While Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince didn’t quite grab me compared to a few of its predecessors, it’s still an entertaining entry leading way to what should be an intense two-part finale. The Blu-ray contains some nice features – not up to expectations for a blockbuster, but decent enough – and the video/audio transfers are both fantastic. The features are exactly the same except this time we get a great documentary.
Genre(s): Fantasy, Adventure, Drama
Warner Bros. | PG – 153 min. – $49.99 | June 14, 2011
Directed by: David Yates
Writer(s): J.K. Rowling (novel); Steve Kloves (screenplay)
Cast: Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, Jim Broadbent, Helena Bonham Carter, Tom Felton, Michael Gambon, Alan Rickman, Bonnie Wright
Theatrical Release Date: July 15, 2009
Features: Maximum Movie Mode, Focus Points, Featurettes, Theatrical Trailers, BD-Live, Digital Copy
Number of Discs: 2
Audio: English (DTS-HD MA 5.1), Dutch (Dolby Digital 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 5.1), German (Dolby Digital 5.1), Portuguese (Dolby Digital 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1)
Video: 1080pWidescreen 2.40
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
Region(s): A, B, C
THE MOVIE – 4/5
Note: This was copied from my original standard Blu-ray review. My feelings for the movie itself did change as I enjoyed much more especially in light what happens in Deathly Hallows Part 1. That said, some of my opinions still remain.
Although not as strong of a narrative as previous outings, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is still a good entry in the sixth entry into the series that sets up for one mighty of a two-part finale set for release in 2010 and 2011.
After the events in Order of the Phoenix when things looked bleak for our intrepid Harry Potter (DANIEL RADCLIFFE) – with the Ministry of Magic targeting Dumbledore (MICHAEL GAMBON) and Potter for their warnings that Voldemort is in fact back – saw many changes for Hogwarts until they are vindicated with the witnessing of the Dark Lord’s presence. When Half-Blood Prince opens, we find that Harry is now a celebrity and the Chosen One in the wizardry world, but Voldemort and his Death Eaters grow ever so bold by even attacking in the Muggles’ world.
Meanwhile, Dumbledore enlists the help of Harry to recruit one Professor Horace Slughorn (JIM BROADBENT) to return to teach at Hogwarts because he may have important memories of interactions with Tom Riddle a.k.a. Voldemort but he is more than reluctant to reveal them. We also find the sleazy Draco Malfoy (TOM FELTON) who, with the help of his mother and Bellatrix (HELENA BONHAM CARTER), working for Voldemort in a secret mission critical in the Dark Lord’s plans for Hogwarts while Severus Snape (ALAN RICKMAN) has pledged to protect Draco.
All through that, Harry’s best friends Ron Weasley (RUPERT GRINT) and Hermione Granger (EMMA WATSON) are growing up and a little teenage angst crops up as Ron starts dating an off-kilter chick much to Hermione’s chagrin while Harry may also find his own love interest in a close friend. Kind of “Degrassi” with wizards…
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince isn’t a bad entry into the series, but I never quite got into it either. I didn’t think the narrative or plot was as fulfilling as the others (coming from a non-reader of the books) though it does set up the two-part finale. I can’t put my finger on it, as the cast is still good and the direction seemed to be right, but it didn’t really hold my attention compared with the previous entries.
However, the movie does feature some solid performances from the reliable Michael Gambon to the kids who we’ve watched grow up on screen. Plus, I’ve always found the supporting cast in the Potter films to be pretty impressive. Maggie Smith, Timothy Spall (who doesn’t even have any lines), David Thewlis, Robbie Coltrane and many others make brief appearances in important roles.
Overall, I still think it’s a decent movie in a series that’s always been high in quality. Director David Yates who also made his wizardry debut with Order of the Phoenix effectively provides a dark tone to the series that will culminate with a massive battle. And after missing from the previous film, Steve Kloves makes his return as screenwriter. I felt Kloves was the missing ingredient from OotP and in a few ways, Half-Blood Prince manages to get back on course.
SPECIAL FEATURES – 4.5/5
This release is basically the same as the 2-disc standard Blu-ray release except it also includes part 6 in the big documentary. This set also has two more HP cards and a little hardcover booklet on the Magical Effects.
Maximum Movie Mode – Now a staple amongst Warner’s higher profile releases, this feature allows you to watch the movie while also checking out features via picture-in-picture. Now there are some gaps but luckily you can use the right arrow on your remote control to skip to the next one or you can utilize… ** Blu-ray Exclusive **
Focus Points (37:26; HD) – With this, you can take a look at individual featurettes on the various aspects of the film like set design, visual effects, different characters and the like. Compared with the Order of the Phoenix release, this one is quite short yet still offers some insight into the process. ** Blu-ray Exclusive **
BD-Live – This is the normal portal for Warner’s online content though you do have the options of creating your own screening and check out user commentaries. On 12/12/09, there was a live screening with star Daniel Radcliffe and Producer David Barron (taking David Yates’ place as Yates came down with the flu). Like the one for The Dark Knight, this had text but thankfully they’ve added audio this time which was much, much better. Apparently this will be available on BD-Live for those who missed it. ** Blu-ray Exclusive **
Creating the World of Harry Potter Part 6: Magical Effects (1:04:09; HD) – Harry’s world is full of magic and it takes an army of effects technicians to bring these imaginary concepts to life. This is definitely one of the more fascinating addition to the “Creating the World of Harry Potter” line, certainly far better than ‘Sound and Music’, taking a look at the amount of work needed to be done on each of the films and how much it has advanced over the course of 10 years and how much it has advanced. ** New Feature **
Close-Up with the Cast of Harry Potter (28:34; HD) – Hosts Matthew Lewis (Neville Longbottom) and Alfred Enoch (Dean Thomas) lead us on an entertaining look at the cast of Harry Potter as they explore their interests away from acting and spend a day on set with the production team. This featurette is split into 8-parts each spending time with certain members of the cast or crew (i.e. the first one shows star Daniel Radcliffe and Editor Mark Day having a conversation about film editing or Rupert Grint shows off with the stunt department). Luckily there is a Play All option so you can watch them all without stopping.
One-Minute Drills (6:45; HD) – Each cast member has 60 seconds to describe his or her character’s personality, history, relationships and other traits before time runs out. If you want a Cliff’s Notes on each character, this is the featurette for you…
First Footage from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (1:50; HD) – Fans will surely rejoice upon seeing this footage for the final Harry Potter movie. After some comments from the director and producer (within behind-the-scenes footage), there is about 44 seconds of footage to tease the fans.
J.K. Rowling: A Year in the Life (49:46; HD) – A look into the life of J.K. Rowling over the last year of writing Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Just to note, an advisory beforehand states that it reveals information on important story points which occur in the final book. This was actually a well filmed look at the author, her life and the process of writing the novel.
What’s on Your Mind? (6:43; SD) – Hosted by Tom Felton, the cast is put on the spot when asked a series of rapid-fire questions on their likes and dislikes. I’m sure some fans will take notes to update these actors’ Wikipedia pages.
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter (11:40; SD) – This is an “inside look” at the amazing world of magic and excitement being created at Universal Orlando Resort. The Resort is building the Harry Potter theme park where visitors are able to experience what we’ve seen in the movies or read in the books. Most of it is just concept art of what it will look like, though I think I saw some pictures crop up online of Hogwarts.
Next up are some Deleted Scenes (6:51; HD), 8 to be exact, that I imagine will make it into an extended version when Warner releases the film as an “Ultimate Edition” in a couple years probably. The scenes themselves aren’t great and a few are extended from what was already in the film.
There is also Theatrical Trailers (HD) along with a digital copy download code included in this set.
VIDEO – 4.5/5
Presented in 1080/24p high-definition with a 2.40 aspect ratio, Half-Blood Prince looks almost fantastic, I say almost because I did notice some pixilation during the darker scenes especially towards the end. Pixilation aside, black levels looked very nice while detail levels on the faces and objects were well defined; even during the opening I noticed no signs of banding, just a smooth transition from one color range to another.
AUDIO – 4.5/5
The previous Blu-ray had a Dolby TrueHD track but this go-around Warner has given it a “new” DTS-HD MA mix which is more or less the same as the other. So, my opinions on this remains the same when I said that this is also impressive with strong dialogue levels coming from the center channels and the audio effects making use of both front and rear channels. There was a certain depth to the audio and it made for an enjoyable home theater experience, you will not be disappointed.
OVERALL – 4.25/5
While Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince didn’t quite grab me compared to a few of its predecessors, it’s still an entertaining entry leading way to what should be an intense two-part finale. The Blu-ray contains some nice features – not up to expectations for a blockbuster, but decent enough – and the video/audio transfers are both fantastic. The features are exactly the same except this time we get a great documentary. Does this make it a worthwhile upgrade? Absolutely not as I suspect there’ll be more to be had in the eventual complete collection set and/or a separate release for the 8-part documentaries.
Brian Oliver, The Movieman
Check out some more screen caps by going to page 2.