A Slytherclaw’s Ranking of the Harry Potter Films

By: Sarah Brill  |  April 24, 2020

By Sarah Brill

Let me start by saying I am by no standards an expert on the Harry Potter films. I have begun re-reading/watching this series to cope with the quarantine life we have become accustomed to. I have not psychoanalyzed them to create this list. I am taking them point-blank and judging them based on material as it relates to the storyline of the novels. I also judge these movies based on how captivating they are overall (not in comparison to their books). Without further ado, here is my list of Harry Potter movies from worst to best! 

  1. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1

I see this movie as downright boring. Yes, it covers some main topics needed for Part 2, and yes, it explains some of Harry’s backstory, but overall, this film is dry. Only three parts of this movie stuck out to me as both good filmmaking and storyline-dependent: the break-in to the Ministry, the escape from Malfoy Manor, and the escape from Gringotts. Please feel free to argue that this was a necessary movie to lead up to Part 2, but that could be said for any of the movies and books. Needless to say, these two movies could have been made into one epic finale movie. The book is about 20 pages longer than The Goblet of Fire, so with that logic, there is about as much content in The Goblet of Fire as there is in Deathly Hallows, but one was made into two parts and the other into one movie. I also felt that this movie consisted mainly of long pauses, looking into each other’s eyes, walking, moping, and sleeping. 

  1. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire 

Brilliant book turned out to be a terrible movie. I’m sorry. There were too many mistakes in this movie. It definitely felt rushed, and as a result, many parts were left out. The movie also makes a severe mistake concerning Barty Crouch Junior. Nowhere in the books does it say that Crouch Junior stuck out his tongue like a snake. Not to mention Winky was left out completely and that elfs played a vital role in the books, displaying how Barty Crouch Junior escaped his father’s hold. There’s a lot left out from the book that would have made the movie ten times better, like when Ron, Fred, George, and Mr. Weasley all fit into Harry’s fireplace to retrieve him for the World Cup, but I am just going to state one more: the tasks. The book described the tasks and how they were executed in great detail and I think the lack of detail in the movie was most apparent in the third task. That whole scene was just everyone running around the maze like lunatics, when in fact the book describes each of the obstacles as very complex, something someone could not just run through. Additionally, Dumbledore’s character in this movie is very rough-around-the-edges, especially towards Harry, and in the book he is not. This is a huge character gap and I think the writers of the movie made a huge mistake in portraying him like that (this was also apparent in the third movie, but less so). I believe this is partly because of the casting of a new Dumbledore, but it is more of the writers’ fault for misinterpreting Dumbledore. Overall, the movie did not do justice to the book, and this film was quite sloppy. 

  1. Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince 

Again an amazing book, but not an amazing movie., The majority of this book focuses on Harry learning about the Horcruxes from Dumbledore, and while the movie does that, it is not nearly to the satisfaction of the viewer. The one thing that really struck me in the movie was the scene in the cave, after Harry forces Dumbledore to drink the water from the shell it seemed as though the movie writers were already killing him with the shell’s contents. As a person who watched this movie before reading the books, I found this scene misleading — I definitely thought Dumbledore was going to die there instead of in the tower.

  1. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

This is a thoroughly biased opinion (I mean the other ones were too but this is more so). I did not enjoy this book or the film. The storyline was sloppy and too many “bad things” happened in both. It is one terrible event after another and seeing that this book was originally written for twelve or thirteen-year-olds, it is a little much. I also believe that the way that Hagrid was portrayed in the movie versus the book is not accurate. The book takes more time to explain what Hagrid did and why he was suspected of opening the Chamber. Then again, the book takes more time to explain everything. That being said, I do think the movie parallels the book well and portrays most of the important scenes successfully. I give props to the direction of the first and second movies because although they are over-the-top in similarity to their corresponding book, they interpret the book correctly. I do think the characters were portrayed correctly in this movie along with the themes. 

  1. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

Oh my! The beginning movie and book. The actors, writers, and director did a great job with what they were given. Since this was the inaugural movie and book, there is a lot of hype around it, and the movie is definitely worthy of that hype. While I do think the actors were stiff in their roles, they had not yet settled into their characters. I also believe the actors’ reactions were underdone with regards to the book. For example, when Harry arrives at Gringotts in the book, he is perplexed at the sight of the Goblins but intrigued to get a better look inside. The Harry in the movie seems very flat. Obviously this could be because he and his counterparts were quite young, but it was definitely a negative. I do think, however, Rupert Grint (Ron) did an amazing job in his role starting out along with Emma Watson (Hermione) and Matthew Lewis (Neville). They really embodied their characters.

  1. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2

Now we’re getting to the cream of the crop. This movie was brilliant. A beautiful cross between action, adventure, and tragedy. It truly succeeded in bringing the series full-circle. This movie was an excellent interpretation of the book while Part 1 was more of an exaggeration. On its own, Part 2 was an incredible close to the series and I think fans got what they deserved with respect to the book. 

  1. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Both an amazing book and movie. I think what made this movie absolutely brilliant was the casting of Imelda Staunton as Professor Umbridge, who embodied the role and made this film really great. We also get to see Professor McGonagall as a powerful foil to Umbridge. This movie paves the path for Neville, Luna, and Ginny to emerge as strong supporting characters who play vital roles later in the series. On the other hand, I think this movie focused too much on Umbridge’s rules, and it would have been nice to see the director’s interpretation of what the OWL exams looked like under Umbridge. 

  1. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Loved the book. Loved the movie. The writers did an excellent job interpreting the book while also putting their own touches to make it fit within time constraints. Nothing of importance was forgotten. Both the book and the movie depict the turning point between childhood and adulthood; each transitions the series from light to dark. All-around I think the actors are hitting their strides in this movie and they did a brilliant job in portraying their characters. The one thing I wish I had seen was Gryffindor winning the Quidditch cup. We see them struggle for it for two years and this would be the first and last time they would win with Harry playing (because in the 6th book Ginny was Seeker). Other than that, I think this movie was excellent from the standpoint of entertainment, length, paralleling the book, and character development. 

Well, that’s my list, hope you enjoyed it!