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As I stated in my review of HARRY POTTER AND THE HALF-BLOOD PRINCE, J. K. Rowling’s series of novels about the boy wizard take on a darker, more adult tone, as the series progresses. When Rowling arrived at the final installment in the series, things had become quite bleak in the world that the characters inhabit, and one was left with a sense of despair that seemed to permeate the pages of the novel.

That sense of bleakness and despair carriers over to HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS, PART 1 ($36), the first half of the motion picture adaptation of Rowling’s final book. Although slowly paced, HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS, PART 1 is an intense and excellent rendering of the material- making for a marvelous buildup to things yet to come. As HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS, PART 1 opens, Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) and his Death Eaters are gaining power in both the Wizarding and Muggle worlds, which leaves the Ministry of Magic precariously close to falling to their influence. Meanwhile, with the death of Headmaster Albus Dumbledore (Michael Gambon), Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry offers no safety, and therefore, is no longer an option for Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), Hermione (Emma Watson) and Ron (Rupert Grint), who are forced into hiding, once the Ministry of Magic does fall. Armed only with the clues that were left to them in the form of bequests from the late Dumbledore, Harry, Hermione and Ron are forced to sequester themselves in the barren wilderness. There they formulate a game plan and begin their search for the Horcruxes containing the fragmented pieces of Voldemort’s soul… as well as a means of destroying these incredibly powerful magical objects.

For the first time, Harry, Hermione and Ron are left completely on their own, with their total reliance being on each other. Eventually, the weight of their predicament begins to take its toll on the teenagers; greatly straining their longtime friendship. Only as things begin to look completely hopeless, the clues left by Dumbledore begin to make sense. However, even this small victory still leaves the riddle of the deathly hallows to be unraveled, which only places the three in even more jeopardy. While our three heroes undertake their quest, Voldemort is in the midst of quest of his own; searching for a magical power greater than all others, which he believes will give him an edge in his final confrontation with Harry Potter. Since HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS, PART 1 is only the first act, its ending is far from satisfactory, but is the perfect setup to conclusion of the tale. The cast of HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS, PART 1 also features Bill Nighy, Richard Griffiths, Harry Melling, Julie Walters, Bonnie Wright, Fiona Shaw, Alan Rickman, Helena Bonham Carter, Helen McCrory, Jason Isaacs, Tom Felton, Timothy Spall, David Ryall, Robbie Coltrane, Brendan Gleeson, James Phelps, Oliver Phelps, Mark Williams, George Harris, Andy Linden, Domhnall Gleeson, Clémence Poésy, Natalia Tena, David Thewlis, John Hurt, Frances de la Tour, Evanna Lynch, Rhys Ifans, Imelda Staunton, Jamie Campbell Bower and Warwick Davis.

Warner Home Video has made HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS, PART 1 available on Blu-ray Disc in a 2.35:1 aspect ratio presentation that has been encoded onto the disc with the AVC codec. The technical qualities of the 1080p presentation cannot be faulted- HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS, PART 1 is a perfect representation of how the film should look- dark, bleak and oppressive. Seeing this film in the theater, there was nothing cheery about the image- nothing has changed for high definition. Despite the prevailing darkness and sense of gloom, the image is razor sharp and displays impeccable clarity and dimensionality. Fine details such as individual hairs, tiny lines on the actors’ faces, as well as the textures of objects are all rendered at a first rate level. Colors are subdued with all the appropriate bleakness of the film’s environments. Some moments offer stronger hues, while flesh tones always appear correct. Blacks are inky, while the whites are clean and crisp. Contrast has been given an occasional push, while shadow details are pretty much first rate. The elements from which HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS, PART 1 has been mastered are free from flaws. A modest veneer of grain is ever-present, which maintains the organic quality of this excellent presentation.

HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS, PART 1 is presented on Blu-ray Disc with a 5.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. No surprises here, the sound design is highly aggressive and takes full advantage of all the outlying channels. Sound effects are well placed, and move effortlessly through the soundstage. For the big action set pieces, the sound goes full throttle and launches sonic barrages from all sides. Thanks to the lossless encode, fidelity is outstanding; the track produces a warm, full-bodied musical component, as well as convincing sound effects. The bass channel packs a wallop and shakes the ground when required. Voices have a warm, natural quality, plus the film’s dialogue is easy to understand. French and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 channel tracks are also encoded onto the disc, as are English, French and Spanish subtitles.

The interactive menus allow one access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as the supplemental materials, which have been spread across this set. Disc one starts off with Warner Brothers immersive Maximum Movie Mode, which is hosted by actor Jason Isaacs and offers viewers an enhanced version of the film with picture-in-picture pop up windows that contain, interviews, scene relevant ancillary programs, as well as animatics, special effects breakdowns, production stills, scene comparisons and concept art (requires a Profile 1.1 player). Programs from the Maximum Movie Mode are also available to view independently as a series of Focus Points.

On disc two, one will find Featurettes and other programs include the following: The Seven Harrys (five minutes), On The Green With Rupert, Tom, Oliver, And James (thirteen minutes), Dan, Rupert, And Emma's Running Competition (three minutes), Godric's Hollow/The Harry And Nagini Battle (six minutes), The Frozen Lake (four minutes) and Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Part 1: Behind The Soundtrack (four minutes). Eight Deleted Scenes and a promo for The Wizarding World Of Harry Potter Grand Opening at the Universal Orlando Resort are also provided. The promised Opening Scene Of The Final Film didn’t make it to the screener copy, but should be found on final production discs. HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS, PART 1 is also BD-Live enabled (requires a Profile 2.0 player). Disc three offers a DVD copy of the movie for those who are on the fence about making the upgrade to Blu-ray. An authorization code is provided for a Digital Copy of the film, which is just a download away.

Dark, bleak, with a sense of impending doom, the final chapter in J. K. Rowling’s saga about the boy wizard is off to a very good cinematic start with HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS, PART 1. The Blu-ray presentation rocks, delivering arresting visuals and sonics. HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS, PART 1 comes very highly recommended.


Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows, Part 1 (Three-Disc Blu-ray / DVD Combo + Digital Copy) (2010)


DVD & Blu-ray Disc reviews are Copyright © 2011 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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