By now there can’t be too many people on the planet who haven’t at least heard of Harry Potter. Based on the worldwide box office, there are even fewer who have yet to see one of the movies based on J.K. Rowling’s series of books chronicling the adolescence of the young wizard. The latest film in the series, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (directed by David Yates) is set to open worldwide on July 15 and promises to be a much darker Potter adventure than its predecessors. Hopefully, this makes for a more engaging film than previous offerings and is more along the lines of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (the best film in the series – at least to date).
Now, don’t get us wrong, there are plenty of things that work in the series (for example, the actors and actresses in the series have proven to be absolutely incredible and have done an incredible job in realizing their characters), but the films have lacked the emotional depth and enthralling plots that surfaced in the third film. With Harry finding himself in a far darker place than ever before in Half-Blood Prince, the possibilities of dramatic character growth and an engaging storyline has us wildly excited. So, we thought this might be a golden opportunity to revisit the previous films in the series as we eagerly await the new adventure featuring Harry, Ron, and Hermione. So, join us as we board the Hogwarts Express from Platform 9¾ and revisit the first five Harry Potter films.
The much-anticipated screen adaptation of J.K. Rowling’s first book about the Dickensian orphan, who discovers his wizardly legacy, didn’t disappoint its legions of ready-made fans. Director Chris Columbus remained painstakingly faithful to the book, although the film sometimes lacks any real personality of its own. This may have been intentional as it never detracts from the outstanding production and captivating storytelling. But the real triumph of the film (and perhaps the entire series) is the casting of Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) and his friends Hermione Granger (Emma Watson) and Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint). The rest of the stellar all-Brit cast is fun to watch, and the stunning special effects are what you’d expect given a $125-million budget and the use of no less than nine effects houses. Even those not familiar with the books will find it hard not to enjoy the film’s many charms (though they may find it a bit too long).
The action-packed sequel tops its predecessor with less exposition and more adventure as Harry and his friends at Hogwarts try to figure out just what is terrorizing the school (here’s a hint, it has something to do with He Who Must Not Be Named). In his second year at school, the young wizard re-teams with cohorts Ron and Hermione to brave new dangers posed by the Chamber of Secrets, which lies somewhere within the halls of the school. Everything about this outing is bigger and better, including a delightfully expanded, labyrinthine Hogwarts. Sometimes over-the-top thrills may be a lot for younger viewers. This film is also notable as the final installment directed by series stalwart Columbus. It is also the last of the by-the-book recreations of Rowling’s original.
In his sixth year at Hogwarts, Harry learns more about Voldemort’s past with help from mentor Dumbledore as they search for objects known as Horcruxes that hold the key to finally defeating Voldemort. Harry also finds a mysterious potions book that was the property of someone called the Half-Blood Prince and begins using some dangerous new spells. Love also finds its way into Harry’s life when he develops feelings for his best friend Ron’s sister, Ginny. This is the darkest story in the series so far and hopefully returning director Yates delivers a gripping film that proves an exciting prelude to the final chapter in the saga Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (which has been wisely broken into two parts and is set to be released in 2010 and 2011 respectively).