As I just watched the first seven Harry Potter movies in a fairly short span of time (less than 3 weeks). I thought I'd refresh your memory before you go see installment number eight (if you haven't already). I give a quick recap as well as a couple personal remarks on the film and acting.
I finished movie 7 last night and now I'm dying to see the movie but I'm home with a recovering little boy this weekend so it will have to wait a bit longer.
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
Year 1 at Hogwarts (age 11)
We are introduced to all the main characters and the wizarding world. Hagrid gives Dudley a pig's tail. Harry buys his wand in Diagon Alley and receives his owl as a gift. First year students arrive by boat to Hogwarts and the sorting hat places them in houses. Harry is anonymously gifted his father's invisibility cloak. Fluffy, the three-headed dog guards the sorcerer's stone. A troll is set loose in the castle. Professor Quirrel teaches Defense Against the Dark Arts. Ron, Hermione, and Harry defeat a wizard obstacle course to keep the sorcerer's stone from falling into the hands of Lord Voldemort.
The actors are SO young and such amateurs. Emma Watson gives a sincere performance as Hermione, though I always wish her teeth and hair were bigger like they are in the books. I'd forgotten how much I love Maggie Smith (Professor McGonagall) and how tender the relationship between Harry and Hagrid is in this film.
H.P. and the Chamber of Secrets
Year 2, age 12
Dobby the house elf visits Harry and attempts to keep him from returning to Hogwarts in various ways. The Weasley boys rescue Harry from the Dursley's in their flying car. Ron and Harry arrive at Hogwarts by way of the flying car, narrowly escaping death from the Whomping Willow. Hagrid receives a dragon egg but the baby dragon is sent off to Romania when Draco Malfoy reports it. The delightfully humorous Professor Lockhart teaches DADA. Ron and Harry miraculously escape death by spiders. Moaning Myrtle leads Ron, Harry and Lockhart to the entrance to the chamber of secrets after Hermione is petrified. Harry kills the basilisk. The handsome Tom Riddle is defeated before killing Ginny Weasley to rise as Voldemort.
The actors seem at least two years older than the previous film, which they probably were. Harry suddenly isn't a little boy anymore with his Adam's apple and deeper voice. Ron's voice is changing. Emma Watson's acting is stiff and forced.
H.P. and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Year 3, age 13
Harry accidentally uses magic on Uncle Vernon's sister and takes the night bus to get away. Students arrive to Hogwarts by carriage. The professors and ministry of magic believe that Sirius Black, Harry's godfather has escaped Azkaban Prison to kill Harry. Remus Lupin, a werewolf, teaches DADA. Hagrid becomes a teacher and introduces us to Buckbeak. The Marauders' Map comes into play. Hermoine storms out of Divination class. The dementors torment Harry. Peter Pettigrew is discovered. No appearance of Voldemort.
Best movie so far by a long shot. First H.P. movie directed by Alfonso Cuaron instead of Chris Columbus. The first to feature Michael Gambon as Professor Dumbledore after the death of Richard Harris. I love Gambon but didn't like his version of Dumbledore as well as I'd liked Harris', or perhaps it was just difficult to adjust to the change. Emma Thompson, Gary Oldman, and David Thewlis inject a much needed shot of professionalism and excitement to the cast. They give incredible performances, especially when compared to Emma Watson's pained and annoying portrayal of Hermione Granger. Danielle Radcliffe and Rupert Grint have a little too much confidence for 13 year-olds but have definitely improved as actors. The sexual tension between Ron and Hermione is sometimes cheesy and overdone and other times cute and realistic. The friendship between Harry and Hermione is beautiful and a bit too mature for their age but I believe it was in the books too, perhaps it was to reflect that their experiences in life have been more mature than others their age.
HP and the Goblet of Fire
Year 4, age 14
Harry and the Weasley Boys all sport much longer hair in this movie. The film begins with the Quiddich World Cup, which is awesome but ends with Death Eaters spoiling the fun. Hogwarts hosts the Triwizard Tournament. Harry Potter is put in as a competitor. Mad Eye/Alister Moody teaches DADA. Ron and Harry have a falling out. Rita Skeeter "reports" on the tournament events. Each contestant has to battle a dragon, breathe underwater, and face the maze. There is a ball. Harry is plagued by visions of Voldemort's doings. The pensieve comes into play as does verita serum. Sirius remains in hiding but keeps in touch with Harry. Voldemort regains a strong body, partly by means of Harry's blood. Harry sees someone die.
Gambon plays a far too angry a Dumbledore. New director = Mike Newell. First HP movie to get a PG-13 rating rather than just a PG.
Brandon claims the highlight of this film is the crowd-surfing midget.
HP and the Order of the Phoenix
Year 5, age 15
Harry and Dudley are attacked by dementors. Harry faces trial at the Ministry of Magic for use of underage magic. Luna Lovegood is introduced:) Thestrals pull the carriages from the train station to Hogwarts. Prof. Deloris Umbridge teaches DADA by order of the Ministry, then takes over as Grand Inquisitor of Hogwarts and finally as Headmistress. Hagrid finds his half-brother. Harry takes private lessons on occumency from Snape and discovers that James Potter was a bit of a bully. The Room of Requirement comes into play. Dumbledore's Army learns from Harry how to defend themselves. The D.A. fights death eaters in the department of mysteries. Harry looses someone else close to him. Friends take heart in the fact that they have something worth fighting for.
Emma Watson manages to not look like every word coming out of her mouth is going to make her cry, which is a huge improvement, actually her acting is VASTLY improved. Have I mentioned how Prof. McGonagall is possibly the best character in the film series? The HP series gets its fourth and final director, David Yates. And I have to admit, I really think Daniel Radcliffe is great as Potter. Tom Felton is still way overacting as Draco Malfoy after five films.
HP and the Half-Blood Prince
Year 6, age 16
The Weasley twins have opened a novelty shop. Harry suspects Draco has been initiated in as a Death Eater. Prof. Slughorn rejoins the Hogwart's staff as Potions professor. Snape takes up the post to teach DADA. The character's start using the word "snogging" a lot. Ron plays keeper in Quiddich. We learn that both of Hermoine's parents are dentists. The Sug Club. Ron has his first girlfriend. Hermione experiences heartbreak. Harry experiences heartache and romance. Harry discovers the existence of horcruxes, no easy task. One member of Hogwart's staff is killed by another.
PG rating again. Composer Nicholas Hooper leaves behind the musical themes of John Williams for a very different, very good original score (albeit not quite as magical). The three leads give great performances and Felton finally hits his stride. And another shout out to Prof. McGonagall, her character is incredibly well written and performed. Oh, and I love Alan Rickman (the actor who plays Snape), always have.
HP and the Deathly Hallows, Pt. 1
Year 7, age 17
Our main characters do not return to school this year, in fact Hogwarts is barely shown in the film. The biggest excitement occurs at the very beginning when practically every member of The Order of the Phoenix risks their life to get Harry from his home to the enchantment protected Weasley home. Two important characters die in this transaction (I think it was three in the book). When The Order is attacked during a Weasley wedding, Harry, Ron, and Hermione are forced to go into hiding.
The Death Eaters take over the Ministry of Magic where Harry, Hermione, and Ron have to use some Polyjuice Potion to get in and retreive something very important. The rest of the movie is spent with our three leads alone together living in a tent, hunting for horcruxes and a way to destroy them.
My favorite part of the movie is the telling of the tale of the Deathly Hallows which occurs in animation. Love the scenes at the Malfoy home and those in Godric's Hollow and the scene where Harry tries to lighten things up by dancing. Love Ron. Love Luna. Pretty dark and depressing overall with an ending that leaves you wanting.