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Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Part 1 (2010) Print E-mail
Monday, 18 April 2011
ImageBy this point, a decade after the initial film’s release, we have come to understand how successful and how undeniable the Harry Potter saga has come to be in our culture.  No other film franchise has been able to reach the level of success that Harry Potter has had.  Other studios have tried with films such as “Percy Jackson.”  Even the “Twilight” series has failed to capture the audience that Harry Potter has.

From the very first film, through the last to be sure, the cast of these films has brought us to the edge of our seats.  Using our imaginations while reading the books was terrific, but it is great to see them acted out for us.  It is like reading Shakespeare and then watching the Shakespearian play.  At the same time it is also true from the first film to the last that the films are a bit of a let down in comparison with the books.  I think sometimes we forget, myself included, how tough of a job it is to whittle down a book the spans a year into a single two plus hour film.  Not to mention, all the films need to tie together.

What I have come to realize is that the movies were never meant to be standalones.  They seem more to be extensions of the books themselves.  One must read the book to fill in the gaps.  This I don’t mind so much.  What does upset me at times is when facts, storylines and characters’ actions are changed from book to film.  This happens constantly throughout the series we come to expect it by now, but it still is no excuse.  However, once again, adapting such a convoluted saga into a series of films is a tough job.

“Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Part 1” is the seventh film in the series.  There were only seven books, however the filmmakers thankfully thought it prudent to divide the last book into two films.  I thought for sure that the films would cover a lot more ground than any of the previous films given its division.  Unfortunately, I was wrong.  In fact, it seems the film covers less than most of the other films.

Sadly, the film comes off as a bunch of hoping, or dissaparating from one place to another.  The story struggles as the audience tends to drift away and try to recall what happened in the 60 pages of book that the film just skipped over.  After about 20 minutes of this film and you will either love it or hate.  I advise you not to try and compare the book to the film as you will drive yourself mad.  Instead just enjoy the film as its own.  In that right, the film is quite appealing.  Still, it misses the mark on several points. The film gets so wrapped up in Harry, Hermonie and Ron that it falls to bring in any of the numerous subplots that make the final book so enthralling.  The pacing of the final book was perfect.  The film, having to weed out a lot of content disrupts the flow, the inherent problem with the series.  The emotions remain strong and convincing thanks in large part to the tremendous cast.  Though I am still reeling from the fact that the author matches Ron and Hermonie together when we all feel that Harry and Hermonie make the better match and belong together.  Again, the book does a better job of bringing Jenny into the picture.  In the film series we really see no reason why Hermonie should like Ron over Harry.  I digress.

This Harry Potter is certainly one of my favorites, but throughout the film series so many important subplots have been left out that it makes the final films less intense.  Some of the most intriguing parts of the book were the sections on the Lord Voldemort’s family history and Dumbledore as well.  That has been completely left out of the last two films, making the search for horcruxes less intense and less riddled with problems.  Only those who have read the books understand the full nature of what a horcrux truly is, what objects need to be found and why.  I have a feeling that while the final film with wrap things up, it will still result in an unsatisfying feeling because too much history has been left out of the films.  Just yet another reason to read books.

This seventh Harry Potter continues the dark and gray-oppressed visual nature of the series.  As the Death Eaters have taken over the image lacks vibrancy and strong color.  However, this is not to say that the image isn’t pleasing.  This Blu-ray transfer provides a near flawless image, very true to the original theatrical presentation.  Shadows swallow details and there is an invariant amount of crush in the black levels.  However, the film is so true to the emotions and storylines of the plot that all is forgiven.  In fact, most of the issues go unnoticed.  Fleshtones are accurate, nicely representing the paleness of the British overcast skies.  The image can be a bit soft here and there, but overall the details are quite remarkable.  I was a little worried at the beginning that the native darkness of the film was going to get the best of the image, but luckily it works itself out.  This film contains one of the most beautiful images of the past year in terms of location, cinematography and overall presentation on Blu-ray.  When Harry and Hermonie travel to Godric’s Hollow and walk through the town in the town it warms us to the beautiful nature of the sequence when the two escape to a snow covered forest.  The imagery is just beautiful and Hermonie’s emotional description is just as rewarding.  The film is worth it just for that moment.

Topping the video quality is the audio.  I don’t even need to point out anymore that this Blu-ray comes with a DTS-HD MA 5.1 track.  The audio is pulse pounding and ambient at the time.  The LFE channel delivers terrific low-end support when necessary.  However, the subtle scenes, such as those in the forest are filled with the subtleties of nature, slight wind blowing, leaves rustling, crackling fire and branches.  Every sound is finely tuned and crisp.  The presence and depth of the rear soundfield is immersive.  Expanding this to a 7.1 through THX Ultra2 Cinema fits the bill nicely.  Even in the subtlest scenes the rear channels remain enveloping.  The reverberant nature of the different spaces is accurately represented.  This is audio at its perfection.

It is clear that Warner has left room for another Blu-ray edition of the film, as there doesn’t seem to be all the bonus materials that there could be.  However, since I am not big into bonus materials, I don’t really mind.  This release comes in a three-disc set.  There are two Blu-ray discs and a DVD/Digital Copy.

The first Blu-ray disc contains the main feature and two bonus materials.  First there is the Maximum Movie Mode which is a picture-in-picture function hosted by Lucius Malfoy.  Some of these Malfoy moments could have been seen in the recent ABC Family Harry Potter Marathon.  This PiP contains a wealth of plot, character and trivia information that will sure to delight fans.  The other feature on the first disc is a selection of “Focus Points.”  These are also available optionally through the PiP track.  There are six focus points that total about 20 minutes.

The second disc begins with a group of five featurettes found under “Behind The Story.”  These featurettes take us behind the scenes of some of the strongest sequences of the film.  There is about 10 minutes of deleted footage.  These are probably the first deleted scenes that I am recommending for viewing.  They might not have all fit in the final cut of the film, but certainly a few of them would have answered a few more questions.  Plus, the sequence that involves Ron and Hermonie would help out understanding of the twos’ cinematic relationship.  “The Wizarding World Of harry Potter Grand Opening, gives us a brief look at the Wizarding World Theme Park in Orlando Florida.  “Behind The Soundtrack” is another ridiculously brief look at the creation of the score.  The Sound and Music department always, always get the shaft when it comes to special features.  I could tell you tons of really neat stories from the set of Harry Potter from the sound perspective, as well as from the recording of the music.  Alas there is no time.

Finally, there is a sneak peek at one of the opening scenes to the Deathly Hallows Part 2.  Unfortunately, Warner has stripped this from the press copy of the Blu-ray second disc.  However, reassured that if you purchase the release it will be there.  Now, personally I don’t care for this inclusion.  If you are true fan of the film then you never want to see snippets of the film.  You want to see it in its entirety the first time.  The inclusion of an opening scene doesn’t help any causes.  It isn’t going to persuade anyone to see the film.  Let’s face, Part 2 is probably going to have the biggest box office sales of at least this year without any promotion whatsoever.  Anyway, I am one of those people that will not watch a film if I have miss even a few seconds of the opening.  It just ruins the cinematic experience as you can’t help but wonder if you missed something that was relevant later in the film.  Anyway, for those that can hold on a couple more months can feed your obsession with probably an all too brief and out of context opening scene.

“Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Part 1” is not the best film in the saga but it ranks near the top.  There are just too many holes in the story from the adaptation.  The audio and video qualities are without a doubt worthy of being called Blu-ray high definition.  I highly recommend adding this to your collection.

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