Our Review of the ‘Return to Hogwarts’ Special on HBO Max

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SPOILER ALERT: This post contains spoilers for the Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return to Hogwarts special on HBO Max. If you do not wish to have aspects of the special spoiled for you, we recommend you stop reading past this point. Thank you!

Related: New Images & Details for the “Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Returns to Hogwarts” Special Coming to HBO Max

Our Review of the 'Return to Hogwarts' Special on HBO Max

Calling all Witches and Wizards! The Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return to Hogwarts is now streaming on HBO Max and be prepared for a trip down memory lane!

HBO Max subscribers can join original cast members Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, 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 as they reminisce about the decade long journey to creating all 8 Harry Potter films.

A synopsis for the special from HBO Max shares, “The retrospective special will tell an enchanting making-of story through all-new in-depth interviews and cast conversations, inviting fans on a magical first-person journey through one of the most beloved film franchises of all time.

Related: New Trailer Revealed for ‘Return to Hogwarts’ Special Coming to HBO Max

Our Review of the 'Return to Hogwarts' Special on HBO Max

We want to share that the special is informative and emotional for lifelong fans of the hit series, but does follow a slower cadence. There is a lot of information and video footage shared from over the years, as well as touching reunions, one-on-one conversations between the special guests, and plenty of stories shared by the iconic trio about their journey during the filming process. Overall, the special is just shy of the 2-hour mark, so be sure to schedule enough time to watch the special the whole way through.

As a note: Author J.K. Rowling has found herself in hot water after anti-trans comments she has made in recent years and any footage used in the special was recycled footage from an interview back in 2019 at the Warner Bros. Studios in London. According to Warner Bros., Rowling was not actively involved in the filming for this special.

If you find yourself still in love with the books and films you will be enthralled by the magical storytelling featured in this special. Admittedly, those who may just be casual fans or are not interested in the series or creative process of the franchise will likely find the special uneventful and potentially boring. Return to Hogwarts heavily pulls on the nostalgic heartstrings of those who proudly call themselves Hogwarts Students or Alumni to this day. So we recommend watching this with fellow Harry Potter fans or on your own to enjoy it fully.

Related: Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, and Rupert Grint Host ‘Return to Hogwarts’ Reunion Coming to HBO Max

Our Review of the 'Return to Hogwarts' Special on HBO Max

The cast and crew share some fun and funny stories about their tenure. We also get to witness the raw emotions from the cast as they share fond memories of cast members who have passed away over the years including Alan Rickman (Severus Snape), Richard Griffiths (Vernon Dursley), Richard Harris (Albus Dumbledore, The Sorcerer’s Stone and The Chamber of Secrets), Helen McCrory (Narcissa Malfoy), John Hurt (Garrick Ollivander), and Return to Hogwarts also featured a special tribute to other members of the Harry Potter family who have passed such as Robert Hardy (Fudge), Dave Legeno (Fenrir Greyback), Hazel Douglas (Bathilda Bagshot), Verne Troyer (Griphook (body double)), Timothy Bateson (Kreacher), Elizabeth Spriggs (the Fat Lady) Terence Bayler (The Bloody Baron), Robert Knox (Marcus Belby), and more.

Overall (and as a proud Ravenclaw Alumni myself), I have to say that I was moved to tears, shared in the laughs, and appreciated the love that remains between the cast. There is also a clear longing across the board to never forget the foundational relationships that have led the cast on their journies beyond the Harry Potter films.

Have you watched the Return to Hogwarts special yet? What was your favorite story or moment? We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments. Be sure to check back here at Chip and Company for updates and all things Wizarding World!

Featured Photo Credit: HBO Max


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Kaitlyn is a writer, painter, and artist based just north of Baltimore, Maryland. She is a previous participant in the Disney College Program and has years of experience with Walt Disney World Parks and Resorts and with Universal Orlando Resort. Her and her big 'Ohana are frequent visitors to the parks and resorts and she is always up for another trip to visit her favorite castles! Kaitlyn is the News & Entertainment Writer for Chip and Company and is passionate about writing and storytelling.
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