With ‘Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore’ due for release in 2022, we think it’s time to revisit all the 'Harry Potter' movies.
Table of Contents
- 10. Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald
- 9. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
- 8. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
- 7. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
- 6. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
- 5. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
- 4. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
- 3. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1
- 2. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
- 1. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2
While the ‘Fantastic Beasts’ films now fall under their own brand, they still technically form part of the ‘Harry Potter’ series, especially as they continue to lean more towards prequel territory than any sort of spin-off. So, here are all the ‘Harry Potter’ movies, ranked worst to best.
10. Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald
The bottom of this list required no deliberation. The sequel to 2016's ‘Fantastic Beasts’ is the film series’ answer to Filch. In other words, it’s a Squib – magical folk who aren’t able to perform like everyone else, not an ounce of magic in their otherwise-magical blood. The crimes of ‘The Crimes of Grindelwald’ are plenty, with its biggest being the hugely convoluted mess of a plot.
But even if it did make sense, the film still spends far too much time on inconsequential characters and nonsensical subplots, all the while trying to wow us with its prequel-ness – which only messes up the ‘Harry Potter’ timeline. Depp’s villain also lacks any sort of clear motive or logic, and the fact that Dumbledore is trying to enlist the aid of a Magizoologist for a coming war is riddikulous.
9. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
The first entry in the ongoing ‘Fantastic Beasts’ spin-off/prequel series comes with an abundance of magic and charm. While fans were dubious about any sort of ‘Wizarding World’-set film that didn’t feature everyone’s favorite magical trio, the film lays worry to rest as it delivers its own set of interesting characters, while also expanding upon the universe in some interesting ways.
However, sadly the film's promise now feels like a lie, and in hindsight, we can’t help but give it the same kind of look we give ‘The Force Awakens’, in that all promise has long been squandered by a terrible follow-up film. Nevertheless, the film still has the rewatchable factor, despite ‘The Crimes of Grindelwald’ being an unworthy successor, and a swift killing curse to its own franchise.
8. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
‘Goblet of Fire’ is in many ways the game-changer for the ‘Harry Potter’ movies. Not only does the film see the students of Hogwarts come face to face with the challenges of adolescence, but it’s also the first to officially introduce Lord Voldemort (he does appear in ‘Sorcerer’s Stone’, but we don’t think it really counts if he’s hijacked the back of someone’s head!).
It’s really the tone that starts to shift in this film, as we’re introduced to the deadly Triwizard Tournament, which ultimately sees Harry and fellow champion Cedric Diggory end up in the clutches of Voldemort. Cedric’s tragic death is a stand-out moment, and if it wasn’t for this thrilling third act, we’d have nothing but the cringe-worthy drama of teens to keep us entertained.
7. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
On its release, ‘Order of the Phoenix’ was actually considered one of the greatest ‘Harry Potter’ movies – but looking back, it’s very middle-of-the-road. That’s not to suggest it’s a bad film in any way – after all, it’s director David Yates’ first outing in the Wizarding World, and certainly not his last, as he would go on to direct every entry since, including the three ‘Fantastic Beasts’ movies.
‘Order of the Phoenix’ deals with the tragic events of ‘Goblet of Fire’, and prepares audiences for pending doom (even if the next film ‘Half-Blood Prince’ does take a bit of a hiatus from that build-up to flesh out the whole Horcrux-thing). While there’s a lot of spectacles here – especially during the third act at the Ministry of Magic – ‘Order of the Phoenix’ simply lacks that extra bit of magic.
6. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
There was an element of guilt in placing ‘Half-Blood Prince’ in the mid-section, but let’s face it – something has to go here. While not a bad film per se, the sixth entry in the ‘Harry Potter’ series does miss a few tricks as it bridges the gap between ‘Order of the Phoenix’ and what is essentially the final entry in the ‘Harry Potter’ series, despite the next movie being (understandably) a ‘Part 1’.
And it does help with that overall tonal shift, moving the series from a place where some slither of hope existed, to a bleak and grim affair. The problem is that’s all there is in this film. Gone is the magic that helped bring balance to ‘Goblet of Fire’ and ‘Order of the Phoenix’, while the film also misses the opportunity to really flesh out Voldemort like its novel counterpart does so well.
5. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
You might scoff at the fact that ‘Sorcerer’s Stone’ has made it to our top five, as it’s a film many fans tend to place a lot lower. But we can’t think of any reason why the first of the ‘Harry Potter’ movies deserves to be so underappreciated. Without it, we’d have never gotten the franchise in the first place. Not only that, but it’s easily one of the most magical films of all time.
There are whiffs of ‘Home Alone’ all over the place here – and that’s in no way a bad thing. Harry’s first year at Hogwarts is accompanied by John Williams music that echoes Kevin McAllister’s troubles, while the film is also the only real ‘Christmas’ movie in the entire series. And it’s directed by Chris Columbus himself – the man behind the first two ‘Home Alone’ movies.
4. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
And that leads us nicely onto the second entry, ‘Chamber of Secrets’, which was also directed by Columbus and continues the same vibes as ‘Sorcerer’s Stone’. Harry’s second year, however, is a lot darker than his first, as he comes face to face with a piece of Voldemort’s soul that has been hidden away inside a diary for decades, in the form of his student-counterpart, Tom Riddle.
Much like its predecessor, ‘Chamber of Secrets’ also tends to suffer a low ranking, with most criticisms being targeted towards the acting. But there’s really nothing wrong with the cast in this film or their talents. And as for the fact that both of these films leave behind ‘vital plot elements’ from the book, they are perhaps the two most faithful big-screen adaptations out there.
3. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1
If there’s any book that warrants being split into two movies, it’s ‘Deathly Hallows’ (and not that we mind having eight 'Harry Potter' movies!). Not only is it a big read, but having a ‘Part 1’ allows for some much-needed build-up, especially following the events of ‘Half-Blood Prince’, which slows things down a bit (and rightly so). ‘Deathly Hallows Part 1’ is a necessary 'silence before the storm'.
But there’s plenty of action here too, as Harry, Ron, and Hermione decide to forego their final year at Hogwarts to search for the Horcruxes across the UK. This is perhaps the most ‘different’ in the entire ‘Harry Potter’-specific set of films, as we’re no longer safe inside the walls of the castle – everything has changed, and it’s clear that nothing will ever be the same again.
2. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
While we were a little bit controversial with our fourth and fifth entries, having ‘Prisoner of Azkaban’ so high on our list will come as no surprise, as it has long become a fan-favorite within the franchise. And that is also no surprise – while we said that ‘Goblet of Fire’ was the game-changer in terms of tone and seriousness, ‘Prisoner of Azkaban’ is the stylistic overhaul the franchise needed.
That’s not to say there’s anything wrong with the first two 'Harry Potter' movies, but we all knew the franchise had to grow up quick – just like its main characters – and so a makeover was necessary, and this film really sets the stage for the rest of the series. It also happens to be one of the most magical entries, and the Time-Turner plot is pretty smart stuff too.
1. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2
It might sound like a bit of a cliché to have the final entry in the ‘Harry Potter’ series at the top of our list, but we think this film deserves way more attention and appreciation than it gets. Fans do tend to favor this film over many others, but when it comes to finale movies in a long-running series, the likes of ‘Avengers: Endgame’ tend to get all the hype.
‘Deathly Hallows Part 2’ is an explosive crescendo, the eighth film in the main series that fans had waited ten years for, ever since ‘Sorcerer’s Stone’ arrived in theaters. Everything we’d been waiting for up until that point finally became a reality in 2011, and Harry’s long-awaited confrontation with Lord Voldemort is a feast for the senses. Simply put, this film is nothing short of a masterpiece.
While we’ve included all the ‘Harry Potter’ movies to date on our list, that’s not the end for movies set in the Wizarding World, as ‘Fantastic Beast: The Secrets of Dumbledore’ is set for release on April 8, 2022.