And so here we are, the last film in the Harry Potter franchise. An important occasion no doubt and one that will leave many fans deeply saddened. For me, it was more of a bittersweet moment. While I’ve always enjoyed the novels, I can’t say I was a big fan of the films, that is until Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 hit theatres. For once I found myself thoroughly enjoying a Harry Potter film, rather than sitting there thinking how much better the book was.
Now that the film is on Blu-Ray, I’ve had a chance to re-watch it and I can still say that it’s easily the best film in the series and honestly, one of the better films I’ve seen all year. As expected, Warner Bros. has delivered a wonderful package for the boy wizard’s last outing and we’re here to bring you the full review. Read on to see what we thought about Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2.
If you’re reading this review, you know the drill. At this stage, the series needs no introduction. That being said, keep in mind that you can’t just hop into the film without any previous knowledge. If you haven’t seen the other films in the series, or read the books, you’ll be incredibly lost. The film wastest literally no time jumping into the plot.
As we open up, Harry is still in a race against time against the evil wizard Lord Voldemort as he traverses the country seeking out Horcruxes in hopes to destroy Voldy once and for all. Along for the ride are of course Ron and Hermione and as expected, it will all culminate in one giant battle, pitting Harry against Voldermort in an emotional finale that will leave fans thoroughly pleased.
The book was a tough one to adapt but director David Yates has pulled off the daunting task wonderfully, crafting a moving, emotional, exciting and thrilling piece of cinema that is an admirable swan song to one of pop culture’s most beloved icon. Everything from the acting to the production design to the visual effects is firing on all cylinders and the filmmakers truly have given Potter an epic ending.
Let’s start with the acting. I’ve always found this to be the series’ weakest point but here, it’s shockingly good. Daniel Radcliffe especially has finally given us a worthy performance that for once, actually impressed me. He lets his actions do most of the work but he really drove home that emotional pathos that the film needed. His screen presence is commanding and he finally turns Harry into the hero that he’s meant to be. Radcliffe shows a strong showing of maturity, one that started to peak in the last film, and has come full circle in this one.
His compadres, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson also turn in some solid acting. While it’d be tough to say that they give us a full turnaround like Radcliffe, their presence is welcome but really just more of the same. That’s not to say that they do a bad job, far from it, just don’t expect any drastic changes in their acting like we got from Radcliffe.
The rest of the all British supporting cast is delightful to watch as well. Whether it’s Ralph Fiennes, Maggie Smith, Alan Rickman, Helena Bonham Carter etc, everyone here is just as wonderful as they’ve previously been. Even better is that you can tell they’re all putting a tremendous amount of effort into the roles, ensuring that fans get a pleasing send off to the series’ most popular characters.
Acting aside, Yates and his crew have really done a fantastic job at putting the pages on the screen. And really, it’s very impressive. Especially considering the complexity and convoludedness of the novel. What he does particularly well is capturing the massive set pieces from the book. Scenes like the attack on Hogwarts or the Gringotts bank scene are executed perfectly and are visually rich in nature.
Of course, the emotional impact is here as well, tugging on our heartstrings during all the key scenes. Scenes like the final battle between Harry and Voldemort, the epic climax that we’ve all been waiting for, are pulled off perfectly, exactly as I had hoped to see it when I read the book.
Yates’ crew is also giving it their all. Stuart Craig provides breathtaking production design while Eduardo Serra’s cinematography is absolutely gorgeous. And of course, there’s Alexandre Desplat’s moving score, which kicks in at all the right moments.
Perhaps one of the film’s only downsides is the epilogue, which was handled rather poorly. For fear of spoilers, I won’t go too in depth but let’s just say that it felt rather awkward. It was in the book and I understood that they needed it in the film but I just wasn’t on board with how they went about depicting it.
Overall though, this is not only an excellent summer blockbuster or a shining franchise film, it’s an all around great movie that really gets just about everything right. All the loose ends are tied up, all the characters are treated fairly in regards to their storylines and everything you’d want to see in a Harry Potter finale is here. Fans of the franchise will have a hard time finding fault with it and as a final farewell to the boy who lived, I think this film does a damn fine job.
As I mentioned before, Warner Bros. does justice to Potter and friends with their transfer of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2. Both audio and visually this disc dazzles and fans will find a lot to like here.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track takes full advantage of your sound system, completely enveloping you in the magical world of Hogwarts and its surrounding areas. The assault on the castle itself is a particular highlight, with effects and surrounds coming to life, turning your living room into a battlefield. In other areas, dynamics are damn near perfect, dialogue is beautiful and the score is to die for, heightening the emotion in every scene that it comes through in.
When it comes to the video, things are equally as impressive. Texture and detail are both clear and crisp. Depth is well defined and fleshtones although occasionally spotty, do look pretty good on the whole. Facial detail including things like blood and cuts look exceptionally good and Hogwarts castle boasts some incredible detail as well, it’s quite a sight. Despite the lack of bright/vivid colours, there is never any crushing or poor black levels, it all looks great.
Skimping on the special features here is no option and Warner Bros. knows this, as they’ve provided us with an excellent set of extras.
- Maximum Movie Mode: The cast and crew host an excellent picture in picture commentary track. We really do get a ton of information as we hear from various cast and crew we learn about stunts, VFX, production design, the execution of key scenes etc. It’s exhaustive and ridiculously informative. As a fan of the film I couldn’t have been happier watching this one.
- Focus Points: Here we have a small collection of featurettes that cover various aspects of the film, including costumes, the creation of the forcefield around Hogwarts, some cool stunts, Neville’s evolution as a character and more.
- Final Farewells: For a few minutes we see the cast saying goodbye to the series.
- Deleted Scenes: A number of deleted scenes but nothing noteworthy.
- A Conversation with J.K. Rowling and Daniel Radcliffe: This hour long conversation with J.K. Rowling and Daniel Radcliffe is certainly a highlight. The two discuss the series as a whole and what its meant to them. It’s engaging and interesting for the entire runtime as the two discuss the story, the themes, memories from on set, favorite moments etc. It really is a wonderful feature and well worth the watch.
- The Women of Harry Potter: Running roughly 20 minutes, this feature examines the women of the series. J.K. Rowling, along with some of the film’s actresses discuss the various female characters and what they mean to the series.
- The Goblins of Gringotts : A roughly 10 minute look at well, the Goblins of Gringotts! Nothing too in depth here, just more or less how the goblins were created/designed.
- Warner Bros. Studio Tour London: A super quick look at Warner Bros. studio in London.
- Pottermore: J.K. Rowling quickly introduces us to Pottermore.
- BD-Live Functionality
Unless you really hate this series, I’d say this Blu-Ray is a must own and one of 2011’s best. If you’ve been on the fence with the series up until now, give this one a shot. It’s by far the best Harry Potter film and like I said above, it’s just an all around great movie. Warner Bros. has provided an excellent package to accompany the film and I really can’t think of any reason not to pick this one up. It’s been a fun ride but now it’s finally time to say goodbye to Mr. Potter. Luckily he makes his exit in style, giving us a damn fine film.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 is not only an excellent summer blockbuster, it's also an all around great movie that really gets just about everything right. All the loose ends are tied up, all the characters are treated fairly in regards to their storylines and everything you'd want to see in a Harry Potter finale is here.