Even though I can’t say Warner Bros. has put together a fine package of features – no doubt they’re saving the good stuff for the Ultimate Collector’s Edition plus any other editions they release to keep the cash flowing – the audio and video are both excellent while the film itself concludes the series quite nicely with a mixture of thrilling action and poignant drama.
Genre(s): Fantasy, Action, Drama
Warner Bros. | PG13 – 130 min. – $35.99 | November 11, 2011
Directed by: David Yates
Writer(s): J.K. Rowling (novel); Steve Kloves (screenplay)
Cast: Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, Helena Bonham Carter, Warwick Davis, Ralph Fiennes, Michael Gambon, John Hurt, Jason Isaacs, Alan Rickman
Theatrical Release Date: July 15, 2011
Features: Maximum Movie Mode, Featurettes, Deleted Scenes, BD Live, DVD Copy, UltraViolet Digital Copy
Number of Discs: 3
Audio: English (DTS-HD MA 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1)
Video: 1080p/Widescreen 2.40:1
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
Codec: MPEG-4 AVC
Region(s): A, B, C
THE MOVIE – 4.5/5
Note: I have copied and pasted portions of my review (including the video/audio) from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1 here as both films are pretty consistent in acting, tone and direction. I have updated to add my views of this second part and the franchise as a whole.
It’s been 10 years in the making but the finale for the boy wizard has finally come to a close… and with a blast and a bit of nostalgia for those who have journeyed with these characters from the beginning.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2 begins where the first part left off and while most films stick to the three act rule, and this does, it almost felt like the third act with the previous film serving as the first and second acts.
The story follows Harry (DANIEL RADCLIFFE), Ron (RUPERT GRINT) and Hermione (EMMA WATSON) as they search for the remaining Horcruxes that will weaken Voldemort (RALPH FIENNES). Their journey takes them from Gringotts to break into Bellatrix’s vault – with the help of goblin Griphook (WARWICK DAVIS) – back to Hogwarts as Voldemort learns what the trio are up to and know they are one step closer. But getting into Hogwarts is easier said than done as its new headmaster is Severus Snape (ALAN RICKMAN) and the place is being run like a totalitarian dictatorship.
Helping the trio, albeit with some passive reluctance, is Aberforth Dumbledore (CIARAN HINDS), Dumbledore’s brother. I should note here that the make-up effects crew did a fantastic job matching some key features from Michael Gambon to make him look like he’s related; a task which some movies don’t even try but here if you take a quick look, you’d swear it was Gambon underneath the make-up. In any case, he eventually helps them to get into Hogwarts, with Neville (MATTHEW LEWIS), now leading the charge against the reigning powers that be. Inside Hogwarts is when the siege begins as Voldemort and his legions try to invade but supporters of the cause take a stand and in turn give Harry Potter to find the remaining Horcruxes’ before an epic battle between the Boy Who Lived and Voldemort begins.
Obviously this is a simplistic rundown of the plot, but it’s the gist of the entire film and in fact, the final act of the entire franchise. After what was an emotional – and quite dark – part 1 for The Deathly Hallows, I wondered how a more action-packed finale would translate and if filmmakers could keep the momentum going until the end and the very important confrontation, one that’s been 10 years in the making. Thus far, beginning with Order of the Phoenix and Half-Blood Prince, Director David Yates has done a superb job with the franchise and given how he, along with screenwriter Steve Kloves, manages to fit in all the important aspects and create a satisfying conclusion is almost awe-inspiring.
As far as the acting goes, Radcliffe, Grint and Watson all have been fairly consistent through the series – save for maybe Sorcerer’s Stone – and here now a decade later, they’ve obviously embodied their characters but rather than sleepwalking through their roles, they’re still adding layers.
This isn’t to say this is a perfect movie because it isn’t. One of my main issues, and it’s fairly minor in the grand scheme of things, is the relationship between Harry and Ginny never felt fleshed out. They kissed in the Half-Blood Prince then shared a moment in Deathly Hallows Part 1, but since they get separated it never seems fully realized when the time comes for some dramatic tension towards the end. Similarly, we get the death of two prominent characters, members of the old Order of the Phoenix, and we see them on the ground dead arm reached out to touch the other. When did these characters get together? No doubt, seeing them dead is tragic, no doubt, but it didn’t get quite the desired impact I think the writer and director were going after.
Now, having said all that, I realize the movies together were approaching 5 hours and thus things that might’ve been in the book had to be condensed or completely excised so I can excuse some of it, but those two items did stand out both times I saw the film.
On the whole, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2 is a well made, highly entertaining and in the end, poignant conclusion to one of the most successful franchises in history.
Even as somebody who hasn’t read any of the novels, I still managed to enjoy several of the films throughout the series with the first two, in hindsight, are a bit of a chore to get through but once it got darker beginning with Prisoner of Azkaban (a personal favorite), even with some of the more sluggish scenes/sequences, they still manage to grab my attention from beginning to end.
The filmmaking experience by all those involved with the Harry Potter franchise is something to behold and might be second only to what Peter Jackson did filming the three epic fantasy Lord of the Rings movies back-to-back-to-back.
The Blu-ray comes housed in a standard Blu-ray case with a slip cover. Now, unlike the release of “Part 1”, this one has a lenticular front for some reason.
SPECIAL FEATURES – 3.5/5
Maximum Movie Mode (2:47:35; HD) – Warner’s staple Blu-ray feature returns where this go around actor Matthew Lewis (Neville Longbottom) hosts and we get access to interviews with members of the cast and crew along with featurettes and deleted scenes. This one isn’t bad, but you’re only getting around 17-minutes of footage. As a side, I like that I don’t have to watch it on my computer like the latest and lame ass Second Screen feature some studios are using.
Focus Points (26:27; HD) – This is a collection of short featurettes showcasing a variety of topics including: Aberforth Dumbledore (2:37), Deathly Hallow 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). These are also available via the Maximum Movie Mode as an icon will pop up and pressing enter, you can watch it. On their own, these aren’t bad but a more comprehensive featurette would be preferred.
Final Farewells From Cast and Crew (3:07; HD) – This is an all too brief though still melancholy featurette as some of the actors (including Radcliffe, Grint and Watson) and members of the crew reflect on their time with the franchise and how much they will miss it all.
BD-Live – As with most other Warner titles, there is a portal to check out trailers and other promotional material. Hopefully there might be some live commentary as was done with one of the Harry Potter releases, though I wouldn’t hold my breath.
A Conversation with J.K. Rowling (53:03; HD) – This is an extensive, and oft times funny, interview/conversation with Rowling and Daniel Radcliffe as they discuss the movies and the role of Harry Potter. This also includes behind-the-scenes footage shot throughout the years. Given how it was produced, I think this initially aired on television.
The Goblins of Gringotts (10:56; HD) – Head Goblin, Warwick Davis, shows the entire process of “going goblin”, from tryouts and casting to makeup and prosthetic tests to filming.
The Women of Harry Potter (23:31; HD) – This featurette covers the different women in the films and making them strong and confident, differentiating them from those in the adventure-fantasy genre.
Deleted Scenes (6:33; HD) – Here we get eight scenes that were trimmed or completely cut out. While they’re nice, they wouldn’t have added anything to the final film.
Warner Bros. Studio Tour London (1:33; HD) is just a promotional featurette on an attraction where fans can go to the actual sets used on the films.
Pottermore (1:07; HD) is an introduction by J.K. Rowling to the new site.
This contains the no-frills, standard-definition DVD Copy.
Also in the case is a download code for the UltraViolet Digital Copy which cannot be used with iTunes so you might have Part 1 on your iPod, you won’t get the second part. Not sure why Warner went with the streaming digital copy but it’s completely useless to me.
VIDEO – 4.5/5
The film is presented in its original 2.40 aspect ratio and comes on a 50GB disc and MPEG-4 AVC encoding. There’s little doubt that this would be a very dark looking movie from the opening and it only continues until the end even during the daylight scenes. Now, the picture is well defined and I noticed no flaws like pixilation even in the pitch black shots. Again, since this is a dark looking picture, it’s not going to be very pretty in high-def but it’s certainly far better than its DVD counterpart…
AUDIO – 4.75/5
The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio meanwhile isn’t the best lossless track I’ve encountered but there are a few action pieces, especially at the beginning, that allow it to shine. The dialogue primarily uses the center channel with the other action coming from the front and rear speakers. Alexandre Desplat’s score also sounds great going from the softer moments like the Harry Potter theme to the action scenes which provide depth to the track.
OVERALL – 4.25/5
Overall, even though I can’t say Warner Bros. has put together a fine package of features – no doubt they’re saving the good stuff for the Ultimate Collector’s Edition plus any other editions they release to keep the cash flowing – the audio and video are both excellent while the film itself concludes the series quite nicely with a mixture of thrilling action and poignant drama.
Brian Oliver, The Movieman
Check out some more screen caps by going to page 2.