An obsessive fan's guide to the first seven Harry Potter films


Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
Nov. 16, 2001
Box Office $317.6 million
Director Chris Columbus
New Cast Members Everyone
The Story Ten years after losing his parents — and gaining a lightning-bolt scar — in a battle with the evil Lord Voldemort, 11-year-old orphan Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) learns a shocking truth about himself: He’s a wizard. Leaving the home of his nonmagical (or Muggle, in Potter-speak) aunt and uncle, Harry enrolls in Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, where he’s introduced to spell-casting, the aerial-rugby game Quidditch, and, of course, his best pals Ron (Rupert Grint) and Hermione (Emma Watson). Under the tutelage of headmaster Albus Dumbledore (Richard Harris), bumbling Professor Quirrell (Ian Hart), and Severus Snape (Alan Rickman), the trio study the magical arts — and uncover a dark plot to bring Voldemort back to power.
Key Scene After surmounting a series of puzzle challenges, Harry has his first post-infancy encounter with Voldemort, who’s grafted himself onto the back of Quirrell’s head.
Memorable Quote ”Ah, Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans. I was most unfortunate in my youth to come across a vomit-flavored one. And since then I’m afraid I’ve lost my liking for them. But I think I could be safe with a nice toffee. [Eats it] Alas, earwax.” —Dumbledore
Fun Fact ”The kids liked to get the makeup people to give them gashes,” Robbie Coltrane, who played Hogwarts’ giant critter-loving gamekeeper, Hagrid, told EW in 2001. ”Daniel got one to give him a black eye, and he came in in the morning and the other ones said, ‘Oh my God! What happened?”’
EW Critic Lisa Schwarzbaum’s Review ”This long, dense, special-effects-laden movie, crammed with subplots involving dragons, ghosts, bullies, evildoers, and moments spent in front of the dark, tantalizing Mirror of Erised that reflects Harry’s sad longing to be reunited with his dead parents, feels as familiar as worn flannel. That sense of déjà vu is at once this Harry Potter’s balm and its limitation: many charms, but few surprises.” B

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Nov. 15, 2002
Box Office $262 million
Director Chris Columbus
New Cast Members Kenneth Branagh (Professor Gilderoy Lockhart), Toby Jones (voice of house elf Dobby), Jason Isaacs (wicked Lucius Malfoy), Shirley Henderson (ghost Moaning Myrtle)
The Story During Harry’s second year at Hogwarts, a series of messages written in blood leads Harry, Hermione, and Ron into the heart of a mystery that involves former student Tom Riddle and Lockhart, the new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher.
Key Scene Harry and rival classmate Draco Malfoy (Tom Felton) are picked by Professors Lockhart and Snape to demonstrate proper dueling technique in front of Hogwarts’ student body. But when Draco conjures up a vicious cobra, Harry learns more about his mysterious ability to communicate with snakes.
Memorable Quotes ”Oh, Harry? If you die down there, you’re welcome to share my toilet.” —Moaning Myrtle
”Now, Harry, you must know all about Muggles. Tell me, what exactly is the function of a rubber duck?” —Arthur Weasley
Fun Facts Hugh Grant was in the running to play vain author/teacher Lockhart, a part that ultimately went to Branagh. ”Ken seems to disappear into any role,” Columbus told EW in 2002. ”I didn’t want people to see Gilderoy and say, ‘Oh my God! That’s Hugh Grant!”’
Also: ”Who knows how many [of the Potter films] I’ll do?” Radcliffe told EW in 2002. ”I’m doing the third, but after that they probably won’t want me. But it’s been good while it’s lasted.”
EW Critic Lisa Schwarzbaum’s ReviewChamber of Secrets is an improvement on Sorcerer’s Stone not only because the director and his team are more confident about what they can do, but also because they’re less uptight and defensive about what they can’t.” B+

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
June 4, 2004
Box Office $250 million
Director Alfonso Cuarón
New Cast Members Michael Gambon (replacing the late Richard Harris as Albus Dumbledore), Gary Oldman (Harry’s godfather, Sirius Black), Emma Thompson (Divination professor Sybill Trelawney), David Thewlis (Professor Remus Lupin), Timothy Spall (sneaky Peter Pettigrew)
The Story At the start of Harry’s third year at Hogwarts, he discovers that the dangerous criminal Sirius Black — who was thought to be instrumental in his parents’ deaths — has escaped from Azkaban prison by turning into a dog. Worse, Black may be plotting to kill Harry.
Key Scene Remus Lupin, the new Defense Against the Dark Arts instructor, teaches how to fight Boggarts (which take whatever shape most frightens the intended victim) with a charm that changes the Boggart into something funny. Ron conjures up a spider on roller skates; Neville (Matthew Lewis) dresses Snape in his grandmother’s clothes. Lupin — who we’ll later learn is a werewolf — sees a moon (which he turns into a deflating balloon). Harry is unable to complete the spell when he sees a Dementor like the one that recently terrorized him.
Memorable Quotes ”The very first time I saw you, Harry, I recognized you immediately. Not by your scar, by your eyes. They’re your mother Lily’s.” —Remus Lupin
”Normally, I have a very sweet disposition as a dog…. The tail I could live with. But the fleas? They’re murder.” —Sirius Black on transforming into a dog
Fun Fact At his first lunch with the young stars, Cuarón instructed each to write an essay about their character. Watson turned in an 11-page tome (”It was the first time I had thought about Hermione’s character in such detail,” she said in 2004), while Grint — in a move fitting Ron Weasley — blew off the assignment.
EW Critic Owen Gleiberman’s Review ”Shot in spooky gradations of silver and shadow, Prisoner of Azkaban is the first movie in the series with fear and wonder in its bones, and genuine fun, too.” B+

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Nov. 18, 2005
Box Office $290 million
Director Mike Newell
New Cast Members Brendan Gleeson (Professor Mad-Eye Moody), Miranda Richardson (tabloid reporter Rita Skeeter), Ralph Fiennes (Voldemort), Robert Pattinson (Hogwarts schoolmate Cedric Diggory), Stanislav Ianevski (rival student Viktor Krum), Clémence Poésy (French student Fleur Delacour)
The Story Hogwarts hosts the Triwizard Tournament, in which contestants from each of Europe’s three main wizarding schools (Hogwarts, Beauxbatons, and Durmstrang) compete in a series of challenges. Thanks to some magical manipulation of a mysterious origin, Harry’s name emerges from the titular goblet as a fourth competitor — and he watches as wizard-gone-bad Peter Pettigrew murders his Hogwarts friend Cedric (on Voldemort’s orders) with the Killing Curse.
Key Scene Our young heroes also battle a different kind of unstoppable menace: puberty. After scrambling for dates for the Yule Ball, Harry and Ron are shocked to see Hermione looking grown-up and ladylike, escorted by Harry’s Triwizard competitor Krum.
Memorable Quotes ”There’s a reason those curses are unforgivable.” —Hermione
”Harry! I’d almost forgotten you were here, standing on the bones of my father. I’d introduce you, but word has it you’re almost as famous as me these days.” —Voldemort
Fun Fact Radcliffe trained for six months for the complex underwater sequence in the tournament’s second challenge. ”There was talk of someone else doing it and superimposing my face on it. That would have looked like rubbish,” he said. ”I’m glad I did it — despite the two ear infections.”
EW Critic Owen Gleiberman’s Review ”Newell has a gift for light comedy, and he knows just how to release the sour-ball charm of his fellow Brits. He’s less good at the darkness, especially when Ralph Fiennes, under a heavy glaze of very bad waxy makeup (or, quite possibly, bad CGI), ultimately emerges from the shadows — and from Harry’s recurring nightmare — as the fearsome Lord Voldemort.” B

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
July 11, 2007
Box Office $292 million
Director David Yates
New Cast Members Imelda Staunton (sinister teacher Dolores Umbridge), Helena Bonham Carter (Voldemort ally Bellatrix Lestrange), Natalia Tena (anti-Voldemort fighter Nymphadora Tonks), Evanna Lynch (loopy classmate Luna Lovegood)
The Story Harry and his crew must contend with not only Voldemort and the Death Eaters but also a more bureaucratic evil: the daintily monstrous Umbridge, a tea-sipping Ministry of Magic official who wrests control of Hogwarts from Dumbledore. Harry militarizes his fellow students in secret to combat Voldemort, just as his parents had joined Dumbledore’s Order of the Phoenix when they were at Hogwarts. Sadly, a battle between the Order and Voldemort’s minions in the halls of the Ministry results in the death of Sirius Black.
Key Scene The full extent of Umbridge’s sadism is unveiled when she forces Harry to write lines with a quill that causes the words to simultaneously be etched onto the back of his hand.
Memorable Quote ”Working hard is important, but there’s something that matters even more — believing in yourself. Think of it this way: Every great wizard in history has started out as nothing more than we are now — students. If they can do it, why not us?” —Harry, rallying his classmates
Fun Fact The fifth book is the longest in the series, yet Order of the Phoenix is the shortest of the films. Scenes that got the ax involved Dobby, tireless reporter Rita Skeeter, and Ron’s triumph in Quidditch.
EW Critic Lisa Schwarzbaum’s Review ”Gone are the childish diversions of Quidditch matches and other jewel-toned visual manifestations of magical thinking, and in their place is an attitude of grim, adult risk taking.” B+

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
July 15, 2009
Box Office $302 million
Director David Yates
New Cast Members Jim Broadbent (Potions professor Horace Slughorn), Dave Legeno (werewolf Fenrir Greyback)
The Story Not even Hogwarts is safe as Voldemort grows increasingly powerful, recruiting Slytherins like Draco and Snape to his cause. On a brighter note, love starts to flicker in the face of danger, as Harry and Ron’s sister, Ginny (Bonnie Wright), share a kiss, and Ron and Hermione feel jealousy over the attention each gets from the opposite sex. But this film will always be remembered for three shocking words: Snape kills Dumbledore.
Key Scene Of course there’s Snape’s apparent act of treachery, but the icing on the arsenic cake is the revelation to Harry that Snape is also the mysterious Half-Blood Prince whose old Potions textbook, scribbled with shortcuts in the margins, Harry has been using all year.
Memorable Quote ”You dare use my own spells against me, Potter? Yes. I’m the Half-Blood Prince.” —Snape to Harry after Dumbledore’s death
Fun Fact This film marks the last time the characters spend an academic year at Hogwarts, and thus the last time the actors had to wear school uniforms. Radcliffe didn’t miss them. ”I was hoping they’d throw them on a giant pyre,” the actor told EW. ”When you’re 18, one of the worst things to be wearing while trying to chat up a girl on the set is a school uniform. You look like a kid! You’re not going to score dressed like that!”
EW Critic Lisa Schwarzbaum’s ReviewHalf-Blood Prince encompasses important plot developments involving both love and death. But the story is, still and all, only a pause, deferring an intensely anticipated conclusion. And it’s in that exquisite place of action and waiting that this elegantly balanced production emerges as a model adaptation.” A-

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — Part 1
Nov. 19, 2010
Box Office $295 million
Director David Yates
New Cast Members Rhys Ifans (Luna’s editor father, Xenophilius Lovegood), Bill Nighy (Minister of Magic Rufus Scrimgeour)
The Story With Voldemort in control of the Ministry of Magic, Harry, Hermione, and Ron must find and destroy the remaining Horcruxes — mystical objects in which Voldemort has stashed fragments of his soul — before the Death Eaters track them down and restore full power to the Dark Lord.
Key Scene After Ron leaves, Harry tries to cheer up Hermione by dancing with her to Muggle music: Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds’ ”O Children.” (It’s one of the few sequences from the movies that isn’t in the books.)
Memorable Quote ”Dobby never meant to kill! Dobby only meant to maim, or seriously injure!” —Harry’s loyal house elf Dobby to Bellatrix
Fun Fact When Harry, Ron, and Hermione run into a London café near the start of the film, a poster for Equus — the play in which Radcliffe made his 2007 stage debut — is on a wall in the background (though it can’t be seen in the finished film).
EW Critic Lisa Schwarzbaum’s Review ”I felt a swell of love and awe wash over me from the very first wickedly creepy scene until the profoundly moving last one…. Part 1 is the most cinematically rewarding chapter yet. What a marvel it is, this Harry Potter movie business!” A-

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

  • Movie
  • 161 minutes
  • Chris Columbus