Matters converge: a final stand at Hogwarts against Voldemort. The last part of the eight-film cycle delivers in terms of epic action sequences, resolutions for characters followed over multiple movies, and a decent coda; no real surprises, and nothing for outsiders, which is perhaps as it should be.
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Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1 (2010, dir. David Yates)
Harry and friends, now on the run, must destroy the magical items sustaining Voldemort. The first half of the final novel – more or less – is a decent chase adventure, with a darker tone than before; the splitting of the source material allows for pacing to be improved, through the structure necessitates a forced cliffhanger bridge to Part 2.
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009, dir. David Yates)
Battle lines are drawn between Voldemort’s followers and others; Harry’s studies are supported by a mysterious textbook. Decent series entry, concerned with putting pieces in place for the final conflict. Not really a stand-alone movie, but series fans won’t mind that at all.
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2007, dir. David Yates)
Voldemort’s rise develops; a fightback begins. Middling fifth instalment treading water between the establishment of the nemesis as a real threat, and its crystallisation; meanwhile, Hogwarts is put into special measures. Okay for fans, and well-enough done, but no classic.
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005, dir. Mike Newell)
Harry is mysteriously selected to take part in a wizarding tournament at Hogwarts. Fourth and perhaps the best of the sequence, balancing a stand-alone story with the developing Voldemort narrative. Little for series entrants, but a confident and well-made movie for fans of the books and the films to date.
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004, dir. Alfonso Cuaron)
Potter is threatened by a notorious escaped prisoner and ally of the Dark Lord. The third in the sequence is a touch darker, expanding the movie universe away from the quest-based adventures of parts 1 and 2. A step up all around, with confident direction, better effects, and actors maturing into their roles.
This Is The End (2013, dir. Seth Rogen & Evan Goldberg)
A houseful of actors face the Apocalypse. Dumb-but-fun gross-out comedy with a bunch of moderately-famous people playing versions of themselves. Self-indulgent, but everyone is in on the joke and no-one gets harmed. Fine while it’s on.
Beauty and the Beast (2017, dir. Bill Condon)
CG-tastic live-action remake of the 90s Disney musical animation. There’s a couple of new songs, but all this really adds is running time; a soulless moneyspinner that despite good performances does nothing that the original didn’t do a lot better.
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The Circle (2017, dir. James Ponsoldt)
A perfect job opportunity at a Facebook-ish company goes awry. Muted adaptation of the Dave Eggers novel that gets some things right (the casting, the production design) but fails in delivering either a propulsive narrative or in nailing the book’s ending.