To Binge or Not to Binge Episode 21: Harry Potter


By Palak Jayswal, Arts Editor

Warning: This article includes spoilers for the “Harry Potter” movie series.

Harry Potter turns 38 years old today — 38 years of magic, mayhem and joy in his Wizarding World. Harry Potter was introduced to the U.S. on Sep. 1, 1998, and as we begin the third decade of holding this series near and dear to our hearts, it’s only fitting that nostalgia hits us. Especially for the muggles who have stuck with Harry and his friends every step of the way.

Fall is often associated with the magic of the “Harry Potter” series. It’s a staple in fall aesthetic photos and bookstagrams everywhere, even if the series truly began on a hot night in July. For book lovers of any genre, the biggest question posed when their beloved series is brought to life on the big screen is how accurately the plotline will be portrayed. In the case of the “Harry Potter” series, which consists of eight films, it was done extremely accurately.

It’s not an easy feat to capture the immensity and detail of a long and complex series. As the series goes on, the books get longer — some reaching 700 to 800 pages.  It’s certainly easy to take shortcuts, but not a single member of the cast or crew of this series did so. In terms of fantasy film adaptations, this is perhaps one of the most accurately recreated ones to date.

This is exactly why the “Harry Potter” series is worth the binge. It’s not a replacement for reading the books by any means, but it does do the series the justice it deserves.

Movies Recap (Spoilers Ahead!)

If you’ve only seen the first movie of the series then you’re missing out. Although “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” is integral to the launch of the series, it can easily bore people who do not watch the other films. Harry is thrown into a completely different world than the one he’s been used to for the past 11 years of his life. Just like the first book, the first film is just a taste of all the adventures Harry, Ron and Hermione go through. This first movie in the series was filmed in 2001 which is obvious when comparing the later films to it. However, this film is vital to the basic understanding of the series and it shouldn’t be skipped.

In the film adaptation of “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets,” the mystery only intensifies. Here we get the first taste of a lot of different aspects of the Wizarding World which we didn’t get in the first film. The danger of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named is still as present as ever and Harry feels threatened, to say the least, when the one place he calls home, Hogwarts, is in danger. The effects and animation in this film are of higher quality than the previous film. We meet more magical creatures and characters who are vital to the story. This film is particularly important because we can see the development of Harry’s courage continuing from the first film.

With “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban,” the development is more personal than anything else for Harry. He comes to his wit’s end with the Dursleys, his wicked adopted family, and he discovers his entire family is not dead. He’s been subjected to rumors from the Wizarding World in the past — but in this film, it reaches a new extent. With Sirius Black’s release from Azkaban and Harry’s introduction to dementors for the first time, he’s thrown into a whirlwind of time travel and blasts from the past. The effects and storyline of this film are amazing, and it is true to the novel’s plot.

“Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” is where many say the series really kicks off. It’s the film where Harry comes to terms with the situation of his life and what the return of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named means. He also learns the true meaning of sacrifice firsthand. This novel is the favorite of many fans because it’s where the series takes a significant turn. Each book and film from here after results in a death of a character.

“Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” is, in my opinion, the most underrated film and novel of the series. Perhaps it’s the painful ending which makes people think otherwise, or maybe it’s the fact that Harry is the definition of an angsty teen throughout this film. The introduction of Dolores Umbridge is both horrible and integral to the series. The character death in this part of the series is something which sticks with Harry throughout the rest of the storyline, just like his parents’ deaths did.

Things don’t get any easier for Harry in “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.” He’s now juggling the inevitable fight with Voldemort and protecting those closest to him from becoming collateral damage. He’s also falling in love for the first time and dealing with a foe he’s had from the very first film.

In the first part of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — Part 1,” we see how far Harry has come, but also how far he still has to go. It’s the ultimate culmination of seven years of fighting the prophecy that changed his life. Without his greatest advisor, Harry is lost. But he still has Ron, Hermione and many others standing beside him, and with their support, he’s able to achieve the outcome of the second part of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.”

To Binge or Not to Binge?

This series is bingeable, perhaps so much so you’ll find yourself sticking to the couch. As long as you have the patience to get past the first two films which help form the foundation, you’re golden. The Boy Who Lived has a story which is easy to get lost in and once you allow yourself to, it’ll be hard for you to not become a Potterhead. This series is bingeable for the purest reason — from the very beginning, you root for Harry and all of his friends. To stay to the end and see the outcome is difficult to resist.

Best Movie: “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — Part 1”

Similar Series: Though it’s hard to find something which can compare to this series, the “Percy Jackson and the Olympians” series comes close. “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” is a spin-off series of the Wizarding World which has all the same basic foundations. The second film of the Fantastic Beasts series is set to debut in theatres in November.

Trigger Warnings: Violence and flashing lights

Rating: 5/5 stars
“Harry Potter” Film Series
Available to stream on Hulu (with HBO subscription)
8 movies, Approximately 20 hours

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