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Blu-ray Review: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2

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We are most definitely a Harry Potter family. My children have literally grown up on the books and the movies, and a new release has always been an event in our household. Even with my kids packed away at university, opening weekend of the latest Harry Potter movie has meant a trek down the road to the local IMAX to see the movie as it’s meant to be seen—big and dynamic.

Warner Home Video has now released on Blu-ray, the final installment of the Harry Potter Series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2. Spoiled as I am, having seen most of the series in IMAX, I hoped to be wowed by the Blu-ray release, and I was not disappointed. The film looks gorgeous in Blu-ray, a feast for the eyes and ears, with special features galore. It is, as Ron Weasley might say, “Simply brilliant!” But be sure to pick it up before December 29, when all Harry Potter movies now in Blu-ray or DVD release come off the shelf and go into moratorium for an undisclosed time period.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 literally picks up where Part 1 left off. There’s no recap, no flashbacks; it just starts. When I saw the movie in its theatrical release, it had been a couple of months since I’d seen Part 1, and it took a few minutes (well, more than a few) to adjust my brain for context and settle into the Part 2 (after all, it had been a months-long intermission). Anyway, my advice is to watch Part 1 before watching Part 2.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 finds Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), Ron (Rupert Grint), and Hermione (Emma Watson) preparing to finally confront Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) and defeat him. The trio must locate and destroy all seven of Voldemort’s Horcruxes, which contain pieces of his soul. That is the only way to destroy him for eternity, and unless they destroy all seven, Voldemort will continue to be invicible. It is a suicide mission, says Dumbledore’s brother tells the three friends. But when has that ever stopped Harry, Hermione and Ron?

The build up to the final confrontation is a spectacular emotional and visual roller coaster, complete with explosive battles and plenty of little poignant personal moments. As the final chapter closes, you’ll likely need a tissue or two.

The entire impact of the film is heightened via the beautifully-done Blu-ray rendering. The 1080p transfer provides a near cinematic experience. The picture is pristine: crisp sharp, perfect in every way. Blacks are very black, and the image is so fine, that even in the darkest scenes everything is amazingly clear. But not so intense that it harms the visual image. The colors are saturated, without overdooing it. There is incredible detail and nearly no visible grain. The transfer lends a 3D quality to the film, from the Warner Brothers logo that Voldemort conjures at the start to to intricacy of the castle-fortress of Hogwarts. Exposions and other big effects scenes are vivid, but so are the small personal moments.

The audio is also perfect with dialogue absolutely clear using a lossless 5.1 audio, and making full use of the surround, obvious even on a smaller home theatre system like mine. It would have been even nicer to have seen this release come with a 7.1 audio track.

The movie has been released with several purchase options, but if you have Blu-ray capability, the three-disc Blu-ray release is certainly the way to go, and includes not only the Blu-ray disc, but a standard definition DVD, as well as an option to stream the movie from a variety of connected devicies via UltraViolet digital copy.

What, you may ask, is “UltraViolet?” This new, cloud-based technology allows you and five other others to access the movie under one “household” account. The content can be accessed from numerous other devices, including game consoles, smart phones, tablets, computers, and more.

The set comes with several special features, including “Maximum Movie Mode.” This is novel take on the ubiquitous commentary track, and far more informative! Actors, makeup people, producers, effects folk, etc. break into the movie talking on camera about specific scenes, elaborating on production points, deleted footage, emotional beats, and sound effects. So instead of litany of separate little featurettes and bland commentary, 80 minutes of bonus extras are all integrated into Maximum Movie Mode, putting it all in more context. Obviously, watching the film this way is a bit disruptive, so don’t watch it this way first unless, of course you’ve already seen the movie enough times to go straight this piece of fandom dessert. Otherwise, save Maximum Movie Mode for your second go through.

Additional bonus features include:
• “A Conversation with JK Rowling and Daniel Radcliffe” – Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling and actor Daniel Radcliffe talk about a decade of Harry Potter movies and how the experience has changed their lives.

• “The Goblins of Gringotts” – Warwick Davis hosts this featurette, bringing you into the process of becoming a Harry Potter goblin, from the first auditions through prosthetics and finally filming.

• “The Women of Harry Potter” – Women play a pivotal role in the film’s and Harry Potter’s life. This featurette looks back a these important woman.

• “WB Studio Tour London” – This featurette takes you into the film making process. • Deleted Scenes

And for PS3 Users, the set includes a demo of LEGO Harry Potter for PS3. You can purchase it now through December 29, 2011 at retail stores and online merchants, or download–to-own on Warner Bros. official site for the movie.

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About Barbara Barnett

Barbara Barnett is publisher and executive editor of Blogcritics, as well as a noted entertainment writer. Author of Chasing Zebras: The Unofficial Guide to House, M.D., her primary beat is primetime television. But Barbara writes on an everything from film to politics to technology to all things pop culture and spirituality. She is a contributor to the book called Spiritual Pregnancy (Llewellyn Worldwide, January 2014) and has a story in Riverdale Ave Press' new anthology of zombie romance, Still Hungry for your Love. She is hard at work on what she hopes will be her first published novel.