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Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return to Hogwarts review: It's a Dementor's Kiss but there’s a Patronus Charm

Be ready to cry, laugh, go aww and be disappointed while watching Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return to Hogwarts.

Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return to Hogwarts review: It's a Dementor's Kiss but there’s a Patronus Charm

Last Updated: 09.40 AM, Dec 31, 2021


Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return to Hogwarts takes fans on a magical first-person journey through one of the most beloved film franchises of all time, reuniting Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, and other esteemed cast members and filmmakers from all eight Harry Potter films for the first time to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the franchise's first film, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.

Helena Bonham Carter, Robbie Coltrane, Ralph Fiennes, Jason Isaacs, Gary Oldman, Tom Felton, James Phelps, Oliver Phelps, Mark Williams, Bonnie Wright, Alfred Enoch, Ian Hart, Toby Jones, Matthew Lewis, Evanna Lynch, producer David Heyman, and filmmakers Chris Columbus, Alfonso Cuarón, Mike Newell, and David Yates join the memorable tribute.


Eight magical films, five directors, innumerable memorable characters, and one name: Harry Potter! The series has some different definitions among the Potterheads who have grown up with it for the past two decades. There are millions of fans who know the series inside and out, so discussing trivia with them is surely unmatchable and insightful. But did the much-awaited Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return to Hogwarts feel the same? Well...


Unlike the recent, much-anticipated Friends: The Reunion, the Harry Potter reunion takes a slight fictional turn with each cast member getting their invitation as a Hogwarts letter and them rushing to the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Yes, the whole universe of Harry Potter revolves around Harry Potter, Ron Weasley, and Hermione Granger, played by Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, and Emma Watson, respectively. But it could not have been possible without JK Rowling, who created these iconic characters.

It was known that the controversial author would not be a part of the reunion. But she is, in a slightly unexpected way. However, she is mentioned throughout the 105 minutes as she was an active participant in getting the film executed the way it was.

The sad part is that there are a few characters who weren't given the undivided attention they deserved. Michael Gambon, who replaced Richard Harris post-his death as Albus Dumbledore, was not even mentioned once and given enough credit for taking this important character forward in the rest of the six films. Moreover, Dame Maggie Smith, as Minerva McGonagall, not only failed to mark her presence at the reunion but also failed to get a mention during the process. These two legends have been a part of the Harry Potter series as a whole, and fans deserved to see them at least praised or discussed by the rest of the cast members.

This is one of the many downfalls of the reunion special, as many feel as if they have all just lost the magic somewhere.

The reunion felt more like catching up and discussing notes, which fans are aware of and have them stuck in their minds for eternity. No doubt, I grabbed some tissues for many teary-eyed moments. "After all this time? Always!" But the Potterhead in me left me wanting more.

There's something from the recent Spider-Man: No Way Home that has stayed with me. Zendaya's character MJ says, "If you expect disappointment, then you can never really be disappointed."

But how can you not expect something from the Harry-freaking-Potter reunion special?

Well, you can expect a lot of things for which they managed to deliver the bare minimum. The reunion felt more like them discussing how life was for them back then and how Harry Potter made them what they are. But what about the billions of fans who dedicated their childhood to making the series a huge success? Even now, fans visit The Wizarding World of Harry Potter across the world to relive their childhood. But in this 105-minute-long reunion special, they hardly get any tribute.

The show-stealer of the title is hands down Helena Bonham Carter, who played the notorious Bellatrix Lestrange. It's worth watching her camaraderie with Radcliffe and Gary Oldman, who played Sirius Black, discuss how she changed the vibe on the sets. It felt like she was still in character while being a part of the show, or rather, I can say, the only one who got the assignment right.

Over 10 years, five directors helmed the Harry Potter films: Chris Columbus (1–2), Alfonso Cuarón (3), Mike Newell (4), and David Yates (5–8). All of them come together and discuss their process of how they moulded the whole series in their way. Oh yes, the Order of the Phoenix gets mentioned twice and discussed twice at length.

Reunion bounces back and forth on the interpersonal relationships the characters shared. And fans, don’t be calm. Tom Felton, who played Draco Malfoy, and Watson as Granger, clear the air on the bond they shared back in the day.

There's also an In Memoriam sequence which pays tribute to all actors we lost from the Harry Potter universe including Alan Rickman as Professor Snape, Helen McCrory as Narcissa Malfoy, Richard Griffiths as Vernon Dudley among others.

These minute moments make the whole reunion special and palpable; otherwise, it's just a major snoozefest, which is a bad dream for a Potterhead.

Be ready to cry, laugh, go aww and be disappointed while watching Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return to Hogwarts.


Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return to Hogwarts is long-ish, even for Potterheads who have the patience to binge-watch all of the eight films in one go. But let's just take our wands out and express gratitude to the makers for finally making this happen, despite the sad execution.


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