On the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the first opus, a look back at the Harry Potter saga and a question that divides fans. What is the best movie?
Harry Potter celebrates its twentieth candle. On December 5, 2001, the little bespectacled wizard landed on our screens with the first part of his adventures. A first chapter under the direction of Chris Columbus which will be an immediate success since it will bring in no less than $974 million when it was first broadcast. Since then, with the various marathons that are organized each year around the world, the film has largely exceeded one billion at the box office and sits proudly among the biggest successes of the 7th art.
On the occasion of this somewhat special anniversary, we offer you a return to this saga which has lost none of its magic. So we warn you, you will probably not agree with this very personal ranking of the different films of the license. Even within the editorial staff, the case is debated. But good wizards don’t bow to a challenge, except when it comes to taming a hippogriff.
8- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
This is the second installment in the saga, still directed by Chris Columbus. In The Chamber of Secrets, we find the little wizard as he prepares to return to the benches of the mythical school. But in the shadows, someone seems to want to stop him.
Darker than the previous chapter, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets is a jewel of nostalgia for children growing up in the 2000s. For many, it is one of the first films experienced on the big screen and it must be said that the experience in theaters was worth a look. From the frightening Basilisk to the chilling Giant Spider, the Columbus film benefits from more than convincing special effects for the early 2000s.
However, the slowness of the narration places it in last position in our ranking. Even if we watch it without displeasure at each marathon (almost annually for us), we must admit that it is not our favorite. However, it has solid arguments, starting with the performance of Kenneth Branagh in the skin of Gilderoy Lockhart and the unforgettable score of John Williams.
7- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1
As the conclusion nears, Harry, Ron and Hermione go on the run across England in search of the last horcruxes. But tensions emerge in the clan and their friendship is more than ever undermined.
At the helm of the saga since episode 5, David Yates fails to breathe the epic momentum that the conclusion of the saga deserved. Both on the side of the narration and the realization, this film is disappointing and sometimes frankly long. The appeal of the greenbacks was stronger than the artistic will, so the film turns into a sluggish introduction to the last film.
Even on the image side, the filmmaker does the bare minimum, contenting himself with adding blue and green tones to his image to create his atmosphere. If some scenes are definitely worth a look, the opening scene and the flight of the dragon, the seventh part of the saga is only a succession of uninspired gray landscapes. It only gets seventh place in this ranking, it’s only thanks to the sumptuous music of Alexandre Desplat, of which we never tire.
6 – Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire occupies a special place in JK Rowling’s literary saga. A real passage to adolescence for little wizards, this fourth opus explores the mysteries of love, jealousy and friendships through the prism of the three main characters. But it is also and above all the story of a vast competition between different schools of the old continent. A unique opportunity for readers to discover what is happening beyond the walls of the famous school.
If Mike Newell’s film is particularly successful on this point, thanks to rather impressive special effects, it is the various plot elements of the novels that have been overlooked that leave us with a certain bitterness. While we understand that the game of adaptation is to sometimes revise the many intrigues on the low, we would have loved to see Hermione fight for the liberation of the elves with SALE or even discover Charlie, Ron’s brother who was also a trainer of dragons. But it is particularly the lack of explanation of the Veelas, those creatures that bewitch men with their intoxicating beauty that leave readers hungry.
5- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
This is Harry Potter’s fifth year at Hogwarts. After his confrontation with Voldemort in the cemetery of Greyfriars, he discovers that no one really believes in the return of the one-whose-must-not-be-pronounced-the-name. The Ministry of Magic, in a last-ditch effort to hide this information from wizards, hires a new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher: Dolores Umbridge, the eyes and ears of Cornelius Fudge.
David Yates is the fourth filmmaker to look into the adventures of the little bespectacled wizard and it is around this time that the saga switches. Visually not very inventive (still green and blue), this component is essentially based on its casting. Imelda Stauton particularly manages to stand out, with her impeccable incarnation of the awful Dolores Umbridge, just like Evanna Lynch who will then become our favorite character. We also appreciate the way the story explores the questions of Harry Potter and wants to be the mirror of adolescence, even if it makes us want to slap the character we loved so much.
4- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2
It is the end. While Voldemort has recruited his most loyal servants to overcome the chosen one, Harry Potter has all the keys in hand to destroy him. All? Not really, several horcruxes are still missing and he will have to show a lot of courage to face his destiny.
For this final part, David Yates is still at the helm. But oddly, mayonnaise is much less difficult to take. Concluding the saga was not easy and the filmmaker manages to do it brilliantly. Scary, epic and sometimes funny, the last chapter of this vast saga is almost everything we dreamed of.
3 – Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Harry and Ron discover a strange book hidden in the shelves of the potions room. This manual, which is full of advice on the preparation of these famous elixirs, belonged to a certain Half-Blood Prince.
It’s probably not the most rhythmic of the films in the saga. With his narration, more on a human scale, the Half-Blood Prince upsets the scriptwriting issues already introduced and redistributes the cards as the finale approaches. A recipe that works miracles, especially when mixed with a few life-saving touches of humor.
2 – Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
In 2001, while JK Rowling’s novels were snapping up all over the world, Warner Bros adapted the first work of the successful literary saga. It’s up to Chris Columbus, director of Mom I missed the plane and Mrs. Doubtfirethat the task is entrusted.
And what a task since it is all the bases of a visual universe that must be laid, even if the novelist was largely involved in the project. Candid and wonderful, this first opus gives birth to magic, in all its light and enchantment. A regressive film that we never tire of. It holds a special place in our hearts of fans, a jewel of nostalgia that we love to see again and again, especially as the end of year celebrations approach.
1- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Sirius Black escaped. The prisoner of Azkaban is looking for Harry Potter, to finish what his master started. But as the young boy discovers the truth about his parents’ death, he will have to play with time to save what needs to be saved.
Alfonso Cuaron is an excellent director, that’s undeniable. If he mainly distinguished himself in the rest of his career, with Rome for which he will win numerous awards, he already showed an innate talent for directing with Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. Undoubtedly the most inventive, visually, the film benefits from a real atmosphere and a foolproof narration. We never tire of the replies that erupt between the different protagonists, the way the film is inspired by fantasy films and monsters and the director’s taste for the figurative. Everything is clever, inspired and devilishly effective.
There you go, it remains to be seen if another saga will succeed in replacing Harry Potter in our hearts. After 20 years of existence, it does not seem to have succeeded in tiring budding magicians, who indulge without displeasure in annual marathons as the end of the year festivities approach. If the children of the 80s had Star Wars, the saga of the year 2000 is undoubtedly that of the little boy who lives in the cupboard under the stairs, at 4 Privet drive, Little Whinging.