The Harry Potter saga

“That’s why you’re famous, Harry, that’s why everybody knows your name. You’re the boy who lived.”

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (2001, Chris Columbus) 72
[ review ]

“Of course! Phoenix tears have healing powers.”

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002, Chris Colombus) 66
[ review ]

“Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times, when one only remembers to turn on the light.”

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004, Alfonso Cuaron) 87
[ review ]

“Dark and difficult times lie ahead. Soon we must all face the choice between what is right and what is easy.”

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005, Mike Newell) 75
[ review ]

“I want you to listen to me very carefully, Harry. You’re not a bad person. You’re a very good person, who bad things have happened to. Besides, the world isn’t split into good people and Death Eaters. We’ve all got both light and dark inside us. What matters is the part we choose to act on. That’s who we really are.”

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2007, David Yates) 78
[ This is the fifth film in the series, yet it almost feels like the first film in a new, climactic series, the introduction of the final trilogy (with a two-part ending). There’s a lot more world-building going on, about Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) and his Death Eaters making a comeback, about Dumbledore (Michael Gambon)’s Order of the Phoenix, about the Ministry of Magic and its propaganda machine… Then there’s the fact that this is the first episode directed by David Yates, who helmed the last four films, so we discover this new visual style which feels a lot like high-end contemporary TV, which is actually a good thing! This is the first time where it feels like this is taking place in today’s real, modern world, there’s an immediacy and urgency to the whole thing that’s very effective. As for the plot of this chapter, it mostly deals with the kids (Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Matthew Lewis, Bonnie Wright, Evanna Lynch, etc.) secretly training for combat while “high inquisitor” Dolore Umbridge (Imelda Staunton) turns Hogwarts into a fascist state… And in the end, they do see some combat, which leads to the most epic magic mayhem seen in the series so far. Add a lot of Sirius Black (Gary Oldman) and a bunch of nightmarish visions, and you’ve got another great “Harry Potter” movie, which only gives the impression that the best is yet to come. ]

“Actually, sir, after all these years, I just sorta go with it.”

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009, David Yates) 91
[ This is by far the best and darkest film in the series so far. Dare I say, it feels like it’s the “Empire Strikes Back” of the “Harry Potter” saga. Can you believe that this started out as a couple of cute, silly kids movies? Major props to David Yates for giving the final half of the franchise the feel of a (great) British miniseries, with a brilliant sense of pacing and tone. There’s still this core a-year-in-Hogwarts structure, with Quidditch and classes and whatnot, but everything is more dramatic than ever, including the hormonal teen romance, something that has been brewing for a few episodes now but that overflows in this one. The mythology surrounding Voldermort is also further developped via ominous flashbacks, some involving Horace Slughorn (Jim Broadbent)… The pitch-black central plot also involves Albus Dumbledore (Michael Gambon), Severus Snape (Alan Rickman) and that little bastard Draco Malfoy (Tom Felton)… It builds up to an incredibly intense, heartbreaking climax… “Empire Strikes Back”, man. I can’t wait to see how it all wraps up in the last, two-part picture. ]

“Dobby has no master. Dobby is a free elf. And Dobby has come to save Harry Potter and his friends.”

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1 (2010, David Yates) 83
[ During our “Harry Potter” festival, we’ve been watching most of them on VOD but for some reason, this one wasn’t available, so I ended up walking to the video store to rent in… from the children’s section. I mean, come on! The first couple of flicks are for kids all right, but at this point in the series, it’s dark and disturbing as hell! David Yates once again does killer work, nailing bits of action, horror and fantasy, as well as much drama (the climax may very well make you cry your eyes out). Now, as part ones of split finales tend to, it feels rather incomplete, like, well, half a movie. But there’s still plenty to enjoy, including the return of Dobby the elf. And if anything, it makes one even more eager to see the final-final film. ]

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry. But why on earth should that mean that it is not real?”

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 (2011, David Yates) 84
[ I’ve been repeatedly saying that these movies keep getting darker, and this final-film film might be the darkest. It’s also the most epic, with some spectacularly intense magic battles throughout, and it’s also a culmination of all the mythology interwoven by J.K. Rowling throughout the series, which is complex enough for someone who hasn’t read all the books to feel a little lost sometimes. The “Harry Potter” saga is a Good versus Evil story as well as a tale of Life and Death, with many twists here and there… Maybe most of all surrounding the tragic character of Severus Snape (Alan Rickman). I’ll need to digest it all some more, but overall, man, what a series! ]