Mid-Week Poll: Favorite ‘Harry Potter’ Film (So Far)

Last week, Aaron wrote an article for the site’s front page in which he ranked the ‘Harry Potter’ movies in his order of preference. He was very upfront that not every reader or Potter fan would agree. With the most recent entry, ‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1‘, now available on Blu-ray, here’s your chance to tell us which of the seven films in the series so far you like best. Vote after the break.

For my part, I’ve never read any of the J.K. Rowling novels and have no concern for how faithful the movie versions are to the author’s labyrinthine text. I just want each movie to work the best it can as a movie. To that end, I find the first two entries by Chris Columbus, which sacrifice momentum or narrative drive for reverence to the text, to be borderline unwatchable. The third movie, Alfonso Cuaron’s ‘Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban‘, is a quantum leap improvement in all respects. Although Rowling fans may quibble that it deletes or re-arranges their favorite paragraphs from the book, this is the first ‘Potter’ film that actually moves with purpose and brings the characters to life as characters, not just as chess pieces to shuffle around in service of the plot. ‘Azkaban’ is by far my favorite of the film entries so far.

The next follow-up, Mike Newell’s ‘Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire‘, is an unfortunate regression. Although not nearly as bad as the Columbus movies, ‘Goblet of Fire’ suffers greatly from trying to cram in too many storylines from the book. As a result, the film plods along from plot-point to plot-point. For as much as happens on screen, nothing is fleshed out and nothing gets resolved. It feels like little more than a set-up for the next few movies.

I’ve liked all of the movies since David Yates took over the franchise about equally. Yes, that includes the much-maligned ‘Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix‘. Yates’s films strike a nice balance between plot, exposition, and character development without getting too weighed down by the burden of Rowling’s prose.

Still, for me, ‘Prisoner of Azkaban’ remains my favorite. Where do you stand on this?

Favorite Harry Potter Film (So Far)

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I imagine that we’ll have to try this again after ‘Deathly Hallows, Part 2’ finishes off the series.


  1. Mine was and still is Goblet of Fire, really close 2nd would be Chamber of Secrets. I personally loved Columbus’s vision of the world Rowling created, I felt it was the most like the book, the sense of wonder and the world really shone through with those two and when Prisoner hit, they changed everything and not for the better IMO.

    Prisoner was the start of taking away a lot of the world, now of course the books got a lot bigger and the main story just HAD to be cut out to make things work but just the feel from the first two was lost, not having many classes, interactions and other things missing really took away from what made Harry Potter so great, as movies they work well enough as the main story still works good without all the “fluff” and so called “burden” of Rowling’s writing (I definitely dont agree with that).

    When Yates took over things got even worse, he decided to change the look of so many things, Death Eaters from Goblet of Fire changed their whole outfit, their masks looked worse and many other issues with the world that were already established in previous films. The Death Eaters getup in Goblet was just about spot on with what I got from the book, but magically they all had different outfits and different masks in Yates version and it pissed me off. Sirius didnt die from a killing curse either, the was blasted into that Portal and THATS what killed him.

    Deathly Hallows was great though and really redeemed Yates IMO, but thats what you get with different directors, unfortunately the wonder of Harry Potter ended with Columbus, Chamber of Secrets was the perfect mix of darkness and danger with light and wonderment and the books conveyed this with every iteration but the movies have gone so far off the path in many areas it isnt even funny, my biggest beef with Hallows though is the death that takes place during the chase, you dont see it and its mentioned only in passing really, the books were much more detailed in this matter and the movie made it out to be something not worth telling and thats mostly because they focused completely on Harry and not on anyone else that played an integral in saving his life and IMO that was a bad choice in translation from the book.

    Oh and dont forget the terrible ending of Half Blood Prince, Dumbledore’s Army really meant nothing from the last film because the battle between the kids and death eaters at Hogwarts was completely thrown out the window, if you notice the Aurors that were guarding the place the whole movie, just magically disappear at the end, just a terrible ending…..

    Anyways, sorry bout the long rant but I enjoy my Potter quite a bit

  2. Tough vote – my top three are almost tied. Half-Blood, Deathly Hallow and Prisoner of Azkhabahn.

    My least favorite is Goblet of Fire. In my opinion, its hands down the weakest of the Harry Potter films by a long shot. When I watch them in order, i generally skip Goblet.

  3. Ok, for all the people who dont like Goblet, why exactly do you not like it? it seriously cant be because of how much they cut out, you cant use that excuse when Yates films did the books even worse justice. Of course if you havent read the books what is the reason too, because then you wouldnt even know what was missing 😉

    Just like to know, seems like I’m always the opposite of everyone else when it comes to this stuff, Goblet is the least liked by most it seems and its my favorite, Prisoner is one of my least liked (Half Blood is the worst IMO) and everyone likes it, its like the Pixar thing with Cars all over again 🙂

    • Josh Zyber

      My problem with Goblet isn’t how much was cut out (I haven’t read any of the books). It’s how much they tried to cram in. The movie has far TOO MANY subplots, but all of them are sketched incredibly thinly without being fleshed out. The movie is like a Reader’s Digest condensed version of a book.

      You actually nail it when you say “you wouldnt even know what was missing” in Yates’ films. That’s a smart adaptation. His movies streamline the story to hone in on the plot that’s actually needed to make a good movie. You’re not supposed to realize that you’re missing something.

      In every scene of Goblet of Fire, I felt like: “Why is this important? Why are they showing this? What’s the point of this character who shows up for one scene and is never seen again? There’s got to be more to this.” It’s infuriating.

    • My problem with Goblet wasn’t how much was cut, but HOW it was cut. The movie didn’t flow smoothly. I went on opening day with several people who hadn’t read the book. I was furious with all the stuff that was cut, they were completley lost because stuff was cut haphazardly. Its like you start a subplot, but never finish the thought. Its like starting a sentence and never…..

      Plus, the dragon scene was hands down the stupidest scene ever put into a Harry Potter film.

      No, cut the books down, it worked for Azkhabah. Its just that if you are going to cut stuff, make sure that what you leave in there still makes the story make sense.

      • Well each has their own way of seeing things, my dad who is probably a lot more lost than most people who watch this stuff, followed Goblet just fine, he was never confused, myself I didnt see this movie having any of those problems you mention. To me it all works just fine and is the most entertaining movie out of the lot, but everyone sees things differently so I can understand what your issues are with it, but I couldnt find any of that stuff being a problem with Goblet.

        Having read the books I notice more of the cosmetic changes that every director decided to mess up, thats the kind of stuff that upset me the most, major changes in Half Blood were inexcusable, Harry sitting in a cafe hitting on some girl was completely out of his character and should have never been put in the movie (didnt happen in the book), the attack on the Burrows wasnt in there and was just thrown in because of the lack of “action” and of course the final battle getting cut out completely and the end having continuity problems with the Aurors just disappearing and not fighting at all, makes no sense…..I can easily deal with a disjointed story line over terrible decisions like those, but hey to each their own 🙂

        • Josh Zyber

          Personally, none of those sound like terrible decisions, except perhaps to someone looking for every word of Rowling’s text to be illustrated letter-by-letter. Even you describe them as “cosmetic changes.”

        • The Attack on the Burrow was in book 7. However, it followed after the trio disapperated after the wedding. Moving it from the 7th movie to the 6th I was okay with, because the 6th movie showed more of the crap going on, whereas the 7th focused on finding the Horcruxes and the Deathly Hallows. Also, if the attack on the Burrow had of stayed in the 7th movie, it would have been too soon after Moody’s death and the other action in the opening scene.

          The only issue I have with moving it was continuity – in the movies, the house was quickly restored before the wedding, just to be attacked again, but this time, people just showed up looking for harry and left. In the book, they showed up, looking for harry, burned the home, and we are not all sure what else happened, but we are given the impression that it was BAD (people injured, killed? The only thing we knew for sure was that the Weasley family was safe).

          As for Harry and the girl in the subway station, yes, granted, it was not in the book, but it didn’t change the story. It also helped in developing Harry-as-a-teenager a bit more.

          I can certainly see why people may not like Half-Blood Prince, but many of the reasons given are the very reasons why it is one of my favorites.

  4. Chaz, ‘Goblet’ is my least favorite because it lacks any form of direction, tone and consistency. No, I have never read the books. But ‘Goblet’ does now know which story it wants to tell nor how to blend multiple stories in one film. While watching it, I felt like the filmmakers was telling me an “and then…” story like this, “First, they watch this giant Quittich game, and then it gets attacked, and then they have to run, and then there’s a goblet of fire, and then harry’s name comes out of it, and then ron gets mad, and then there’s the first tournament game, and then ron is still mad, and then we see the second tournament game, and then ron is still mad, and then we forget about the tournament, and then there’s the last game, and then voldemort comes back, and then it’s over.” The best thing about it was watching Edward Cullen die.

    Nothing about the story bothers me, but it’s how the story is told. I cannot stand Mike Newell. The director of Mona Lisa Smile had no business sticking his hands the HP franchise. He is horrible! And ‘Prince of Persia’ only solidified that idea!

    • Josh Zyber

      To be fair to Newell, he’s a fine director when he has the right material. Into the West and Four Weddings and a Funeral are excellent, and Donnie Brasco is pretty good. He’s just not suited for these big studio tentpole productions that keep landing in his lap for some reason. Michael Apted has the same problem.

  5. i felt half blood prince was the back to the future 2 of the harry potter franchise. didnt add anything to the last one. you could see ,even if you didnt read the book , that a lot was left out of the movie. half blood should of been two movies. still love goblet of fire. it is the best one. but they are all great.

  6. Deathly Hallows for me…it’s dark and character-driven. I suspect it will still be my favorite after the final one comes out. The movie could NEVER have been as good as it is if they hadn’t cut the book into two films…what seemed like (and no doubt was) a marketing decision has resulted in giving us the best movie of the lot.

  7. Lahrs

    I am a Harry Potter nut who reads the entire series at least once a year. Despite this, I do understand that when you take a book series, especially as big as the individual HP books, stuff will have to be taken out or reimaged. My problem with the movies after Azkaban is that plenty that was taken out needed to remain, and plenty that could have been taken out was left in.

    Half-Blood Prince was an abomination, taking out so much of the important information concerning Snape and Tom Riddle that it makes reading the books a requirement to understand the movies, and worse, leaves too many plot holes in Deathly Hallows (which thankfully is a much stronger movie).

    A good movie will make the necessary changes away from the books but still connect the dots from A to B to C so that everything on screen is understood. Too many directors stirring the pot probably has a lot to do with this.

    I agree with Dail Whiteley, HBP should have been two movies, but could have still been much more relevant with just the one. This isn’t a rant about books always being better than movies, but at the failings of the directors.

    Bitching aside, Azkaban was my favorite. The tone darkened, but there was still plenty of magical wonder to be seen. The actors take a good leap forward and Oldman was perfect as Black. Actually, to give one overall positive to the entire series of movies, the casting has been exceptional.

    • Josh Zyber

      As someone who’s never read the books, I had no problem following Order of the Phoenix, Half-Blood Prince, or Deathly Hallows 1, despite these alleged plot holes that make them incomprehensible.

      I remember that when Azkaban was released, Rowling fans made the same complaint, that the script was missing so much vital information that it was totally impossible to understand what happened without reading the book. Yet viewers who hadn’t read the book were all fine with it.

      Storytelling in film is as much a process of subtraction as it is addition. Directors will shoot their entire scripts, but won’t know until the editing room which parts are really essential to tell the story. Things that may have seemed terribly important in the writing will turn out to be unnecessary or redundant.

      Steven Soderbergh has a philosophy that he employs with every film he makes. Once he’s done shooting the script, he finds the most important scene in the movie, the part that he was most excited about and that made him want to make the movie in the first place, and he’ll immediately throw it out. If the movie doesn’t still work without that scene, he believes that he’s failed as a director.

  8. Everyone is ragging on Goblet of Fire for opposite reasons: it took too much out or it put too much in. Azkaban is my favorite, but Goblet’s the best of the films.

    Instead of merely being a year-in-the-life story with some mystery at the edges, the Tri-Wizard Tournament makes the movie exciting and gives it the consistent narrative drive that none of the other films had until Deathly Hallows.

    The interactions between the three leads was more volatile and fascinating thanks to the hormones hinted at in the third film coming to fruition, the three action set pieces are set up and executed brilliantly (I love the dragon scene, by the way), and it’s got the strongest emotional climax and denouement of all the films. The only thing I dislike is that the whole of the mystery is relegated to a quick sequence just before the climax.

    Half-Blood Prince may have it beat in cinematography, Azkaban may have way better direction and music, but Goblet is the story power-house of the series with only Deathly Hallows Part I in competition.

    • This I agree with fully, the “mystery” of Goblet really wasnt even touched by the other books till the finale and there wasnt anything in the movies that had an impact like the finale Goblet, the rise of Voldemort and the actual killing of a student, even with the added attack in Half Blood none of the other movies (well besides Dumbledores death) had an impact like Goblet did, I’m not sure how anyone can see a disjointed story with terrible direction because everything fits together so well in Goblet, all of it makes sense and relates

      • Josh Zyber

        Honestly, I think you guys are letting your fondness for the book color your opinion of the movie. My wife is a big fan of all the books, and Goblet of Fire is her favorite for a lot of the reasons you cite. However, for someone who hasn’t read it, the events you mention don’t have a lot of impact on film because the movie just skims from plot-point to plot-point.

        Gareth, you say that “Everyone is ragging on Goblet of Fire for opposite reasons: it took too much out or it put too much in.” Well, that’s the peculiar thing about that movie. It somehow does BOTH. It crams in a ton of storylines, but then cuts the meat out of all of them. There’s no weight to any of the events. We only get the barest surface-level reading of the story.

        Luke nails it above when he describes it as an “And then…” story. “This happened… and then this happened… and then this happened… and then THIS…” Have you ever listened to a young kid try to describe his favorite book or movie to you by telling you everything that happened in it? The movie is like that.

        The death of Cedric Diggory may have been a hugely traumatic event in the book, because he was a major character who was developed over a long period of time. In the movie, this comes across as just a superficial plot twist, because we hardly know the character. He was just introduced to us shortly before, and the sum total of his personality is “studly jock guy.” Are we supposed to cry when he dies? We barely know who he is. He’s a Red Shirt who was introduced into the story just to be killed off.

        My $.02.

        • I should mention that I’ve read the books, but only once and in Spanish translation to learn the language better (I’d read from Harold Bloom that the prose in English is reprehensible). I liked the books as page-turning foreign language primers, but I’m no fan.

          I don’t wholly disagree with Diggory being a Red Shirt. He’s not a terribly deep character, but he shows himself to be a generally good kid throughout the film. What is affecting about his death is that he is just a kid, his murder is absolutely senseless and coldblooded, and it’s the first time that the up-until-now children’s movie series deals directly with death.

          I won’t convince you otherwise, but those are my two cents.

          Had they, however, trimmed the World Quidditch Cup and Rita Skeeter, it would have made for a trimmer, better film. I like Miranda Richardson, and I like her here, but there’s no plot reason to have either her or the first half of the first act in the film.

          • Funny, I would have liked the Quidditch World Cup to have been longer! Seriously, you focus the world cup, but there is not one moment of Quidditch in the movie? Talk about an incomplete thought!

  9. There is one that I think every book-lover forgets about movies – they are two completely different mediums. A book’s format and pacing when translated perfectly to the big screen never works. Take ‘Watchmen’ for example. Faithful adaptation, TERRIBLE movie.

    Think of ‘Ender’s Game.’ The ending of the book would never work in a film. It absolutely anticlimactic! But in the book it works just fine.

    Every book needs to be tweaked for the screen, but die-hard fans of the written work are always up in arms when they see the film. Book lovers need to remember that adaptation is necessary for words to leap off the pages onto the big screen.

    • You hit the nail on the head with your WATCHMAN comparison. I have stated elsewhere I think that movie should be shown to film students as to why a faithful adaptation of a written work (yes, even a graphic novel, which is at least 50% visual) doesn’t translate to the screen without adjusting it to the medium. What’s the best part of Snyder’s WATCHMEN? The opening credits – the only part in the film (aside from the slightly changed ending) where he deviated from the original.

      I think that’s why DEATHLY HALLOWS works the best for me…not only wasn’t it a slave to the book, but there’s actually scenes in the movie that aren’t in the book at all.

  10. I want to point out that, while its not one of my favorites, I do have a fondness for the first movie. It is the only movie I saw before I read the books, and it hooked me. It was also my first date with the girl I was planning to marry – before she passed away. Point is, fond memories of that movie, and I have probably watched it more than any of the others, although mainly for nostalgic reasons!