Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 1 appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this Blu-Ray Disc. Though not a poor presentation, this one presented more problems than expected.
Actually, my only real complaints stemmed from shadow detail. When we found low-light sequences – and those occurred quite often in this grim tale – the elements tended to be really dark. And I don’t mean “moody dark” – I mean “what the heck is going on???” dark. During these shots, I found it awfully tough to tell what was happening. Some of this likely came from photographic choices, but I saw the movie theatrically and don’t recall having so much trouble being able to discern the action. Hallows offered a really dense image during its many low-light scenes.
Everything else was perfectly solid. Sharpness seemed accurate and distinctive, without any hints of softness or fuzziness. Jagged edges and shimmering remained absent, and I saw no edge haloes or artifacts. The image also lacked print flaws.
Colors weren’t much of a factor in this largely monochromatic piece. Even when potentially lively hues appeared – such as Umbridge’s pink outfit – they were low-key and subdued. Though not very exciting, that was appropriate and fine within the movie’s design. Blacks were deep and tight, so I had no complaints there. Unfortunately, those heavy shadows created a definite distraction and caused me to drop my grade to a “C+”.
On the other hand, the film’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack provided a consistent delight. One of the more action-oriented Potter films, Hallows boasted a lot of intense material that utilized all five speakers in an involving manner. Various elements appeared in logical locations and zipped around the room in a convincing way. This meant Death Eaters flew to various spots, and different kinds of magic and mayhem exploded around the spectrum. The track meshed together in a splendid way to create a stunning sonic impression.
Audio quality always excelled as well. Effects were accurate and bold, with clear highs and deep lows. Music showed nice range and punch, while speech seemed concise and distinctive. This was probably the best Potter soundtrack to date, as it was a total winner.
How did this 2012 Blu-ray compare to the original Blu-ray from 2011? Both were identical – literally. The 2012 Ultimate Edition simply repackages the 2011 release’s movie disc.
The UE also replicates the 2011 release’s extras and adds some new ones – sort of. This set’s third disc replicates a platter from September 2012’s super-deluxe –and super-expensive - Harry Potter Wizard’s Collection. The UE offers these for the first time outside of that $500 package, though.
On Disc One, we open with Maximum Movie Mode. Actor Jason Isaacs introduces the piece, and we also hear from producers David Heyman and David Barron, production designer Stuart Craig, makeup effects supervisor Nick Dudman, director David Yates, and actors Tom Felton, Nick Moran, Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Frank Dillane. These cover deleted scenes, production design and inspirations, makeup and effects, cast, characters and performances, sets and locations, background/refresher from the prior films, music, and various trivia tidbits. We also find occasional excerpts from the novel that intend to help set us up for the final film.
Some prior “Maximum Movie Modes” such as Watchmen offered “Director Walk-ins”. These would shrink the movie image to feature the filmmaker as he manipulated elements and explained various components. The “Walk-ins” tended to show up infrequently, so the “Modes” usually acted as pretty standard picture-in-picture features.
The Hallows “Mode” consists of almost nothing other than “Walk-ins” with the participants listed. Through those moments, we see footage from the set and other components, but they remain the main focus. This “Mode” starts fairly well, as we get a reasonable amount of content through the movie’s first act. Unfortunately, the breakaways tend to dry up as the film progresses and they appear less frequently.
This wouldn’t be an issue if the Blu-ray boasted the user-friendliness of the Half-Blood Prince “Mode”; that would allowed you to easily skip from one segment to the next. We don’t find that ability here, so if you want to experience the whole “Mode”, you must watch the entire flick – and then some, as the participants occasionally pause the film and make the whole package run about 23 minutes longer than the flick itself.
Which isn’t satisfying. You can’t enjoy Hallows as a film with the “Mode” activated; it’s just too disruptive when it appears. You also will find yourself impatient as you await the next component; without a way to jump ahead, some long gaps appear. Diehard fans will still want to go through the “Mode”, as it has some enjoyable content, but it comes with a frustrating format.
We can check out the six Focus Points on their own or as branches of “Maximum Movie Mode”. These include “The Last Days of Privet Drive” (2:36), “Hagrid’s Motorbike” (4:01), “Magical Tents!” (2:18), “Death Eaters Attack Café” (2:51), “Creating Dobby and Kreacher” (3:48), and “The Return of Griphook” (3:45). In total, they run 19 minutes, 21 seconds, and across them, we hear from Yates, Radcliffe, Heyman, Craig, Watson, Dudman, special effects supervisor John Richardson, stunt doubles Joanna Whitney, Nick Chopping and Marc Mailley, 2nd unit director Stephen Woolfenden, set decorator Stephenie McMillan, 1st AD Jamie Christopher, Framestore animation supervisor Pablo Grillo, chief mould maker Jamie Iovino and actors Richard Griffiths, Fiona Shaw, Harry Melling, Julie Walters, Rupert Grint, Warwick Davis, Toby Jones, Diane Gibbins, and Bindi Johal.
They look at shooting the final scenes at the Durley residence and the relationships among the actors, stunts, action and effects, set and production design, camerawork, cast, characters and performances. The “Points” exist as quick, tangential featurettes and don’t intend to tell a complete story; they’re kind of video footnotes, really. In that regard, they satisfy. While they’re never particularly impressive, they’re consistently enjoyable and give us some nice tidbits.
Disc One opens with ads for the Harry Potter “Ultimate Editions” and the Lego Harry Potter videogame.
Disc Two delivers a DVD Copy of Part 1. This includes a few “Additional Scenes”, so it’s not a barebones affair.
More supplements show up on Disc Three. Creating the Magical World of Harry Potter Part 6: Magical Effects runs 47 minutes, 28 seconds and features a conversation between author JK Rowling and screenwriter Steve Kloves. They discuss aspects of the novels, their adaptation to the screen, and their thoughts about character/story elements.
Without question, “Story” provides the most simple of the eight “Creating” documentaries, as none of the others focus solely on two participants. That makes perfect sense, though, as Rowling and Kloves were the proprietors of the text, and it’s a lot of fun to watch the two of them reminisce and discuss their collaboration. Yeah, we get stuck with too much praise and happy talk, but we still learn quite a bit in this enjoyable chat.
Hosted by Ben Shephard, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1: Behind the Magic lasts 44 minutes, nine seconds and offers remarks from producers David Barron and David Heyman, director David Yates, visual effects supervisor Tim Burke, 2nd unit director Steven Woolfenden, supervising modeler Pierre Bohanna, stunt coordinator Greg Powell, makeup effects designer Nick Dudman, and actors Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Domhnall Gleeson, Mark Williams, Julie Walters, Evanna Lynch, Bill Nighy, Jason Isaacs, Tom Felton, Sophie Thompson, David O’Hara, Steffan Rhodri, and Imelda Staunton. The program gives us a story recap and also looks at the choice to split into two movies, various effects, cast and performances, action and stunts, costumes, characters, sets, locations and production design, and some other areas.
No one would ever accuse the various “Magic” documentaries of being hard-hitting, as they tend toward the fluffy, promotional side of the street. That said, they also manage to produce quite a lot of good info, and they move at a brisk, breezy pace. This becomes another likable, engaging program.
10 new Featurettes follow. These include “Harry Potter: On the Road” (19:37), “The Return of the Order” (5:35), “Scabior and Greyback” (4:10), “Dobby’s Farewell” (4:28), “The Look of Bill Weasley” (3:41), “The Weasleys” (3:33), “The State of Evil” (9:58), “The New Guys” (7:06), “One Book, Two Movies” (4:38) and “The Wizarding Prop Shop” (5:28). Across these, we hear from Heyman, Watson, Grint, Radcliffe, Barron, Walters, Yates, Lynch, Powell, Isaacs, Domhnall Gleeson, Felton, Nighy, Bohanna, set decorator Stephenie McMillan, production designer Stuart Craig, location manager Sue Quinn, special effects supervisor John Richardson, costume designer Jany Temime, and actors Bonnie Wright, Rhys Ifans, Brendan Gleeson, David Thewlis, Natalia Tena, George Harris, Andy Linden, Nick Moran, Dave Legeno, Toby Jones, Oliver and James Phelps, Ralph Fiennes, Helen McCrory, Helena Bonham Carter, and Clemence Poesy.
The pieces cover sets and locations, various effects, production design and costumes, cast and characters, props and splitting the book into two movies. These resemble the “Focus Points” found on the original Blu-ray and contribute a lot of good info. They can be a little random/scattered, but they’re still informative and worthwhile.
Also found on the 2011 Blu-ray, you’ll find a Sneak Peek for Deathly Hallows – Part 2. It goes for four minutes, 24 seconds and provides some shots from the film along with quick comments from
The next five featurettes repeat material from the original Blu-ray. These include “The Seven Harrys” (5:29), “On the Green with Rupert, Tom, Oliver and James” (13:38), “Dan, Rupert and Emma’s Running Competition” (2:45), “Godric’s Hollow/The Harry and Nagini Battle” (6:00), and “The Frozen Lake” (4:10). During these, we find notes from Radcliffe, Watson, Yates, Barron, Heyman, Grint, Felton, Craig, McMillan, Christopher, Powell, Linden, the Phelps brothers, Burke, visual effects producer Emma Norton, VFX previs animation supervisor Ferran Domenech, and actor Hazel Douglas.
The shows look at effects, performances, cast relationships and reflections, set design, stunts and action. They give us quick featurettes that flesh out a variety of topics. None excel, but all provide some nice info; I especially like the look at making “Seven Harrys”.
Eight Deleted Scenes occupy a total of 10 minutes, 54 seconds. We see “The Burrows Shed” (0:41), “The Dursley House” (0:52), “Dudley and Harry” (2:05), “The Granger House” (0:27), “Ministry of Magic Lifts” (1:51), “Tent” (1:38), “Rabbit Chase in the Forest” (1:28), and “Ron and Hermione Skimming Stones” (1:52). The first few are the best; in particular, “Dursley” and “Dudley” flesh out the brief departure sequence we see at the start. Though I suspect the filmmakers thought those two would slow down the opening, I would’ve liked them to make the final cut; they add even more emotional resonance to the film.
“Shed” also helps set up the use of a radio that becomes prominent during the third act. As for the other scenes, they’re interesting but not especially important. “Chase” and “Stones” are good cuts, as they would’ve padded the movie’s less action-oriented moments and made the film drag a bit.
Four ads appear within Trailers. In addition to both the teaser and theatrical trailers for Part 1, we get “Behind the Soundtrack” (3:51) and a promo for The Wizarding World of Harry Potter (6:25). “Soundtrack” features Barron, Heyman, and composer Alexandre Desplat. We get a few notes about Desplat’s work on the film, but don’t expect much depth; the piece remains pretty shallow.
“Wizarding” takes us to the June 2010 grand opening of the new development at Universal Studios Florida. Various members of the cast attend and we learn more about the park’s design. This is pure promotion, though it’s good promotion; it makes me want to visit.
The package also provides a few materials not found on various discs. A 52-page Photo Book presents a variety of images. Called “Creating the World of Harry Potter Growing Up”, it mixes production/behind the scenes photos and movie stills. These span many years and don’t just concentrate on Hallows. This is a good little book with some interesting images.
Four Character Cards finish the package. Prisoner includes cards for Bellatrix Lestrange, Ginny Weasley, Neville Longbottom, and Lord Voldemort. On the positive side, these are better constructed one might expect; they’re thick and sturdy. On the negative side, they don’t really tell us anything. One side shows a black and white photo of the character, while the other sticks with extremely basic facts. Maybe fans will dig these, but they seem superfluous to me.
Not only does Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 set up the series’ finale, but also it stands on its own as arguably the best film of the first seven. It provides a grim experience that proves to be tight and often moving. The Blu-ray comes with excellent audio and a good collection of supplements, but visuals tend to be awfully murky in dark shots. Casual fans should be happy with the original Blu-ray, but this Ultimate Edition offers a nice experience for more dedicated Potterites.
Note that this “Ultimate Edition” of Deathly Hallows Part 1 can be purchased only as part of a 2-movie collection with Deathly Hallows Part 2. While the other Potter films earned individual UEs, that’s not the case for the final two chapters. On one hand, this makes sense – would any fan only want Part 1 or Part 2? – but on the other hand, it seems presumptuous.
Well, at least it gives buyers a discount. Prior individual UEs listed at $49.99 each, while the dual Part 1/Part 2 UE goes for $64.99, or about $35 less than it would’ve cost to get separate sets.
To rate this film, visit the orignal Blu-Ray review of HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS: PART 1