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Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows(2010-2011)
As Harry races against time and evil to destroy the Horcruxes, he uncovers the existence of three most powerful objects in the wizarding world: the Deathly Hallows.
For more about Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and the Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Blu-ray release, see Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Blu-ray Review published by Kenneth Brown on October 10, 2012 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.5 out of 5.
Director: David Yates
Writers: Steve Kloves, J.K. Rowling
Starring: Emma Watson, Daniel Radcliffe, Julie Walters (I), Bonnie Wright, Rupert Grint, Alan Rickman
This Blu-ray bundle includes the following titles, see individual titles for specs and details:
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Blu-ray Review
The final films. The final stand. The final Harry Potter Ultimate Edition...
Reviewed by Kenneth Brown, October 10, 2012
It had to end, and it had to end spectacularly. After fourteen years, seven unexpectedly gripping award-winning books, eight wildly successful record-breaking films, eight billion dollars at the box office, and the franchise GNP of a small, self-sustaining nation, author J. K. Rowling's burgeoning wizards and warriors deserved a big screen finale of sky-splitting proportions, and returning director David Yates and series overmind, screenwriter Steve Kloves, were more than happy to oblige. Death, betrayal and magic. Heartbreak, desperation and darkness. Selflessness, sacrifice and redemption. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows has it all. The risky, oft-criticized proposition of splitting Rowling's seventh book into two films? Vindicated. The efforts of the many filmmakers, actors, artists and technicians who've walked through the doors of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry? Honored. The series' devoted fans? Thrilled. Rowling's readers? Satisfied. Critics? Uncharacteristically united. It had to end, and it ended in style. Spectacularly, though? Almost. Almost.
Mere minutes after Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 begins, the Ministry of Magic falls to the Death Eaters, the Minister of Magic (Bill Nighy) is murdered, the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry is commandeered by Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) and his lieutenants, and Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), Hermione (Emma Watson) and Ron (Rupert Grint) are left with little choice but to flee and go into hiding. Trust is a precious commodity though, as the trio are soon separated from the adults -- Hagrid (Robbie Coltrane), Mad-Eye Moody (Brendan Gleeson), Remus Lupin (David Thewlis) and Molly Weasley (Julie Walters), among others -- who've helped them thus far. On the run from Voldemort's minions, Harry, Hermione and Ron race to find a way to defeat the sinister wizard gunning for Potter's head, infiltrate the Ministry of Magic for clues, wander across a barren wilderness, and fight to stay together despite insurmountable odds.
The Deathly Hallows' first volley isn't quite as poignant as The Half-Blood Prince -- it is, after all, only the first half of a far grander endgame -- but as a self-proclaimed "road film," Yates' penultimate Potter powerhouse is pure magic. Harry and his friends have been protected by their teachers and loved ones for six films now, clutching the robes of far more experienced wizards, half-giants and mysterious benefactors. But for the first time since Potter stepped foot on the grounds of Hogwarts, the trio find themselves beyond the reach of their friends and family with no one to rely on but one another. Hogwarts is no longer the safe haven it was when they were children, devastating betrayal after devastating betrayal have left the young sorcerers exhausted and reeling, and every answer they uncover brings with it countless more questions. Harry, far from the fearless leader or headstrong rebel his allies and enemies believe him to be, isn't sure of where to go, how to quell the coming storm, or what to do to prevent Voldemort from killing everyone in his path. Hermione, torn between determination and hopelessness, finds her once-unwavering confidence waning the farther she wanders from Hogwarts. And Ron, caught between his love for Hermione and his loyalty to Harry, does his best to protect their makeshift family while battling many a demon, both internal and external. As the strain of isolation and the constant threat of danger proves to be more than they can bear, the newly declared fugitives begin to turn on each other, putting their fortitude and personal bonds to the test.
Yates and screenwriter Steve Kloves take full advantage of the opportunity a two-parter affords them, forging an introspective, character-driven entry in the franchise unlike anything before it; a sequel more reminiscent of its source than any previous Potter outing to date. Long stretches of the film are spent waiting and wandering, silence and grief prevail as Harry and his friends wind their way through snowy forests and across rocky wastelands, and evil lies in wait every step of the way. This is The Empire Strikes Back of the Harry Potter series; The Road of fantasy adventure films. Scenes that would have been deemed unnecessary in a single Deathly Hallows are given ample room to breathe, blossom and justify the screentime devoted to each one. Kloves' slowburn narrative allows Yates to employ everything from carefully honed humor to a gorgeous, masterfully animated sequence that must be seen to be believed. The rest simply falls into place. The cast's collective performances are excellent (particularly those of Radcliffe, Grint and Watson), Eduardo Serra's arresting cinematography and Alexandre Desplat's atmospheric score set a startling stage for the drama that unfolds, and Stuart Craig's production design opens up the world of Harry Potter and expands it well beyond its former boundaries.
There are only slight drawbacks to Yates' grim, deliberately paced first-parter. Voldemort is relegated to a few short-lived scenes, several off-screen deaths fail to hit as hard as they could, funny bits sometimes feel a tad disconnected from the rest of the film, the Death Eaters' coup is largely left to the imagination, and parallels to The Lord of the Rings are a slight distraction. (At one point, Ron all but hisses "my preciousssss" while clutching a soul-dampening Horcrux dangling from a chain around his neck.) Thankfully, none of it spoils the drama, power or forward momentum of Part 1.
The Deathly Hallows: Part 2 doesn't waste any time as it opens, barely pausing for an opening title sequence. Voldemort, having seized the Elder Wand from Dumbledore's grave, turns his attention to his favorite pastime: plotting the gory demise of nemesis and beloved Hogwarts messiah, Mr. Potter. Meanwhile, Hogwarts continues to cede power to Snape (while Alan Rickman steals yet another Potter film) and Voldemort's demented Death Eaters. Snape, in turn, reflects on the events that placed Hogwarts in his hands, and Harry, Hermione and Ron set out to find and destroy the remaining Horcruxes and put an end to the Dark Lord's reign. Permanently. What follows is an arresting clash of the titans in which the Potter-led trio break into Gringotts bank, make their way back to Hogwarts, reunite with their secret brothers in arms, and take the fight to Voldemort's legions. Wands crackle, magic sizzles, dragons screech, giants topple, heroes weep, villains shriek, and gods fall.
There's a disconnect between all of the VFX wizardry and narrative power, though, slight as it is. Chalk it up to the fact that, separated from Part 1, The Deathly Hallows: Part 2 is essentially a string of climaxes comprising one of the longest third acts Hollywood has ever given us. Or chalk it up to the sheer amount of plot points, characters and set pieces it has to nurture (or, on occasion, neglects to nurture). If Part 1 was a slow-brew masterpiece of isolation, loneliness and adolescent uncertainty (which it absolutely was, no matter how short-sightedly some have dismissed it as a lesser film), Part 2 is a wands-to-the-wall actioner through and through. Oh, it doles out as many arresting character beats, tragic developments and heart-wrenching realizations as previous Potter entries, but it does so while drawing upon everything from Die Hard to Braveheart to The Matrix Revolutions (of all things). Part 1 may have felt as if it had been cut short, deprived of a proper ending, but Part 2 feels as if it's been trimmed down and robbed of a proper beginning. Thankfully, the magic of home video rectifies the disconnect somewhat, even if there are still too many tiny twists and turns that aren't given enough explanation. Wait, how did the Sword of Gryffindor... but then how does Harry... so what do the Malfoys actually... but can't Voldemort just... so Hogwarts is... is any of this answered in the books? Don't search too long and hard; some answers simply aren't provided in the course of the film and can only be found in Rowling's text or long-forgotten lines from previous films. Potterphiles who've pored over every last page won't bat an eye at the exclusions, but those weened on the screen adaptations alone will be left wishing Yates and Kloves had added another ten or fifteen minutes of material, expositional or redundant as some of it may have been.
Otherwise, The Deathly Hallows: Part 2 is as fitting and fantastic a franchise finale as anyone could hope for. Harry, Hermione and Ron take several bold, long-awaited steps into adulthood, each in their own way, and Radcliffe, Watson and Grint come full circle, their once-rosy cheeks faded but their talent and performances in full bloom. Nearly every Hogwarts student, teacher, denizen and outcast is given his or her own moment to shine as well. Old favorites return, recent additions step out of the shadows, friends and foes are stuck down and lifted up, spirits lend support, and rivalries are brought to fruition. No stone is left unturned (least of all the Resurrection Stone), no devious deed is left unpunished (so long as you're willing to forgive a trio of villains who walk off into the sunset), no sacrifice goes unrewarded, no downfall or revelation disappoints. (The action itself is a bit pew! pew! pew!, pew! pew! pew!, but there's only so much that can be done when two armies are pointing sticks at one another.) Elsewhere, the mysteries surrounding Snape's loyalties and motivations are finally put to rest in one of the most stunning, emotionally charged and gratifying sequences of any Harry Potter film to date. Thematically, it makes Snape the most intriguing character in the Potterverse. Visually, it rivals Part 1's beautifully animated fairy tale. Ultimately, it might just be the finest sequence of the series; the one that will change the way you watch the films the next time you stage an eight-entry marathon.
With the double and triple crossing and horcruxing that littered previous Potter films all but exhausted, the story is at long last able to hone in on Harry and Voldemort's contest of wills and wiles. But instead of elevating Harry into a nigh-unstoppable force, it's Voldemort who undergoes crucial changes. Slowly stripped down to his slithery core, the Dark Lord finds himself on a crash course with mortality, a descent Fiennes plays with a sense of sweaty unease and weary restlessness; qualities we just haven't seen in Voldemort before now, qualities that make him that much more fascinating. Harry's is a journey of actualization, one that isn't dependent on his own strength but rather on that of his friends and fellow wizards. He's come an undeniably long way, but he reaches his destination thanks to the same never-say-die spirit that's driven him through the entire series. He doesn't rely on a super spell, a doomsday wand, or a surge of supernatural power. Harry is what Harry's always been: a well-intentioned boy learning how to be a man, a leader, an inspiration and, reluctantly perhaps, a savior. It's in perfect contrast to Voldemort, really: the unremittent monster dead set on doing everything in his power to abandon his humanity. Voldemort wants to be feared; Harry just doesn't want to be afraid anymore. For all the darkness that presses in, for all the evil that promises to overcome the boy wizard, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 arguably dares to hope more than any other film in the franchise, even more so than The Sorcerer's Stone and The Chamber of Secrets. The relief that comes at the end of Voldemort's mad ascension is tainted by sadness and loss, but Hogwarts finally earns a moment of real rest, Harry finally finds some measure of real peace, and Potter filmfans are finally able to truly justify all the love and tears they've invested in the series from the beginning.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Blu-ray, Video Quality
It isn't just thematic darkness that shrouds The Deathly Hallows. Yates' Potter is bathed in ominous, unrepentant shadow, often plunging Radcliffe and his cohorts into the black maw of some unspeakably grotesque cinematic beast. But the results are so suitably distressing, so inexplicably beautiful, so perfectly polished that intermittent issues like diminished detail, impenetrable delineation and inherent crush cease to matter. Like The Half-Blood Prince before it, The Deathly Hallows: Part 1 boasts an excellent 1080p/AVC-encoded video transfer. Kloves' bleak tone, Eduardo Serra's evocative sun-starved photography, and Yates' world-weary aesthetic reign supreme, and the wizards at Warner have remained true to each one without fail. Color accuracy and saturation are impeccable, skintones are convincing and lifelike, and black levels are deep and ominous. Yes, fine detail takes a slight hit whenever the sun sets and the lights grow dreadfully dim. But exceedingly refined textures and crisp, clean edges abound. Better still, significant artifacting, banding, aliasing and other anomalies never materialize, and ringing is kept to an absolute minimum. The only Part 1 oddity worth mentioning is the occasionally erratic noise that hovers overtop of the image, but even its most sudden spikes are negligible and rarely detract from the overall impact of the presentation.
Part 2 represents an even darker descent into Hogwarts and every now and then even makes Part 1 look cheery. But its 1080p/AVC-encoded video transfer. It's dark, absolutely, but it's also haunting, evocative, and utterly faithful to Yates and Serra's overcast-twilight palette and grim intentions. Colors have been mercilessly drained of life, but bursts of magic, chambers of gold, walls of flame and visions of the past nevertheless boast a spread of vivid primaries and rich, storybook hues. Fleshtones are pale but natural, complementing the film's tone perfectly; shadows threaten to overwhelm every inch of the screen, but delineation doesn't falter; black levels are as deep, inky and ominous as anyone could hope for; and crush isn't an issue. Any loss of detail traces back to the original source, not the studio's high definition encode. Not that there's anything in the way of actual detail loss. Closeups, midrange shots and everything in between and beyond reveal wonderfully resolved fine textures. Better still, edge definition is crisp and satisfying (with only a hint of ringing to contend with), a faint veneer of unobtrusive grain lends the image a beautiful filmic quality, every set and costume looks as lived-in and worn as it should, and clarity is, in every instance, as forgiving or foreboding as Yates and Serra intended. Moreover, artifacting, banding, aliasing, aberrant noise and other unsightly distractions are nowhere to be found. Some extremely minor and altogether infrequent smearing is present, negligible as any affected shot is, but it's strictly a product of post-production noise reduction, as it was visible in the film's theatrical presentation. Don't blame the encode, though, if you even notice any instances of it at all.
Suffice it to say, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows impresses and then some... providing you're willing to embrace each film's prevailing shadows and accept each presentation on its own darkly dreaming terms.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Blu-ray, Audio Quality
From the ungodly dissonance that opens the film to the raging storm that gives way to the end credits, the first film's outstanding DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track summons the full strength of the Harry Potter series and does the saga justice. Spine-shattering teleportation spells, ear-splitting energy blasts, ground-shaking Death Eater attacks and other thunderous elements put the LFE channel through its paces and deliver the sonic goods, time and time again. Meanwhile, the rear speakers grab hold of every element that spreads across the soundfield, turning forest chases and Horcrux battles into enveloping show-stoppers. Yes, a good portion of the film's sound design is subdued and atmospheric, but only insofar as it enhances the isolation and loneliness Radcliffe, Grint and Watson experience on their journey. Near-invisible pans whip from channel to channel, environmental ambience is pleasing, directionality never misses its mark, the track's dynamics won't soon be forgotten, and Alexandre Desplat's wind-swept score fills the soundfield without fail. As if that weren't enough, dialogue is crystal clear, perfectly prioritized and marvelously grounded in the film's earthy soundscape, regardless of how quiet or chaotic a scene becomes.
The Deathly Hallows: Part 2 conjures up an equally jaw-dropping, window-rattling, sternum-thumping DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track that takes every advantage of the eighth Harry Potter installment's absorbing sound design. LFE output isn't just powerful, it's all powerful. Toppling towers thunder to the ground, rubble roars as it scatters, explosions erupt with ferocity, dragons screech with authority, rickety vault carts clank and clunk heavily and heartily, giants lumber, halberds crash to the ground, and magic bolts tear through the soundscape. Rear speaker activity mounts an equally aggressive assault on Hogwarts as armies clash in the oh-so-convincing distance, chaos erupts around the listener, and directional effects are precise and, in spite of all the dark deeds afoot, relatively playful. But it isn't all shock and awe. Quiet, thoughtful moments precede every Death Eater storm, and the nuances and subtleties of the film's atmospheric soundfield are magnificent. Whether dealing with the vast expanse of an underground cavern or the wind-swept depths of a slumbering forest, dynamics are impeccable, pans are disarmingly smooth, and dialogue, be it whispered, spoken or shouted, is clean, clear and intelligible, no matter how explosive the wand-vs-wand battles become. And Desplat's somber score? As delicate, graceful and climactic as it should be.
Make no mistake, Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows sounds even better than it looks, and that's saying a lot. Both films will turn heads, thrill fans, and wow audiophiles and neophytes alike.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
The 6-disc Deathly Hallows Ultimate Edition release complements the first six UE's nicely and, in a much appreciated move, collects both films in one box set. The sturdy outer box takes its design cues from the previous UE's -- so no surprises there -- and contains a matching DigiPak, a 48-page hardcover book with rare photographs and images, four character cards (Lord Voldemort, Neville Longbottom, Bellatrix Lestrange and Ginny Weasley), a standard DVD copy of each film, and UltraViolet codes for both films (which expire on 11/13/2014). That's in addition, of course, to the hours and hours of special features included on the set's BD-50 discs:
The Deathly Hallows: Part 1
The Deathly Hallows: Part 2
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is best viewed as one long epic event, with each entry working hand in hand to bring confident closure to the beloved saga. It isn't a perfect adaptation, two-parter or no, and neither Deathly Hallows is a perfect film. But the ultimate Potter endgame amounts to a commanding, compelling finale that will top many a fan's Best of Harry Potter list. Warner's 6-disc Ultimate Edition Blu-ray release wields powerful magic of its own thanks to two fantastic video transfers, two top-tier DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround tracks, and a marvelous supplemental package that features Parts 7 and 8 of the "Creating the World of Harry Potter" mega-documentary. The only not-so-Ultimate downside? The box set doesn't include the 3D versions of the films. Still, there isn't much else that should dissuade fans from nabbing this one as soon as an opportunity presents itself. Don't hesitate, don't wait, don't waste any time. Add the Year 7 Ultimate Edition box set to your collection and complete what began so many years ago.
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