In 2001 Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone debuted to much fanfare and zealous anticipation. The famed Harry Potter discovers there is an entire world he never knew existed except for in his wildest dreams. He enrolls at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Mr. Potter is instantly popular because his reputation as the boy who lived and ended the reign of the Dark Lord Voldemort precedes him. Harry quickly becomes friends with Hermione Granger (Emma Watson) and with Ronald Weasley (Rupert Grint), the snap-crackle and pop ginger, and the triumvirate of heroes is born. The Sorcerer’s Stone was an excellent beginning that spawned an entire decade of HP fever and madness.
In 2002 Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets marveled adoring worldwide audiences. Year 2 is my favorite film of the entire series. It is like the three stars grew up overnight and started showing fantastic character growth. Quidditch is heavily featured and the rivalry between Harry and Malfoy (Tom Felton) heats up. Harry destroys the first of many horcruxes to come in the form of Tom Riddle’s diary. The house elves make their debut (Dobby and later Kreacher). Perhaps the real star of the show is Professor Gilderoy Lockhart (Kenneth Branagh), the pompous and falsely-heroic author and Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher. His bumptious antics allow Harry and the gang to flourish.
In 2004, after a dreadfully long wait, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban hit theaters. Danger is lurking everywhere. Harry and the gang receive an expert new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, Professor Lupin (David Thewlis) with a dark secret (he is a werewolf). While the gang is in the midst of pubescent changes, and wondrous discoveries, the guardians of Azkaban, the Dementors, are stationed around Hogwarts waiting for the first criminal to ever escape to make his return. Sirius Black (played by the unvanquishable Gary Oldman) has escaped the happiness-draining Dementors and is searching for Harry Potter to finish what he allegedly started by killing James and Lily Potter. Hermione further proves that her studies and hard work are paying dividends with her abilities as a witch. Throw in time-warp magic, a werewolf or two, a rat fink (Peter Pettigrew), an unforgivable mistruth and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is a star-studded mega-picture.
In 2005 Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire arrived with the debut of Robert Pattinson as Ravenclaw’s own Cedric Diggory. In year four Hogwarts is hosting the Tri-Wizard Tournament, an inimical event for which a competitor chosen by a school must be a bare minimum of 17 years of age. That is unless a professor casts a spell causing the goblet of fire to choose an underage student such as, well I don’t know, how about Harry Potter?! The newest Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher (noticing a trend yet?), Professor Mad-Eye Moody (Brendan Gleeson) arrives but not without a dark secret. The real Mad-Eye has been captured by one of Voldemort’s (Ralph Fiennes) servants, a man devoted to the Dark Lord’s quest to reanimate himself and killing HP at the same time. Will Harry live or die? With the mysterious Tournament, nothing is as it seems…
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