A brief note: I judge films like these differently than I would a Fellini or Kubrick film. These decisions aren’t necessarily made based on the film’s quality, but how enjoyable and/or interesting it was. I’m also not a die-hard Potter book fan, so I won’t bash a movie because they left out my favorite scene from a book. They are different mediums and not everything can be translated to the screen.
1. Prisoner of Azkaban is my #1 choice for multiple reasons. Cuaron’s (Y tu Mama Tambien and Children of Men) direction is marvelous. The cinematography is beautiful. The films flow and pacing is magnificent. The story is one of the most interesting of the films in the saga. David Thewlis. Gary Oldman. It’s darker than its predecessors, but not as much as the films that follow after it. There is a perfect balance of the magic from the books without seeming like a film targeted primarily to eight year olds (the first two films). The final thirty minutes are the most splendid of all in the franchise.
2. Aside from the much too happy/hopeful ending, this is one of (if not the) darkest films in the series. Oh, and Alan Rickman especially shines in the movie.
3. Definately the most different film of the franchise in that it doesn’t take place in Hogwarts and the mood has shifted drastically from hopeful to hopeless in the quest to defeat Voldemort.
4. This is where I begin to lose an interest in the films. Don’t get me wrong. I still enjoy these , but they aren’t films that I think really can stand alone (by that I mean they aren’t films I would watch unless I were going through the series). A lot of this movie consists of Harry just hating life and focusing on how miserable he is, but anyway, Umbridge is fantastically evil and the showdown with Voldemort (although a bit anticlimactic) is pretty cool.
5. I probably prefer this to Order, but whenever I watch this or Chamber I feel like every line of dialogue is aimed towards a younger audience. I don’t know… I’m just glad the movies are more mature now.
6. This one just feels like a blockbuster to me. I think the screenwriter just flipped through the book, found the action scenes, and stretched those to take up about two thirds of the film. The only things that save this from being my least favorite are the Graveyard scene and Chamber of Secrets.
7. Chamber of Secrets is just a weak movie. It’s very similar to Sorcerer’s/Philosopher’s Stone, and like that film it follows the book very closely. That’s really the only good thing I can say about it.