Tuesday, December 13, 2011

FILMonBLU-RAY: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince Ultimate Edition (Review)

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince Ultimate Edition
2009 - Warner Bros
Released on Blu-Ray/DVD on June 14, 2011

# of Discs: 2 (Blu-Ray x 2)
Runtime: 153 Minutes

The sixth installment of the epic series, HARRY POTTER AND THE HALF-BLOOD PRINCE turns up the dial on comedy and romance as Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) and his friends, Hermione Granger (Emma Watson) and Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint), find themselves in the middle of teen relationships.

Outside the trials and tribulations of being a teenager, not all is hunky-dory in the Wizarding World as Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) wrecks havoc and spreads his reign of terror, transforming the busy and vibrant Diagon Alley into a bleak and fairly empty place. And the suspicious actions of Draco Malfoy (Tom Felton) catches Harry's notice.

One of the new characters in this film would be the returning Hogwarts professor, Horace Slughorn (Jim Broadbent), who has a penchant for making connections and has become interested in Harry as he fills the now vacant Potions Professor position. But his most memorable moment may be his introduction to Harry and the audience, when he is disguised as a purple armchair in a wrecked house only to be found out and have to transform back into his regular body.

Sticking out of this film's bleak version of Diagon Alley would be the wacky store of Fred and George Weasley, Weasley's Wizard Wheezes. Colorful and loud, much like its owners, the store breathes defiant life into the street and the movie that had so far been in less than pleasing times. The imagination and magic of the world that has been somewhat diminished as the films have gone on returns with a fervor inside the shop, a visual masterpiece with all of the intricate creations that lasted maybe only a handful of moments on screen. A reminder that magic can be fun and good, even in the darkest of times.

Action takes a back seat for the most part in this film but it would not be a Harry Potter film without some adventure and the cave scene with Albus Dumbledore (Michael Gambon) and Harry is a visual delight, perfect for Blu-Ray watchers. Between the vastness of the cave and its waters, the horde of Inferi that come after them and the maelstrom of fire that Dumbledore produces to save Harry and himself from the danger that literally envelops nearly the entirety of the cave.

Extras come in droves when it comes to these Ultimate Edition releases. Besides a 44-page book with photos from all the films and limited edition character cards featuring Dumbledore and Draco, this one comes with Part Six of the eight part documentary series that covers the creation of the film series that has a chapter paired with each Ultimate Edition release. Part Six covers Magical Effects, and goes into the visual effects in the movie both through CG and techniques used to accomplish things right there with the actors.

There is also 'Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince: Behind the Magic' TV special included that has host Ben Shephard explore the film set, talk with the actors and even be cast as an extra in a scene for the movie. Not only that but a special on the author of the series filmed around the time she was finishing the final book in the series is on the disc titled, 'J.K. Rowling: A Year in the Life'.

Add in the holdovers from the previous HBP Blu-Ray release of deleted scenes, cast questions, a peek at the Wizarding World theme park and Deathly Hallows and the Maximum Movie Mode and the Ultimate Edition is literally overflowing in special features nearly doubling the time of the film itself. Fans of the Harry Potter movies and are looking to move into the Blu-Ray way of things would be smart to get the Ultimate Edition release over the previous one. If extras are your thing, the Ultimate Editions will ruin you for all other releases.

Look to buy the Ultimate Edition Blu-Ray release of HARRY POTTER AND THE HALF-BLOOD PRINCE on Amazon for $38.99.

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