Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 completes the shift in tone we’ve seen coming throughout the series. In previous films, even dragon attacks and tragic deaths were fairly serious at best, but it’s all systems go now. The famous “Seven Harrys” scene offers a small taste of the comic, but after that the chase is on, and there’s no time for anything beyond running, and sinking into the depths of despair.
With nowhere to turn, Harry, Ron and Hermione are on their own, and it falls to them to find and destroy the Horcruxes – which are, as we all know, keeping Voldemort alive (well, or whatever).
The Ministry of Magic has been taken over, Dumbledore is gone, and the remains of the Order of the Phoenix can’t put together the sort of opposition that could keep Harry safe, and mount a search for the Horcruxes.
Of course, nothing is ever simple, even being alone against the world, and dark forces threaten to destroy the fabric that holds our three heroes together. It’s a full-blown war out there, and friendly faces are rare in the extreme, but the question soon becomes whether or not Harry, Ron, and Hermione can even count on each other. And, if war among wizards wasn’t enough, priority number one for the Dark Lord is finding Harry Potter.
As we roll on with this series, we see the struggle that ensues not only with the translation of a series of books to film, but with the ability to turn out consistent quality when you can’t find a place at the table to write for constantly shuffling all the bags of cash. Though a fine enough adventure (and a critic-proof one at that), the effort to “age” the series in time with its fans has put the filmmakers in a sticky situation. Where at first you couldn’t get enough dialog and emotion into the mix, what with all the flash and whizbang you wanted on the screen, you now can’t get enough of it out. Hence, two films.
“Adult” books have quite a lot of talking and introspection, so Potter should progress to such a scheme, or so the theory apparently goes. Unfortunately, that means a lot of very little happening at certain points in this film (though thankfully they are nothing in comparison to the book), and the tension, clearly the primary focus, is left to wane to disastrous levels.
That said, the film does manage to live up to what expectations might legitimately be held by fans, and it has no shortage of thrills, and moments that deliver the entertainment we’re after. Oddly enough, the film actually comes through with the most “magic” we’ve seen since Azkaban, and kudos to Director David Yates for managing to properly monkey with what made it to the screen enough to sift through to what compelling thematic elements exist in the franchise.
I could hardly give the film itself more than three stars on a bet, but that’s probably one of the most irrelevant statements I’ve ever made as a film critic. It is, despite whatever curmudgeonly effort of will I might put forward, rather fun, and certainly worth a viewing. Wherever you may fall on the Potter-meter, it’s pretty cool to watch him grow up.
The Blu-Ray Release
By now we are all hip to the fact that the home video releases for these films are going to come loaded with goodies. Chief among those that must be mentioned here is the Exclusive Sneak Peek at Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2. I haven’t seen it, so just know it’s there.
The next most interesting feature you get is the Maximum Movie Mode. Jason Isaacs serves as your host, and he, along with other members of the cast and crew, take you on an interactive journey through the film, and also serve key moments from previous films in order to bring the whole story together.
I usually don’t find these all that interesting, and while most versions of MMM (or similar) you run into have some good content worked together, they usually fail on the overall effort in my opinion. I’m not going to say that this one is a complete game changer on that score, but it is put together with a bit more thought than most. Isaacs is a great choice to have in front of things, and the content additions work well (I guess in terms of “flow” maybe), and add some real value.
Often enough, you find yourself thinking that you could have just watched all this as distinct special features, without it breaking up the film, no matter how “cool” it is that we can do that, but this one is a fun watch. You may find, especially in the first part of the film, that what you get is the usual behind-the-scenes material, but it picks up, and as you get into it a little more, you’ll find yourself getting a wider variety of explorations into… well, still behind-the-scenes stuff, largely, but of a different ilk.
Beyond that, fans might be somewhat let down, though there are still fairly cool things in store. It just doesn’t seem like all that much.
The Seven Harrys takes you behind the production of the effects that made this scene possible, and while perhaps moderately interesting, there is only so much wow factor to a rundown on several versions of a person onto film.
You’re on your own with On the Green with Rupert, Tom, Oliver and James, which sends us to the links with Rupert Grint (Ron Weasley), Tom Felton (Draco Malfoy), Oliver Phelps (George Weasley) and James Phelps (Fred Weasley) as they play golf and reminisce about the friendship that developed growing up on the set. If you’re really a huge fan, you’ll probably love this fairly intimate time with some of the stars.
Dan, Rupert and Emma’s Running Competition is actually a bit more interesting than any effort to describe it will relay. During the filming of the scene with the Snatchers in Swinley Forest, Dan, Rupert, and Emma went a little goofy and set up their own competition. It’s a truly silly affair, with commentary by Director David Yates, but it probably gives you a better look at life on the set than any behind-the-scenes featurette that could be planned out.
Beyond that you get a few additional scenes, a promotional trailer for The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, featuring several members of the cast as they visit, and a Behind the Soundtrack featurette.
Overall, this one packs a lot more in than it might seem by simply glancing at the back of the box, and beyond all that it’s a pretty nice Blu-Ray to boot. You’d expect that, of course, but I run across a lot of Blu-Ray releases that don’t quite live up to expectations, even among the ones that really should. This one delivers on clarity, especially given the dark range of the film, and with some of the frantic editing, you still have the crispness you want from your Blu-Ray.
Available on Blu-ray Combo Pack, DVD, On Demand and for Download 4/15! http://bit.ly/eCcWsS
Harry Potter: The Quest
As preparations for the final battle commence, Harry Potter fans can do their part by joining Harry Potter: The Quest, a global online adventure celebrating Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows™ – Part 1 and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows™ – Part 2.
Harry Potter fans can register now for Harry Potter: The Quest in advance of the Blu-ray, DVD and Digital Distribution release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1 on April 15th. Harry Potter: The Quest will continue through the Blu-ray, DVD and Digital Distribution later this year.
Harry Potter: The Quest allows registered users to play games, watch videos and have all new Harry Potter experiences to earn points as a global community. As the global community reaches a predetermined point level each week, they will earn exciting rewards such as exclusive never-before-seen content from all the Harry Potter movies and more. Registration for Harry Potter: The Quest is free.
Registered participants in Harry Potter: The Quest are eligible to receive monthly prizes such as Noble Collection Harry Potter merchandise, tickets to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando Resort, Blu-rays, DVDs, Games and more. In addition, there will be two Grand Prize sweepstake opportunities for registrants of Harry Potter: The Quest. The first sweepstake opportunity is a chance to win tickets for two to attend the world premiere of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 in London this July. The second sweepstake opportunity will be announced later in the year.
Visit Harry Potter: The Quest www.HarryPotterTheQuest.com.