Thursday, July 14, 2011

Ranking Harry Potter

Tomorrow, at 1130am, I will be sitting in a Rave Motion Picture Theater awaiting the beginning of the commercials that will proceed the trailers that will proceed the movie "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2".  Its the end.  The last Harry Potter movie.  And much like the completion of the last book, which for me occurred about 18 hours after the 2007 summer midnight release, it will be a bittersweet occasion.

Both my darling wife and one of my best friends are Potter Fanatics, so
I really have no choice but to be the same. 
I actually am seeing it twice this weekend... the original plan was to possibly see it at midnight--but because of The Lovely Steph Leann has a real job, she can't do it.  So, we are going to see it on Sunday afternoon.  However, my dear friend Melanie invited me to come with her, Special K and The Zach Attack to see it Friday morning... after about, oh 3 seconds of deliberation, I said "YES".  I could have gone at midnight or tomorrow alone, but this one is a film you want to see with people, with fellow Harry Potter enthusiasts. 

Its the end of the era.  I was working at Carmike Cinemas at the Summit when the first movie came out, back in 2001.  I had not read the books at the time, and didn't start reading them until 2003, when the fifth novel, Order of the Phoenix had come out.  I devoured all five books released at that time in a matter of a few weeks, and have seen every movie released on opening weekend.

I even attended a Potter Party Release for the last two books, getting them both at midnight at Barnes & Noble.   Yep, I'm a Potterphile.  I said it.

The movies themselves have been hit or miss... none of them are bad, and in fact, several are great adaptations--the problem is, the books continued to get longer and longer, and that forced screenwriter Steve Kloves, who wrote all eight screen adaptations, to cut more and more out of the movie to keep them from being 7 hours long each--though to be honest, I probably would have sat through 7 hours to see Goblet of Fire, Order of the Phoenix and especially The Half-Blood Prince to be done... well, for lack of a better word, better.

From first to last, this is how I rank the books:

1) Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Book 5)... The creation of Dumbledore's Army is awesome, plus the intense Ministry of Magic battle makes for a great final 100 pages

2) Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Book 4)... The linchpin in the book series.  This is where it goes from kid books to dark books.

3) Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Book 2)... Perhaps the most underrated of the books, I really enjoy this one... the exposition is done, and its a quick read

4) Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Book 7)... I do miss time at Hogwarts, but the final battle is exhilarating and yet heartbreaking at the same time.  I do have issue with the fact that once its over, we don't see The Weasley's talking to Harry... it just kind of... well, ends.

5) Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (Book 1)... Its where it all begins, the introduction of characters, the opening of the world that JK Rowling created.

6) Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Book 3)... The introduction of Sirius, but my main issue with this one is the fact that the whole bad turn at the end could have been avoided by either Lupin or Sirius saying, "Hey Harry, listen, this is what's going on..."

7) Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Book 6)... The Lovely Steph Leann loves this book, perhaps more than any other, though I didn't like Harry being stupid at the beginning, plus all the back story part.  The Harry Kisses Ginny part really makes it worthy, though.

That's the books... as for the movies, here's how I rank the movies, from last to first.  Now, understand, like the books, just because its last doesn't mean I don't like it... its like ranking Pixar films... well, now that "Cars 2" is out, that might be a bad analogy...

...okay, its like ranking Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream.  Cherry Garcia is my definite favorite, but if you offered me some Chunky Monkey or Phish Food, I'd take it and love it.  So just because its 7th, that doesn't mean I don't enjoy it...

7) Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009)... there are a number of problems I have with this film, as spelled out in my letter to Steve Kloves.  The main issue, though, is the Harry/Ginny debacle--and the fact that that scene in the book is one of my two or three favorite scenes in all seven books, the way it was done can truly be described as a "debacle".   I also didn't like the Snape "I am the half blood prince" revelation towards the end... seriously?  He doesn't mention even being slightly suspicious of Harry's work the whole book and then he says it? 

Not my favorite of the movies, but it is
one of my favorite posters
6)  Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002)... This one would be more classified as a "Harry Potter Guilty Pleasure" film if anything.  Its remarkable how young the kids are, and the acting is a bit silly.  This is the last one Chris Columbus directed, and I'm cool with that.  Enjoyable, though, as Kenneth Branaugh's Gilderoy Lockhart is hilarious.  Also the first appearance of Dobby and Jason Isaac's brilliant Lucius Malfoy turn.

5)  Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004)... Everyone raves about Alfonso Cuaron's direction, and perhaps that's just because its different than the kiddie style that Chris Columbus took... it is better, I'll admit, but all the changes to the story are a little maddening.  David Thewlis is perfect as Professor Lupin, however, and is one of my favorite of the movie characters.  I still am bothered by the fact that at the end, when Ron, Hermione, Harry, Lupin and Sirius are all in the Shrieking Shack, all Lupin or Sirius has to even say is, "Okay, give me the rat, its an animangus, its actually Peter Pettigrew, I'm not going to kill Harry, I'm after Peter..." but he doesn't say that, it builds the suspense, Snape comes in, and all Ensley breaks loose.  Just seems like it could have been avoided, that's all. 

Plus... and maybe I'm in the minority here, but I liked Richard Harris' old Dumbledore over Michael Gambon's hippie Dumbledore.  Just sayin'.

4)  Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (2001)... This is where it all started.  Man, these kids look young--which, I guess they were.  Working the theater when this premiered was insane, as I had to hold back three hundred kids, moms and dads, and after the show, the theater was literally so trashed, I used a leaf blower on a backpack, started at the top and blew trash to the bottom so the lazy high school students could do their best and not work.  Great movie, though.

3)  Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005)... This movie is where it sets in that in order to tell the cinematic story, they have to remove half the book.  Granted, taking out Hermione's S.P.E.W. subplot, arguably the weakest in the entire series, was great, but still, it was tough when the movie started on what was around page 110 in the book.  It was a time thing, though, and the Triwizard Tourney was awesome.  It was also great seeing Robert Pattison as Cedric Diggory, not as some gay sparkly vampire with commitment issues. 

2)  Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I (2010)... Last year, I did a full recap of this movie on this here blog site, and discussed first a spoiler free, than a spoiler filled recap, though there is plenty of notice before the spoilers start.  The more I think about this addition to the series, the more I like it... here's what I wrote:

Essentially, the film version, at least Part I, of "The Deathly Hallows", is a little like a table of contents.  You see a live action snippet of each scene that is fully fleshed out in the book itself,  something is allowable because the 140 minutes of the movie covers only about 300 pages, not 500 pages.

1)  Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2007)... My favorite book is my favorite Harry Potter movie.  Again, its not perfect, only due to lack of time, but I think it does the best job of making the necessary cuts to the book to fit the film.   It brings to the forefront Luna Lovegood, my favorite of the movie characters, and perhaps the only character I like in the movie over the book version, and of course, Ginny Weasley, one of my favorite characters overall. 

The Ministry of Magic battle happens and it looks brilliant, with Lucius Malfoy playing a key role.  And of course, the formation of Dumbledore's Army looks better than I imagined it when I read it in the book.  If it has any weaknesses at all, its the use of Professor Umbridge... one of the key moments in the book is when she tortures Harry by making him write with an evil pen, one that etches in the back the writer's hand as they write.  Harry makes it a point to not complain, even though there is scarring by the end.  In the movie, you see Umbridge making many of the students use such a pen, and it somewhat dilutes the torture given to Harry.  Just my own thoughts.  Anyway, my favorite of the movies.

But where will "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2" rank among the other films?  I'll find out in about... 12 hours. 

Oh, if you missed a movie, or have forgotten what happens, here are The Fine Brothers on YouTube recapping all seven movies in seven minutes, in one take.   By the way, all the "We have no idea!" questions are legit questions if you have only seen the movies, but answered if you have read the books... for the most part, anyway...

  (there is a bleeped out F-bomb 3:22 in)

The Summer of Blogging Day Thirty Seven


  1. So, you titled Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince incorrectly in your movie rankings. :)

  2. No, I didnt. Dont know what you mean... =)


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