The final chapter of the Harry Potter saga is almost in theaters. It's almost over. All over. The movies have had their ups and downs over the years, but even when down they've been phenomenally entertaining. It's an unbelievable, yet inevitable thing that the series would end. Let's take a backwards glance at how the movies have progressed.
We started out, of course, with The Sorcerer's Stone, directed by Chris Columbus. The philosophy was a strict adherence to the plot of the book, which worked well in its favor. Personally I felt that a few things were handled better in the movie than they were in the book, such as how Harry found out he was a wizard. In the book Hagrid tells him he's a wizard, and then immediately explains about Voldemort. It seemed like Harry was learning two big things all at once, while the movie let him soak in that he was a wizard before bringing in the reality of his past. Ultimately I preferred the book, but the movie did a fantastic job of sticking to the original plot while tidying up a few rusty areas. If there was one thing that the movie did wrong, it was the pacing. The same pacing that worked for a book was a little too slow for a movie. Other than that, though, the movie was great.
The Chamber of Secrets, again directed by Chris Columbus, naturally followed the same formula. It was, again, a little too slow, but that was an acceptable effect of being so faithful to the original. It didn't make improvements as much as the first, and compared to the book it can feel lacking, but there was one exception. In the book, the final confrontation had the way to beat the villan given to him, while in the movie he figured it out on his own, which made him seem like a more resourceful hero. Again, I prefer the book, but the movie had one thing going for it that the book didn't.
That sort of thing pretty much stopped with The Prisoner of Azkaban. Compared to the book this is the first that starts to feel really sparse. It is still an excellent movie in it's own right, one of the best, but it was the first that didn't beat the original in any respect. Still, it helps that this one struck its own identity since it couldn't contain everything from the book. Under the guidence of Alfonso Cuarón, Harry Potter's world came to life more than it ever had before or since. It also felt better paced than the previous movies, moving at the right speed. To this date it is still one of the best Harry Potter movies of all time.