Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 (2011, dir. David Yates)

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.

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.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: The Crimes of Grindelwald (2018, dir. David Yates)

After Grindelwald escapes, Newt Scamander is asked to track him and the still-alive Clarence down. Patchy Part II of the Harry Potter prequel series has too much set-up and not enough story, and some awkwardness with character and plot inconsistencies. For indulgent fans only.

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002, dir. Chris Columbus)

Harry and friends search for a hidden part of Hogwarts. Second and perhaps the least of the Rowling adaptations, this mimics the structure of the first, though adds enough novelty to please fans, and begins to develop the series mythology.