Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 Blu-ray Review
‘Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows: Part 2’ (2D version) appears, as if by magic, on American Region free Blu-ray with a very good looking 1080p AVC/MPEG-4 transfer, framed in the widescreen 2.40:1 aspect ratio. It used to be considered funny on a darkly lit set to ask a cameraman if he wanted to borrow a flashlight to help him read his exposure meter. I wouldn’t be surprised if that line had been used more than a few times during the shooting of this picture. If people tell you that it’s very dark, they’re not referring to the content of the script. The good thing about this transfer though, is that it captures the intended look of the piece, without the image becoming murky or muddy. The detail is all there in the big close-ups, with grime and dirt looking almost tangible. Shadows are well resolved, giving us deep blacks and only hiding what is supposed to be hidden. The dark look has a negative effect on the colour palette as it becomes somewhat limited, with very rare saturated primaries and skin tones being resultantly pale. The brightest colours seem reserved for the visual effects glows on the scenes involving the use of magic. All the same, this is a rather darkly handsome image of the brooding variety and it fits the subject matter to a tee. The interior of the Great Hall looks impressive as Mr Rickman addresses the students and the wide sweeping shots of the Castle courtyard near the end are filled with tiny details. Contrast holds its own with this difficult material and doesn’t let the quality down. This disc was viewed on a 50 inch Panasonic plasma and benefited from the panel’s excellent contrast handling and light output. It didn’t fare quite so well when projected on my trusty Themescene HD80. It appeared much darker due to the lesser light output, but still looked very good – which is only what you’d expect. I’d hate to see how dark it looks when projected in a converted 3D version with its associated loss of light on screen.
Being taken from such a recent source, there’s no dirt, dust or print damage to spoil the show. Those who like things to be brightly lit and cheerful will no doubt disagree, but this is a very good transfer overall.
The audio on ‘Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows – Part 2’ comes in the DTS-HD MA 5.1 surround flavour that simply shouts ‘blockbuster movie’ at you from the very opening scenes to the end. The surrounds are used with great panning effects so objects fly overhead and past your ears, especially in scenes involving magic wand blasts. The rail cart scene leading to Gringotts is like any rollercoaster you’ve been on and the swooping noises make you feel as if you really are there. There’s a good use of directionality in the dialogue too, with voices coming from all around. Despite all of the surrounding cacophony, even in the battle scenes, speech is still clear and intelligible. The subwoofer is in constant use throughout adding menacing rumbles and punchy bass to the music score. When Hogwarts starts to crumble, make sure you have everything tied down in your listening room. Immersive is a rather tame word to use to describe the mix. This is a soundtrack of demo quality. No doubt it’ll be shaking the foundations at a hardware dealer near you soon.
The version reviewed was the 2D (not 3D) American Region free 3 disc combo set. Disc 1 contains the Blu-ray of the movie and some extras, Disc 2 is a hybrid Blu-ray disc which contains Special Features as well as a PS3 playable game demo, Disc 3 contains a DVD version of the movie and the streaming link for an Ultraviolet Digital Copy. The following bonus materials are split over discs 1 & 2:
Focus Points (HD, Total 26 mins) - Basically, this is a bunch of mini featurettes covering various areas of production. ‘Aberforth Dumbledore’ covers the work involved in making actor Ciaran Hinds look like Michael Gambon. In ‘Deathly Hallows Costume Changes’, costume designer Jany Temime tells how she comes up with the costumes based upon the characters described in the script. ‘Harry Returns to Hogwarts’ focuses on the great hall sequence and the creation of the final look. ‘The Hogwarts Shield’ covers the creation of the protective field conjured up by the Teachers. ‘Room of Requirement’ looks at the individual props used on this set. ‘The Fiery Escape’ focuses on the fire sequence. ‘Neville’s stand’ looks at Nev’s character development and his showdown with Voldemort. ‘Molly Takes Down Bellatrix’ shows Julie Walters and Helena Bonham Carter in action on set.
Pottermore (HD, 1 min) - A teaser trailer with J.K. Rowling about the on-line reading experience website with more fun for Potter fans. There is life after the books and movies.
Final Farewells from the cast (HD, 3 mins) - A few teary eyed reminiscences from the people who have worked on the series over the years, from both sides of the camera – and then it was all over.
Deleted scenes (HD, 6 mins) - There are some scenes here that fill in some of the gaps and explain things better. Obviously they were removed to keep the pace of the film up. We see where Hermione obtained the clothing to make her look like Bellatrix. We hear more of the dislike that Aberforth has for his brother and we see the Slytherin pupils locked in a dungeon. It’s not very often that you feel a film would have been better with the deleted scenes left in, but this makes a case for it.
Maximum Movie Mode: Blowing Up Hogwarts (HD, 2 Hr 47 mins) - Neville (Matthew Lewis) opens this feature length Picture-In-Picture track that covers almost every area of production. Producer David Heyman takes over from time to time to talk about the complexity of the film. Warwick Davis tells us about his role as Griphook. Rupert Grint and Emily Watson take part as do Visual Effects Supervisors and many others. Deleted scenes are slotted in exactly where they were originally meant to be. If you love feature film production or are a true Harry Geek then this is right up your Diagon Alley.
A Conversation with J.K. Rowling and Daniel Radcliffe (HD, 53 mins) - This is quite a nice, natural sounding chat between the two about bringing the character of Harry Potter to life and how their lives have been changed by the fame that it has attracted. We find out the frustrations the writer had with what the film makers did with her work by making changes for the screen version. Dan tells us that he was allergic to the famous Potter specs early on (Not a lotta people know that) and we hear of the efforts by Make up artists to ensure that the teens looked zit free on screen. Overall, this gives us a chance to get to know the two people most associated with Harry Potter a bit better.
The Goblins of Gringotts (HD, 10 mins) - Here we see the development of the Goblins over the various movies in the series and we get to see Warwick Davis whiling away a few happy hours in the chair, having his Griphook make up applied
The Women of Harry Potter (HD, 22 mins) - Jo Rowling tells us of how she wanted to create strong female characters in the books and the various actresses who portrayed them wax lyrical about how they interpreted the characters for the movies.
Warner Bros Studio Tour, London (HD, 1 min 30s) - This is a teaser promoting the Studio Tour at Leavesden opening in Spring 2012 where punters can visit the actual sets used in the movies.
Lego ‘Harry Potter’ Game Demo - Playstation 3 owners can access a playable game demo for ‘Years 5-7’, on Disc 2 (which is a hybrid disc) of this set. I was unable to test this due to lack of a PS3.
BD-Live - There’s a link to the BD-Live portal for the movie, which contains an advert for the Lego game and a teaser for the film’s Maximum Movie Mode – though not a lot more.
The final part of the Harry Potter series, ‘Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows – Part 2’ appears on American Region free 2D Blu-ray with an excellent, dark 1080p AVC/MPEG-4 transfer framed handsomely in the widescreen 2.40:1 aspect ratio.
The image boasts fine detail amid brooding visuals due to the mood lighting which results in a rather limited colour palette – but it still looks mightily impressive in HD.
The DTS-HD MA 5.1 surround track is of demo quality and will have you ducking for cover as spell blasts and objects whizz past your head. Dialogue is clear, even among the deep bass as Hogwarts crumbles around you.
An impressive collection of mini featurettes constitute the bonus features but look out for the interesting chat between Jo Rowling and Daniel Radcliffe.
As a movie it’s a fitting climax to the Harry Potter movie series as our gang hunt down the remaining three horcruxes that allow the Dark Lord to survive – but will Harry survive too? Go on, you know you just have to see it for yourself.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £22.31
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