Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone

2001, Heyday Films et al

I'll get in line for a well-crafted fantasy film along with the kids. Armed with J.K. Rowling's acclaimed story and a budget of well north of $100 million, director Chris Columbus successfully brought Harry Potter to the screen. But while the production values were tremendous and the supporting cast letter-perfect, the leads were not the most skilled or engaging actors... at first. With seven more films to come, they'll have time to acquire the skill to grow into their parts. Amazingly, the 152-minute runtime didn't appear to work against it.

     

 

CRAP

MEH

WOW

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

2002, Heyday Films et al

Things are looking up for the franchise as the creative forces build a more confident-feeling, albeit slightly darker film. Some of the CGI characters could be a bit better, but this is, after all, for kids, first and foremost. But one might have thought Peter Jackson was responsible for this one: at 161 minutes, it's the longest film in the franchise; one wonders how younger audience members hung in for that long. Well, with close to one billion in ticket sales, it seems this wasn't a problem.

     

 

CRAP

MEH

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Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

2004, Heyday Films et al

Amazingly the franchise is not losing steam; if anything, it's showing signs of hitting its stride. The lead actors are becoming more fleshed-out, and bring more character to their roles.

     

 

CRAP

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Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

2005, Heyday Films et al

The franchise gets its mojo backnot that it ever lost it. In particular, the lead actors have finally matured to the point they can carry the film with full confidence.

       

CRAP

MEH

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Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

2007, Heyday Films et al

Things are starting to slip ever so slightly with the franchise, as this one seems less fresh than prior installments. But, if nothing else, it's fun to follow the leads as they continue to mature.

     

 

CRAP

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Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

2009, Heyday Films et al

The sixth installment in the franchise sees a slight turnaround. As the leads grow, the films also get darker and more intense. This is definitely not material for little kids, although it ought to be thrilling for older children and young adults. Well, and grown-ups, too, since this very fine filmmaking.

       

CRAP

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Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1

2010, Heyday Films et al

While it's the darkest and most stylish film in the franchise, number seven is a bit unsatisfying. Most impressive is the steady, measured pace that remains consistent even though the action bits. Working against it is a slightly padded feeling and, of course, a cliffhanger ending; there's also a vague sense our leads have outgrown their parts. But the story is engaging and the effects are spectacular.

     

 

CRAP

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Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2

2011, Heyday Films et al

Amazingly, the Harry Potter franchise goes out on its highest note, with the most beautifully rendered of all the films. However, at 276 minutes total for both parts, it strains one's ability to hang in there, given how many internal references one needed to have at their fingertips in order to follow all of the ins and outs. Still, with a box office take of over $1.3 billion for Part 2 alone, it seems no one was complaining. And with a grand total of $7.7 billion, it's the second-most profitable franchise in film history to date.

       

CRAP

MEH

WOW

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