The 'Potter' films are now the highest grossing movie franchise of all time. It helps that there are eight movies, but the immense number of fans this story has gathered is unbelievable. We've watched young actors Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, and Emma Watson grow up before our very eyes. We've witnessed good 'Potter' movies and not so good ones. However, the best has been saved for last. Part two of 'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows' is, by far, my favorite movie of the entire series.
It seems weird to say that in a summer filled with Green Lanterns, transforming robots, and superheroes that the best action movie of the year would come from the 'Harry Potter' franchise. The sixth film of the series was missing a huge action scene, for whatever reason, which made it feel a little less exciting. The seventh film started ramping up the action, but we were kind of still bogged down with the dreaded camping scenes. Then there's the eighth and final film packed full of so much wizarding action that it's impossible to look away. The sheer scope of the movie's action is what sucks you in.
The movie starts off with Harry, Ron, and Hermione traveling to Gringotts Bank to retrieve one of Voldemort's horcruxes. From then on it doesn't ever let up. Its magic and mayhem spill over the screen, giving us some of the best, most visceral cinematic images of the year. Director David Yates and his crew understand something about action. That it's a fluid motion, and even when the action is filled with numerous pieces of inserted-after-the-fact CGI animation, you can still create coherent, cohesive action set-pieces. It's nice to know that there are filmmakers out there who believe audiences can't just be fooled by big, shiny explosions. That real action is a dance of sorts. It's a story in its own right. You know you're watching good action when you care about what's going on. Perhaps that's the biggest reason the action in this movie is so good. We actually care about the people involved.
The final film still takes liberties here and there and may upset die-hard 'Potter' fans, the purists who want everything done according to the book, literally. There are still instances, for a person like me who hasn't gotten through every book, where I have to ask, "So, what in the world is that thing Harry is holding and why has it been so important for two or three movies now?" For a person who hasn't read the books that's been the most frustrating part of the movies as a whole. Throughout their run they've taken advantage of the large majority of fans who devoured the books and at times forgot to explain the tiny details to the rest of us. That's okay though, because in the end, 'Deathly Hallows: Part 2' is one of the most exciting movie-going experiences I had this year.
It's strange to see this franchise off. It feels like the past decade has flown by (pun intended). It seems like just yesterday Harry and his friends were entering Hogwarts for the first time and now it's crumbling around their feet as Voldemort and his armies attack, relentless in their pursuit of Harry Potter's death.
Voldemort has always made a good villain; because even with all his power he still let his arrogance and ignorance to seemingly small unimportant things blind him. Ralph Fiennes has truly created one of the most fearsome movie villains ever. He'll be one of the things I remember most about the franchise as a whole.
Though at its core 'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2' is a story about characters we've grown to love. When we care about the characters amidst the action and mayhem it makes everything more exciting, believable and personal. That's what many action movies are missing nowadays, a personal touch. Not to worry though, because 'Deathly Hallows: Part 2' is as intimate a movie as you will ever see. It's the perfect way to send the franchise off on a high note.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
Warner Bros. release of 'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2' comes in a three-disc combo pack. Two discs are 50-GB Blu-ray Discs. Disc one houses the full-length movie, and a few special features, including Warner's optional Maximum Movie Mode. The second Blu-ray Disc houses more special features which delve deeper into 'Potter's world with quite a few words from J.K. Rowling herself. The final disc is a DVD copy of the film. An UltraViolet Digital Copy is also included.
The discs are packed in a standard Blu-ray keepcase with a swinging arm that holds two discs back-to-back. A lenticular slipcover is provided with some fun movie poster artwork.
Simply put the dark, brooding visuals of 'Deathly Hallows: Part 2' in 1080p will blow you away. For some reason, even though the two parts of the 'Deathly Hallows' were filmed at the same time, this part feels a tad more detailed. Slightly more ambitious in its look and scope. I may be grasping at straws there, but this is truly a breathtaking visual feast.
It's hard to not notice all the fine detail shining off the screen. Just take a look at the faces of Harry and Voldemort at the end. Dirtied and bloody, where each speck of mud and gunk is completely visible. The ultra-close-ups of them reveal the tiniest pores, hairs, and dirt flecks. As Hogwarts lay in ruins and the camera swoops down over a rubble-covered courtyard, even at mid-range you can see intricate patterns in the brick-lain courtyard floor. The tiniest age lines are extensively revealed on Olivander's face, even though he sits quite a distance from where the camera is placed. The special effects this time around take on a life of their own. The tiny, pulsating concentric rings of blue light that pulse forth from the students' wands in the darkness are easily visible. The shield that is created by the teachers at Hogwarts is something special. It has a total organic feel as it comes together. Spells and curses fly by with stunning ferocity, each of them clearly defined. As they smash into rocks and walls they send tiny chunks of rubble flying, all of which can be seen with clarity.
The movie is dark, full of unforgiving shadows. Although, these shadows never feature a bit of crushing. They're rich and deep, offering a wonderfully delineated picture that adds to the overall detail and look of the movie. Colors, while a bit rare, are actually extremely vibrant whenever presented. When Harry and Voldemort are locked in their own personal duel, the goopy, dripping magic between them shines with powerful reds and greens shooting off the screen.
Everything about this video presentation shines. In short 'Deathly Hallows: Part 2' is one of the finest demo discs you'll be picking up this year.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix is just as demo-worthy as the video.
This thing is one bombastically charged ride. Directionality is top-notch. From the wiz-bang action as spells zoom by in and out of frame to the distant crackle of Death Eater spells exploding on the shield above Hogwarts. Even the quieter moments are cause for rejoicing. When Hermione, disguised as Bellatrix, enters Gringotts Harry and Griphook are supposed to be standing right beside her under Harry's invisibility cloak. Griphook whispers to Hermione that the other goblins know they're imposters. The surrounds pick up this bit of dialogue so well you'll think Griphook is standing right next to you.
LFE is a constant force. From crumbling Hogwarts walls, to the stomping of angry giants the sub-woofer rarely gets a break from the action. Panning effects are always smooth. Take the fire in the Room of Requirement. The low-end rumble of the fire led by a fearsome-sounding image of a dragon sweeps through the stacks of artifacts. The whoosh of the fire zooms from one end of the sound field to the other, enveloping you in its fury.
Surrounds are lively and active for the entire movie. The battle scenes offer a wide variety of ambient noise as wizards, witches and students battle Death Eaters, enormous spiders, and giants. Spells wiz by on every side. The fights are ferocious. You can hear people dying all around. It's simply a completely immersive listening environment.
You'll be just as happy with the audio here as you will be with the visuals. Everything about this disc screams demo quality.
The best movie of the franchise gets a proper send off with a demo-worthy visual display coupled with an audio presentation that will nearly blow you off your couch. There's nothing to dislike about the way this disc looks or sounds, the fact that it's a really good movie simply puts it over the edge. The Blu-ray exclusive special features are informative and worthwhile. The Maximum Movie Mode is a feature every fan will want to explore. When you add it all up, 'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2' is a must own title. Even more so since Warner announced that it will be pulling all of the copies from store shelves by the end of this year. Get it while you can.