What do you really think of the Harry Potter movies? Many book readers would destroy adaptations for not bringing JK Rowling’s masterful work to life. However, for a whole generation (including several celebrities), the Potter films have been a major aspect of their lives. Like the books before them, the Harry Potter movies seemed to grow with their target fan base. As we got older, the stories became more mature, darker, and filled with tremendous depth. But that doesn’t mean they were critically acclaimed or considered “masterpieces.” In an article published ahead of the release of the final film in the original Harry Potter series, The Deathly Hallows Part 2, Entertainment Weekly Summary what they thought of each of the films. We’ll take a look…
The weakest links may surprise you
Without a doubt, most people would agree that the cast in Harry Potter was nothing short of superb. Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Tom Felton, Bonnie Wright and all the young actors fit their roles perfectly. The adult actors were more impressive. This of course includes the cast of the late great Alan Rickman as Severus Snape, Helena Bonham Carter, Ralph Fiennes, Robbie Coltrane, Michael Gambon, the late Sir Richard Harris, Julie Walters, Dame Maggie Smith, David Thewlis, Jason Isaacs, John Cleese, Sir Kenneth Branagh, Gary Oldman, Brendan Gleeson and the list just keeps getting longer and longer…
While Entertainment Weekly has always been consistently positive when reviewing the cast of the Potter films, the films themselves haven’t always received rave responses. Relatively, all the movies did well, according to EW. But among the worst was the first film…
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (originally Philosopher’s Stone) impressed EW film critic Lisa Schwarzbaum in terms of spectacle, but thought it was “long, dense” and included far too many subplots that offered little or no surprises.
In fact, she claimed the film “drags through the air rather than flying; at around two and a half hours, it’s a long game of heroes and challenges. As Harry faces the evil Lord Voldemort, Harry Potter bows, overloaded with fact at the expense of magical fiction.Yet it’s an engineering glitch that should be fixable.
Ultimately, the first film earned a “B” grade from the magazine and online editorial.
Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire, reviewed by EW film critic Owen Gleiberman, also earned a fairly low “B-” review. Owen said, “As grand as [the dragon sequence] is, the film peaks a bit too soon. [Goblet of Fire director Mike] Newell, unlike [Prisoner of Azkaban director Alfonso] Cuarón, puts together sequences like LEGO bricks, without giving the story an emotional flow. Triwizard’s other works are all staged as airtight sets, each a little less exciting than the last. Goblet of Fire’s biggest disappointment is that Harry’s early romantic emotions, fueled by his newfound celebrity status as a contestant of the Triwizards and also by Hermione’s (Emma Watson) sudden appearance at a Hogwarts ball , are just as self-contained as action. The young love, having finally raised his head, becomes just another LEGO block.
Movies stuck in the middle
Most of the Harry Potter films have received a B+ review from Entertainment Weekly. This includes The Chamber of Secrets, which Lisa says was “an improvement on Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, not only because the director and his team are more confident about what they can do, but also because they’re less uptight and defensive about what they can do they can’t.”
Curiously, the film that many consider “the best” of the series, The Prisoner of Azkaban by Alfonso Cuarón, received the same rating as Chamber of Secrets, although Owen Gleiberman called it “the first film of the series with fear and wonder in its bones, and a real pleasure too.”
The fifth film, Order of the Phoenix, was praised for introducing beloved characters such as Luna Lovegood and Bellatrix Lestrange, as well as taking some risks. But the movie lost a lot of what made JK Rowling’s book of the same name so special and deliberately didn’t live up to a lot of what was set up at the start… It tends to go with the territory of those movies.
The bottom three were the top three
That leaves The Half-Blood Prince, The Deathly Hallows Part 1, and The Deathly Hallows Part 2. Each of these last three films earned an “A-” review from Entertainment Weekly.
The Half-Blood Prince, while drastically different in tone from previous films, has been praised for its evolution:
“The new tone is disturbing because it is so different from what came before it. Yet if Harry and his world did not continue to evolve, they would soon become nostalgic curiosities. It is heartwarming, both in as a writer and as a reader, to see that JK Rowling is brave enough to experiment with her beloved series, and that she has remained true to the emotional and physical development of her characters.”
Lisa Schwarzbaum called The Deathly Hallows Part 1 “the most cinematically rewarding chapter to date”. She praised the film’s quiet moments:
“In one of the film’s sweetest wordless moments, Harry comforts Hermione. Ron has run away after a fight with Harry, Hermione is sad and upset, and Harry spontaneously drags his dear friend into a dance. The scene n It’s not in the book; it’s the rare deviation of an addition to the holy text, rather than an inevitable cut made for Muggle cinematic purposes. Yet the gesture is so tender, and such a welcome burst of warmth in such a dark time, that the pardon note demonstrates an integrity that I’m sure Rowling would applaud.”
Finally, The Deathly Hallows Part 2 was praised for being visually grand, epic, and emotionally satisfying. Lisa’s last line in the review is perhaps the most complimentary:
“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 leaves us with the dawning and awe-inspiring recognition that the world is huge, charged, enigmatic, magical, dangerous, delightful, and ultimately the responsibility of young people who must d first find their own footing. That’s quite an achievement for a story about a boy with a wand.”
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