In light of the reveal of the new film in the Wizarding World, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, theI’m With Geek writing team decided to put a piece together celebrating the Harry Potter series and its achievements, exploring each films and why they were so brilliant.
So grab your wands, fellow Witches and Wizards, and get comfy, we have 8 films and a decade to cover.
by Cookie N Screen
When it was announced that the beloved books of Harry Potter were going to be made into films, many rejoiced. After all, how exciting was it going to be to see the magical world of J.K. Rowlings creation come to life right before your eyes? A pandemonium was lit and it has been a fire storming inside all of us. Piles of children went into auditions with only a luckily few coming out with a part, Hogwarts was given life and a collection of wonderful British actors were pooled together in order to spell bind us all. Director Chris Columbus was in charge of being the first person to adapt our favourite wizard to the big screen.
The Philosopher’s Stone is the beginning of Harry Potter, a young 12 year old boy who is mistreated by his Aunt and Uncle Dursley, having to live with them after the death of his parents. When a mysterious letter arrives for him, Harry Potter is curious but his fierce family refuse to let him open them. It turns out, Harry Potter is a wizard and he must complete a magical education at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. But there are sinister forces a foot. Harry must not only adjust to his new life as a wizard but he must face an evil force called Voldemort; the man who killed his parents so long ago.
Now we can look back at The Philosopher’s Stone and scoff, laugh and giggle. Unfairly, the first segment has been given the “naff” treatment and people choose to focus on the negatives rather on the positives. Ok, so maybe the child acting here isn’t the best but Watson, Radcliffe and Grint were fresh to the movie business with all earnestness and determination. It’s not like they were bad but they just weren’t polished.
But, in all fairness, Columbus did a spectacular job of bringing the words of Rowling to life. Honestly, on first watch, you ignore the bad points because you are so immersed in a world where chocolate frogs leaped about, pictures moved and you could be magical. Hogwarts, an important literary building was now real, with little kiddie winks bouncing spells off its walls. There was a strong adult cast who wore robes and turned into cats. Richard Harris was completely and utterly Dumbledore, the wise and wonderful headmaster.
Whenever you watch Philosopher’s Stone, think about this adaptation that Columbus has given us. He opened our eyes in a colourful way and kick started this whole series into motion. The reason we have the Warner Brother’s Tour, the shops and more is because of this movie. It’s full of adventure, innocence and a phenomenal score, so just enjoy it.
By Paul Costello
In 2002, exactly 364 days after its massively successful predecessor premiered, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets followed suit. Director Chris Columbus returned to continue the story of J.K. Rowling’s eponymous boy hero, and, generally speaking, Chamber of Secrets does conform to the edict of sequels by making things bigger, the stakes greater. More of the mythos surrounding the characters and the school of Hogwarts is brought to the fore, starting to lay the real foundation of the series.
Most people point to the third film, Prisoner of Azkaban, as the one that started on the path to darker stories, but that’s not entirely true. Whilst Azkaban was able to approach the developing darkness in the story with a sense of maturity and gravitas, it’s Chamber of Secrets that actually begins this journey towards the shadows. What’s more, the world outside of Hogwarts really starts to expand as new characters, and thus new motivations start to encroach on the lives of our intrepid trio of magical urchins.
Chamber of Secrets isn’t perfect, largely due to a somewhat awkward balancing act of telling its own story and setting up plot points for later films. Plus, the darkness of the film is somewhat undercut by Columbus’s reluctance to follow through on it. There’s still a sense of trepidation in it, as if the film itself is cautious about pushing forward into the gloomy parts of the wizarding world, like the director still wants to protect the kids from harm. It still feels a little bit childish (or rather child friendly) in execution, which is why Azkaban feels like the first real dark one: it pushes into that dark without hesitance.
However, Chamber of Secrets does feel like a real progression of the series, if not in terms of fully rounded direction, then certainly in terms of scale. It’s also here that we get introduced to Draco’s cruel father Lucius Malfoy (the ever excellent Jason Isaacs), toilet-dweller Moaning Myrtle (Shirley Henderson, at once creepy and funny), the supremely arrogant Gilderoy Lockhart (a wonderfully on form Kenneth Branagh) and, of course, fan favourite Dobby the House Elf (voiced by Toby Jones). The film feels richer for their presence, and points to a richer viewing as the series continues.
by Charlotte Fraser
In Prisoner of Azkaban, Harry Potter and his friends are ready to start their third year at Hogwarts, and more danger than they have ever seen before is coming their way. Harry’s third year is a really important year for him and the movie adaptation really showed how important this year was to the story.
The Director of the Prisoner of Azkaban movie is Alfonso Cuarón and in my opinion, I think that he captured the darker side of Harry’s story perfectly. Harry is now thirteen years old and in his third year at Hogwarts, he learns a lot about himself and about his family than he has ever known before.
When Alfonso was director of the third installation of the Harry Potter movie phenomenon, he asked Rupert Grint (Ron Weasley), Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter) and Emma Watson (Hermione Granger) to write an essay on what their character is to them. Emma handed hers in complete, Daniels was incomplete, and Rupert never bothered to hand his in at all. I think that personally this showed the directors enthusiasm and passion because he wanted his actors to really think about the parts that they played instead of just playing them like they would normally. Alfonso made Daniel, Rupert and Emma get to know their roles better, even if only one out of three teenagers completed the task at hand.
At the beginning of the film, Harry is at number 4 Privet Drive with his Aunt Petunia, Uncle Vernon and cousin Dudley for the summer, and Uncle Vernon’s hateful sister, Aunt Marge, decides to pay a visit. After an eventful night that lead to Harry not being able to control his magic and blowing up Aunt Marge, Harry packs his things and runs away, eventually getting picked up by the Knight Bus which takes him to the safety of the Leaky Caldron for the rest of his days out of school.
The movie centres on the escaped mass murderer, Sirius Black, whom unbeknownst to Harry, is his godfather and was one of his late father’s best friends. Sirius was also serving time for a crime he did not commit in the Wizard fortress prison, Azkaban, surrounded by soul-sucking creatures called Dementors.
In the third movie adaptation, we see all of this information unfold before our eyes and we (the viewers) really begin to feel like we connect with Harry and his journey through all of these different obstacles.
When the news of Sirius’ escape from prison came to light, Harry is warned not to go looking for him by Mr Weasley (Ron’s father) and precautions had been put in place to make sure that Hogwarts would be safe during the school year by putting Dementors at the entrances. Later on in the movie this proved to be unnecessary. This is a crucial part in the film because not only do we find out all of this information about Dementors (as they were the precautions put in place) and the effects they can have on people, but the viewers at this point truly believe that Sirius Black is evil and dangerous.
Throughout Harry’s third year at Hogwarts we meet a whole cast of new characters such as Sirius Black, Harry’s werewolf Defence Against the Dark Arts professor Remus Lupin and most importantly the lying, deceiving part-time pet rat known to most as Peter Pettigrew. Throughout the rest of the film we finally discover that there is more to Harry’s parents’ death than we first thought.
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban will always be my favourite HP movie and the book I must add is also my favourite. My reasoning behind this is because that personally, I find the Marauders story-line very compelling, and everyone who worked on this movie did extremely well. Without this movie in the franchise, the fans would have missed out on a big chunk of information that is crucial to the initial plot of the story, which in my eyes is quite simply unthinkable!
I will always look back in fondness at this production. Always.
by Leah Stone
Now, despite many of my friends and family thinking that I possible prefer The Goblet of Fire out of the whole of the Harry Potter series because of the brief, yet amazing appearance of David Tennant as Barty Crouch Junior, that is not the case.
The Goblet of Fire follows Harry as he goes up against fellow Hogwarts student Cedric Diggory (Robert Pattinson), Beauxbaton student Fleur Delacour (Clémence Poésy) and Durmstrang Adonis and quidditch extraordinaire Victor Krum (Stanislav Ianevski) in the Tri-Wizard Tournament.
Why Do I like this film so much? Well for one I think it does well to cover up the introduction of Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) up until the very end. Yet it still manages to hold your attention with a great amount of action and amazingly life-like dragons considering the film was produced in 2004/2005. The end of the film is devastating. We always knew it would be (if you read the books) and it was rather disappointing to know that Robert Pattinson goes from dying as the great Cedric Diggory to becoming a sparkly vampire in Twilight.
The best character and acting though must go to Brendan Gleeson who plays the hilarious Alastor Moody (who-isn’t-actually-who-he-says-he-is-but-still-acuratly-portrays-a-character-who-isn’t-actually-that-character-but-is-actually-another-who-is-David-Tennant. Confusing much?) Despite the confusion and mystery behind his character, it is greatly entertain to stick the film on repeat so you can watch him turn Draco Malfoy into a ferret over and over again.
With Voldemort now taking a physical state, this film paves the way for the rest of the series that fully focuses on the attempts to rid the world of Lord Voldemort once and for all.
by Kim J Osborne
The Order of the Phoenix was a good film. Some people believe it was one of the worst but personally, I see it as a turning point for the Harry Potter films; seeing the story turn from something lighthearted and fun for the kids, into a series slightly darker and a lot more serious than it had previously been.
Following on from the end of the Goblet of Fire, after the death of Cedric Diggory (Robert Pattinson - Thank God). The wizarding world is wrought with disbelief regarding the return of He Who Must Not Be Named.
Harry Potter is a liar and Dumbledore is a trouble maker. Paranoia and suspicion are everywhere, so as you can imagine, it’s a pretty dark time for everyone young and old. Denial is the big word, denial that one of the biggest threats in wizarding history has returned to repeat what ended in Godrics Hallow all those years ago.
The film also sees the introduction of one of the most irritating characters ever seen in films. Enter little miss prissy, sadistic cat lover; Dolores Umbridge (Imelda Staunton).
Being one of those characters you love to hate, Umbridge (pawn of the Ministry of Magic), does her upmost to discredit the main cast and impose Cornelius Fudges insecurities on Hogwarts.
Overall, the film is not bad, it's the shortest of the series at just 137mins and the soundtrack isn't as grandiose, but I can look past that. The performances from the main cast seem a lot more mature, Harry gets his first kiss and shit starts to get real on the Voldemort front, meaning good news for us Slytherin fans out there.
The film leads onto the best of the bunch: The Half Blood Prince.
By Heather Stromski
One of the more entertaining of the later movies in the Harry Potter Saga, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, is the book and film where Harry, for all intents and purposes, finishes his schooling in the boy and man who became Lord Voldemort. Amid this tutelage, however, we see signs of the teenager Harry, glimpses of who he might have been were he not the Chosen One, an almost-man who struggles with his schoolwork, love, friendships, and, of course, Quidditch.
We never forget, though, that Harry IS the Chosen One and that only through understanding Lord Voldemort can he be defeated - and Harry's struggle in this also shows his youth, so focused on his own arch-nemesis Draco Malfoy that he seems to forget at times that Malfoy is as much of a child as he himself is. Harry's sacrifices cannot be denied here: by this point, he has lost what innocence he may have yet still been able to claim when he witnessed the death of Cedric Diggory; he not only also witnessed the death of Sirius Black, but in this, also lost the closest thing he has ever had to a true, loving parent, and his lack of a real family is always emphasized every time he meets up with the Weasleys, as much as they try to make him a part of that.
It is the tragedy at the end, however, that really catapults Harry into the task that he has been preparing for since he first arrived at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
by Paul Costello
Over the course of the years since the first film hit the big screen, Harry Potter and his adventures in the world of witches and wizards became a box office colossus and an inescapable part of the cinematic landscape. Something that mainstream audiences, both kids and adults alike, eagerly anticipated. For six films and several years, our heroic trio had been steadily heading towards the inevitable final showdown with the saga’s villain, Lord Voldemort. And in 2010, Warner Bros. released the beginning of the end… Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1.
There was much to separate this from the rest of the series. A major difference was the decision to split this adaptation of Rowling’s final Potter novel into two separate films, drawing out the build up to the final battle (not to mention boosting the ultimate box office takings for the series as a whole). But another significant difference was the look and feel of the film. Director David Yates, here in his third time in the chair on a Harry Potter movie, adopted a looser, more realistic sensibility in how the film felt. Being that this is the first film not to feature Hogwarts at all, the bulk of the action takes place on the run, creating an identity closer to a road movie when compared to the rest of the series.
From the start, we’re thrown into plans that are already underway. There’s no attempt to bring you up to speed with what’s happened in the series so far (the assumption is that if you’ve reached this far, you already know what’s going on). Right from the off, the movie has a pace, a feeling of things escalating, the storm that’s been looming for a long time is now upon us all… the end is nigh. Our three heroes are trying to evade the evil forces that are out to get them, spending most of their time camping in various forests and beaches in an attempt to stay under the radar long enough that they can find a way of defeating their enemy. Along the way, they face the strains of trying to stay together whilst all around them tries to pull them apart.
The occasional back-pedal aside, the Potter films never really feared their inevitable dark turns, but often embraced them. The writing was on the wall, sometimes literally, for the war that was to come and, like the boy wizard himself, the films never turned their back on this trajectory. It’s rare that such films would see this kind of longevity, thus making such points something to consider, but the Potter series was afforded a chance to have a particular relationship with a segment of its audience, arguably the most important segment.
The Harry Potter films were given the chance to grow with its audience, maturing in its outlook like those of a similar age to the protagonists. The firstDeathly Hallows film was both a quiet reflection on what had come before, and a statement of intent of what was to come. The bright colours of the beginnings had paled; the hopeful wonder of the younger years diminished, but not gone completely. A slower film than perhaps the others, but no less important for what would follow.
by Laura W
This was the end. One decade, millions of fans, seven books, and 7 films later, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 was ready to go. The final film of the mega successful Harry Potter series was released on July 15, 2011. The cast had returned, the fans were ready, and I'm sure David Yates was sitting somewhere, biting his nails.
The film starts with the Golden Trio recovering from Dobby's death, while located at Bill and Fleur's Shell Cottage. Also recovering from the skirmish at Malfoy Manor are Luna Lovegood, Ollivander, and the goblin Griphook. A plan is devised, with the assistance of Griphook, to get another Horcrux, which happens to be located in Bellatrix Lestrange's vault at Gringott's Bank. Using Polyjuice Potion and several other devices, the Horcrux is snagged and the Trio make a rather grand escape on the back of a dragon.
Harry, Ron, and Hermione make their way into Hogsmeade, where they are saved from Death Eaters by Dumbledore's brother, Aberforth. After a brief discussion, reflection on Hogwarts' former headmaster, the three are found by Neville Longbottom and taken into the Room of Requirements, which is being used as a base camp. Luna, Seamus, Ginny and more are all present, everyone is ready to go, and plans are hatched.
It is here at Hogwarts where the Second Wizarding War commences and finishes with the death of not only several key figures such as Fred Weasley, Lupin and Tonks, but sees the demise of Voldemort himself. The film ends with an epilogue, 19 years after the War had finished. Harry and Ginny, now married, saw their children off to Hogwarts. Also present are Ron and Hermione, also married, seeing their children off too. With that, the film is over and the Harry Potter series has come to an end.
The film was met with critical acclaim and many said that it was one film, based upon a book, that stayed truest to its original material. Praise was lavished upon the special effects and beautiful soundtrack. The cast was (and still is) one of the most famous ensembles on the planet and each was praised for fitting their specific role perfectly. Specific praise was geared towards the performances of Alan Rickman and Dame Maggie Smith.
The epic conclusion of the Harry Potter franchise became the third highest grossing film ever (after Titanic and Avatar). It was eventually bumped into fourth place by Marvel's The Avengers. Deathly Hallows 7.2 shattered numerous box office records. HP 7.2 was nominated for numerous awards, including three Oscars, but lost out to Hugo and The Iron Lady.
While Harry Potter may have ended, the memories live on. The fans have received closure. The cast and crew have moved on. So have we, but we've still got the memories of those 10 brilliant years, seven brilliant books and eight fantastic films. We know what happens now. There has been laughter, tears, and excitement. No matter though. In the Harry Potter universe, all was well.