July 31st is both Harry Potter's and J.K. Rowling's birthdays. Hard to believe Harry and I are nearly the same age. I came into the franchise a little late compared to many people as I didn't start reading the books until Order of the Phoenix was coming out in theaters. Boy, am I glad I did, because the books are fantastic.
I have watched the films numerous times, as I own them all on DVD. It's hard to really try to rank them in any order. From the moment Sorcerer's Stone begins, until the credits roll on Deathly Hallows we are pulled into a magical world. We know we are setting off on a journey both strange and marvelous. These characters grab hold of us and refuse to let us go. It's always a nice experience to actually see the characters grow up before our very eyes, and that is what the films gave to us. We watched as Harry, Ron, and Hermione transitioned from three bright-eyed First Years into strong, competent wizards.
The films are wonderfully made, well cast, and extremely enjoyable to watch. For the most part they are very faithful adaptions to the books as well, with the exception of how they chose to conclude things in Deathly Hallows Pt.2. I wasn't disappointed, just rather perplexed at some of the changes they chose to go with. Still, it gave us a riveting experience and climactic battle not just for Hogwarts, but the fate the Wizarding World as a whole. All in all there isn't much I can criticize in regards to this.
The cast is superb in general. Daniel Radcliffe does an excellent job as our titular character. He gives such a deep performance throughout the entire series that it is hard to imagine anyone else being able to don the spectacles and scar. Rupert Grint and Emma Watson were simply wonderful as Harry's best mates. And the actors/actresses who bring the Hogwarts teachers to life are, in many cases, legendary. It was hard to lose Sir Richard Harris after a couple of films into the role of Professor Dumbledore. He brought out the kindly, wizened, caring side that made you fall in love with him in the books. Sir Michael Gambon was an admirable replacement and carried the role out well.
It's hard to say who I liked more between Dame Maggie Smith's portrayal of Professor McGonagall or Alan Rickman's Severus Snape. Well, actually that's a bit of a lie. I truly adore Maggie Smith, and her skill she brought to Professor McGonagall was masterful. However, I believe that there was no one more outstanding, more talented throughout the entirety of the series than Rickman. Fair warning, spoilers ahead...
Once you see where his character's arc takes him, it is simply amazing. To go back and watch the series throughout with the knowledge of who Snape turns out to be gives you a whole new level of the story and of his performance. The series may be titled Harry Potter, it is Severus Snape, and Alan Rickman, who are the true hero and star in my opinion.
There are many other performances that make this series memorable. Julie Walters' Molly Weasley is easily one of the most endearing characters. Gary Oldman as Sirius Black, David Thewlis as Remus Lupin, Ralph Fiennes as Lord Voldemort, and Helena Bonham Carter's Bellatrix LeStrange, the list goes on. It is hard to imagine a more well rounded and masterful cast than what we have here.
All in all, I absolutely love this series and recommend it to anyone who even has a passing interest. I highly recommend the books as well.
Happy Birthday Harry!!!! Happy Birthday J.K.!!!!!!