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Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 Blu-Ray Review
Grim start to the Potter Series Climax
By Tim Janson
April 13, 2011
When is a Harry Potter film not a Harry Potter film? When its Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the first part of the two-part film series finale. The Potter series has had a standard formula through the first six films in the series…The students begin a new year at Hogwarts, encounter a mystery or villain, solve said mystery and end on a happy note. The films took place almost entirely in or around Hogwarts. With Deathly Hallows, the series abruptly changes directions. Most of the film takes place outside of Hogwart’s and many of the characters who have become regulars in the series are regulated to mere cameo appearances such as Neville Longbottom, Hagrid, and Draco Malfoy.
Following Dumbledore’s death, Voldemort has gained control over the Ministry of Magic and now begins to utilize his Death Eaters for further attacks to wipe out all Muggle wizards and to finally kill Harry Potter. The Order of the Phoenix arrive at the home of Harry Potter and use a Polyjuice potion to create several Potter look-alikes to fool the Death Eaters as they try and get Harry to safety. When the wedding of Bill Weasley and Fleur Delacour is interrupted by a Death Eater attack, Harry, Ron, and Hermione flee to London. There they begin their quest to find and destroy the remaining Horcruxes, the key to Voldemort’s power.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is the most intrigue-filled entry in the series yet, as the trio are constantly on the run from Voldemort’s forces and have to use all their guile to infiltrate the heavily secured Ministry of Magic to get the first Horcrux that happens to be in the hands of the sinister Dolores Umbridge. But finding a Horcrux is only half the battle, now you have to destroy it and Harry finds the magical artifact is immune to his most powerful spells. The Sword of Gryffindor can destroy a Horcrux…all Harry has to do is find the legendary weapon.
The Harry Potter series has become increasingly darker over the past few films and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is the darkest one yet. I thought the grim tone might be a turnoff but Director David Yates handles the plot with impeccable skill. There is almost no joy experienced by the characters. Things go from bad to worse with the death of several supporting characters, Voldemort being fully in control, and Harry and friends being betrayed at almost every turn. Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint (Ron), and Emma Watson (Hermione) come of age in this film. They are asked to carry most of the film on their backs and they do a splendid job. We’ve watched all of these kids grow up over the past ten years through the Potter films and each of them shows off the development of their acting skills. They prove they are more than up for the job of bearing the burden of being in 90% of the scenes.
The film is beautifully shot, as have all the films in the series but this one doesn’t have the benefit of Hogwart’s where something magical is always going on. Harry returns to Goric’s Hollow…the village where he was born and the place where his parents were murdered by Voldemort. His visit to his parent’s graves is one of the most touching and emotional scenes in the entire series.
If there is a problem with Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows it’s that it does presume you’ve seen the rest of the films in the series, particularly the last two. If you haven’t, you’ll likely be hopelessly lost. And of course the other issue is that you go into the film knowing that it’s only part one and that it presents the place settings for the series climax.
The Blu-ray comes with a host of relatively short extras and it’s the one real criticism I’ve had of the Potter DVD/Blu-Ray releases. The extras are nice but not very meaty.
The Blu-Ray features Warner Bros. Maximum Movie mode which is always great. Watch the movie with special pop-up features and interviews, hosted by Jason Isaacs. Every studio has their version of a Maximum Movie mode but Warner Bros does it best.
The Last Days of Privet Drive (2:40) – Filming the final scene with Harry’s family the Dursleys as they are forced to flee for their own safety.
Hagrid’s Motor Bike (4:01) – A look at the scene as Harry escapes aboard Hagrid’s flying motorcycle.
Magical Tents (2:18) - Magical Tents played an important role in the film during the wedding of Bill Weasley and Fleur Delacour and as a safe haven for Harry, Ron, and Hermione.
Creating Dobby and Kreacher (3:48) – How the important two elf characters were brought to life on the screen.
The Seven Harry’s (5:29) - A look at the scene where seven Harry’s are created in order to fool the Death Eaters.
On the Green with Rupert, Tom, Oliver, and James (13:38) – Rupert Grint, Tom Felton, and James and Oliver Phelps play a round of golf and reminisce about their ten years of playing their various characters.
Dan, Rupert, and Emma’s Running Competiton (2:45) A fun rivalry between the three main stars as to who is the fastest on foot as they filmed the chase through the woods.
Godric’s Hollow (6:00) – How the design team created an authentic English village.
The Frozen Lake (4:10) – A look at the scene where Harry is led to a frozen lake in order to retrieve the Sword of Gryffindor.
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter (6:25) – an Inside look at Universal Studios Orlando’s new Harry Potter theme attraction. The cast of the series was on hand for the grand opening in 2010.
Deleted Scenes (10:45) – Nothing special except for the scene involving Dudley Dursley shaking Harry’s hand as his family is getting ready to leave. Nice scene.