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Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1(2010)
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: Part 1 and the Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 Blu-ray release, see Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 Blu-ray Review published by Kenneth Brown on April 1, 2011 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.5 out of 5.
Director: David Yates
Writers: Steve Kloves, J.K. Rowling
Starring: Bill Nighy, Emma Watson, Richard Griffiths (I), Harry Melling, Daniel Radcliffe, Julie Walters (I)
» See full cast & crew
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 Blu-ray Review
Can the 'Potter' saga get much better? If David Yates has anything to say about it, absolutely...
Reviewed by Kenneth Brown, April 1, 2011
Insects stir in the dark, metal scrapes against metal, rending iron and crackling rust erupt in an unholy chorus, and a familiar music box tune struggles to bleed through the chaos. Suddenly, as quickly as it came, the dissonant roar gives way to unnerving silence. Bill Nighy's face fills the frame; weary but stern, frightened but resolute. "These are dark times, there is no denying." His voice wavers, his eyes reveal the uncertainty looming just behind the facade of a veteran politician. "Our world has perhaps faced no greater threat than it does today." Fear threatens to run rampant for the briefest of instants before the Minister of Magic composes himself. "But your ministry... remains strong." An explosion of flash bulbs interrupt his speech as reporters press in. Without warning, we're whisked away. Hermione Granger lingers in her bedroom, Harry Potter watches from a dingy window as the Dursley family flees their home, and Ron Weasley stares at the setting sun, unsure of what the future will bring. With tear-kissed eyes, Hermione moves behind her parents and wishes them an unspoken goodbye. She raises her wand, whispers "obliviate," and erases all traces of her existence from her parents' minds and the photographs adorning the walls. She departs, as does Harry, and sets off to join Ron on a perilous journey the once-rosy cheeked babes never dreamed they would one day be forced to take. This is Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1, director David Yates' unsettlingly bleak, unmistakably cinematic, exceptionally moving seventh chapter in the soon-to-be-complete saga. Needless to say, it isn't the Harry Potter most expect, nor the Harry Potter readers and filmfans of all ages first fell in love with more than ten years ago. It's much, much more.
Even penning a basic synopsis of The Deathly Hallows, Part 1 risks revealing key events from Yates' previous Harry Potter films. As such, I'll do my best to avoid spoiling the circumstances that have brought Hogwarts to the edge of destruction, but those who have yet to watch The Half-Blood Prince should proceed with caution. But I digress. Within minutes of setting the stage, 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, The Reader) and his lieutenants, and Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), Hermione (Emma Watson) and Ron (Rupert Grint) are left with little choice but to go into hiding. Trust is a precious commodity though, and the trio are soon separated from the adults -- Hagrid (Robbie Coltrane, The Brothers Bloom), Mad-Eye Moody (Brendan Gleeson, Braveheart), Remus Lupin (David Thewlis, Kingdom of Heaven) and Molly Weasley (Julie Walters, Mama Mia), 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.
The decision to divide J.K. Rowling's seventh novel into two separate films remains a controversial one, but Yates and screenwriter Steve Kloves have taken full advantage of the opportunity the split 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. It will undoubtedly bore some to tears, I'll admit. But for those truly invested in Rowling's story and characters, it offers a compelling glimpse into the darkest depths of Harry's trials. 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 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.) The Deathly Hallows also leaves so much up in the air that declaring it the best entry in the series strikes me as premature. If Part 2 equals or surpasses Part 1, I suspect my movie score will drift up a half notch, meaning the second half of Hallows has the potential to earn nothing but the highest praise from this already smitten writer. Honestly though, if you haven't already seen The Deathly Hallows, Part 1, I'd suggest waiting to watch it until the day or two before Part 2 arrives in the theaters. Otherwise, the wait just might drive you mad. Believe me, it's excruciating.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 Blu-ray, Video Quality
Like The Half-Blood Prince before it, The Deathly Hallows' 1080p/AVC-encoded video transfer represents a magnificent rendering of the film's intended presentation. 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. And while fine detail does take a slight hit whenever the sun sets and the lights grow dreadfully dim, exceedingly refined textures and crisp, clean edges abound. Likewise, contrast isn't always ideal but, again, Warner's encode is tirelessly true to its source. Better still, significant artifacting, banding, aliasing and other anomalies never materialize, and ringing is kept to an absolute minimum. The only oddity worth mentioning -- faint noise that intermittently hovers overtop of the image -- is altogether negligible and rarely detracts from the overall impact of the presentation. All told, the Blu-ray edition of The Deathly Hallows, Part 1 will leave Potter purists breathless and delight anyone who found The Half-Blood Prince's transfer to be every bit as impressive as it was.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 Blu-ray, Audio Quality
From the ungodly dissonance that opens the film to the raging storm that gives way to the end credits, Warner'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. To top it all off, dialogue is crystal clear, perfectly prioritized and marvelously grounded in the film's earthy soundscape, regardless of how quiet or chaotic a scene becomes. Ultimately, The Deathly Hallows' faithful lossless track will turn heads, thrill fans, and wow audiophiles and neophytes alike.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
With a future Ultimate Edition presumably in the cards, it's tough to get too excited about the special features Warner has assembled for Deathly Hallows' 3-disc Blu-ray debut. That said, the extras on hand -- among them a satisfying Maximum Movie Mode, multiple production featurettes, a series of worthwhile deleted scenes, and a Part 2 sneak peek -- add further value to an already impressive release.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Will The Deathly Hallows, Part 1 appeal to every Harry Potter fan? If reviews are any indication, no. Slower than most of its predecessors, less fantasy-oriented than other entries, and more character-driven than anything the series has delivered thus far, the first half of the Potter finale is as divisive as it is unique and powerful. But rest easy, dear readers. Warner's Blu-ray release isn't nearly as divisive. While its supplemental package will attract some criticism (especially when the film's Ultimate Edition is announced), its AV presentation is faithful to a fault, notably cinematic and utterly absorbing. From top to bottom, I was thoroughly pleased with the results. I have a feeling most Potter devotees will be too.
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