Stars: Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, Helena Bonham Carter, Robbie Coltrane, Warwick Davis, Ralph Fiennes, Michael Gambon, Brendan Gleeson, Richard Griffiths, John Hurt, Jason Isaacs, Alan Rickman, Fiona Shaw, Timothy Spall, Imelda Staunton, David Thewliss, Julie Walters
Writer: Steve Kloves based on the novel by J.K. Rowling
Director David Yates
Distributor: Warner Home Video

Viewers who caught HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS – PART 1 in theaters were divided into two factions – those that loved the film’s careful pacing and more character based moments and those that wanted the whole story in one slam-bang sweep. Add the heavy darkness and sexual aspects of DEATHLY HALLOWS and you had a pretty adult tale for a children’s novel that certainly added to the divisiveness.

Yet that’s part of PART 1’s charms. While I felt the previous two installments were biding time, PART 1 earned my respect for its more deliberate pacing.

Now on Blu-ray, THE DEATHLY HALLOWS is a reminder what ten years of character development can do and director Peter Yates almost delivers a coming of age film moreso than an build-up to an epic finale. It’s the calm before the magical storm, and quite frankly, it stands as one of the best entries in the franchise.

The film is based on the J.K. Rowling novel (obviously, split into two parts) and follows boy wizard (now grown man) Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) as he is wanted by the forces evil – namely Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) who has been resurrected and wants Harry dead.

Harry, Ron (Rupert Grint) and Hermoine (Emma Watson) have to go into hiding as a result of this, and it gives the three of them ample time to deal with actual teenage feelings which leads to guilt, jealousy and regret. It’s phenomenal actually, and it really shows the great acting chops the three leads have developed in giving up their childhood and a decade of their lives to the franchise.

PART 1 ends on a cliffhanger that’s going to be paid off in this summer’s conclusion, and with the character development time spent on getting us to this point, the pay-off is going to be all the more satisfying.

The Blu-ray disc looks gorgeous (though nothing can match seeing the film on IMAX screens) and it comes with a DVD copy and a digital copy as well.

The special features include a few making of featurettes, the most notable being “The Seven Harrys” which shows off how multiple characters transform into Harry with the very able Radcliffe doing a great job of imitating everyone else’s mannerisms.

Trailers and TV spots are also included, but it’s the ten minutes of deleted scenes which turn out to be the cool find here. Usually deleted scenes are insignificant moments, but the scenes here are add more nuance to an already jam-packed film.

There’s a nice moment between Harry and his aunt where we see the weight she’s carried for many years. Same goes with a farewell between Harry and his cousin Dudley (plus a great line exchange between them too).

Perhaps the best moment though, is a quiet moment on the lake where Ron teaches Hermoine how to skip rocks on the lake. Again, it feels totally like an indie film and is a great respite from the other magic that has populated the screen adaptations.

Adding to the package is an opening scene from HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS – PART 2.

HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS – PART 1 continues the promise of the franchise into new and surprising territories. And yes, it may be a little dark and yes, the provocative vision Ron has of Harry and Hermoine hooking up does go a little too far for a PG-13 film geared toward kids, but it’s still a minor grievance in an otherwise thoroughly enjoyable film.


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