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David Yates
Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Bill Nighy, Richard Griffiths, Harry Melling, Julie Walters, Bonnie Wright, Alan Rickman, Ralph Fiennes
Writing Credits:
Steve Kloves, J.K. Rowling (novel)

It All Ends Here.

Harry, Ron and Hermione set out on their perilous mission to track down and destroy the secret to Voldemort’s immortality and destruction – the Horcruxes. On their own and on the run, the three friends must now rely on one another more than ever ... but Dark Forces in their midst threaten to tear them apart. Meanwhile the wizarding world has become a dangerous place. The long-feared war has begun and the Dark Lord has seized control of the Ministry of Magic and even Hogwarts, terrorizing and arresting all who might oppose him. The Chosen One has become the hunted one as the Death Eaters search for Harry with orders to bring him to Voldemort ... alive.

Box Office:
$250 million.
Opening Weekend
$125.017 million on 4125 screens.
Domestic Gross
$294.915 million.

Rated PG-13

Widescreen 2.40:1
English Dolby TrueHD 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 144 min.
Price: $35.99
Release Date: 4/15/2011

Disc One:
• “Maximum Movie Mode” Interactive Feature
• Six “Focus Points” Featurettes
Disc Two:
• Sneak Peek from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2
• “The Seven Harrys” Featurette
• “On the Green with Rupert, Tom, Oliver and James” Featurette
• “Dan, Rupert and Emma’s Running Competition” Featurette
• “Godric’s Hollow/The Harry and Nagini Battle” Featurette
• “The Frozen Lake” Featurette
• Eight Additional Scenes
• Trailers and Spots
Disc Three:
• Bonus DVD


Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


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Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows: Part 1 [Blu-Ray] (2010)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (April 5, 2011)

With 2010’s Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 1, the mega-successful franchise nears its end. In this one, budding wizard Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) and this peers cut ties with the “muggle world” and prep for a final confrontation with evil Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes).

As part of this, Voldemort’s minions take control of the magical realms and render Potter and company renegades, as they can’t even take refuge at Hogwart’s any longer. To aide in their mission, Harry and pals Hermoine Granger (Emma Watson) and Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint) set out to locate items called Horcruxes; these represent Voldemort’s mortality and their destruction may offer the key to his defeat. Along the way, they discover the secret of the Deathly Hallows, items that also may assist in their quest.

To some degree, the last few Potter films have suffered from the nature of the overall narrative arc. For so long, we’ve pointed toward the inevitable showdown between Harry and Voldemort that we threaten to become impatient.

That was a factor in the prior couple of flicks, and it becomes even more prominent with Hallows. The movie doesn’t even pretend to stand alone; its very title lets us know that it’ll end in an incomplete fashion.

Despite that, it feels like a satisfying tale, so don’t worry that it’ll leave you hanging in a frustrating manner. Sure, it makes us anxious to move ahead to the finale, but unlike some movies that come as part of a series, it doesn’t cause groans or a desire to throw tomatoes at the screen. So much happens here that a longer story would probably be too much; I definitely support the decision to split the tale into two movies, as any fears that part one would feel stretched out on incomplete failed to occur.

Hallows definitely presents a good launch to the series’ climax. Earlier Potter flicks offered grim moments and themes, but not to the level found here. The movie makes it clear from the very start that silliness and whimsy will be in short supply this time. For the first time, our lead kids spend no time at Hogwarts, so we get no cute shenanigans on the grounds or teen beat romance ala the last film, Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince.

The flick sets its tone right off the bat, with emotional material in the first few minutes. When we see how Hermione uses a spell to literally eliminate herself from her parents’ consciousness – and thus protect them from the coming war – it tells us that this won’t be a fun film. While prior efforts talked an awful lot about climactic showdowns and dealing with Voldemort, this one gives us a much stronger impression that It’s On.

And it carries that feeling for virtually its entire running time. No, it doesn’t present unrelenting darkness; a few moments provide slight comic relief or other breaks in the tension. But these are organic and don’t feel like overt attempts to throw in gratuitous whimsy. They occur infrequently and meld well with the overall tone – and they’re probably necessary, as so much nastiness occurs that we can use the occasional breather.

But not much of one, and that’s fine for me because I really like the film’s darker tone. I thought some of the earlier films were just a little too in love with all the cuteness of the Potter universe; even when many life or death events occurred, they never demonstrated much impact.

That changed a bit over time – especially when we got to Goblet of Fire, the fourth film in the series and the first real appearance of Voldemort – and it clearly creates a major thrust in Hallows. Notable characters die and general sense of unpleasantness rules the day. Within the first few minutes, Voldemort tortures and kills an innocent victim – and then feeds her corpse to his snake! Combined with moving moments like Hermoine’s departure from her parents, the film hits us in the gut from the very start and never lets up on us.

I’m pleased to see that Daniel Radcliffe’s progress as an actor continues here. During the first few films, I thought he was a weak link. He may have looked the part, but he lacked much personality and was overwhelmed by his more interesting co-stars, Watson and Grint.

That’s changed – and changed quite a lot. Actually, Grint has developed well, too, but I think Watson never grew much in the Potter context. She was good when Hermoine was mostly a prissy little know-it-all, but as the role has grown, she’s appeared somewhat buried. She tends to look sad and scared a lot but not much else. On the other hand, Grint has taken a character who originally existed for comic relief and made him reasonably three-dimensional; Ron’s still something of a goof, but we can buy his emotional development.

Radcliffe demonstrates the greatest growth of the bunch, though, partially because he had the farthest to go. As I mentioned, I thought he lacked much stage presence or skill in the earliest movies, but somewhere around Goblet he started to show actual acting talent. That progression continued over the next couple of films and reaches its peak to date in Hallows. The film throws many challenges at him, and he handles them all quite well. Radcliffe has gone from liability to strength.

And that’s in a movie filled with positives. Hallows won’t be for everyone, as unlike the first couple of Potter films, it’s not something you’d want to show to littler kids. However, it moves the franchise along in a more than satisfying way.

The Disc Grades: Picture C+/ Audio A/ Bonus B

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 1 appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this Blu-Ray Disc. Though not a poor presentation, this one presented more problems than expected.

Actually, my only real complaints stemmed from shadow detail. When we found low-light sequences – and those occurred quite often in this grim tale – the elements tended to be really dark. And I don’t mean “moody dark” – I mean “what the heck is going on???” dark. During these shots, I found it awfully tough to tell what was happening. Some of this likely came from photographic choices, but I saw the movie theatrically and don’t recall having so much trouble being able to discern the action. Hallows offered a really dense image during its many low-light scenes.

Everything else was perfectly solid. Sharpness seemed accurate and distinctive, without any hints of softness or fuzziness. Jagged edges and shimmering remained absent, and I saw no edge haloes or artifacts. The image also lacked print flaws.

Colors weren’t much of a factor in this largely monochromatic piece. Even when potentially lively hues appeared – such as Umbridge’s pink outfit – they were low-key and subdued. Though not very exciting, that was appropriate and fine within the movie’s design. Blacks were deep and tight, so I had no complaints there. Unfortunately, those heavy shadows created a definite distraction and caused me to drop my grade to a “C+”.

On the other hand, the film’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack provided a consistent delight. One of the more action-oriented Potter films, Hallows boasted a lot of intense material that utilized all five speakers in an involving manner. Various elements appeared in logical locations and zipped around the room in a convincing way. This meant Death Eaters flew to various spots, and different kinds of magic and mayhem exploded around the spectrum. The track meshed together in a splendid way to create a stunning sonic impression.

Audio quality always excelled as well. Effects were accurate and bold, with clear highs and deep lows. Music showed nice range and punch, while speech seemed concise and distinctive. This was probably the best Potter soundtrack to date, as it was a total winner.

With that we head to the set’s extras. On Disc One, we open with Maximum Movie Mode. Actor Jason Isaacs introduces the piece; he comments along the way as well, and we also hear from producers David Heyman and David Barron, production designer Stuart Craig, makeup effects supervisor Nick Dudman, director David Yates, and actors Tom Felton, Nick Moran, Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Frank Dillane. These cover deleted scenes, production design and inspirations, makeup and effects, cast, characters and performances, sets and locations, background/refresher from the prior films, music, and various trivia tidbits. We also find occasional excerpts from the novel that intend to help set us up for the final film.

Some prior “Maximum Movie Modes” such as Watchmen offered “Director Walk-ins”. These would shrink the movie image to feature the filmmaker as he manipulated elements and explained various components. The “Walk-ins” tended to show up infrequently, so the “Modes” usually acted as pretty standard picture-in-picture features.

The Hallows “Mode” consists of almost nothing other than “Walk-ins” with the participants listed. Through those moments, we see footage from the set and other components, but they remain the main focus. This “Mode” starts fairly well, as we get a reasonable amount of content through the movie’s first act. Unfortunately, the breakaways tend to dry up as the film progresses and they appear less frequently.

This wouldn’t be an issue if the Blu-ray boasted the user-friendliness of the Half-Blood Prince “Mode”; that would allowed you to easily skip from one segment to the next. We don’t find that ability here, so if you want to experience the whole “Mode”, you must watch the entire flick – and then some, as the participants occasionally pause the film and make the whole package run about 23 minutes longer than the flick itself.

Which isn’t satisfying. You can’t enjoy Hallows as a film with the “Mode” activated; it’s just too disruptive when it appears. You also will find yourself impatient as you await the next component; without a way to jump ahead, some long gaps appear. Diehard fans will still want to go through the “Mode”, as it has some enjoyable content, but it comes with a frustrating format.

We can check out the six Focus Points on their own or as branches of “Maximum Movie Mode”. These include “The Last Days of Privet Drive” (2:36), “Hagrid’s Motorbike” (4:01), “Magical Tents!” (2:18), “Death Eaters Attack Café” (2:51), “Creating Dobby and Kreacher” (3:48), and “The Return of Griphook” (3:45). In total, they run 19 minutes, 21 seconds. Across them, we hear from Yates, Radcliffe, Heyman, Craig, Watson, Dudman, special effects supervisor John Richardson, stunt doubles Joanna Whitney, Nick Chopping and Marc Mailley, 2nd unit director Stephen Woolfenden, set decorator Stephenie McMillan, 1st AD Jamie Christopher, Framestore animation supervisor Pablo Grillo, chief mould maker Jamie Iovino and actors Richard Griffiths, Fiona Shaw, Harry Melling, Julie Walters, Rupert Grint, Warwick Davis, Toby Jones, Diane Gibbins, and Bindi Johal.

They look at shooting the final scenes at the Durley residence and the relationships among the actors, stunts, action and effects, set and production design, camerawork, cast, characters and performances. The “Points” exist as quick, tangential featurettes and don’t intend to tell a complete story; they’re kind of video footnotes, really. In that regard, they satisfy. While they’re never particularly impressive, they’re consistently enjoyable and give us some nice tidbits.

Disc One opens with ads for the Harry Potter “Ultimate Editions” and the Lego Harry Potter videogame.

Over on Disc Two, you’ll find a Sneak Peek for Deathly Hallows – Part 2. At least that’s what WB promises; review copies of the Blu-ray omitted this sequence. In my quest to avoid spoilers, I wouldn’t have watched it anyway, so that’s fine with me!

Under Behind the Story, we locate five featurettes. These include “The Seven Harrys” (5:29), “On the Green with Rupert, Ton, Oliver and James” (13:38), “Dan, Rupert and Emma’s Running Competition” (2:45), “Godric’s Hollow/The Harry and Nagini Battle” (6:00), and “The Frozen Lake” (4:10). During these, we find notes from Radcliffe, Watson, Yates, Barron, Heyman, Grint, Felton, Craig, McMillan, Christopher, visual effects producer Emma Norton, stunt coordinator Greg Powell, visual effects supervisor Tim Burke, VFX previs animation supervisor Ferran Domenech, and actors Andy Linden, James and Oliver Phelps, and Hazel Douglas.

The shows look at effects, performances, cast relationships and reflections, set design, stunts and action. Essentially, these follow the same template as Disc One’s “Focus Points”. They give us quick featurettes that flesh out a variety of topics. None excel, but all provide some nice info; I especially like the look at making “Seven Harrys”.

Eight Additional Scenes occupy a total of 10 minutes, 54 seconds. We see “The Burrows Shed” (0:41), “The Dursley House” (0:52), “Dudley and Harry” (2:05), “The Granger House” (0:27), “Ministry of Magic Lifts” (1:51), “Tent” (1:38), “Rabbit Chase in the Forest” (1:28), and “Ron and Hermione Skimming Stones” (1:52). The first few are the best; in particular, “Dursley” and “Dudley” flesh out the brief departure sequence we see at the start. Though I suspect the filmmakers thought those two would slow down the opening, I would’ve liked them to make the final cut; they add even more emotional resonance to the film.

“Shed” also helps set up the use of a radio that becomes prominent during the third act. As for the other scenes, they’re interesting but not especially important. “Chase” and “Stones” are good cuts, as they would’ve padded the movie’s less action-oriented moments and made the film drag a bit.

Two ads appear within Trailers and Spots. We get “Behind the Soundtrack” (3:51) and a promo for The Wizarding World of Harry Potter (6:25). “Soundtrack” features Barron, Heyman, and composer Alexandre Desplat. We get a few notes about Desplat’s work on the film, but don’t expect much depth; the piece remains pretty shallow.

“Wizarding” takes us to the June 2010 grand opening of the new development at Universal Studios Florida. Various members of the cast attend and we learn more about the park’s design. This is pure promotion, though it’s good promotion; it makes me want to visit.

A third disc provides a DVD Copy of Hallows. This is a barebones release, not the same one you’d find on the store shelves.

Not only does Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 1 set up the series’ finale, but also it stands on its own as arguably the best film of the seven to date. It provides a grim experience that proves to be tight and often moving. The Blu-ray comes with excellent audio and a good collection of supplements, but visuals tend to be awfully murky in dark shots. Despite that drawback, the Blu-ray usually satisfies, and the flick acts as a terrific lead-in to the franchise’s finish.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4 Stars Number of Votes: 5
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Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main