Friday, May 6, 2011

FILMonBLU-RAY: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 (Review)

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1
2010 - Warner Home Video
Released on Blu-Ray & DVD on April 15, 2011

# of Discs: 3 (Blu-Ray x 2, DVD *Best Buy Exclusive version comes with extra Blu-Ray disc*)
Runtime: 146 minutes

As the penultimate film in the Harry Potter franchise and focusing on the first half of the final book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 takes Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe), Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint) and Hermione Granger (Emma Watson) away from the comforts of Hogwarts and thrusts the three magical friends into a world dealing with the ramifications of a wizarding war.

The aftermath of the Death Eaters' intrusion of Hogwarts in the previous film has left Harry and his friends without the guidance of Albus Dumbledore (Michael Gambon) and has put the task of finding the Horcruxes of Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes). Along their journey they cross paths with old friends, new enemies and discover the existence of a set of items that may tip the balance of the war in their favor, the Deathly Hallows.

Deathly Hallows starts with a first look at Hermione's home and a last visit to Harry's place with the Dursleys. This leads to one of the highlight moments of the film, the battle of the Seven Potters, where in order to remove Harry from 4 Privet Drive several members of the Order of the Phoenix drink Polyjuice Potion to take on Harry's appearance before taking part on an aerial escape from the waiting Death Eaters.

Once they are forced to leave Bill and Fleur's wedding at the Burrow and begin their journey, 12 Grimmauld Place makes a return to the screen as does the Ministry of Magic, where the next spectacular magical moment happens with Harry, Ron and Hermione using Polyjuice to impersonate ministry officials and infiltrate the Ministry and find one of Voldemort's Horcruxes.

And the showdown that takes place at Malfoy Manor near the end of the film is memorable for the spectacular environment, the viciousness of Bellatrix Lestrange (Helena Bonham Carter), Hermione's pain and Dobby's (Toby Jones) heroic actions.

One thing that has improved as the Harry Potter film saga has gone on has been the extras included along with movies. With the existence of ultimate editions an eventuality for every Potter film I know there are probably plenty of featurettes being held off for the Deathly Hallows Part 1 version but that being said there is still plenty for fans to watch in this package (even more with the Best Buy release of the film with over 65 minutes of exclusive special features). Besides the Blu-Ray features like Maximum Movie Mode, the extras disc includes a few deleted scenes, and several featurettes: how the Seven Potters scene was created; the running competition between Dan, Emma and Rupert; and a conversation with Rupert, Tom Felton, Oliver and James Phelps while they play a round of golf between filming.

Being as big of a Harry Potter as I am, the movies gain a fondness level from me that other, less biased viewers might not do as well. That said, the last few films have had a steady transition from fun kids films to more of an action-adventure orientation that non-Potter faithful can appreciate. As has been seen in the progression of the series, the quality continues to improve from the actors to the special effects and the overall story. While Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 is a much darker film than its immediate, lighthearted predecessor, I found myself laughing more with this film and it has quickly become one of my favorites of the series. While the deliberate pacing might throw those not familiar with the Deathly Hallows story, everyone should give this film a look, especially with the fantastic visuals of Blu-Ray.

Look to buy Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 Blu-Ray over at Amazon for only $22.99.

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