With movie theaters serving up the latest round of Wizarding World delights from J.K. Rowling in “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald,” here are my rankings of the nine “Harry Potter” universe films so far (I’m considering “Deathly Hallows” to be one movie, not two). Starting from the weakest and working my way to the best, this is how I rank them. Lumos!
J.K. Rowling’s first movie script, 2016’s “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them,” leans heavily on the introduction of lovable characters – and more than its fair share of creatures, of course. It includes a side plot about a troubled boy, Credence (Ezra Miller), but that’s the most forgettable part; it’s there because the film can’t only be a fun encyclopedia. The second of this five-part “Harry Potter” prequel saga, “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald,” course-corrects and emphasizes the story – for better or worse.
My series looking back at the “Harry Potter” films continues with the first prequel movie in the Wizarding World, “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” (2016):
My series looking back at the “Harry Potter” films continues with Year 7, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Parts 1 and 2” (2010-11):
My series looking back at the “Harry Potter” films continues with Year 6, “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” (2009):
My series looking back at the “Harry Potter” films continues with Year 5, “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” (2007):
In 2009, I predicted – not particularly daringly – that we’d get another “Harry Potter” novel someday. Seven years later, while that prediction isn’t precisely on point, it’s in the ballpark: This year saw the book release of the stage play “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” – based on ideas by J.K. Rowling – and now we have Rowling’s screenwriting debut, “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them,” the first of a five-film saga.
“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” was my least favorite of J.K. Rowling’s books because the goal-oriented plot left little room for surprises: Harry and his friends need to destroy a handful of Horcruxes — which contain pieces of Voldemort’s soul — in order to kill the baddie.
After the heart-racing wonder of last year’s “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince,” it’s time to take a deep breath and slow down for “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1.” And — yawn — find some Horcruxes.
J.K. Rowling did her best writing on “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince,” and the filmmakers rise to her level to make the series’ best film by far. When a much-loved piece of literature is adapted to film, I sometimes worry that the filmmakers will try so hard to get it right that the end product will feel stuffy. But “HBP” has a wonderful lightness at times — I don’t recall laughing this much in the previous five “Potter” films — while also conveying an overall mood of darkness.