• Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part One



    Released by: Warner Brothers
    Released on: 4/15/2011
    Director: David Yates
    Cast: Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Alan Rickman
    Year: 2010
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    The Movie:

    Before this film was announced I thought to myself, man… these films make SO much money there’s no way there can be only one left. And there we have Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part One. In the series’ defense, there really is a hell of a lot going on in the 700 plus pages of these books, especially in the later books, and even at a lengthy two and a half hours, a lot of minimizing already had to take place. For Harry fans, not having another film to look forward to would be downright depressing.

    Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part One opens at a meeting of Voldemort and his followers, known as Death Eaters, yet again discussing their intent and need to kill Harry. Voldemort states that he, himself, is the one who must kill Harry. As Voldemort’s and Harry’s wands contain the same core they cannot be used against each other to kill so Voldemort volunteers Lucius Malfoy’s wand to do the deed. It is interesting to see how much more fear the Death Eaters seem to possess of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named in this latest entry in the series.

    Harry, having a series of Dumbledore flashbacks, mentions of Horcruxes and Voldemort’s soul being split into seven pieces, is met by Mad Eye Moody, Hagrid, Ron, Hermione and other members of the Order of the Phoenix to take him to a safe place. As the Death Eaters have a Trace on Harry (until his 17th birthday) the lot of them drinks polyjuice potions infused with a hair from Harry so that they can take on his appearance in an attempt to get him to safety. The Death Eaters have been tipped off though and are expecting this escape and attack as soon as they leave Harry’s place. Harry riding with Hagrid, makes it through the chaos and explosions and makes it safely to the home of the Weasleys. Hedwig, Harry’s beloved white owl, sadly was dropped in the wandfire. Slowly, the other Order members start arriving, minus Mad Eye Moody who, like Hedwig, did not make it.

    Back at the Weasley home, all are preparing for the wedding of the oldest Weasley, Bill, and his bride-to-be Fleur. The contrast between the joy that they should all be feeling and the reality of Voldemort and needing to find the Horcruxes (basically an object with a spell placed on it so that the person casting it can leave part of his/her soul within the object therefore protecting a bit of themselves if their physical body is fatally wounded)is interesting to see. Of further concern, is the Minister of Magic’s murder and the infiltration of the Ministry by the Death Eaters. Before his murder though, he visits Harry, Ron and Hermione to give them the items that Dumbledore left them in his will. To Ron, he left an object he invented that can capture and hold light for times of darkness. To Hermione, he left his personal copy of The Tales of Beetle of the Bard. And to Harry, he left the golden snitch from Harry’s first won Quidditch game to instill in him the importance of perseverance. Also left to Harry, was the Sword of Gryffindor, which the Minister of Magic tells Harry was not Dumbledore’s property to give and, all the same, has gone missing. Realizing he’s putting everyone in danger (as usual) Harry leaves the Weasley home to begin his search for the hidden Horcruxes to defeat Voldemort once and for all, with Ron and Hermione along for the journey.

    It seems the older Harry gets, the more dangerous and involved his adventures become and Deathly Hallows Part One is no exception. The earlier films were much more colorful with good times and laughs throughout the conflict, but as the series has progressed it’s gotten much darker and much less light-hearted. Even in the wizarding world, children must grow up and face the “realities” of life, and just like in the real world, it’s not always pretty. This film, and the two before it, are much more intelligent films with a lot more of an in-depth story and less time for magical shenanigans and Quidditch and the like, resulting in a thought provoking piece of work rather than an hour and forty five minutes of fun. Harry Potter and his friends definitely don’t have as much fun as they did back in their earlier more carefree days of Hogwarts but a lot more is on the line now and it’s up to Harry, with the help of Ron and Hermione, to make it all right, for wizards and muggles alike.

    Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part One is the seventh film in the Harry Potter series and therefore has a lot of history that precedes it. For someone new to the series, they’d really need to start from the beginning for the later entries to make sense unfortunately- well worth it though in my opinion. The films stopped being kids’ movies around the time of The Order of the Phoenix, though the two before it also had PG-13 ratings. Harry and his friends have grown along with the children who originally loved the books from the original film Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone which had a G-rating. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part Two should be interesting to see how they push the boundaries even further. We’re set up quite nicely at the end of Part One for the next (and last?) film to come.

    Video/Audio/Extras:

    Warner Brothers offers up the latest Harry Potter film in a fantastic looking AVC encoded 2.40.1 widescreen 1080p high definition transfer that is just as sharp and detailed as you’d expect a flagship franchise film like this one to be. Colors are great, detail is outstanding, texture is revelatory and skin tones look dead on. The film is dark but shadow detail is strong and there are no compression issues or macroblocking problems. All in all, despite the overload of digital effects, this is a pretty great looking picture.

    The English language DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio track on this Blu-ray release is reference quality stuff. Very aggressive and full of well placed and effective directional effects, it pulls you into the movie in the best way possible. While there’s plenty of whirling and swirling and bombastic noise in the track, the dialogue remains perfectly audible and easy to follow and the levels are well balanced throughout. Optional Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound tracks are provided in Canadian French and Spanish with optional subtitles provided in English SDH, French and Spanish.

    The main extra on this disc is the Maximum Movie Mode picture in picture commentary lead by David Yates with input from the rest of the cast and crew. When this option is enabled various behind the scenes featurettes and documentary snippets will play that relate to what’s happening in the movie at that time. It’s well put together and quite interesting. The focus points that are part of the Maximum Movie Mode experience are also available as separate featurettes.

    Additionally there are a few featurettes included here, about half an hour or so worth of material: The Seven Harrys, On The Green With Rupert, Tom, Oliver And James, Dan, Rupert And Emma’s Running Competition. These dig a bit deeper into a few specific scenes in the movie and include some fun behind the scenes footage.

    A few Additional Scenes are included, roughly eleven minutes worth, as is a segment entitled Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows – Part 1: Behind The Soundtrack that explores the use of music in the movie. There’s also a six minute segment called The Wizarding World of Harry Potter Grand Opening in which Radcliffe, Rowling and other’s from the film show up at the premiere. A sneak peak for Deathly Hallows – Part 2 is also included.

    This release also includes a standard definition DVD copy of the film on a second disc and a digital copy of the film on a third disc – so you can watch it on your Blu-ray player, your DVD player, or your iPod. All of the extras on the Blu-ray disc are in high definition.

    The Final Word:

    Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part One is a respectable addition to the Harry Potter film legacy with awesome effects, excitement and a storyline that really sucks you in. Definitely a film that can be enjoyed by children and grown-ups alike, but in either case, some background knowledge on the series is imperative to truly appreciate everything that’s going on. Recommended for fans of the previous films and most certainly looking forward to Part Two.