Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 Ultra HD Blu-ray Review
A study of loneliness, alienation, patience and understanding
Well, well, well, look what we have here. It's Harry Potter. He's all bright, and shiny, and new again, just in time for the Dark LordWithout Dumbledore the Ministry of Magic struggles to maintain order; Harry and Hermione take drastic steps to hide from Voldemort, who is gaining in strength and killing indiscriminately. It is a bleak opening and one that follows on directly from Half-Blood in tone. The first big setpiece sees a number of the Order of the Phoenix turn up to help Harry escape, each with their own protector, and there is a brief reunion with old friends, before an escape sees one member killed and another injured. Whilst the escape scene is dramatic, the news of the death is glossed over with a single line – the impact for such a beloved and powerful character required more emotion and is a slight failing with the treatment given in favour of getting to the main cast and their tribulations. Indeed all early emotive moments are rushed – the same can be said for the brief respite during the wedding; there was no joy so when tragedy strikes its impact is lost. Yates does a brave job of jettisoning the traditional ‘Harry Potter’ film for something dark, moody and very character driven – of course a lot of this comes from the source novel and has to do with the commercial decision to split the final film into two parts: as there is a lot time spent on areas that would previously not have had a look in - aspects that can be viewed as a blessing, or as a curse, depending on your point of view.Once our three main cast escape and go on the run, the film changes to an emotionally charged study of loneliness, alienation, patience and understanding with all of it resting on Dan, Rup, and Em. These three young actors have grown up over six films, and here in this last part they really get to flex their acting talent; we are out of the fantastic and into the dramatic and they really do shine. Which is great but it does slam the breaks on the dramatic narrative. Now this is exactly what happens in the book; a large portion is dedicated to the three lost in the woods and in following the novel to such a close degree Yates has inherited the novel’s own issues – not a lot happens in the first half; i.e. the duration of this film! Yes, that is laudable in what is supposed to be a ‘kids' fantasy adventure’ it doesn’t quite manage that fine line between dramatic and boring. Things do pick up once our intrepid trio are captured and we move into more traditional fantasy / jeopardy with the film ending on a sour note – one that is needed to lead into the final part of the franchise. The overall tone of the film is one of depression – the characters are at their lowest ebb and if you consider this film as the middle of a trilogy, it needed to be so, and in that regard it is a success. But viewed as an individual film it is seriously flawed as it cannot exist without its surrounding parts.
Picture QualityHarry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 was shot using Arricam LT, ST and Panavision cameras on 35mm film, and originally finished as a 2K DI, which has been used by Warner Brothers for this Ultra HD Blu-ray release. The film is presented with an up-scaled to 3840 x 2160p resolution and in a widescreen 2.40:1 aspect ratio, the disc uses 10-bit video depth, a Wider Colour Gamut (WCG) and High Dynamic Range (HDR), and is encoded using the HEVC (H.265) codec for HRD10.
WCG and HDR give a far richer image
The 2K up-scale only shows a slight increase in resolution, staples like skin texture and clothing weave are only modestly improved, but the leaves in the forests, or traffic in London streets does show slightly keener edges. Likewise do landscape shots, the escape from Little Winging, or the Scottish heather fields as the Death Eaters menace the Hogwarts express, are slightly sharper to the eye. The WCG and HDR, however, give a far richer image and appears to have had a less severe darkening compared to the three previous discs, in that it has a closer resemblance to the Blu-ray in terms of black level. Colours are still desaturated, but nowhere near to the degree as they are on Half-Blood so that the primaries remain intact and are deeper with more range. Even in the woods skin tones are natural, if ‘cool’ while reds and greens have a good hue. Black level is deeper and holds more shadow detail, check out Voldemort’s lair, or Bellatrix’s dungeon, this adds even more depth to the frame. The white end is keen and bright, the traffic, lights and adverts in Piccadilly Circus are terrific, as are the various curses piercing the dark sky during Harry’s escape. The Petronas is much bluer this time around and nowhere near as piercing. The green/black of the Ministry tiles are once again dripping with gloss.
The source is clean and retains a decent, light grain structure, while there are no digital issues to name.
Sound QualityThe English DTS:X track gives you an incredible taste of what is to come during the opening logo, which rots and travels from front to back as you pass through it. Then there is a bombardment from above as the clouds close in. Indeed there is a plenty of opportunity for the surrounds and overheads to place you in the centre of the scene; action example would be Harry escape with Hagrid, or the trio’s escape from the Ministry (paper flying everywhere was excellent) to far more subtle effects, London traffic, or wind and leaves rustling in the forests. Hermione screaming during her torture is particularly chilling …. Dialogue is clear and precise and never gets lost in the mix, while the score is well layered and makes good use of all available speakers. Bass is tight and controlled with some awesome LF effects that give the sub plenty to do. As a whole the film is on par with the previous instalment, quite quiet with a lot of talking peppered by some action sequences, as such it is never going to top the bombast examples, but for the sheer natural sounding emphasis, it is terrific.
ExtrasThere are no extras on the UHD disc, and this 8 disc set does not contain any Blu-rays with extra features – a somewhat peculiar commercial decision by Warner. So if extras are your thing, you’ll have to hold on to your old Blu-rays.
Ultra HD Blu-ray Verdict
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 is part of an eight disc set released by Warner containing all films in 4K.
The UHD courtesy of a 2K up-scale does improve on the Blu-ray, it also isn’t as dramatically altered as the previous 3 discs, in that there is no additional darkening. Detail is upped slightly due to the higher resolution, but it is with the WCG and HDR where the real differences lay; colours grade better, are richer while the black levels pushes the frame and hides better shadow detail. The DTS:X surround track is a quieter affair due to the nature of the film, but when it livens up is an effects laden extravaganza – the opening logo flythrough and subsequent onslaught being of particular delight. The only fly – no extras at all, no Blu-ray, nothing.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £79.99
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