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Blu-ray Review: Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows: Part 1
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Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 Blu-rayHarry Potter and The Deathly Hallows: Part 1
Blu-ray Combo | DVD | On Demand
Directed by David Yates
Starring Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint
Warner Home Video
Release date: April 15, 2011

The tale of the wizard Harry Potter and his struggle against the evil Lord Voldemort has nearly reached its end in Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows: Part 1, the first of a two-part finale for the film franchise. The Harry Potter movies have come a long way in the 10 years since the first offering, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, when Harry was just a little boy and Voldemort was merely a named to be feared and never spoken. As Harry and his loyal friends grew older, the franchise got darker, with this latest one being the darkest and most frightening one of all.

Voldemort’s (Ralph Fiennes) power has grown strong and, as always, his one focus in life is to kill Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe), the boy who lived, the Chosen One, the one destined to bring about his downfall. Thanks to his friends and powerful allies, Harry has managed to either stay hidden from the dark lord or escape his clutches whenever they’ve battled. But unlike the previous installments, in The Deathly Hallows: Part 1, the wizard world itself has grown dark, too. Voldemort’s Death Eaters and other minions and loyal subjects have taken over the government with a mission to rule over the Muggle — non-magical — world and subjugate all Muggles and Muggle-born wizards and witches. No one is safe under this regime, so Harry and his friends Hermione (Emma Watson) and Ron (Rupert Grint) are forced to go underground on their own while searching for the hidden Horcruxes, the magical artifacts that house pieces of Voldemort’s soul that the trio must figure out how to destroy.

The film is based on author J.K. Rowling’s seventh and final Harry Potter novel, Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows, but because the book was adapted into two films, DH: Part 1 feels just like that — the first part of a two-part story. While the other films were self-contained tales that had a clear conclusion to the plot, DH: Part 1 has no choice but to leave us on a cliffhanger, which is frustrating. In return for keeping us on edge, director David Yates and screenwriter Steve Kloves give us a story packed with information that both answers a lot of questions (like, what are the Deathly Hallows?) and also leaves us a little more confused.

DH: Part 1 also lacks the magical whimsy of its predecessors, instead bringing us into the Muggle world (our real world). There’s no Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry; no practical joke products from George and Fred’s gag shop; no tournaments, balls, or quidditch matches; no whining about homework assignments or spells gone awry for humorous affect; no immature squabbles with classmates or bickering over nonsense with friends — this is grim reality. People are being tortured and killed; dark magic is everywhere, and no one is safe and this film is sure to get that point across.

While there’s still wands and magic spells, DH: Part 1 is more drama than fantasy. Like I mentioned, the movie suffers from being half a film, but fans of the book will be pleased with all that’s revealed in this story, especially the animated sequence that tells the tale of the Deathly Hallows, taken from The Tales of Beedle the Bard, a book of fairy tales in the Harry Potter universe which Rowling later wrote and released after the Deathly Hallows book was published. For viewers who’ve only followed the movies, I think you might be scratching your head a little more (although, I’ve felt this way ever seen the third movie, as the films have been leaving out of lot of pertinent details from the books).

When I saw the film in the theater, I did feel immediately that it required a rewatch even though I’ve read the books. But there was also something about DH: Part 1 that was refreshing — it wasn’t just more of the same from the previous six films. This one has a tone all on its own and I’m hoping that once Deathly Hallows: Part 2 is released, watching both parts together will make one perfect movie.

Bonus Features

Sneak Peek at Deathly Hallows Part 2
This is an exclusive sneak peek of an opening scene from thee eight and final film. I received an advanced copy of the 3-disc Blu-ray combo pack for review from Warner Bros Home Video. Because it was sent out before the release date, WHV actually removed the disc that contained the sneak peek of the scene from Deathly Hallows Part 2, so I’m not able to describe the scene or even say how long it is. (Of course the scene was leaked online ahead of time anyhow so that was really all for nothing).

Focus Points [19:24]
The Focus Points feature is a collection of behind-the-scenes featurettes pertaining to events in Deathly Hallows Part 1.

The Last Days of Privet Drive: Harry gets ready to leave his childhood Muggle home where he lived with his aunt and uncle and cousin Dudley. The actors all talk about how this is the place where the series all began when Harry was only 10 years old.

Hagrid’s Motorbike: When Harry leaves Privet Drive for the final time, his friends in the Order help him leave, and he rides with Hagrid on a motorbike. This featurette is all about the motorbike, which has a sidecar that Harry rides in, and how to get it to “fly.” There’s also several versions of the bike, made for the various scenes. Lots of shots here of Daniel Radcliffe’s stunt double on the bike as well.

Amazing (or) Magical Tents!: There’s lots of tents, including Bill and Fleur’s eventful wedding. There’s lots of variations shown for the design of the set and we get to see details of the wedding reception that might have been missed while watching the film (like the wedding cake!). There’s also the tent that Harry, Ron, and Hermione stayed in as they camp and traveled searching for the horcruxes.

Deatheaters attack Cafe: A major threat throughout the Harry Potter films is the Death Eaters, those witches and warlocks who’ve pledged their allegiance to the evil Lord Voldemort. This featurette shows interviews and rehearsal footage, as well as stunt practice for the scene in the cafe in the Muggle world where the Death Eaters attack Harry, Ron, and Hermione.

Creating Dobby and Kreacher: Dobby and Kreacher are house elves that are created through CGI for the film. For Deathly Hallows Part 1 instead of the actors having to play against nothing or something like a tennis ball — as was done with all the previous movies — stand-in actors were used, so we get to see that footage. There’s also an interview with the voice actors.

The Return of Griphook: This was one of my favorite featurettes, as it centers on veteran actor Warwick Davis, who has played several roles throughout the Harry Potter film franchise. In Deathly Hallows Part 1, Davis plays Griphook, a goblin who works at Gringotts Bank. There’s interviews with Davis, as well as some of the effects designers, and we see Davis getting his make-up effects done.

Maximum Movie Mode
This is a really great feature of the Blu-ray disc. It’s hosted by Jason Isaacs, who played Lucius Malfoy throughout the Harry Potter movies. When you turn on MMM, while you watch the film, picture-in-picture windows will pop up with behind-the-scenes footage, featurettes, concept art, props, throwbacks to the previous films, references to J.K. Rowling’s books, and much more. At times, a window will take over the scene where one of the actors or filmmakers will elaborate on something that was just shown in the film. The Focus Points, which are included in the bonus features separately, pop up during Maximum Movie Mode, too. Watching this Mode also reveals additional scenes that did not make it into the final cut of the film, and Yates provides commentary for these scenes and also explains why those scenes were cut. At times, the main film is put on hold to showcase the commentary and accompanying video or images; other times, the pop-up window comes up while the main film continues on. If you’re a fan of the film and the film series, this is an amazing way to watch the movie and learn so much about not only about the making-of Deathly Hallows Part 1, but also details about the film series and the Harry Potter mythos. I absolutely loved watching it this way, and I highly recommend it.

DVD
Includes a standard definition DVD version of the feature film.

Digital Copy
There’s a code here to get the digital copy of the feature film, that can then be watched on a computer, iPad, or iPod.

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