The Wizarding World franchise continues with the latest installment, “Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore,” and while the prequel franchise hasn’t hit quite as heavily as the zeitgeist-domination of the “Harry Potter” series, reviews for “The Secrets of Dumbledore” are at least more positive than the previous installment.
Which got us thinking – how do all the “Harry Potter” and “Fantastic Beasts” movies stack up against one another critically? Below, we’ve ranked all the films according to their Rotten Tomatoes score to see where each installment lands. How closely does it mirror your own ranking of all the movies? Let’s find out.
“Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald” – 36%
The 2018 “Fantastic Beasts” sequel “The Crimes of Grindelwald” is the lowest-rated film in the Wizarding World franchise by a wide margin. A convoluted plot, ho-hum Johnny Depp performance and overlong running time were all cited as marks against this J.K. Rowling-penned film, and it also stands as the lowest-grossing Wizarding World film to date with $655 million worldwide.
“Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore” – 51%
After the shellacking of “Crimes of Grindelwald,” Warner Bros. enlisted “Harry Potter” screenwriter Steve Kloves to come and work on the script for the third “Fantastic Beasts” movie, and it appears the move paid off. “The Secrets of Dumbledore,” the latest entry, is being hailed as an improvement for the franchise and a move in the right direction – even if its Rotten Tomatoes score is still a far cry from the “Potter” films.
“Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” – 74%
Hope was alive when the first “Fantastic Beasts” movie hit theaters in 2016, introducing audiences to Eddie Redmayne’s Newt Scamander and a host of new Wizarding World characters while also moving the story away from the confines of Hogwarts in the U.K. to America for the first time. Reviews were largely positive if somewhat muted, with the film hitting theaters just a few years after the “Potter” franchise ended.
“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1” – 77%
The “lowest-rated” “Harry Potter” movie still has an impressive score, with 77% for two noteworthy entries in the franchise. “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1” is merely half of the final story, and the first and only Rowling book to be split into two films. This is arguably the biggest detour for the entire franchise, as it’s essentially a moody road trip movie with Harry, Ron and Hermione on the run.
“Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” – 77%
The first “Potter” film from director David Yates – who would go on to direct three more “Potter” movies and all the “Fantastic Beasts” movies (and counting) – took the franchise in a more political direction than before, and also trimmed quite a bit from Rowling’s longest book (it’s the shortest “Potter” film in runtime). This one is also held in high esteem by many fans as one of the best “Potter” movies.
“Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” – 81%
Warner Bros. bet big on the first adaptation and enlisted trusted filmmaker Chris Columbus (“Mrs. Doubtfire,” “Home Alone”) to bring J.K Rowling’s wizarding world to life. He did so to great success, and while “Sorcerer’s Stone” is more of a “kids movie” than the other installments, it's fitting given the age of the protagonists at that point in the story. Besides, the foundational work here -- from the casting to the set design -- would pay off in spades down the road.
“Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets” – 82%
Columbus’ second “Potter” film was a bit darker and, by his admission, more “his” but it also posed a challenge to filmmakers as they tried to pack all the story from the book into one movie. “Chamber of Secrets” is one of the longest films in the franchise, and there’s even an extended cut on DVD and Blu-ray.
“Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” – 84%
Perhaps one of the more divisive films among fans, “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” features some of the franchise's lightest moments (at times it’s a downright romantic comedy) and some of its darkest (the last 20 minutes are an emotional roller coaster). Extra points for director David Yates and cinematographer Bruno Delbonnel’s boundary-pushing aesthetic choices here.
“Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” – 88%
The fourth film in the franchise bites off a lot – there’s the introduction of the TriWizard Tournament which means a bounty of set pieces, there’s the rift between Harry and Ron, there’s Robert Pattinson as Cedric, and there’s the introduction of Voldemort. It’s a testament to the filmmakers (and director Mike Newell, who took point here) that it works as well as it does while also covering a serious amount of ground.
“Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban” – 90%
Oscar-winning director Alfonso Cuarón was an esteemed choice to bring in to the “Potter” franchise after Chris Columbus stepped back into a producing role after directing the first two films, and he made some choices that would set the franchise up for success in the future. For one, the decision was made on this film to tell the story entirely from Harry’s point of view, which helped in adapting Rowling’s increasingly large books. Additionally, Cuarón brought a playfulness and freedom to the characters, really allowing the actors to take ownership of the roles for a story about what it means to become a teenager. This is hailed by many as the best “Potter” film of them all.
“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2” – 96%
But tops on Rotten Tomatoes goes to the closing installment, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2.” Ending any franchise is hard, but it helped here that Rowling’s books had already ended on a graceful and emotional note. Director David Yates’ operatic approach to this film, and decision to position “Part 2” almost entirely at Hogwarts during the final battle with Voldemort, was inspired. And that Snape flashback sequence? Possibly the most emotional moment in the entire series.