Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return To Hogwarts is now streaming on HBO Max. And I have got to say, what a way to start the New Year. The reunion has everything we want and so much more.

Hoggy Warty Hogwarts

Return To Hogwarts is different than the Friends reunion from last year. In this reunion we did not have a live studio audience, or even have a host. That somehow made the experience better. Although not to say the Friends one is not good, but the difference in both suits each genre. In the Harry Potter reunion, everything is at the WB London Studio. We get to see the actors interact with one another as well as a lot of behind-the-scenes footage. The absence of a live studio audience lets us enjoy the nostalgic interactions that much more deeply than if there were people yelling and cheering. The reunion here feels more like a documentary type film than a talk show experience.

Throughout Return to Hogwarts we get to hear from all four directors of the eight Harry Potter films. There is Chris Columbus, who brings us the first two movies, and who is responsible for launching the film franchise off the ground. Alfonso Cuarón, who transforms the light magical wizarding world into the darker theme it keeps for the remainder of the films. Third, Mike Newell, who introduces not just Voldemort, but also death into the series. Finally, we have David Yates, who ends the franchise by directing the last four films. We get to hear their experiences and the individual pressure each felt to perform these daunting tasks. Not just that, but also how they each helped the actors grow in their abilities and their acting skills.

Many things are worth discussing throughout the reunion. One of those is how hard fame is. Return to Hogwarts explores how at one point, Emma Watson wanted to leave the franchise. This was due to her feeling lonely and fame finally hitting home. While the other actors had each other, Emma being younger, had no one. Ultimately, as we know, she stayed and the golden trio was kept intact. Another notable point in the series is when Ron and Hermione must kiss. Both Emma and Rupert remember how horrible it is kissing someone you see as a sibling. Daniel recalls not making it any better as he adds to the tension of the situation.

Those That We Love Never Truly Leave Us…

Arguably the most heartfelt part of the reunion is remembering those that are no longer with us. There is a beautiful segment where Harry uses the Pensieve, the magical device one uses to review memories, to look at the memories of so many gone. Scenes of each actor who has since passed away come out with commentary from the cast. Among those the Harry Potter family lost are Richard Harris (Dumbledore), Richard Griffiths (Uncle Vernon), Helen McCrory (Narcissa Malfoy), John Hurt (Ollivander), and of course Alan Rickman (Severus Snape). The impact these actors have not only in the franchise, but with the people who they worked with, is evident here. Each helping the young actors by sharing tips, making them feel at ease, or being the support system every young one needs. Their loss is strongly felt because they did not just lose costars, they lost friends and family.

“After All This Time”

I am a huge Potterhead. Therefore my opinion may be a bit biased. That being said, I love this reunion. I absolutely think it is one of the best things to come out in a long time. We not only get to see some of our favorite actors back at Hogwarts, we also get to relive the magic of making the films. We see so much never before seen, behind-the-scenes footage. To see everyone back when they were younger and now grown up is bittersweet. We all grew up together it seems, as many of us are the same age as the cast.

Even so, it is not just the nostalgia that makes this reunion great. The way it looks is amazing. The way it is put together is impressive. The interactions, the scenes, the joking, and the way it is put together flows so nicely. The only complaint I have is I want more stories from the sets. Yes, they have a lot of behind-the-scenes footage, but not as many real stories of what happened. Like, I want to hear about how Tom Felton hides food in his robe and he eats a lot while filming. Stories like that are nice to hear. As well as having more of the other actors speak. Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, and Rupert Grint talk plenty, but not much of the other. Hearing more from Bonnie Wright, Evanna Lynch, or Matthew Lewis is what will make this better. Apart from that, this is close to perfect.

This is a franchise i will love… Always.

What do you think of the reunion? What is your favorite part of it all? Let me know in the comments down below.

Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return to Hogwarts is streaming now on HBO Max.

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