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10.16.20 USER RECS: Album Covers Q3 202010.14.20 Neek'd: Harry Potter (films)
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Neek'd: Harry Potter (films)

I haven't read the books in years, nor do I intend to read them again anytime soon, so this is explicitly about the films. Idc if something happened differently in the book or whatever, I watched these all at face value to see how well they held up for me now, since this was a franchise I loved deeply once upon a time.
8Nicholas Hooper
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix: 3.4/5
In a way, this is the opposite of Goblet of Fire, even it suffers many of the same issues. If Goblet of Fire didn’t cut enough to tell a cohesive story, this one might’ve cut too much. It’s a transitional film for the franchise, and one that gets so lost in spinning a well-told plot that it loses track of its characters in the process. It’s probably the most important film of the franchise to sharpen the characters into what they need to be, and yet we glean no insight into their motivations or feelings. This is more likely due to the absence of screenwriter Steve Kloves (who wrote every other one besides this one) than to Yates’ presence at the helm, who does some great work grounding the grandeur of the franchise into the darker realism Cuaron hinted at years before. So yes, the plot is exciting, the action is popping, the visuals are compelling, but how do are characters feel about this? Order of the Phoenix doesn’t seem to know.
7Patrick Doyle
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire: 3.5/5
Mike Newell proves to be a competent and confident action direction, delivering the grand plot in vivid and spectacular fashion. This is also the first film where the pacing issues are dreadfully apparent. While I genuinely think they did a great job in delivering some essential character beats surrounding the dance and the tournament (starting some very important plot threads for future use), the first act of this film is a goddamn mess. The Quidditch World Cup, whatever the fuck that Rita Skeeter bs was, and Ron’s anger towards Harry flipping on a dime, this is the first script that very clearly sacrificed a lot in the adaptation, unsuccessful at whittling things down in a convincing way than before. But the third act is suitably horrifying, a major tone shift that is handled very well. It’s easy to see why this is Newell’s only chapter in the franchise, but regardless, this one is just a lot of fun.
6Nicholas Hooper
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince: 4.0/5
Likely taking cues from the messy prior entry, character work is far and away the focus of this outing, much more than anything before. While this may manifest itself at times in hokey rom-com stuff, it also strengthens all of Harry’s most important relationships, with Dumbledore, Ron, Hermione, Drace, Snape, etc. Because of this, it’s not the most fun or action-y outing of the franchise, but it does benefit from a strong central mystery (not the half-blood prince one, that one is lame) that is emphasized by the character work. I guess I’m a big fan of this one because it’s the first in the while that feels like the dramatic weight is finally up to snuff with what their shooting for. It’s essential that, for the final chapters to work, that we care about our characters and understand their relationships to each other and the world their in. For all it’s faults, this one delivers that in spades.
5John Williams
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone: 4.0/5
The most obvious thing that director Chris Columbus knocks out of the park is the sense of wonder permeating the entire film. Every location, every reveal, every character introduction is so stretched out with heightened importance, but thanks to his ability to see through a child’s eyes, it all makes perfect sense and establishes the world brilliantly. The plot itself is an incredibly thin series of setpieces and sequences, but oh what sequences they are. The biggest issue overall is that (understandable, as they are children) our three heroes have very little bearing on anything that happens. Things happen to them, and they react in their magical ways. It’s exciting stuff, but a clearer arc for each of them, and stronger emphasis on Ron and Hermione (we get very little sense of them from this one) would’ve lent a stronger emotional drive to Harry’s first year at Hogwarts.
4John Williams
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets: 4.2/5
I understand this is more maligned than Colombus’s first effort, but I think it does all the good stuff of the first one with a much stronger plot and narrative drive. The murder mystery elements here are far more engaging than the half-hearted whodunnit of the first, and we get a creepy look into Harry’s nemesis here that really sets off the tone for the rest of the franchise. While I think it was a stupid choice to “kill off” Hermione early on, especially since we have very little sense of her character at this point, it adds convincing stakes to the plot that weren’t really present in the first. The trio are more convincing here, and Harry saving Dobby at the end cements why we should like and care about these kids for the next six movies.
3Alexandre Desplat
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part.1

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Pt. 1: 4.3/5
This is a bit of an outlier in the franchise for its decidedly bleak outlook, relative lack of plot, and emphasis on the central trio’s dynamic over anything else. It’s a very singular film, moving from scene to scene in a reactionary way, much like the way that our heroes don’t have a plan this time around. I find this to be a gripping change of pace, blowing up the status quo of the franchise and finally letting us live in the Wizarding World we’ve hung out on the fringe of for years. The character work here works exceptionally, and the actors are all so comfortable with each other that their conflicts and cares never read as false. It may be an outlier in the franchise, but it’s easily one of my favorites for the way it subverts everything that came before with a huge helping of muscle, heart, and style.
2John Williams
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban: 4.4/5
An early standout for the franchise, Cuaron emphasizes the Colombus’s knack for wonder and whimsy with a light horror edge, bringing a sense of visual and emotional realism that we really never got from the first two. This works wonderfully, and it pairs well with the cast’s newfound skills—they’re full-fledged characters now. Harry’s emotional journey here is thoroughly convincing, and Radcliffe’s chemistry with Watson crackles in the third act (when Ron is side-lined as payment for Hermoine’s turn in Year 2). What sells it even better is that the mystery is engaging throughout. The twists work both on a plot and character level, lending a depth that the franchise hasn’t seen yet, and won’t see for a long while.
1Alexandre Desplat
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Pt. 2

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Pt. 2: 4.5/5
This is perhaps even harder to rate independently from it’s predecessor than that is, but it smartly contains a very real emotional arc for Harry that ties the film together so well. This is more of an action film than any of the ones before, locked into a constant siege of Hogwarts that takes up 90% of its runtime. The way that the little mysteries of the franchise unfurl is so graceful. It uses that same dramatic weight of Pt. 1 to deliver some truly hopeless moments, and even though we know it’ll end up okay, it’s very clear that Harry and Co. don’t. Despite a laughably unecessary epilogue, director David Yates and writer Steve Kloves round out the franchise at a high point, as the drama, action, visuals, mystery, and characters all crackle and suck the viewer in. This is top-tier pop filmmaking. At its best, it’ll awaken that kid in you who cared so much for these people, even at the heights of its absurd wonders.
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