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Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2(2011)
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 Potter 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.
For more about Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 and the Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 Blu-ray release, see Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 Blu-ray Review published by Kenneth Brown on November 4, 2011 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.5 out of 5.
Starring: Ralph Fiennes, Michael Gambon, Alan Rickman, Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson
Director: David Yates
» See full cast & crew
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 Blu-ray Review
Another must-own Potter release materializes in glorious high definition...
Reviewed by Kenneth Brown, November 4, 2011
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: Part 2 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.
When last we left our faithful heroes -- Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe), Hermione Granger (Emma Watson) and Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint) -- the haunted and hunted young wizards were completely isolated from their teachers and friends for the first time in their lives; on the run and battling for their very existences after burying a dear friend following a too-close-for-comfort encounter with Death Eater Bellatrix Lestrange (Helena Bonham Carter). To its credit, The Deathly Hallows: Part 2 doesn't waste any time. It barely pauses for an opening title sequence; the theme that has so dutifully accompanied Harry Potter for eight films now offers little cheer or refuge, and even less relief or respite. Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes), 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, Harry Potter; Hogwarts continues to cede power to Severus Snape (Alan Rickman, stealing 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 Voldemort'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. 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: Part 2 Blu-ray, Video Quality
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 is an even darker descent into Hogwarts than ever before; it makes The Deathly Hallows: Part 1 look cheery by comparison. But fans needn't worry about Warner's 1080p/AVC-encoded video transfer. It's dark, oh yes, but it's also haunting, evocative, and utterly faithful to director David Yates and cinematographer Eduardo Serra's overcast-twilight palette and grim intentions. Did I mention it's gorgeous? 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, well, 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 exceedingly 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 notice any instance of it at all. Suffice it to say, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 impresses and then some... providing you're willing to embrace the film's prevailing shadows and accept the image on its own darkly dreaming terms.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 Blu-ray, Audio Quality
The Deathly Hallows: Part 2 conjures up a 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: Part 2 Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is best viewed as one long epic event, but Part 2 stands on its own quite well, bringing confident closure to a beloved saga. It isn't a perfect adaptation, nor is it a perfect film. But it's a commanding, compelling finale that will top many a fan's Best of Harry Potter list. Warner's 3-disc Blu-ray release wields powerful magic of its own thanks to a fantastic video transfer, a top tier DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track, and a marvelous supplemental package sure to keep diehards and casual fans busy for the better part of an afternoon. Don't hesitate, don't wait, don't waste any time. Add The Deathly Hallows: Part 2 to your cart post haste.
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• Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 Blu-ray (Updated) - September 20, 2011
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