After eight movies and billions of dollars in box office receipts, it's finally time for Muggles and wizards alike to say farewell to Harry Potter and the most lucrative film franchise of all time. Millions of Potter heads will flock to theaters this weekend to see the young wizard finally face off against Lord Voldemort in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2.
Potter might be the one big-screen wizard to rule them all, but he is not the only conjurer of magic to cast a spell on moviegoers over the years. Here are five memorable movie wizards that can spread their sorcery to your home theater this weekend.
The Wizard of Oz in The Wizard of Oz: OK, so the man (Frank Morgan) pulling the strings behind the curtain in Emerald City is not exactly the fearsome, flame-spewing wizard he presents himself as to Dorothy, Scarecrow, Tin Man and the Cowardly Lion, but he is still forced to assist the Yellow Brick Road travelers after they bring him the broomstick of the Wicked Witch of the West. He gives Lion a medal of courage, Scarecrow a diploma, Tin Man a heart and tries to take Dorothy back to Kansas until he accidentally takes off in his hot-air balloon without her. Leave it to a good witch to finish what a wizard cannot. The Wizard of Oz makes magic on both DVD and Blu-ray.
Merlin in Excalibur: The legend of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table is ripe for a remake, so expect a Hollywood hungry for recycled ideas to churn one out soon. For now, the best movie interpretation we've got of the sorcerer Merlin is Nicol Williamson and his shiny skull cap that was all the rage in the Dark Ages depicted in the 1981 fantasy Excalibur. Merlin is the magic man who retrieves the sword Excalibur from the Lady in the Lake and, while mortally wounded, thrusts the sword into a stone and says "he who draws the sword from the stone, he shall be king." Baby Arthur has to grow up before he can give it a yank in this movie that is available on both DVD and Blu-ray.
The Sorcerer's Apprentice in Fantasia: Although only one of eight segments featured in the 1940 animated film produced by Walt Disney, "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" casts a strong spell. Punctuated by dramatic classical music conducted by Leopold Stokowski, "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" features Mickey Mouse as the apprentice of wizard Yen Sid. When the wiz is away the mouse comes out to play, donning the wizard's hat and robe and using magic as a shortcut for his chores. Poor Mickey can't control the brooms carrying buckets of water, though, and he is soon swimming in trouble in this classic that is available on both DVD and Blu-ray.
Dumbledore in the Harry Potter Series: First portrayed by Richard Harris until his death and then recast with Michael Gambon for the remainder of the series, Dumbledore is who author J.K. Rowling refers to as "the epitome of goodness." Not only is he the headmaster of Hogwarts wizarding school, he is Harry's faithful mentor and protector—a sort of surrogate father with magical benefits. Dumbledore can unload a wizard's worth of fireballs and lightning on foes, which is impressive, but without his guidance Harry might have met his end while he was still a boy and we would have been left with two films in the series instead of eight. All of the Harry Potter movies are available on both DVD and Blu-ray.
Gandalf and Saruman in The Lord of the Rings: If we're talking about cinema's best interpretation of the classic wizard (long white hair and robes and a magical staff), no one comes close to Gandalf (Ian McKellen) and Saruman (Christopher Lee) in The Lord of the Rings trilogy. The Fellowship of the Ring contains the epic AARP smackdown between the two wizards in Saruman's tower as well as Gandalf's fall while battling a Balrog. Gandalf returns a stronger, white wizard in The Two Towers and moves against Saruman, who is creating a fearsome army of demonic Uruk-hai warriors. If you want to see how Saruman takes a tumble and meets his maker, you need to rent the extended version of The Return of the King, which also features Gandalf's last stand against the evil Lord Sauron's forces. All of The Lord of the Rings movies—both theatrical and extended versions—are now available on both DVD and Blu-ray.