Harry's odyssey, which ends in "Part 2" with the inevitable showdown between Daniel Radcliffe's Harry and Ralph Fiennes's nose-challenged Lord Voldemort, was always pitched as a battle royal between the forces of light and dark. For many of their young enthusiasts, the books and movies probably represented, for the first time on the page or on screen, a true reckoning with the forces of death and sacrifice (although death, in the "Potter" universe, is often a transitory state). This is a big reason why the films (which are not so much adaptations of the novels as they are emanations of them) have become very personal affairs for their fans.
This intense attachment, of course, is not, in itself, a signifier of quality. The "Lord of the Rings" franchise inspired a similar cultishness, but that was OK. Those films were mostly very good. The "Star Wars" franchise, however, long ago lost its luster, if not its fanatical following, after an interminable run of awful sequels and prequels. As examples of fantasy filmmaking, as opposed to relics of worship, the "Harry Potter" movies do not, except in snatches, have the lyrical wonderfulness and visionary power that I associate with the finest examples of childhood imaginings on film – the animated films of Hayao Miyazaki ("Spirited Away"), for example, or "The Black Stallion" or "The Red Balloon" or Alfonso Cuarón's "A Little Princess." With the exception of the third installment, "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban," directed by Cuarón, the films have ranged from workmanlike (the first two, both directed by Chris Columbus) to highly accomplished, especially the two "Deathly Hallows" films, directed by David Yates.