The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: Warner - 2009
MPAA Rating: PG
Feature running time: 153 minutes
Disc Format: BD-50
Video Aspect: 2.40:1
Audio Format(s): English Dolby TrueHD 5.1, English/French/Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
Starring: Daniel Radcliff, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Michael Gambon, Jim Broadbent, Alan Rickman, Maggie Smith, Robbie Coltrane, Bonnie Wright, Tom Felton,
Directed by: David Yates
Music by: Nicholas Hooper
Written by: Steve Kloves based on the novel by J.K. Rowling
Region Code: A
Blu-ray Disc release Date: June 14, 2011
"Dark Secrets Revealed (Ultimate Style)"
Voldemort is tightening his grip on both the Muggle and wizarding worlds and Hogwarts is no longer the safe haven it once was. Harry suspects that dangers may even lie within the castle, but Dumbledore is more intent upon preparing him for the final battle that he knows is fast approaching. Together they work to find the key to unlock Voldemort’s defenses and, to this end, Dumbledore recruits his old friend and colleague, Professor Horace Slughorn, whom he believes holds crucial information. Even as the decisive showdown looms, romance blossoms for Harry, Ron, Hermione and their classmates. Love is in the air, but danger lies ahead and Hogwarts may never be the same.
I will open this review with the same general comments that I use when describing my feelings/experiences with Harry Potter’s continuing storyline. I haven’t read any of the Harry Potter books, although my children have. My experience with the stories have all been through the films which date back to 2001’s Sorcerer’s Stone. Currently I am the only one in my house that still enjoys the Potter films. I have seen each of them during their respective theatrical runs and while I haven’t found them all to be equally entertaining I can’t say that there is one that I haven’t liked. The earlier films undeniably brought these delightful characters to life and endeared them to us while fundamentally establishing with each subsequent installment, the books theme of good versus evil. With each film we see Lord Voldemort becoming stronger and the tone shifting from seemingly brief (sometime humorous) moments of recoverable peril to mortality invoking danger that has serious/permanent consequences. Half-Blood Prince is ostensibly the darkest story yet and finds Hogwarts heavily guarded in order to stave off the impending threat from Deatheaters and Dementors.
Harry and Dumbledore come together on the idea of using new (actually old and purposefully recruited) Professor Slughorn in an effort to uncover information buried in his memory that can be used to defeat Voldemort and his minions. Professor Snape is now the defense against the dark arts teacher and has mysteriously aligned himself with Voldemort and his latest plan for infiltrating Hogwarts which involves Draco Malfoy. Meanwhile Ron has joined the Quidditch team and found romance with Lavender. Hermione continues to be the trio’s voice of reason and struggles with her feelings for Ron in the face of his budding relationship with Lavender. Ginny Weasley matures and takes on a position of prominence within the fold, Harry takes notice. Harry comes into possession of a school text book which contains a series of complicated spells that have been hand written among its text. It clearly was once the property of a student who signed it “The Half-Blood Prince”. Lastly, Dumbledore and Harry learn of a powerful device called a Horcrux, which can be used to store the soul or portion thereof making the wizard using it immortal. They uncover that a Horcrux may have been used by Voldemort and that there are a number of them hidden away. In order to stop him all of them must be located and destroyed. The question of who can be trusted looms....
I enjoyed this film more the second time around. As with all the Potter films preceding it there is plenty of depth to the story. As it escalates toward what is to come things are falling into place one important piece at a time. It was good to see Malfoy with more of a compelling role. While the overall tone is a dark and serious one it did take time to draw out some of the interpersonal relationships among the principles as well as throwing in a couple of lighter moments here and there. The foreshadowing of events is clearly presented but through it all the connection among these characters remains true. This is the essence of what makes these films special and why the remaining installments hold the potential of the best this series has yet to offer.The Harry Potter Ultimate Edition video releases are a fans delight, filled with more than four hours of special features and collectibles including a photo book featuring 44 pages of rare photos of the cast and crew, concept sketches and paintings, and behind-the-scenes insight. The Ultimate Editions also feature limited edition character cards, a lenticular card and a bonus digital copy of the film. Each set features a never before seen installment of Creating the world of Harry Potter. This year 6 installment, Magical Effects takes fans on a behind the scenes journey that allows a peek behind the curtain of Harry Potter’s world. Portraits come to life, potions transform, time reverses, Quidditch players soar, dragons attack and magic is everywhere. Explore the moviemaking magic that created the wizardry and wonder of the Harry Potter film series. Now, fascinating new insights, interviews and watch-it-happen footage let you experience the triumphs of technical wizards who conjured up an awe-inspiring alternate reality. Share the fun as Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson negotiate the moving stairs. Marvel as an oversized water tank transforms into the depths of the black lake for the Triwizard Tournament. Discover which amazing sequence was filmed entirely using computer-generated imagery. Watch as blue- and green-screen backgrounds transform into towering structures and endless landscapes. You don’t know the magic until you have seen Creating the World of Harry Potter Part 6: Magical Effects.
This set comes housed in a sturdy cardboard book style case (with slipcover) that opens to reveal color photos from the film. There is a large slot within that contains the discs keep case, collectible character cards and hardcover book. The bundle fits comfortably inside and the entire package makes for a handsome way to store the set. These Ultimate Edition releases are outstanding and make the perfect gift for Harry Potter fans of all ages, as they give audiences the opportunity to immerse themselves in the world of Harry Potter leading up to the highly anticipated theatrical release of the final chapter, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2 on July 15.
The rating is for scary images, some violence, language and mild sensuality.
AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65
**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Low frequency extension:
- Surround Sound presentation:
- Dialogue Reproduction:
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Black level/Shadow detail:
- Color reproduction:
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince Ultimate Edition comes to Blu-ray from Warner featuring 1080p VC-1 encoded video that has an average bitrate of 17 Mbps and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 3.7 Mbps.
This is the same VC-1 encoding from the original Blu-ray release of Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince. The look of this film does not lend itself to frequent use of eye popping colors, bold contrast or definitive sharpness. The world where most of the film takes place is made up of large amounts of CGI which is interwoven with both real objects and people. It has a typically distinctive visual design that often gives it the appearance and feel of a dream. The film intentionally uses muted colors and drab lighting which provides a noticeable contrast to the story’s fantasy world. Blacks are deep, noise free and dynamic. Shadow delineation is excellent which gives the film’s multitude of low lit sequences and darker elements plenty of depth and dimension. The color palette isn’t particularly extensive as sepia tones, grays and other neutral colors are heavily utilized. Red is used in various shades and when coupled along with well saturated blues and golden highlights gives images ample tonal warmth. Contrast is spot on so that whites appear dynamic and punchy when appropriate without being overcooked and washed out. Fine detail is readily perceivable in close ups while backgrounds during long range shots tend to appear less definitive. This appears to be innate to the photography and reminiscent of how the film looked during its theatrical presentation. The result is great looking high definition video that appears faithful to the director’s vision.
Minted from the same master as the Dolby TrueHD sound mix, this DTS-HD Master Audio presentation, like the video, is used like a canvas to paint a picture to bring the fantasy world of Harry Potter to life. The soundtrack capably blends the music and intricate details associated with the divergent mix of sound effects to create an involving aural soundscape. The track is a bit deceiving as it can go from blissfully laid back to becoming fully engulfed in spatial dimension and room shaking bass. The mix doesn’t make constant use of the low frequency effects channel however it was used often enough to make an impression. There are several sequences where bass extension reaches down deep to pressurize the room with conspicuous and dynamic low frequency energy. The entire surround platform is used to overlay the film’s discretely placed directional and venue replicating ambient effects. Superlative detail and clarity bring forth every nuance within the recording so that each was discernibly distinguishable. Voices are noticeably textured and sibilant free throughout. This is a superb sounding audio presentation that truly compliments this engaging film.
- Maximum Movie Mode – PiP BonusView pop-up feature
- (HD) Focus Points (33 minutes) :
- The Millennium Bridge
- Shooting on location
- Professor Slughorn
- Building relationships
- Director David Yates returns
- Wool’s Orphanage
- Ron and Lavender’s kiss
- The Burrow
- Harry & Ginny’s kiss
- Aragog returns
- Creating the cave
- Designing the virtual cave environment
- The Inferni
- The underwater sequence
- BD-Live access
- (HD)* Exclusive* Creating the world of Harry Potter Part 6: Magical Effects - 64 minute documentary
- Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince: Behind the magic - 46 minute featurette
- (HD) Close up with the cast of Harry Potter – 29 minute featurette
- (HD) One minute drills featuring the cast - 7 minutes
- (HD) First footage from The Deathly Hallows – 2 minutes
- (HD) J.K. Rowling: A year in the life – 50 minutes
- (HD) What’s on your mind – 7 minute feature
- (HD) The wizarding world of Harry Potter – 12 minute featurette
- Interstitial promo spots (1 minute each):
- The story
- Love is in the air
- Meet Prof. Slughorn
- The story of Tom Riddle
- (HD) 8 deleted scenes
- (HD) Teaser and Theatrical trailers
- 48 page hardcover photo book containing rare images from years 1 through 7
- Limited Edition Character Cards: #11 Draco Malfoy and # 12 Albus Dumbledore
- Lenticular card/cover
- Digital Copy of the film
Admittedly I am a fan of the Harry Potter film series and always look forward to each installment. The Half Blood Prince is well executed, rewarding and among my favorites in the film series. This Ultimate Edition Blu-ray offering from Warner is truly a fan’s delight and contains all of the originally released bonus content in addition to Part 6: Magical Effects, in the superlative and comprehensive “Creating the world of Harry Potter” series. Add to that a wonderful assortment of collectibles and top notch high definition audio/video quality and this is a highly recommended package that belongs on the shelf of every Potter fan.
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