Available now, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 is an impressive Blu-Ray release, and for a lot of reasons. Not only is the film an improvement over Part 1 (original review below), but the bonus features are impressive, and you have to keep in mind that fans are very aware that the Ultimate Edition is on its way down the line.
Of course, besides that, the video is supremely impressive and is sure to run everywhere Blu-Ray players are sold throughout the holiday season. The colors and panoramic views showoff best perhaps, but more interesting to Blu-Ray fans is the unmatched perfection of the darks and shadows in a film that is full of opportunities. You’ll impress people with your Blu-Ray either way here, but if you want to convince someone, just put the darker scenes of this one on next to a standard DVD.
As for the special features, there are several here that make this a must-own for fans of the franchise, possibly even for those who are already committed to the idea that they are getting the Ultimate Edition when it comes out. That’s probably something you’ll never hear me say again, but I wouldn’t be surprised to find quite a number of fans who don’t want to wait, and are willing to upgrade when the time comes.
Depending on the particular bent of your own fandom, possibly the most interesting offering here is A Conversation with J.K. Rowling and Daniel Radcliffe. Running somewhere around an hour, it’s finally time to relive the entire spectacle with the two names that are most synonymous with the boy who lived. I wouldn’t call the conversation really Hallows Part 2 specific in any way, but it is rather The End specific, and they discuss everything about bringing the character to life, and moving from page to screen.
While not actually the world’s biggest Potter fan myself, this is worth watching for anyone who is remotely interested in the phenomenon, and a special treat for those who are fans. After so many movies, and different editions of home releases, including countless special features, this is probably the best one that has ever come out of the franchise. It isn’t movie magic, or showing off the bells and whistles, but it gets at the heart of what makes people such devoted fans, and as I said, it is a great addition even for those who aren’t really fans.
The release also includes the increasingly common Maximum Movie Mode. I’m generally not a fan of such modes, though a few have won me over in the past. This one is a little tricky, because I don’t love the final product on the whole, but the featurettes you explore via this mode are good efforts, showcasing a lot of behind-the-scenes stuff that fans will really enjoy. It’s hosted by Neville Longbottom, and runs through such things as the costumes, sets, and how some of the magic is made to look fantastically magical. Fans will love running through the movie in this mode, but the featurettes on their own are worth rather more than bothering with putting this mode together just because we can.
You’ve also got some other featurettes available, and some additional scenes, but the meat of the release is the interview and the featurettes contained in the MMM. The die-hards are going to enjoy the inclusion of some deleted scenes, but they aren’t necessarily world-altering cuts here. The Goblins of Gringotts is a nice, if more or less average, behind-the-scenes look at what is involved in getting the goblins gobliny. On the other hand, it has Warwick Davis quite a bit, and that’s a sell in itself.
Finally, you’ve got The Women of Harry Potter, which features Rowling discussing the creation of the female characters in the books, and to a certain extent how she wanted to make sure they were portrayed in the films. She goes to great lengths to explain her theories of these characters, their motivations, and how she intended for them to be brought to life. While certainly something worthwhile for fans, this is a nice inclusion simply for the focus on the female characters and their contribution to the overall abilities of the books and films. It’s the kind of thing no one would miss if it weren’t there, and that makes it all the more interesting to find it here. Honestly, throughout the entire Potter craze, the one thing that has always left me scratching my head is the fact that the women in the books are so underrepresented (in the general public psyche sense) as the key elements in delivering the thematic statements.
Overall, you have to balance this release against a lot of things for the ultimate judgment. That is, for those who need any judgment at all. It’s not only a world of strange home video releases, re-releases, and special editions, but it is also within a massive franchise. I can’t imagine another film which would find me recommending a purchase when I know another release (which is actually even this release inclusive) is coming, and I know I’m going to recommending buying that also, but I find I have to here. Fans will not be disappointed, and the simple fact that this release is fully loaded is a testament to the commitment to the fans of all concerned.
As I said, I’m not a big Potter fan, and you’ll shortly see that the film only managed 3.5 out of 5 stars from me, but the Blu-Ray is five stars.
Below check out some cool clips, including bits from the bonuses, and don’t miss the review of the film, and your chance to win the Blu-Ray release.
It’s all come to a close now, and the only thing left is the final port in the list of increasingly purposeless reviews. As fans the world over reflect on the end of an era, and the amazing, ten-year journey they’ve been a part of, I can’t help but focus on the collective word count that has been dedicated to the franchise, none of which made a lick of difference to anyone.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 manages a strange counterpoint to Part 1, being something of a headlong race through action scenes and general intensity, whereas Part 1 was largely a test of your ability to stay awake. The most interesting note there is simply the fallacy that smashing together extremes somehow balances out in the end.
Part 1 needed something to happen, whether anything happened in the book or not, and Part 2 needed less to happen, and to move more slowly through most of what it had.
We jump in where only true-believers and the recently refreshed will remember leaving off (sort of), and that’s in a small shanty by the sea. A small band of good guys are now with the dynamic trio, and they’ve got a goblin. The first point on the agenda is breaking into Gringott’s to find out if Bellatrix Lestrange’s vault contains one of the Horcruxes.
Here comes a wild ride on the vault carts we’ve seen before, a run-in with a dragon, and several other elements that are bound to make many absent-mindedly fidget with the video game controllers they aren’t actually holding. On the other hand, kudos to Helena Bonham Carter’s short stint as Hermoine Polyjuiced as Bellatrix.
As events unfold, Harry’s connection to Voldemort becomes stronger, and harder for him to control, which works out well, because there doesn’t seem any other way that we were going to find out where the other Horcruxes were, and Harry discovers that one of them is at Hogwarts. Unfortunately, Voldemort learns that Harry has returned, and his dark army surrounds the place. Fabulous battles ensue, tides turn, Voldemort can’t quite work out why his fantastically all-powerful wand is somewhat on the blink, and Harry is forced to revisit that pesky prophecy that suggests that for Voldemort to die, Harry must as well.
If there is any ultimate point (or redeeming quality) for the franchise, beyond a bit of fluffy fun for those of the appropriate age, it is by way of the “Snape revelation,” and Harry’s reaction to it. That, and the massive, multi-book lead-in to the single line – “Of course, it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on Earth should that mean that it’s not real?”
The second of these is delivered rather brilliantly in the film, though in a way that perhaps does not have Dumbledore pausing long enough, or cocking his head and raising his eyebrow at Harry enough, but the second is all but lost in the sea of film translation. Though our trip through Snape’s memories is given upwards of two minutes on screen, there is no power behind it, and you’re hard-pressed to get anything out of the adventure, beyond the dull addition of checks to Harry’s to-do list.
If you got anything of the richness and complexity of character and story that come about as a result of deconstructing Snape, and reworking him in your mind as what he has done, and who he is, comes to light, you really brought it with you. That’s not an entirely unforgivable direction, but something has gone wrong when the action of the film leaves Harry no chance to actually give anything to the audience. Sure, we stare at him as he sits on a step for a few seconds, but if not for him calling Snape brave at the very end of the film, we might have thought he had no better ability to make out the point than we did.
Deathly Hallows 2 gives a decent effort in a lot of ways, and it soars far beyond Part 1 for entertainment value, but the end of such a massive adventure is where you want some of that slowness from Part 1 to creep in. Our wizards wander into their couples, Ron with Hermione, Harry with Ginny, but the audience only gets the occasional awkward kiss and the sudden appearance of children. Longbottom wins through to massive heroism, but the scene of his speech is bizarre, and serves mostly to showcase the curious fact that Voldemort is tremendously stupid (insofar as people are giving speeches and/or lolling about listening to them, as opposed to say… bleeding profusely, running for their lives, etc.).
Ultimately, Part 1 drags on for miles, only to be followed by something that feels like a Cliff’s Notes version wrap-up. It is an enjoyable effort, but it is the kind of effort that spends several minutes staring at dragons and various magical gobbledygook, just to get the chance to whip out a bunch of things that have to be included. They kiss. He’s dead. Pow. Bang. Zoom.
The trouble with the franchise, books and film, is that it thinks it can grow up with its readers, and now that Harry is “adult,” we have, by way of some special magic, created something that is “for adults.” That leaves us with a story and a telling that is fighting against itself, and is fun, but rather hollow. The first few movies were really pretty good, almost despite themselves (except Prisoner of Azkaban, which was brilliant), because they knew what they were, and were content to revel in it. These last two films know what they are as well, they’re just wrong.
Win it Here!
Leave a comment below, and you are automatically entered to win your very own copy of the Blu-Ray release.
U.S. only. Winner will be randomly selected on November 24th.