Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows: Part 1

Featured In Issue 157, May/June 2011

WSR Score4
Basic Information on new release titles is posted as soon as titles are announced. Once reviewed, additional data is added to the database.
Warner Home Video
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Some sequences of intense action violence, frightening images and brief sexuality
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Single Side, Dual Layer (BD-50)
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Not Indicated
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(THX® Digitally Mastered):
David Yates
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Dolby Digital 5.1, DTS HD Lossless 5.1
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Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows is the seventh and final adventure in the Harry Potter film series, told in two full-length parts. Part 1 begins as Harry (Radcliffe), Ron (Grint), and Hermione (Watson) set out on their perilous mission to track down and destroy the Horcruxes—the keys to Voldemort's (Fiennes) immortality. On their own, without the guidance or protection of their professors, the three friends must now rely on one another more than ever. But there are Dark Forces in their midst that threaten to tear them apart. Meanwhile, the wizarding world has become a dangerous place for all enemies of the Dark Lord. The long-feared war has begun and Voldemort's Death Eaters seize control of the Ministry of Magic and even Hogwarts, terrorizing and arresting anyone who might oppose them. But the one prize they still seek is the one most valuable to Voldemort: Harry Potter. The Chosen One has become the hunted one as Voldemort's followers look for Harry with orders to bring him to the Dark Lord...alive. Harry's only hope is to find the Horcruxes before Voldemort finds him. But as he searches for clues, he uncovers an old and almost forgotten tale—the legend of the Deathly Hallows. And if the legend turns out to be true, it could give Voldemort the ultimate power he seeks. Little does Harry know that his future has already been decided by his past when, on that fateful day, he became "The Boy Who Lived." No longer just a boy, Harry Potter is drawing ever closer to the task for which he has been preparing since the day he first stepped into Hogwarts: the ultimate battle with Voldemort. Based on the novel by J.K. Rowling. (Gary Reber)

Special features on Disc One of this three-disc set include the interactive WB Maximum Movie Mode with host Jason Isaacs (Lucius Malfoy) and other cast and crew, six focus points segments (HD 19:21), BD-Live, D-BOX Motion Code™ functionality, and up-front ads. BD-Live features an exclusive sneak peek of a scene from Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows: Part 2. Disc Two includes six behind-the-story segments (HD 30:02), eight additional scenes (HD 10:54), the featurette Behind The Soundtrack (HD 03:51), and a promotional trailer. Disc Three is a DVD, and there is also a digital copy of the film.

The 2.40:1 1080p VC-1 picture is nicely rendered in the "Potter" style, with a prevailing darkness throughout and should be viewed in a darkened environment, preferably a black one, to optimize low-level shadow detail. Blacks are deep and solid, and the shadows are dark but revealing of detail. The overcast scenes and some interior scenes shed more light, but still, the look is filtered and subdued. Resolution is excellent, with fine facial features, clothing, and object textures that are mostly clearly delineated, except for those instances where the clarity is diminished. The feel embraces the period medieval stylization of past Potter films, with a play on dark and light that creates an engaging cinematic visual effect. The color palette exhibits dark saturated hues with brown tints, to create a very warm visual. At times the imagery is dramatically desaturated for effect, to the extent of a black-and-white rendering. This is a challenging picture to reproduce by any display standard and will test the native contrast capabilities of your display system. Dimensionality is superb. Fleshtones appear natural, yet subdued and desaturated in the dimly lit scenes. Such are rendered well, considering the light-starved production values. Occasionally there are spots of vivid color, such as the scene in the brightly lit city square, but these instances are limited in visual impact. While an exceptionally dark picture, as was The Half-Blood Prince, the stylization effectively transports you to a place and a period, seemingly long ago, with engaging visuals that are elaborately portrayed and at times impressive. Surprisingly, Warner Bros. decided NOT to release Part 1 theatrically in 3D because of post-conversion time constraints. An official announcement from WB back in October 2010 stated: "Despite everyone's best efforts, we were unable to convert the film in its entirety and meet the highest standards of quality..." Still, this is a film whose visual character would be enhanced in 3D. Perhaps a 3-D version is still contemplated to be released on 3-D Blu-ray. Part 2 will be released in 3D, along with 2-D formats, in IMAX on July 15, 2011 and with D-BOX Motion Code. (Gary Reber)

The DTS-HD Master Audio™ 5.1-channel soundtrack delivers an impressive holosonic® presence throughout. Though the dialogue is production sound and ADR, spatial integration is well managed and the dialogue sounds perfectly natural within the context of each scene. Atmospheric sound effects are prominent and, at times, aggressively directionalized, which enhances the dimensionality of the soundfield. As with the previous release, the sound design would have been an excellent candidate for a 7.1-channel mix, but Warner limited the sound to a 5.1-channel mix. Still the soundfield is engaging and scenes are powerfully dimensional, extending out from the frontal soundstage with a strong localized surround presence, with vividly delineated elements spread out within the soundfield. The music score is well recorded, with a wide and deep soundstage that extends deep into the surrounds and reveals nuances in instrumental timbres. Phantom center back surround is evident and effective in a number of scenes. The entire soundscape sounds strongly earthy and powerful. The frozen lake scene above and under water is breathtaking. Low-frequency effects can be powerful in the .1 LFE channel, with bass extension to sub-25 Hz frequencies and at full-on SPL. The sound has a solid bass foundation in numerous scenes, with sound effects enhanced with motion and panning. The sonic character throughout is smooth and natural sounding, with no incident of harshness or stridency. The D-BOX Motion Code encoding is powerfully applied in the action scenes and greatly intensifies the LFE impact with dramatic motion effects. As with the previous release, this is an impressive soundtrack, with an engaging sound design that establishes mood and excitement. (Gary Reber)