Blu-ray Review: Stellar Release For ‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows -- Part 2’

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CHICAGO – The Blu-ray release for “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — Part 2” is one of those wonderful circumstances in which this critic finds the home release more remarkable than the theatrical. I had some issues with the final film, although would still certainly recommend it, especially if you’ve made it this far, but that doesn’t mean I can’t recognize that the Blu-ray is among the best of the year. Blu-Ray Rating: 4.0/5.0
Blu-Ray Rating: 4.0/5.0

There’s no point in getting too deep into my critical opinion of the film itself, which you can read here. Briefly, “It’s hard to imagine fans leaving the final “Potter” film with deep disappointment in this satisfying conclusion. But “satisfying” is not the same as captivating, magical, or spectacular. “Deathly Hallows” is none of those things. It’s a well-executed slice of fantasy entertainment that nonetheless fails to rise to the level of true classic.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows -- Part 2
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — Part 2
Photo credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

Having said that, the Blu-ray release for the final film in the most successful franchise of all time is a thing of beauty. It’s one of the most satisfying of the year, a release that enriches the entire series. What you’re probably most interested in is the bonus material, so let’s break it down one piece at a time.

Before we get to the bonus material, you should know that WB is arguably the bar-setter when it comes to HD transfers. I LOVE the HD quality of this release with a nice mix of colors and line detail without looking overly polished. It’s fantastic and the audio matches it in every way.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows -- Part 2 was released on Blu-ray and DVD on November 11th, 2011
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — Part 2 was released on Blu-ray and DVD on November 11th, 2011
Photo credit: Warner Bros.

Special Features:

“Blowing Up Hogwarts”

An amazing collection of interviews and featurettes that can be watched picture-in-picture as the final film unfolds. This is incredible stuff, offering insight, anecdotes, and trivia for hardcore and casual fans. THIS is the way behind-the-scenes special features should be organized and presented. Using Warner Bros.’ “Maximum Movie Mode,” the cast and crew explain artistic decisions, offer creative insight, and, honestly, made me appreciate the film more. Shouldn’t all behind-the-scenes special features add to your appreciation of a film? So many of them are nothing but pure filler that one forgets that they can be this interesting and insightful.

“A Conversation with J.K. Rowling and Daniel Radcliffe” (53:03)

This is a strong contender for one of the best special features of 2011 and reason alone for fans of either the books or films to pick up the release. Think about how much Harry Potter impacted the lives of these two people. They share something truly unique in that they will both forever be defined with the boy who lived. Seeing the two of them discuss the experiences of the last decade of the franchise is fascinating stuff. Radcliffe actually leads most of the conversation and does so expertly. It’s impossible to watch this casual, informative, fascinating piece and not like these two icons even more.

“The Goblins of Gringotts” (10:56)

An interesting-but-slight piece about the development of the goblins from the first film to the last. Naturally, Warwick Davis is the most interesting interview subject.

“The Women of Harry Potter” (22:31)

I never really thought of it but the Potter films are remarkably well-rounded in terms of their female characters. Most fantasy (hello “The Lord of the Rings”) is very male-centric. Rowling discusses the roles of mothers and daughters in the entire series. Once again, it’s nice to see a feature that doesn’t just focus on the final film, knowing that fans of this work are probably interested in something that spans the entire scope of the franchise. Once again again, Rowling makes a great interview subject and, as much as any other feature, this piece actually made me appreciate the entire series more. Maybe it’s the parent in me, but the idea that “mother love” gave Harry the strength that Voldemort didn’t have is pretty awesome.

Deleted Scenes (6:33)

This is an interesting collection of cut and extended moments but none of it is particularly memorable or worthy of re-inclusion in a future director’s cut (although the final bit, an exchange between Hermione and Ron, is pretty stellar). For the most part, they were all correct cuts, worth seeing now for fans but probably not the kind of thing that will be watched more than once. Note: Within “Blowing Up Hogwarts,” you can see exactly where the deleted scenes would have been in the final film.

“Warner Bros. Studio Tour London” (1:33)

A brief commercial for the soon-to-be tour access to the sets in London. Fans book your travel packages now.

“Pottermore” (1:07)

Another commercial for the online reading experience meant to continue the Potter universe.

“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — Part 2” stars Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, Ralph Fiennes, Michael Gambon, Maggie Smith, Matthew Lewis, Helena Bonham Carter, and Alan Rickman. It was adapted by Steve Kloves and directed by David Yates. It was released on Blu-ray and DVD on November 11th, 2011 and is rated PG-13. content director Brian Tallerico

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