise’s many emotional moments the not only leaves the audience in tears for brave, dear Snape, but additionally solidifies harry purpose: he should die.

There space so many ways Deathly Hallows – component 2 could’ve unable to do wrong, however given exactly how wonderfully the Harry Potter filmmaking team had fared before, ns guess it shouldn’t yes, really be a surprise that they lugged this thing home with the exact same utmost level of quality we’d seen previously. Harry Potter closes in glorious fashion v a film the not just serves as a superb conclusion, but additionally as a completely satisfying entry depend itself.

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The prominence of The sinner of Azkaban to the Harry Potter film series cannot be overstated. This is the movie that created the creative direction and formula for the movies that followed, together the collection faced a an essential issue post-Chamber that Secrets. How does one adapt increasingly an extensive books right into satisfying attribute films? The solution: everything that is told from Harry’s suggest of watch or that directly affects his character goes in, everything else is fair video game for being dropped.

however it wasn’t just the POV ascendancy that Azkaban established going forward; it was likewise the flexibility to get creative—really creative. Manager Alfonso Cuaron significantly altered the look and also feel the Harry Potter without completely removing what Chris Columbus had built in the prior 2 films, while in ~ the very same time expanding the depth of the personalities and, well, acquiring weird. From the items Bus succession to the hogwarts choir (plus frogs) come the Dementors, Prisoner of Azkaban is absolutely tactile—you deserve to feel this world. And it’s a testimony to Cuaron’s vision and also cinematographer Michael Seresin’s beautiful photography that nearly every structure of film on this thing looks favor a painting. The irises, the Womping Willow marking the alters of the season, the camera relocate through the clock—this thing is filled to the brim through unforgettable imagery.

Azkaban is additionally the movie in i m sorry Radcliffe, Grint, and also Watson yes, really come right into their own as actors and begin to build a route that renders these personalities their own. Radcliffe in details shines the contrary Gary Oldman and David Thewlis (Lupin), as the character’s unending find for a father number continues. And also Cuaron and also Co. Had the unenviable task of recasting Dumbledore following the good Richard Harris’ passing, yet Michael Gambon picks up the baton beautifully—his performance neither tries come emulate Harris’ no one does that dishonor the actor’s previous characterization.

and while the moment turner company is executed to perfection (Azkaban really is one of the most centralized stories in Rowling’s publication series), simply telling the story is not enough for Cuaron—everything is in business to character, which consequently services the film’s subject throughline that burgeoning adolescence. As they get in puberty, these young characters begin to forge a course of independence, and also Cuaron records this wonderfully in courtesy both ethereal (each gibbs wears his or her uniform slightly in different way in this film) and also obvious (Harry “running far from home” at the beginning).

The merits of Prisoner of Azkaban are practically unending, and also while the Harry Potter franchise would cause other exceptional entries in succeeding years, Cuaron’s film still marks the an imaginative highpoint in one of the best, many diverse, and also most satisfying film franchises of every time. At the risk of sound cliché, Harry Potter and also the prisoner of Azkaban is pure magic.

Adam Chitwood is the regulating Editor for He"s been working for for over a decade, and also in addition to managing content also runs suggest on crafts interviews, awards coverage, and also co-hosts The Podcast v Matt Goldberg (which has been running because 2012). He"s the creator and also author that"s "How the MCU was Made" series and has actually interviewed invoice Hader about every single episode of Barry. He stays in Tulsa, OK and likes pasta, 90s thrillers, and also spending prefer 95% that his time with his dog Luna.