In My Opinion: Ranking the First Six Harry Potter Films

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Photo: Warner Bros.
Ranking the First Six Harry Potter Films

I ranked the Potter films back in July 2007 following the release of Order of the Phoenix, and at that time Goblet of Fire came out on top. However, a new installment has graced our big screens which demands a second look and after watching all five movies in an effort to put together the five Harry Potter quizzes that were featured last week (if you missed those click here) I can guarantee a shake-up. Here’s how my rankings broke down last time around:

  1. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
  2. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
  3. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
  4. Harry Potter and the Sorceror’s Stone
  5. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

The list hasn’t changed dramatically, but there is a new #1. So let’s get started and see how things shape up…

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002)
I don’t believe there has ever been a time I actually looked at Chamber of Secrets and actually thought it was all that good. Of course, the way it ties into the overall Potter storyline does give it some added weight, but not enough to move it from once again occupying my bottom spot on this list. While a lot of information is let loose in this, the second film in the franchise, the film has a hard time actually being all that entertaining. Watching it a second time, did allow me to have a little fun with Kenneth Branagh as Professor Gilderoy Lockhart, but beyond that this one is really a dud in my mind.
Harry Potter and the Sorceror’s Stone (2001)
Where Chamber of Secrets comes in as a dud, Sorceror’s Stone is just a bit too childish. This doesn’t make it a bad film, it just means I have grown out of it, and I am not entirely sure I ever grew into it as this one was only a so-so effort when it was released. It definitely did a good job of introducing audiences to the world of Harry Potter, even if pretty much everything Chris Columbus introduced in his first two films has been changed tonally and others never looked back at the colorful world of Hogwarts as the darkness began to roll in.
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005)
My previous #1 drops all the way to #4. Goblet of Fire is still a solid film, but I can’t see myself turning to it all that often as better films have found their way into the franchise leaving little room for those that find their way to the happy middle. Goblet of Fire probably has the best action of the series, but in terms of story and pacing it just doesn’t hold up as well over time — that is until the showdown at the end, which I enjoy quite a bit.
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009)
I’m still a bit upset Warner Bros. screened this film one day before reviews were to be posted giving me little time to actually think about the film and formulate a better and more thought out opinion. I am a firm believer a film has to sit with you over time and only then will you truly realize just what you think of it as opposed to rushing to judgment. Who knows, perhaps this installment will one day find its way to the top of my list, but I doubt it. As entertaining as Half-Blood Prince is as a character piece it doesn’t necessarily hold up well on its own from a story perspective, which is the main reason it got a “B” from me. For example, I can’t see myself returning to this film all that often without watching Deathly Hallows immediately afterward once the two-part finale is on home video. There is little to this story and it is probably my least favorite of Rowling’s “Potter” novels merely for its lack of story..

Nevertheless, I enjoyed Half-Blood Prince, which is visually spectacular and the writing is a lot of fun. Best of all, it keeps you intrigued and if you are anything like me it has you hotly anticipating Deathly Hallows.

 
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2003)
Prisoner of Azkaban is a film that bounces in and out of my top spot depending on my mood. It was the Harry Potter film that allowed the franchise to turn the corner. When it came out plenty of the die-hard fans hated it and when conversation would arise as to whether or not Alfonso Cuaron would return to the franchise to direct another film the fanatics would cry out loudly in disdain. Of course, on the opposite end of the spectrum critics were applauding the film and to this day many still believe it is the best of the bunch as I have seen several critics debating whether Prisoner of Azkaban or Half-Blood Prince top their list. Azkaban still stands tall for me and we all owe Cuaron a debt of gratitude because if it wasn’t for his vision who knows what the Potter franchise would look like now.
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2007)
Order of the Phoenix is a perfect example of how an opinion on a film can be fleshed out after seeing it more than once. Back in 2007 I saw this film about a week-and-a-half prior to its release and wasn’t particularly bowled over, but as circumstance would have it I was granted a second opportunity to see it before it was released and enjoyed it so much more the second time around, enough to where I can now call it my favorite of the franchise to date, but that isn’t to say I expect it to stay there for long… My guess is Deathly Hallows is going to blow us away and I wouldn’t be surprised if the ending of Half-Blood Prince was toned down simply in an attempt to build-up expectation for the big finale.

So there you have it, that’s my ranking of the first six Harry Potter films and I am assuming most of you don’t agree as I know many didn’t particularly enjoy Order of the Phoenix, at least not enough to even consider it the best in the series. So weigh in below with your rankings and perhaps a couple words as to why you feel the way you do.

Finally, if you own a Blu-ray player and would like the first five Potter films on Blu-ray for cheap, Amazon is selling the Blu-ray box set for a limited time at the price of only $56.99, click here to get in on the deal.