As a fervent fan of the Harry Potter series, and as someone who has always been disgusted by toxic fans – the guy who attacked George Lucas and, more recently, Rian Johnson – watching Fantastic Beasts: Grindelwald's Crimes finally put things into perspective.
The film ends with a scene that was so insulting to those of us who longed for another opportunity to return to JK Rowling's Wizarding World – those of us who defended their annoying insistence to go back and fix things – that seemed like a slap in the face.
What began as harmless changes – Dumbledore's sexuality and that of another character have been altered – has turned into a belligerent crusade to actively re-write certain aspects of the Harry Potter stories we love so much.
Maybe I've fallen into the same category of toxic fandom I despise, or maybe this is proof of the greatness of his creation that inspired such a passionate response. It's a difficult situation. But of course, if anyone has the right to play with Harry Potter, it's JK Rowling.
But I remember growing up with Harry. I remember making early requests for books and reading them obsessively, again and again and again. I remember queuing for the last movie, surrounded by cohorts in black robes, ready wands. And I remember queuing again, unable to let go.
This world is significant. To make us feel, albeit slightly, that what we believed so many years ago has always been a lie, it hurts.
But we'll always have the books. Nobody can take it from us. Nor can they erase the movies from our memories.
As a remembrance, more than anything else, here is a personal classification of all Harry Potter movies, from the worst to the best – although only one movie can really be called "bad."
Fantastic Animals: The Crimes of Grindelwald
The only movie in the lot that looks like an insult. Worst of all, it was written by Rowling herself. It has nothing of the charm, subtext or whim of his previous work, and his script, alone, denies whatever talent director David Yates was trying to bring.
Fantastic Animals and Where to Find Them
It can accurately be described as the response of the Harry Potter series to films The Hobbit – highly anticipated, but perhaps too superficial for its own good. There is, however, an unmistakable joy in discovering new worlds within Rowling's magical universe.
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
It would always be a difficult task to adapt such a detailed book, and perhaps the vision of director Mike Newell was not compatible with that of the fans. Your movie has truly memorable moments – everything about the Triwizard Tournament and the Winter Ball is fantastic – but the hasty opening act still stands out. A special mention should come to the composer Patrick Doyle, whose score is one of the most memorable of the whole series.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1
It can not but seem like the first part of a larger story, but look closely and you'll notice director David Yates' absolute command over the material. He called it an existential road movie in the months leading up to the release, and I suppose that is the most accurate description possible of this film.
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Chamber of Secrets doubled everything that made the first film such a wonderful experience. It is also perhaps the last of the lot that really bothered to be true to the book.
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
The first Harry Potter movie will always have a special place in our hearts. We must also remember that for a significant chunk of Potter's fan base, the films were their introduction to the world of Rowling. And we could not have asked for a better version for the big screen. We all remember the first time we entered Diagon Alley, our first Quidditch match and our first glimpse of Lord Voldemort.
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Order of the Phoenix got the exact aspects that the Goblet of Fire failed. It was a larger, denser book to fit in, but in its sole credit for the series, Michael Goldenberg captured the gist of what made Rowling's novel a pivotal chapter in history. It was also the first David Yates film about Potter and, notably, his first theatrical feature.
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Azkaban was the first Potter film to take a daring artistic step. It could not have been more different from the two that came before, and for a film that came out in 2004, the kind of creative freedom that director Alfonso Cuaron received was remarkable. Keep in mind that at that time he was not the Academy Award-winning director of gravity. That was before Sons of Men. He was simply an acclaimed foreign filmmaker. Let's not ignore the brave risk of Warner Bros.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2
Years before Mad Max: Fury Road redefining action movies, David Yates Potter's latest film was also essentially a long-scene action. Maybe it's Yates's firm loyalty to the series, or maybe it's something else, but because fans have not yet seen their full range as a filmmaker – before Potter has directed several TV movies – we also do not appreciate much what he brought to the table. His manipulation of action is immaculate; like Ridley Scott and Justin Lin, he is able to tell smaller stories within the framework of a great set set. Not everyone can do that.
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
An unusual choice, but certainly not unworthy. Prince Mestizo is frighteningly experimental in retrospect. It has a strange tone of romantic comedy, images reminiscent of an Ingmar Bergman movie and the most beautiful rhythm of all the Harry Potter films. We forget how funny it was, and the quiet character moments that Yates peppered among the epic scope of the story.
First published: November 17, 2018 12:00 IST