Harry Potter Blu-ray delivers Maximum movie thrills

By Sean O’Connell
Hollywoodnews.com: The end feels closer than ever before.

Warner Bros.’ DVD and Blu-ray release of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1” does as much looking back as it does looking forward, promising fans a sneak peek at the opening scene from the upcoming series finale as well as countless interviews with the cast and crew reminiscing about all of the hard work that went in to bringing J.K. Rowlings’ magical world to life.

What a remarkable ride it has been. And yet, much like “Part 1” felt like the beginning of a long goodbye, this DVD comes off as a preliminary farewell that’s sure to continue when the “Part 2” DVD eventually arrives in stores (my guess is it will be available by Christmas).

So the question has to be asked: “Why would you purchase “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1” on DVD or Blu-ray when you know a complete set – with parts one and two – is bound to be available somewhere down the line?”

The answer, however, is up to the individual. Can you wait to see the seventh “Harry Potter” in spectacular high-definition? Or do you want to catch up with a pristine copy of the preliminary adventure before the conclusion arrives in theaters on July 15?

I, for one, would want to enjoy this film with Warner’s Maximum Movie Mode, the ultimate behind-the-scenes discussion that includes cast and crew members taking viewers inside the meticulous filmmaking process to break down key scenes like Hagrid’s motorcycle flight or the construction of Hermione’s magical tents. Warner always has maintained a standard of excellence with the Maximum mode, and “Harry Potter” continues the studio’s commitment.

The rest of the supplements are standard, with eight deleted scenes, five “Making of” featurettes, a “Behind-the-Soundtrack” feature, a clip on the grand opening of “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter” in Orlando, and a sneak peek at the opening scene of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2.”

Which I couldn’t find on my disc. Anywhere. It was only after exploring other critics’ reviews that I realized Warner might have sent us review copies that did not have the sneak peek at “Part 2.” That’s frustrating.

Not frustrating enough, however, for me to bury this release. The visuals are spectacular. The audio conversion is magnificent. The three-disc set includes a digital copy of the film for your portable devices. Really, Warner has covered its bases.

“Potter” is drawing to a close, and that crushes my heart. But I’ll take any excuse to continue revisiting this series until the final confrontation, which can’t come soon enough.

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