Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Parts 1 and 2 - Year 7 Ultimate EditionOverview -
In the epic finale, the battle between the good and evil forces of the wizarding world escalates into an all-out war. The stakes have never been higher and no one is safe. But it is Harry who may be called upon to make the ultimate sacrifice as he draws closer to the climactic showdown with Lord Voldemort. It all ends here.
Storyline: Our Reviewer's Take
'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1'
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 the 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 the 'Harry Potter' films have made it feel like Harry and the people around him were actually 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. Pulses 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 rid the world of Voldemort once and for all. 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's 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 thems shuffle around the Ministry is simply hilarious.
Still, 'The Deathly Hallows: Part 1' does have a fault that many of the other movies have suffered from. 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 the 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.
'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2
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 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
We've come to the final 'Harry Potter: Ultimate Edition' set. The last two 'Potter' films have been included in one set, which is nice. There was some speculation on how they'd handle the last two movies in regards to the Ultimate Edition moniker, so it's nice to finally see that they decided to give us a set with both movies included.
Besides containing the movies, the Ultimate Editions are known for their wide variety of extras aimed at hardcore Harry Potter fans. While I've taken Warner to task for changing up on the packaging and extras after the first two movies, at least they've followed through with releasing all of the sets in a timely manner. This set mirrors the faux-holographic covers of the last few editions. The outer case of these have always felt cheaper and less artistic.
Inside the outer sleeve is a large container which houses a fold-out disc holder that holds the set's six discs (four Blu-rays and two DVDs). Two of the Blu-rays contain the movies, as do the DVDs. The extra two Blu-rays house the exclusive Potter-themed documentaries that have been produced for each Ultimate Edition. The series has been entitled "Creating the World of Harry Potter" and it has been the real reason why you'd want to invest in these editions of the films. By now we have over eight hours of exclusive documentaries that focus on certain aspects of how the movies were made. This time around we get "Part 7: Story" and "Part 8: Growing Up."
Also included in the set is a spiffy 48-page full-color booklet that focuses on the "Growing Up" documentary. Stills and set photos of the young actors are featured as we get to hear a brief story of what it was like for these kids growing up in front of the camera playing some of the most popular characters the world has ever known. There is also an envelope inside that provides the last four collector trading cards. Included are: Bellatrix Lestrange, Lord Voldemort, Ginny Weasley, and Neville Longbottom.
This is a region free release. It also comes with an UltraViolet Digital Copy code for portable viewing.
'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1
As the 'Potter' franchise continues on it's almost as someone is dimming the lights more and more. The next movie might as well be in total blackness. The darker color palette, and overall dreary look of the film is quite purposeful. Voldemort is taking hold, and there's no light following that guy around, that's for sure.
Warner's 1080p picture uses an AVC encode. The picture is technically proficient. I couldn't pick out any scenes like the scenes in 'Half-Blood Prince' that caused a grumble among some reviewers when that came out. Artifacting is non-existent, although there are a few occasional instances of ringing. I was surprised to not see one ounce of banding, though, especially in the gray to black gradient skies.
This is a dark, dark movie. Probably the darkest of the bunch. Shadows are well-delineated even though at times they may feel like they're taking over the entire movie. Crushing isn't a factor here, because the strong shadows work with the overall detail rather than crushing it. Fine detail is spot-on, from the tiny pulsating rings of light that slowly move out from a wand's tip in concentric circles to the scraggly facial hair that Daniel Radcliffe starts growing after they've been roughing it in the wilderness for a few days.
Special effects look superb too. The clouds produced by the Death Eaters when they fly around have never looked so realistic. Color, however infrequent, looks great when it's given time to shine. Amidst the backdrop of a gloomy black England sky, Harry and Voldemort lock into a battle of wands. Bright orange and blue streams meet in the middle providing some much needed, beautiful color.
The animated sequence about the story of the three brothers and the Deathly Hallows also looks quite amazing. Blacks are especially deep here, offering perfectly defined edges.
This is a great looking transfer that is demo-worthy in many of its scenes. It should please anyone who is planning on purchasing it.
'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2
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 not to 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.
'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1
The video has what can be described as 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 disappears, 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.
'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2
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.
'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1
- Maximum Movie Mode (HD) — Actor Jason Issacs hosts this Maximum Movie Mode. Many other crew members pop up along the way. Producer David Heyman comes along near the beginning to talk about a deleted scene between Harry and Dudley and why they had to cut it. This scene is included in the additional scenes, but it's nice to have someone close to the film explain why it was cut and what purpose it served. The production designer Stuart Craig stops by to tell us about the movie's dark and ominous look and also lets us in on a secret that they studied 'Citizen Kane' for the look of this movie. Tom Felton comes along every now and then to explain more about what is happening by reading passages from the book. These are invaluable to a person who hasn't read the books. I really enjoyed this part of this Maximum Movie Mode. Even though there are quite a few dead spots without any Maximum Movie Mode events happening, this is a great companion to the movie. It explains much more in-depth information about the movie and talks about where deleted scenes would have been inserted. Issacs comes along every now and then with interesting tidbits of trivia about the 'Harry Potter' universe. Overall, this isn't just for fans, it's for anyone who wants to know more about the movie and its source material.
- The Last Days of Privet Drive (HD, 2 min.) — A short featurette about how the movie is saying goodbye to Harry's house on Privet Drive and the Durselys.
- Hagrid's Motorbike (HD, 4 min.) — This featurette talks about the opening scene where Harry and Hagrid ride the enchanted motorbike through the air. They talk about the special effects that went into the sequence, and how they had seven different motorbikes to use for different parts.
- Magical Tents! (HD, 2 min.) — Here the set designers talk about designing the different tents for the movie, like the giant wedding tent used at the beginning.
- Creating Dobby and Kreacher (HD, 4 min.) — Just your standard bit of outtakes while filming.
- The Return of Griphook (HD, 4 min.) — Actor Warwick Davis talks about the many different characters he's played over the course of the series.
- The Seven Harrys (HD, 5 min.) — The special effects for the Polyjuice Potion scene at the beginning are explained. They show exactly how the entire scene was created and how everyone in the room was turned into Harry.
- On the Green with Rupert, Tom, Oliver, and James (HD, 13 min.) — The actors who play the Weasley brothers go over the fun times that they've had together on set, and we also follow them on a golf trip.
- Dan, Rupert, and Emma's Running Competition (HD, 3 min.) — The big three talk about how much running they do in the movie. Specifically they talk about how the scene where they're running from the Snatchers in the forest and the competition they had between each other.
- Godric's Hollow/The Harry and Nagini Battle (HD, 6 min.) — Shooting Godric's Hollow and the battle between Harry and Voldemort's snake is discussed here with the cast and crew.
- The Frozen Lake (HD, 4 min.) — The lake scene where Harry finds himself being strangled by the locket is discussed here. You're able to see exactly how they filmed it and what it took.
- Additional Scenes (HD, 11 min.) — Eight scenes are included here. As a person who hasn't read the books I enjoyed the simple scene used to explain the radio that Ron carries around with him. I also really liked the scene between Harry and Mrs. Drusley who has a rare special moment with Harry. There's a funny scene that involves Ron and Harry disguised as Ministry workers who take an elevator ride with Mr. Weasley. Most of the scenes here would have been nice to have in the movie for Harry Potter dummies like me. They're good filler scenes that help explain more about certain objects and help explain character's motives.
- 'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1: Behind the Soundtrack (HD, 4 min.) — The original music for the movie is discussed here. A few of the movie's producers talk about how vital the original composing was for this film.
- The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Promotional Trailer (HD, 6 min.) — The Universal theme park in Orlando shows off the opening of their new Wizarding World of Harry Potter complete with a full Hogwarts castle.
'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2
- Maximum Movie Mode (HD, 2 hr. 47 min.) – As always Warner has outdone itself with its picture-in-picture commentary on the movie. This is an extensive, exhaustive look inside the making of the film. Matthew Lewis (Neville) introduces the feature for us then we're off to the races. Producer David Heyman stops by occasionally to talk about the movie, but he's a little stiff most of the time. Warwick Davis (Griphook) comes on to talk about his role as the goblin who gets Harry and his friends into the vaults. Other notables include Rupert Grint coming on to give us detailed backstories of what is going on, Emma Watson reciting word-for-word passages from the actual books, and VFX supervisors explaining how certain things were done. Like, for example, a floor that continuously rose upwards so it gave the impression that Radcliffe was climbing a mountain of treasure to get to the horcrux. Stunt coordinators come on and show us step-by-step, with behind the scenes footage, how certain stunts were performed. It truly is an exhaustive look at the movie from the inside out. Deleted scenes are even added in seamlessly to the movie and labeled so you know what they are. Even now I've only scratched the surface of what's in store for you when you play this movie in Maximum Movie Mode. It truly is a treat.
- Focus Points (HD, 26 min.) – This is a collection of short featurettes that covers a variety of behind the scenes material. The first is "Aberforth Dumbledore" which covers the transformation of actor Ciarán Hinds and how they made him resemble Michael Gambon. There's a costume featurette where costume designer Jany Temime discusses the way she designs the costumes based on the characters and script. Following that is "Harry Returns to Hogwarts," which spotlights the scene between Harry and Snape in the Great Hall. Something of note here is to see the actual warm lighting that was present when the movie was filmed, compared to the after-effect teal that was applied in post to give the movie a darker more sinister feel. "The Hogwarts Shield" covers the CG creation of the force field created by the teachers at the school. "Room of Requirement Set" shows the immensity of the actual set constructed of individual props. Like an antique store exploded. "The Fiery Escape" covers the stunts performed by the actors during the great fire in the Room of Requirement. "Neville's Stand" not only discusses Neville standing up to Lord Voldemort near the end but it also goes over Neville's evolution as a character, and we get some great insight into Ralph Fiennes' acting process here. Finally, "Molly Takes Down Bellatrix" features actresses Julie Walters and Helena Bonham Carter going at it on set during their witch duel to the death.
- Pottermore (HD, 1 min.) – A commercial for the online experience called 'Pottermore' with J.K. Rowling teasing fans about even more 'Potter'-filled fun.
- Final Farewells From the Cast (HD, 3 min.) – A few of the big name actors reminisce about the last decade working on these movies. Tears are shed. That's a wrap!
- Deleted Scenes (HD, 6 min.) – There are quite a few good scenes in this short six minutes. Scenes that would have added a bit more to the movie and could've been used for some kind of director's cut if possible. There's a scene that explains much more about where Hermione got clothes that looked like Bellatrix's. There's a scene that gives a better explanation about the mirror Harry has been carrying around all this time. Another extended scene with Aberforth that shows his deeper disdain he had for his brother. And a comical scene where the Syltherin students are locked in the Hogwarts dungeon.
- A Conversation with J.K. Rowling and Daniel Radcliffe (HD, 53 min.) – This is one of the best special features in this set. Rowling and Radcliffe sit down with each other and candidly talk about their experiences with the story. Radcliffe asks her questions like what bits of the movies is she mad that they took stuff out of the books, and what stuff she was annoyed they added in. Radcliffe discusses his time working on the movies and how he was allergic to the Potter glasses at first. They talk about how the kids were miraculously acne free throughout the films, due mostly to great makeup artists. There is so much more talked about in this nearly hour-long sit down. It doesn't seem like much editing was done as they continuously talk over each other just like they're having a real honest discussion. It's quite revealing actually and allows you to get inside the heads of Radcliffe and Rowling at the same time.
- The Goblins of Gringotts (HD, 10 min.) – This is more, or less, a look at how the goblins for the film were designed and how they evolved from the very first movie up until now. They also profile the actor who plays Griphook and we get to see him getting his makeup applied.
- The Women of 'Harry Potter' (HD, 22 min.) – Rowling takes point here and talks about the pride she has in her strong female characters which she created for her books. The actors are also interviewed and talk about their character's motivations and how they tried to do Rowling's story justice with their acting.
- Lego 'Harry Potter' Game Demo (HD) – The second disc is a hybrid. For PS3 owners you'll be able to access a playable demo of the Lego 'Harry Potter' game for 'Years 5 – 7.' Just insert the disc then go to the game section of the PS3 menu. You'll see the demo as a selection that you can make.
- BD-Live (HD) – As of right now there's a connection to Warner's BD-Live portal, but there's nothing really of note. I'm not sure if there's going to be anything added when the movie is released, but as of the writing of this review the only two things on there were a commercial for the Lego 'Potter' game, and a preview of Warner's Maximum Movie Mode for this release.
If you've been collecting the Ultimate Editions, then picking this one up is a no-brainer. The real reason to own these releases is the inclusion of the in-depth documentary series that has finally come to an end. Eight hour-long documentaries have been produced and included on each Ultimate Edition as they've become available. They aren't thrown together either. These are well thought out features that strength the franchise and broaden the scope of the story, giving us insider information that we wouldn't have had otherwise. Is all that worth purchasing the Ultimate Editions? Well, that's up to you. With the extras provided in this set, I'd recommend you pick them all up. Yet, these still tend to be collector's items, hence the For Collectors Only bottom line.
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