Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2 appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this Blu-Ray Disc. This wasn’t a killer presentation, but it usually seemed more than satisfying.
As was the case with the Part 1 Blu-ray, shadow detail became the weakest link. Plenty of dark sequences came across as a bit too opaque and tough to discern. This was clearly a photographic choice, but it seemed to go over the top and made it tough to figure out what was happening in some scenes.
Happily, this wasn’t the obstacle I encountered in Part 1. Yeah, the too-dark shots of Part 2 occasionally annoyed, but they didn’t appear as impenetrable as they did in its predecessor. I would’ve liked greater clarity in these scenes, but they didn’t hurt the image severely.
The rest of the presentation came across as a duplicate of Part 1. At all times, sharpness looked great. The movie exhibited fine definition and lacked any signs of softness. I witnessed no jaggies or moiré effects, and edge haloes failed to appear. As usual, the transfer didn’t display print flaws.
None of the prior Potter films went with lively palettes, and that continued in this nearly monochromatic experience. Colors were always subdued, but within the stylistic constraints, they looked fine. Blacks were also dark and tight. Only my mild shadow detail concerns knocked this one down to a “B”.
No concerns greeted the movie’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack. This was probably the liveliest of the eight flicks, and the soundscape came to life in dynamic fashion. The scenes underground at Gringott’s launched the action in fine fashion, with the fun “mine cart” ride and the intense destruction and rage of the dragon. All of those elements zipped around the room and engulfed us in the material.
Matters continued to impress from there. Because Part 2 came with a mix of quiet and loud scenes, it didn’t dazzle on a continual basis, but it still seemed convincing at all times, and the more active sequences were stunners. The attack on Hogwart’s and its destruction came as additional standouts, though plenty of other excellent sequences came along for the ride as well. This was a really stellar soundfield.
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. I called the Part 1 the best Potter soundtrack to date, but Part 2 beat it; this was an amazing track that fell just short of “A+” standards.
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 Matthew Lewis introduces the piece, and we also hear from producers David Barron and David Heyman, director David Yates, makeup effects supervisor Nick Dudman, 2nd unit director Stephen Woolfenden, visual effects supervisor Tim Burke, and actors Warwick Davis, Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, James and Oliver Phelps, Emma Watson, Jason Isaacs, Bonnie Wright, Jessie Cave, Tom Felton, and Mark Williams.
The “Mode” looks at the film’s opening and tone, cast, characters and performances, makeup and various effects, story issues, deleted scenes and editing, connections to prior films and comparisons to the book, stunts and action, sets, and the finish of the series.
If you saw the “Mode” for Hallows Part 1, you’ll know what to expect here. Most of the content consists of “ Walk-ins”. These shrink the movie image to feature the film participant as he or she explains various components. Through these moments, we see footage from the set and other components, but they remain the main focus.
The Part 1 “Mode” had some good moments but ultimately frustrated due to sparse content and a lack of user-friendliness. The “Mode” for Half-Blood Prince let viewers skip from one bit to another, but the “Modes” for the two Hallows flick lack that convenience.
This becomes less problematic for the Part 2 “Mode”, simply because it lacks as much dead air. Oh, we still get a few more empty spaces than I’d like, but they don’t become as tiresome as they did for the prior film.
The quality of the content can be a bit dodgy, though. While we learn a fair amount about the movie, we get a few too many superficial moments, such as the reels that feel like “greatest hits” from earlier movies. Still, we do learn a reasonable amount about the film, and the “Mode” becomes a fairly satisfying program.
We can check out the eight Focus Points on their own or as branches of “Maximum Movie Mode”. These include “Aberforth Dumbledore”(2:37), “Deathly Hallows Costume Changes” (3:13), “Harry Returns to Hogwarts” (3:21), “The Hogwarts Shield” (2:27), “The Room of Requirement Set” (3:13), “The Fiery Escape” (3:49), “Neville’s Stand” (4:15) and “Molly Takes Down Bellatrix” (3:27). In total, they run 26 minutes, 27 seconds, and across them, we hear from Yates, Radcliffe, Isaacs, Lewis, Watson, Heyman, Grint, Burke, Felton, Woolfenden, James and Oliver Phelps, costume designer Jany Temime, production designer Stuart Craig, art director Alastair Bullock, set decorator Stephenie McMillan, production buyer Lucinda Sturgis, stuntman Martin Wilde, special effects supervisor John Richardson, stunt coordinator Greg Powell, and actors Ciaran Hinds, Julie Walters, Helena Bonham Carter, Robbie Coltrane and Evanna Lynch.
The programs look at cast and performances, characters and story, various effects and costumes, sets and props, stunts and action. None of the “Points” deliver a great deal of depth, but they help expand subjects seen during the “Mode”. These tell us more info about the different production areas and add a layer of richness to the experience.
Final Farewells from Cast and Crew runs three minutes, seven seconds and provides statements from Oliver and James Phelps, Mark Williams, Warwick Davis, Tom Felton, Bonnie Wright, Jessie Cave, Rupert Grint, Daniel Radcliffe, David Barron, Stephen Woolfenden, Nick Dudman, Tim Burke, David Yates, Matthew Lewis, Jason Isaacs, and Emma Watson. All tell us what a wonderful experience the Potter series was and how much they’ll miss it. The piece is painless but not particularly rewarding.
Disc One opens with ads for the 2012 Harry Potter “Definitive Edition”, the “Pottermore” website, and the Lego Harry Potter videogame.
A second disc offers a DVD copy of the film. This includes some deleted scenes, so it’s not a totally barebones release.
With that we shift to Disc Three. For the final installment in the documentary series, Creating the World of Harry Potter Part 8: Growing Up goes for 49 minutes, 19 seconds and features Radcliffe, Heyman, Watson, Grint, Felton, Barron, Williams, Rowling, Isaacs, James and Oliver Phelps, directors Chris Columbus, Alfonso Cuaron, Mike Newell and David Yates, head of education Janet Mills, and actors Richard Harris, Robbie Coltrane, Alfie Enoch, Alan Rickman, Matthew Lewis, Maggie Smith, Kenneth Branagh, Jessie Cave, and Katie Leung. As implied by the title, “Growing Up” traces the evolution of the series’ young actors, with an emphasis on the three leads.
The show can be a bit soppy at times, but it’s usually a warm, enjoyable look back at the ways the actors changed over the years. It’s nice to see the contrast via interviews from over 10 years, and we get a nice feel for the topic. This becomes a nostalgic, enjoyable piece.
Another continuation of a series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2: Behind the Magic occupies 47 minutes, one second. Again hosted by Ben Shephard, this one provides info from Radcliffe, Grint, Watson, Heyman, Carter, Yates, Dudman, Warwick Davis, Burke, Felton, Craig, Barron, Bohanna, Wright, Williams, Lewis, Walters, prop man Sidney Wilson and makeup designer Amanda Knight.
Expect this one to offer topics – and tone – similar to what we saw in the prior entry. We get a frothy mix of movie elements and see Shephard put into makeup to receive “battle wounds”. Like its predecessors, this show offers a fun and interesting overview of the production.
Next comes A Conversation with JK Rowling and Daniel Radcliffe. A longer version of a program on the original Part 2 release, this runs one hour, three minutes, 20 seconds as the author and the actor discuss his casting and her involvement in the process, other cast/character/story notions, changes from her books and aspects of the evolution of the novels, and living with the success of the Potter world.
Though both have a lot to say, Rowling dominates and gives us the most interesting parts of “Conversation”. She lets us take a nice glimpse behind the scenes to learn more about her writing processes and working through Potter areas. It’s fun to see arguably the two most important figures in the franchise chat for such a long period, and this ends up as an enjoyable piece.
(For the record, this version of “Conversation” adds about 10 minutes to the previously released cut. I didn’t compare them directly, so I can’t discuss specific additions, but I wanted to mention that it’s not radically longer.)
Hogwarts’ Last Stand fills 30 minutes, 27 seconds with notes from Yates, Barron, Heyman, Rowling, Watson, Powell, Woolfenden, Richardson, Lewis, Dudman, Felton, Fiennes, Coltrane, Craig, Isaacs, Radcliffe, James and Oliver Phelps, Grint, McMillan, Rickman, Wright, stunt performers Martin Wilde and Marc Mailley and actor Devon Murray. This program concentrates on all the elements required to bring together the movie’s climactic final third or so. It gets into a lot of good details and provides a satisfying examination of the specifics.
Note that the disc lists this as an “Extended Version” of the show. Unless I missed it somehow, it didn’t appear on the Part 2 Blu-ray, so I don’t know where the non-extended cut appeared.
Two repeated featurettes follow. The Goblins of Gringotts goes for 10 minutes, 56 seconds and provides notes from Nick Dudman, Warwick Davis, and actors Rusty Goffe, Binde Johal, Lauren Barnard, Nathan Phillips, Nikki McInness, Samantha Davis, and Maxwell Laird. We learn about the goblin makeup and the actors who played them. This is a nice look at a side of the filmmaking process that usually doesn’t get much attention.
In the 22-minute, 31-second The Women of Harry Potter, we hear from Rowling, Wright, Watson, Walters, Carter, and actors Helen McCrory and Imelda Staunton. As expected, the program looks at the female characters and actors in the Potter series. Some of this seems self-congratulatory, but we still get decent information. Most of this comes from Rowling, who again provides nice insights into her creations.
A bunch of short-ish new not-on-the-original-Blu-ray featurettes come next. These include “The Great Hall of Hogwarts” (4:13), “Ron and Hermione’s Kiss” (4:12), “That’s a Wrap, Harry” (4:55), “Neville’s Battle Makeup” (4:11), “The Gringotts Disguises” (4:07), and “Harry’s Death: The Courtyard Confrontation” (10:14). Across these, we find info from Radcliffe, Grint, Watson, Yates, Heyman, Barron, Felton, Lewis, James and Oliver Phelps, Wright, Craig, Lynch, Dudman, Carter, Fennes, Rowling, Lynch, Murray, Enoch, Coltrane, Isaacs, McCrory, 1st AD Jamie Christopher and actor David Bradley. These look at sets, the big smooching scene, feelings about finishing the series, makeup and costumes, and the final battle between Harry and Voldemort. These resemble earlier programs – and sometimes use the same footage – so don’t expect revelations. Still, they include some good new information and remain enjoyable.
Under Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: The Quest, we find an additional 16 short featurettes. Because my fingers are getting tired, I’m not going to type out the titles of all of them, but I will say they run a total of 53 minutes, 37 seconds of material. These feature Ifans, Watson, Radcliffe, Shephard, Bohanna, Fiennes, Newell, Isaacs, Yates, Rowling, Rickman, Barron, Grint, Heyman, Walters, Williams, James and Oliver Phelps, Enoch, Murray, Cave, Wright, Enoch, Lynch, Columbus, Toby Jones, Warwick Davis, animation supervisor Pablo Grillo, and actor Michael Gambon. The pieces cover a mix of topics like performances, characters and actors, props and effects, the premiere, Ron’s romances and aspects of his family, favorite dialogue, props and costumes, a tour of the main studio, and saying goodbye to the series. These pieces originally ran online as promotion, and they emit the fluffiness one expects of those origins. Nonetheless, they come with some interesting bits and are worth a look.
Eight Deleted Scenes fill a total of six minutes, 33 seconds. Given the length of these pieces, you can assume that they don’t add much, and that assumption would be correct. These are mostly just extensions of existing sequences, so don’t anticipate anything that really stands alone – or stands out. The extra bits are fun but fairly inconsequential.
trailers - one teaser, one theatrical – for Part 2 and also includes two Previews. One looks at the “Warner Bros. Studio Tour London” and the other delivers a promo for “Pottermore”.
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.
After 10 years and eight movies, the massively successful franchise comes to a close with Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2. And it does so in spectacular fashion with a film that seems likely to be viewed as the best of the bunch. The Blu-ray offers good picture, awesome audio and a strong set of supplements. The “Ultimate Edition” won’t be of use to casual fans, but for serious Potter buffs, it’s a nice investment.
Note that this “Ultimate Edition” of Deathly Hallows Part 2 can be purchased only as part of a 2-movie collection with Deathly Hallows Part 1. 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 2