I enjoyed 'Half-Blood Prince' when it came out, but it always seemed like it was missing something. The movie felt anti-climatic and bogged down with too much teenage, wizarding angst. Too much soap opera stuff going on with the young Hogwarts students trying to find love in all the wrong places. Imagine my surprise when I found out that the sixth movie did indeed leave out a lot of the action that took place in the book. That's exactly what the movie was missing, and that's exactly what 'The Deathly Hallows: Part 1' makes up for.
Harry and his friends are now facing a very real threat of being killed by the Dark Lord. Voldemort is closing in on Harry's whereabouts, but Harry's colleagues are willing to help him try and escape. The sequence where Harry's friends drink Polyjuice Potion in order to turn into replicated Harry's is one of my favorite scenes of the entire series, and it really sets the tone for this seventh movie. It's light and humorous, but it's also the first time where the 'Harry Potter' films have actually made it feel like Harry and the people around him were in immediate danger.
Whatever action was missing from 'Half-Blood Prince' is well represented here. As Harry and his friends who now look like him fly through the air, the Death Eaters intercept them. Pluses of energy blast from wands as a wizarding dogfight takes place above London. It's a fun and intense scene. Director David Yates know his way around an action scene. Sure there are a lot of quick cuts, but it's still easy to see what's going on.
Harry has tasked himself with finding the remaining Horcruxes so he can destroy them and once and for all rid the world of Voldemort. He's joined by Ron and Hermione as they search for the items that hold bits of the Dark Lord's soul. They infiltrate the Ministry of Magic in a pulse-pounding scene that is one of the best 'Harry Potter' moments ever, and it doesn't even star the big three. They sip down some more Polyjuice Potion and sneak into the Ministry disguised as three adult employees. Watching these up-until-now unknown actors shuffle around the Ministry is simply hilarious.
Still, 'The Deathly Hallows: Part 1' does have a fault that many of the other movies have had. If you haven't read the books, you'll find yourself lost during many of the scenes. What is that shard of glass Harry keeps looking into? How did Harry know that he had to open the locket to destroy it if he never tried doing that when they were shooting it with their wands? Why isn't the Elder Wand protected at all? Why did Hermione erase her parents' memories? Why does Harry fly through a wall of an old house into a child's playroom? All of these questions and more, I'm sure can be answered by the books (although my wife assures me that the playroom scene is out-of-this-world weird, because it isn't in the books).
'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1' picks up where the sixth movie left us wanting. It's a magic-packed, action thrill ride with quite a few engaging action scenes. It's fraught with danger and destruction, and has done away with most of the doe-eyed teenage lovey-dovey stuff that almost ruined the last movie.
Vital Blu-ray Statistics
'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1' came to Blu-ray in two flavors, with a loaded three disc edition and a movie only version that skimps out even the first disc's worth of goodies. Now, to coincide with the release of the final film in the series, Warner is triple dipping this film, now with a bonus Blu-ray 3D disc, packaged in a fat pack four disc case along with the contents of the original loaded edition, under a lenticular slipcover. The new disc is a BD50, with no pre-menu content. All of the extras are on the 2D discs, and the Digital Copy off the old disc is replaced with a new UltraViolet edition.
For the time being, Best Buy stores across the country are the only retailer selling this disc. Better still, just two weeks after this set streets, the store will be including this exclusive in their Black Friday ad!
'Harry Potter and the Lack of Anything Happening Whatsoever: Part 1' arrives on Blu-ray 3D after being scrapped for theatrical release. That's always a good sign, when a 3D release is so half baked that they don't even try to make a buck on it theatrically. What's really shameful here isn't the fact that the 3D is mediocre, but that it's actually miles better than the 3D in the second part of this final chapter.
Now, don't get me wrong, this is still a pretty haphazard disc. The muddied, banded looking faces that are two toned with no gradient are still here, although they clear up as the film rolls on, while aliasing and jaggies on the arms of glasses or across the lengths of entire wands still remain. Random flatness, particularly on Mr. Lovegood, pops up from time to time, while there are more than a handful of shots that feature no 3D effect at all, including the awesomely animated Deathly Hallows sequence, which would have been a real stunner. Backgrounds are routinely blurry and non-destinct, and there are plenty of hard focus shots that leave backgrounds in even worse shape, if that were possible. Textures are the epitome of the word fail, while the number of dark sequences featuring little detail whatsoever are troublesome, again being a huge issue for any scene featuring Snape, who looks like his mortal enemy Bruce Willis due to the way his hair disappears frequently.
So, that all sounds pretty awful, right? The thing is, the bar was set so low, that what we have here still is appreciable. Ghosting does pop up here and there, but it's very infrequent, and never massively annoying or eye catching. Random shots have actually very workable, appreciable 3D, like the empty house Harry grew up in, as it really does sell the loneliness in that scene. The escape by flight sequence, as dark as it is, it works, really well, in 3D, and is clearly visible. Low lit sequences maintain visibility, unlike in the sequel/second film, even if non-lit shots still bite. The wedding party scene glows with the amount of added depth it receives, as it may be the highlight of this disc.
Look, I'm not happy with what we have here. I'm really not. I don't want to sound like I'm patting Warner on the back and telling them "good job, guys. Keep up the good work!," because, really, I'm beyond disappointed in both 'Harry Potter' 3D releases. I just want to make it clear: this is bad, it has little 3D pop, it has plenty of non-3D sequences, and it isn't all that great in 3D. It is still miles ahead of 'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2: The Quest for More Money.'
The video has what can be described as maybe a few minor, negligible faults, but the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 presentation is perfect on ever level. This is an engaging, immersive mix that sucks you right into the dark world of magic looming around Harry and his friends.
You'll notice right off the bat, as the rusted WB logo slowly floats forward on screen, how great this track is going to be. The clink and clank of rusted metal smoothly pans from the center speaker, filling out the front speakers, and then traveling through the rear channels as the logo passes by. After that experience you know you're in for a great sonic ride. The battle in the sky over London is filled with zooming, whooshing brooms as they fly in and out of frame. The front and center channel handle these lightning quick pans with perfect clarity. The rear channels are constantly alive with the frenzy of magical action going on all around. LFE thunders as bolts of magic explode in the distance. From the opening scene, until the end, it doesn't seem like the subwoofer ever takes a break. There's always some sort of attack or intense scenes that need the attention of well-placed low frequency sound.
Other audio-tastic scenes of note include whenever someone dissapperates, when the big three jump into the green transport fires in the Ministry of Magic, and when the lifts in the Ministry shoot off into the distance with a resounding low frequency boom.
Dialogue is given a wonderful stage to shine front and center. Nothing gets lost in this chaotic mix of high-flying action, coupled with intensely dramatic talkative scenes. This is the kind of track that makes you glad you have the ability to play a lossless track. 'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 1' is as demo-worthy as they come.
It was big news when Warner Bros scrapped the theatrical 3D release of 'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1,' giving 3D haters plenty of ammunition, and making fans wonder why a studio that has made billions off of this franchise couldn't get it right or invest the proper money to do the film justice. This viewing option is finally available, on Blu-ray 3D, found exclusively at Best Buy, and it's actually not all that bad. It's also not all that great, either. The 3D here is pretty mediocre. For the price, this set isn't that bad, but chances are fans already bought this set when it first came out, making it an expensive double dip. As such, this one remains for the most ardent of fans only, those willing to be disappointed.
Portions of this review also appear in our coverage of Dunkirk on Blu-ray. This post features unique Vital Disc Stats, Video, and Final Thoughts sections.