A Grown Up’s Guide to Harry Potter Movies

Fans of Harry Potter movies have had quite a time recently. Between Warner Bros. announcing a reboot of the series to J.K. Rowling's problematic comments, fans of the books (and movie adaptations) have had much more to think about. 

Still, Harry Potter has an allure in any iteration, to say the least. Millions of children grew up with Harry James Potter and the wizarding world. That doesn’t mean adults don’t understand the series either! 

So let’s take a look into the films from worst to best and give adults their perfect guide into the wizarding world of Harry Potter.

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald

Harry Potter Movies
Image Credit: Warner Bros.

Talk about an absolutely horrible movie. Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald is not only bad because it is poorly written but the movie itself contradicts Harry Potter and its own lore so many times that it just makes the movie nearly unwatchable. Starring Johnny Depp as a wildly miscast Gellert Grindelwald, the movie continues to bait us into thinking that Albus Dumbledore (Jude Law) will make out with any man.

The movie also gaslights its fans into thinking that people like Professor Minerva McGonagall taught at Hogwarts back in the 20s when she was not even born until 1935. So the movie lies to its fans, includes problematic actors, has Queenie Goldstein follow a man who uses Hitler ideology into battle, and is just overall a truly horrific and bad addition to the world of Harry Potter.

Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore

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Image Credit: Warner Bros.

The Fantastic Beasts series drives fans crazy, in large part, because the movies seemed to press the reset button on the story with each passing entry. The first hinted at the American Wizarding World, only to abandon that idea. The second, which Rowling penned alone, wanted to set up the coming war with Gindelwald, but had a choppy narrative that made it almost impossible to follow. Secrets of Dumbledore abandons most of the new characters in favor of focusing on Dumbledore's clash with his former boyfriend.

But despite attempts to comment on the real world (including a coup involving election fraud), Secrets never gains momentum. Here, the tinkering with the series and the indecision on the part of Rowling & Warner Bros. becomes obvious. It's a shame…it all started out well enough.

Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them

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Image Credit: Warner Bros.

The first Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them movie isn’t really bad. When fans think about the world of Harry Potter, they’re not thinking about Newt Scamander. Many fans wanted to explore the world of the Marauders.

So when audiences went to Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, they found themselves in a movie world they didn’t really care about. Given that the books already cover the future of Dumbledore and Grindelwald, it wasn’t that exciting. There were few surprises, some of which contradict what happens in the Harry Potter series, so really what is the point?

Harry Potter and The Half-Blood Prince

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Image Credit: Warner Bros.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince tried to tackle a 607-page book in the span of one 120-minute film. It made Snape’s reveal at the end childish instead of shocking. The movie didn't excite; it just made for a sort of bland movie even if it did have some of the best Harry moments in the entire film series.

It’s not a bad movie adaptation but it isn’t the best of the Harry Potter movies. Instead of splitting the longer books into two movies, they still tried to smash everything into one and it meant cutting characters or key events. Half-Blood Prince suffered the most from cuts lost in adaptation.

Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets

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Image Credit: Warner Bros.

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets is the weakest book out of the series and doesn’t make for an exciting movie. Harry finds himself in a world of intrigue when a snake that lives in the walls of Hogwarts starts targeting muggle-born students. As the story unfolds, we learn about Hagrid’s past at Hogwarts, what happened with his expulsion, and Harry’s own connection to Parseltongue.

Overall, the story does set up events important to Harry and Voldemort’s journey together. Harry fighting a hot younger Voldemort though is fun, though the rest of the movie doesn't offer much in the way of excitement. 

Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire

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Image Credit: Warner Bros.

Yet again, Goblet of Fire suffers from adapting 600+ pages into one movie. 

Much like the rest of the adaptations of the Harry Potter movies, it pales in comparison to the actual book but it is fun seeing the Tri-Wizard Tournament up and running and the magic unfolding before us. It does introduce Ralph Fiennes as Voldemort who does give a great performance. It isn’t the best of the Harry Potter movies but it isn’t the worst.

Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows: Part 1

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Image Credit: Warner Bros.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 satisfies fans of Harry and Hermione because it focuses so much on them. The two have a beautiful dance scene, and Harry/Hermione shippers, the movie offers a dream of what could have been.

Among Harry Potter movies, Deathly Hallows also has a beautiful story of friendship, with Ron and Hermione being there for Harry as he wants to try and go on his quest alone. Watching as Hermione stands by his side in Godric’s Hollow as he stares at his parents' grave is a dramatic moment seven movies in. Deathly Hallows reminds fans that, no matter what, Harry has support because he’s loved, and will always give him the advantage.

Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows: Part 2

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Image Credit: Warner Bros.

Watching the culmination of the entire series can overwhelm fans. Audiences watched as a saga that began ten years before came to an end, and all had to say goodbye to Harry, Ron, and Hermione. Deathly Hallows: Part 2 succeeds in part because Warner Bros. split the final book up into two movies. The Battle of Hogwarts plays out in its full glory.

Deathly Hallows: Part 2 takes us into the final moments of Harry’s battle with Voldemort. Harry defeats him with his friends at his side. Neville Longbottom striking the final blow to Nagini is among the series' biggest thrills.

Harry Potter and The Sorcerer’s Stone

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Image Credit: Warner Bros.

The magic of the Harry Potter movies came alive when audiences finally got to see Hogwarts in live-action. Sorcerer’s Stone plays faithful as an adaptation of that first book enabled by its shorter length. Seeing this little boy with his mother’s eyes learn magic and see the wizarding world he left behind for the first time? It’s, well, magical.

Sorcerer’s Stone introduces the wizarding world. Harry doesn’t know about his famous past and goes to Hogwarts. Richard Harris was a perfect Dumbledore to lead us into this series, and it is a perfect introduction into this world.

Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban

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Image Credit: Warner Bros.

There is something beautiful about the film adaptation of Prisoner of Azkaban because director Alfonso Cuarón took some liberties and made the film he wanted to make.

The film introduces the Mauraders, Sirius Black, expands on James Potter's history, and deepens Snape's character. Cuarón approaches the story as a master director, giving the movie style and grounding it in reality (as much as a movie with magic can be grounded, of course). Prisoner of Azkaban set the mold and standard for all the Harry Potter movies to come. 

Harry Potter and The Order of The Phoenix

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Image Credit: Warner Bros.

Phoenix is all about Harry trying to clear his name, tell the world that Voldemort is back, and protect those he loves to the point where he misses the warning signs and leads Sirius Black right into his death. It shows just how far Sirius was willing to go to protect James’ son. The Dumbledore/Voldemort duel ranks as one of the best sequences in the Harry Potter movies series and hints at the darker themes in the film to come.