With Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 the beloved fantasy franchise that spawned numerous imitators but few equals comes to a close and what a bang it went out with. Over $1.3 billion in worldwide gross and a global publicity tour ensures that the film will live on in history as one of Hollywood’s biggest blockbusters but sadly I was a bit let down by the tidy conclusion of the series. After the layered multi-faceted and harrowing Deathly Hallows Part 1 the finale just seemed like a sterile drawn-out epilogue to its much deeper predecessor. It’s not that it was a bad movie it was what it was: an end. And while there are some items of interest in Warner Home Video’s Blu-ray release of Deathly Hallows Part 2 I unfortunately feel the same way about the product as I did about the picture: let down.
Why? Because it’s quite obviously a temporary placeholder for fans; an appetizer to the “Ultimate Edition” or “Complete Series Box Set” entrée that WB will surely cook up to commemorate the canon in its entirety. There simply isn’t enough packed into these three discs to excite someone who’s just a casual Potter fan (like me). I’m sure that I’d be hooked on an “Ultimate Edition” release of the final film as I have been with the others but the bonus content is just a bit too slim for my appetite. However what is included is noteworthy. First off the centerpiece of the Blu-ray which hits shelves on Friday is a “Conversation with J.K. Rowling and Daniel Radcliffe”. This revealing one-on-one interview session finds the mastermind and star of the decade-long movie series addressing the concerns of fans shedding some light on the hardships of the long-term production of the films and divulging some of their personal beliefs about the characters and the story. Literary purists will be fascinated to hear about plot points omitted by the filmmakers that Rowling was particularly picky about while movie buffs will enjoy some of the stories that Radcliffe tells about his time on set. My only gripe with the interview is that it’s edited in a choppy manner and feels a bit clunky; you can tell that there’s some great stuff on the cutting room floor that was “best left out” in the eyes of some. It’s also awkwardly impersonal largely because the two clearly state that they’ve already discussed much of what is mentioned in the interview in private and the repetitiveness of the conversation takes a toll on its authenticity. Because of this and the upsettingly short runtime (just under an hour) it’s not as provocative as I’d hoped for but more than worth a view.
The runner-up for best bonus is Warner’s maximum movie mode a staple of the company’s Blu-ray offerings. Taking the viewer as close to the production as they can be the picture-in-picture feature runs the course of the movie with the cast and crew providing insight into the filmmaking process at various points. This is a must-see for film geeks who want to learn from the pros and Potter maniacs who want to take a step further into the Wizarding World. A lighter featurette included in the package takes you through a day in the life of the little actors who portray the goblins in the various Potter films. Warwick Davis the legendary performer who has worked on two Star Wars movies a Narnia sequel and every single Potter film hosts it and introduces you to the many dwarves who populate the movies as well as the craftspeople behind the makeup. Surprisingly my favorite featurette is about the Women of Harry Potter which finds Rowling and actresses Emma Watson Helena Bonham Carter Bonnie Wright and Julie Walters dishing on girl-power in the Potter novels and films. What’s most interesting about this vignette is hearing their individual takes on their own characters which will almost certainly differ from fans’ interpretations of them.
A few dismissible deleted scenes a digital copy (with instant streaming capabilities) and teasers for the Pottermore online forum (which will be a web-based blockbuster mark my words) and Warner Bros. Studio Tour (at Leavesden Studios in the UK) round out the special features at your disposal in this disc. On that note I think it’s safe to say that for fans who have stuck with this franchise since 2001 the most special feature of all is the film itself a super-sized magical spectacle ten years in the making. It looks and sounds stupendous in this HD transfer and is easily the most re-watchable part of the release.