At about the time filming for 7th and 8th Harry Potter movies was finishing up, I read an article that outlined the best thing about each of the first 6 movies. I thought it was stupid. Whoever wrote the article was obviously being paid to make the producers happy. (I would include a link here, but I couldn't find it anywhere.)
But don't worry—you don't have to read a substandard review of the first 6 movies, because I am graciously providing you with my own.
1. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
I think it's safe to say that the best thing about the first movie is the trio: Harry, Ron, and Hermione. True, Daniel Radcliffe doesn't really get the acting thing down until about the 5th movie, but in the 1st movie his cuteness and innocence makes up for it. Hermione is perfect (I'm sad that they didn't keep her bushy hair and busy-body personality throughout all of the movies) and so is Ron. The Harry Potter franchise may have had a different director, composer, and producer for almost every movie, but the cast stayed the same for the most part. (It's not Richard Harris's fault that he died, though it is Goyle's fault that he got busted for doing drugs.) When the movies were just getting started, everyone expected that there would be a completely new trio by about movie 5, and that made us all sad—because the original trio had us wrapped around their fingers from the beginning. I didn't dare hope that they would all last 7—let alone 8—whole movies. We even got to keep the original Malfoy, Neville, Seamus, and Dean. Just as I spent my teenage years growing up with the real Harry Potter gang, I got to spend my teenage-into-young-adult years with the movie Harry Potter gang. That's a gift I didn't think we would get to have.
2. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
I didn't have to think very hard about this one: Lockhart. Kenneth Branaugh plays the part so well. I think he is among one of the best to personify the character I had envisioned in my mind. And—I can't resist adding this little bit—Ron's and Harry's voice changes are quite entertaining. This movie follows the book very accurately as well.
3. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Honestly, there isn't a whole lot to be said for this movie. It was my favorite book (next to the 7th one, probably), but they completely left out the Quidditch Final—Oliver Wood wasn't even in the movie—they didn't do the Grim stuff OR the Dementor stuff right, and everything just looked different. There wasn't any consistency between this movie and the previous movies, other than the familiar faces. I don't think I'll ever completely forgive them for botching such a wonderful book so horribly. However, I am determined to find something warm and fuzzy about this movie . . . I've got it. I liked that they emphasized the relationship between Harry and Lupin, especially with the way Lupin talked about Lily. We don't get much time to reminisce with James's old friends, but the time Harry spends with Lupin is special, because Harry doesn't get much time with Sirius. Okay, and they did a good job with the going-back-in-time thing. That was fun to watch on the big screen. And, they finally got Harry's hair right. And the scene with Aunt Marge was good. Actually, I probably would have thought it was a very good movie if I hadn't have loved the book so much.
4. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
After my huge disappointment with the 3rd movie, I watched the 4th one without too many expectations. So, it didn't bother me that the entire movie consisted of the 3 tasks and the Yule Ball with little else. There was just no way to cram everything into a 2-hour movie. I absolutely loved the way they did the Yule Ball segment. They caught every awkward situation of jr. high school dating and romance. Everything from Professor McGonagall's dancing lesson to Hermione's crying on the stairs was just so . . . TRUE. We've all been there, done that, which made watching these teenagers struggle through the dating game all the more enjoyable.
5. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
This is probably the only movie that I absolutely loved the first time I saw it. Most Harry Potter fans like this book the least because of Harry's outrageous moodiness (all those capital letters do get annoying after the first couple chapters), but the movie-makers did a great job of toning down the hormones, making it a lot easier to sympathize with Harry's situation. I loved the DA segments more than anything else. The Fred and George stuff was a little bit disappointing, but the scenes with the DA members practicing together and building friendships that will last for years is just so wonderful. Sigh. And the fight between Dumbledore and Voldemort is awesome.
6. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
The first three-quarters of this movie is great. A lot of people complained about the emphasis on all the romantic elements, but really, that's what the book was all about (you know, other than all that juicy stuff about Voldemort's past). Ron and Hermione's little love triangle was exactly the way I imagined it to be, and the Harry-Ginny thing was, well, I won't talk about that. I loved that they were able to keep the light-heartedness of everyday life going even when horrible things were happening around them. This is a very dark time in the Harry Potter world, but the movie didn't feel dark; in fact, it felt more like a comedy until the last 15 mintues of the movie (which I'm not going to talk about either). However, since there is so much emphasis on the romantic elements, they're going to have a job explaining certain things in the next movies—the Horcruxes didn't get nearly the emphasis that they needed. I'm sort of banking on the fact that they'll put a lot of the 6th book elements into the Deathly Hallows movies.
Things I look forward to in movies 7 and 8:
- Dumbledore getting the funeral he deserves.
- The Battle at Hogwarts. I will forgive them for not including a battle in the 6th movie if the one in the 7th (well, 8th) movie is beyond awesome.
- Ron and Hermione's kiss.
- The scene where Ron comes back and destroys the Horcrux. (I get chills just thinking about that one.)
- Harry's old Quidditch team, the DA, and the Order of the Phoenix piling into the Room of Requirement. This is my favorite scene in the ENTIRE SERIES, so they better not mess it up. Or leave it out entirely. I think I'll cry for days if that happens.
- The epilogue. I've already seen pictures of what everyone will look like, but I'm still looking forward to seeing it all in motion.
The Harry Potter movie ride has been a fun one. It has had its ups and downs, but that ride will soon be ending. I hope it leaves us all soaring. Then the ride won't ever really end.