Harry Potter and the Various Blu-Rays

Let’s start with the obvious; I am a giant fan of the Harry Potter franchise.  Guilty as charged.  I have been following the series for a rather long time.  Secondly, let me quickly admit I have not read all of the books and this review will not be about the accuracy of the films against the books.  My hopes are that this review will help aid in the purchase of the franchise and what may be the best route to own all eight films without spending all of your rent money.  For this, I will be focusing centrally on the formerly Target exclusive releases of the films, which as of October 4th will be released to other retailers.  Over the years I have owned a combination of various copies of the series and at one time I even owned all eight films on Blu-ray but found them to be unimpressive (in appearance).

By this point in time, it is fair to assume that if you have not read or seen the franchise, that you are at least somewhat familiar with the premise and most likely most of the storyline.  Since the primary point of this review is not to review the films themselves but to inform on whether or not a certain release is worth the purchase, I will give a brief summation of each film followed by a rating.  

Warning: Spoilers Ahead

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (Philosopher’s Stone)

Special Feature Disc: The Magic Begins

Our story follows a young boy who discovers he is a wizard and there is an entire world of magic folk just like him.  He gets accepted to the prestigious Hogwarts school of witchcraft and Wizardry where he soon finds that there is trouble lurking beneath the surface and finds himself in a battle against He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named.  With the help of his newfound friends Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint) and Hermione Granger (Emma Watson), he is victorious.

The movie itself does not hold up that well against the years for me.  However, there is something to be said about the incredible story.  For that reason, I feel as though many movies that may look and feel cheesy can stand the test of time because the underlying story is phenomenal. I do think there was a tremendous amount of pressure for the creators of the first film to really nail it all down.  Unlike the rest of the series, so many decisions had to be made that would be followed for the following seven films.  If there is one thing that no one can argue is that is all started here and the story that would follow is one of epic proportions.  

The Film 3/5

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Special Features: Characters

This time around the Harry finds himself being sabotaged in attending Hogwarts for his second term, by an elf named Dobby.  Dobby is convinced that it far too dangerous for Harry Potter this year at Hogwarts.  After many different struggles, he finally arrives at Hogwarts, only to find that students are being petrified,and something called the chamber of secrets had been opened and students are sure to die.  

It feels as if the ball is rolling now, the films are starting to mature in a very solid way.  This time around the story and the film starts to have that dark appeal to them that the rest of the series carries so well. The young actors have some footing and are able to start developing their characters a bit more.  This is also the last film we see Richard Harris in as Dumbledore which carries its own burden, as some people remain divided on who embodied the character better.  

The Film 3/5

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Special Features: Creatures

In one of the most memorable and story driven adventures yet we find that there is much more than just your typical danger to the world of Harry Potter.  This year we hear about the notorious criminal Sirius Black who has escaped from the infamous Prison of Azkaban.  Although it not clear straightaway we find out that Sirius Black is not only responsible for the death of Harry’s parents, but he is to this day his Godfather.  

This has to be one of my absolute favorite of the series it has such a great style of filming to it, I do remember reading the book and wondering how it would translate to film. The young actors are finally starting to make an emotional connection with their characters and running with that.  It has more than just a few of my favorite moments of the entire series all bottled into one.  Everything changes in one film, and so much of that youthful cheesiness is just gone, not much different than how life is.  Someone once told me that this is the last one with a happy ending and although I had never thought about it that is definitely something worth noting.  The director does an absolutely wonderful job.  This is also the first time we get to see Michael Gambon as Dumbledore who I personally feel does a better job at embodying the character.  

The Film 4/5

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Special Features: Sound & Music

In his biggest journey to date, Harry finds himself front and center participating in the tri-wizard tournament which, by all means, he does not meet the qualifications.  Something is obviously amiss and someone is putting him in danger on purpose but for what reason?

This does seem to be the start of the end.  The big reveal of Ralph Fiennes as Voldemort, and it was, by all means, the biggest scale film of the series.  I will admit it was also the last book of the series that I have read.  I have always been more of a film person, as many of us are, and just continued to follow the story through the films.  I was not disappointed, however, it just seemed so different from its predecessors that it almost seemed odd.  The great part of that is it set the tone as much darker for the films that were to follow.  

The Film 3/5

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Special Features: Evolution

He’s back, or so it seems, but besides Harry and those closest to him, we are the only ones that believe so.  In an incredibly frustrating film, we find that Harry is being labeled as the boy who lied.  In cahoots with Dumbledore spreading rumors of Voldemort’s return ultimately in an effort to overthrow the ministry of magic.  Harry then finds it necessary to train up some fellow students for the upcoming war so that they may be able to defend themselves.  Will it be enough when the time to fight comes around?  

This movie always feels like the least memorable to me for some reason.  I always think I have seen it the least amount of times in comparison to the others, I think this is in large part due to certain cable channels constantly playing numbers three and four. However, it really is a gripping film.  You really start to feel quite frustrated with everything that is transpiring.  And we start to see some really epic magic battles between the students and death eaters.  Of Course, this is also where we are introduced to the Order of the Phoenix which stands opposite of Voldemort and the death eaters in the battle of good and evil.  By the end of the film, we have gone through about eighteen different emotions and you are just so absolutely hooked by this point.

The Film 4/5

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Special Features: Magical Effects

After the emotionally jarring events of the previous film, Harry finds himself back at Hogwarts. This time around his mission is to help Dumbledore to recruit a new staff member that has a particularly useful piece of information that may be the key to destroying Voldemort.  After some luck, we find out that Voldemort has been set to split his soul into seven Horcruxes (items in which contain a part of the soul leaving it impossible for one to die).  Now on a journey to find and destroy all of them, Dumbledore brings along Harry and ultimately charges him with the mission.  

This is the final turning point.  It would seem our suspicions are true that this whole time Snape was a bad guy.  At the end, killing Dumbledore, he has finally crossed the line into an enemy.  Everything has finally changed to the point of no return and Harry must end this once and for all.  The effects and backstory involved in this film are some of the best we have seen to date.  It just all seems a bit more involved as a whole.  Much deeper story roots, much darker overtones and once again too much is being asked of Harry.

The Film 4/5

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part One

Special Features: Story

No longer set to go back to Hogwarts due in large part to the danger, Harry is on a mission to locate and destroy the remaining Horcruxes.  An endeavor to which he has little to no information to go on, which seems for lack of a better term, impossible. Luckily he still has a connection with Voldemort and finds he is able to tap into his mind and discover some clues that may lead to the ultimate demise of you-know-who.

It is nearly impossible to separate this film and part two in my head they almost feel like one long film, which is rather good. Sometimes when franchises do two parts it feels disjointed and purely like a money making tactic.  I will admit, I prefer part two over part one but I think we are meant to enjoy them as whole. Part one has frustrating moments and overall suffering, whereas part two seems to have more action and finality.

The Film 4/5

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part Two

Special Features: Growing Up

After barely escaping capture thanks to Dobby, Harry, Hermione, and Ron find themselves at the final stretch of their journey.  One thing has become clear they must make their way to the two hardest places to get into unnoticed, Gringotts and Hogwarts. As the film continues it becomes more and more clear that there is a lot that was happening that we were unaware of, that Dumbledore and Snape have been orchestrating behind the scenes the entire time.  One thing is clear by the end only one will be standing will it be you-know-who or the boy-who-lived?

This is it, the stage is set and the battle of Hogwarts is about to commence.   The final showdown between good and evil is approaching and we are starting to wonder who will prevail when the smoke clears.  There are still many twists and turns left in this final stint of the story and the fans will not be disappointed.  I have to admit even I found myself surprised by the end of it all. Seeing how I never read the final books, I remember being so nervous to find out the ultimate fate of Harry Potter as he battles for good.  I was not disappointed, the ending wasn’t overbearing or too on the nose, it’s also not simple by any means and you kind of have to catch up with what’s happening in front of you as you try and think back to everything that has happened over the past seven films.

The Film 5/5

Packaging

I have to admit I was a bit hesitant on investing in this version of the series. At $15 a piece that brings the grand total to about $120 total for the entire eight-film series.  At first glance, these releases are absolutely stunning, featuring custom artwork rivaling the Futureshop steel book releases released in the UK a couple of years ago. They really do stand out on the shelf.  Even the spines seem to have that chromatic effect when walking by them, I liked the way they looked so much that I re-arranged the whole shelf layout to showcase them separately (now all I need is some Harry Potter memorabilia to join it).  

At first glance, I was unsure just how different this release would ultimately be than the rest of the options out there.  I certainly loved the artwork but would it be a better buy than say the 8-film box set that I see everywhere?  One of the deciding factors was definitely what’s inside.  Each release comes with a special feature disc, and all eight go together in an eight-part series to tell the behind the scenes story of how the film franchise gained so much traction.  This was a huge selling point for me.  Previously, the releases I had were nothing special, just a few special features sure but nothing quite as cohesive.  Ultimately, I found that the artwork of these far surpassed that of any other version I had seen to date that combined with a digital release and a cohesive story told through the special features it seems worth the investment.  

Packaging 5/5

   

   

Special Features

As I previously mentioned, these releases come with an eight-part story told through the special features. Each release tells a different part of the bigger story and does much to add to the overall film.  This is a great companion to the film and you could take an entire day just to view the entire eight part story and it would be worth your while (if you are a fan of course).  However, I will admit that this is not new nor is it exclusive to this release.  This is the same thing they did back in 2009 for the three-disc Ultimate editions of the series.  The Special Features are as follows:

Part 1: The Magic Begins

  • Behind the Story
    • Introduction by Daniel Radcliffe
      • Daniel Radcliffe takes the time to introduce the many behind the scenes shorts and features we are about to experience -presumably recorded in 2009 (he refers to the feature as being included on the ultimate edition DVD’s).
    • Creating the World of Harry Potter, Part 1: The Magic Begins
      • We get to take a look at what exactly went into turning the first film into a worldwide phenomenon from selecting the right director to the painstaking process of picking the right child actors.  Every detail was given much thought and ultimately if something was not quite right we may not have had the rest of the series today.  
    • A Glimpse into the world of Harry Potter
      • 2001 International TV Special- this is just an ad for a special that aired back in 2001
  • Additional Footage
    • Deleted Scenes
      • Dudley’s New School Uniform
      • Petunia Cracks Eggs with Letters Inside
      • Tube Ride
      • Kids Leave Girls Bathroom
      • Harry Sits by Fire in Great Hall
      • Harry Finds Nicholas Flamel Card
      • Snape Classroom (Extended)
  • Trailers & TV Spots
    • Teaser Trailer
    • Teaser Trailer #2
    • Teaser Trailer #3
    • TV Spots
      • Dear Mr. Potter
      • Fluffy
      • Phenomenon
      • Fluffy/Nick
      • Students
      • School
      • Dark Images
      • Lesson
      • Unleashes
      • Triumph Review
      • 12 Days
      • Holidays
      • Records
      • Wizard
      • Film Classic
    • Online

Part 2: Characters

  • Creating the World of Harry Potter, Part 2: Characters
    • This time around we get take a look at the grand way the actors helped develop these deeply rich characters on the screen.  We also learn that from the beginning we get to see that not only are the primary and secondary characters important but the tertiary characters as well.  
  • Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets Revealed
    • A short about the second film and what we can expect
  • Trailers & TV Spots
    • Teaser Trailer
    • Theatrical Trailer
    • TV Spots
  • Additional Footage
    • Screen Tests
      • Daniel Radcliffe
      • Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, and Emma Watson
    • Deleted Scenes
  • Online

Part 3: Creatures

  • Creating the World of Harry Potter Part 3: Creatures
    • This is an amazingly cool look at some of the practical effects that kept the films  grounded and created an unforgettable experience.  
  • Inside the Creature Shop
    • We get a tour of the creature shop containing all of the realistic effects seen throughout the films
  • The Magic Touch of Harry Potter
    • What seems like a TV segment all about how the Prisoner of Azkaban takes the series to a whole new level. I cannot prove this but it does sound like it’s narrated by Jeremy Piven?
  • Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban: Something Wicked This Way Comes
    • This short is all about how this film is able to take the series to a new emotional, and a much darker tone overall.  Almost shifting the series in a different direction.  
  • An Interview in Spanish with Alfonso Cuaron
    • An interview the director had done conducted in Espanol
  • Trelawney’s Crystal Ball Deleted Scenes
    • Various Deleted Scenes supercut into one
  • Trailers

Part 4: Sound and Music

  • Creating the World of Harry Potter Part 4: Sound and Music
    • We get to see just how big of an impact the sound and music have on the films and how the right tone can change a scene altogether.  Utilizing the different composers throughout the series has been able to give the films a wide dynamic.  
  • Conversations with the Cast
    • Host Richard Curtis  interviews Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, and Rupert Grint on their reaction to the finished product of the Goblet of Fire
  • Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire: Behind the Magic
    • A behind the scenes look at Leavesden Studios and the magic behind the fourth installment of the Harry Potter series  
  • Inside Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
    • A close look at everything that is different about the Goblet of Fire in this behind the scenes featurette.  
  • Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire:The Adventure Continues
    • Yet another featurette all about the Goblet of Fire and what went into the making of. This time not so much of a “behind the scenes” but a cursory look at what it is and why it will be such a great installment in the franchise.
  • Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire: Some Animal Magic
    • A Continuation of the behind the magic featurette focused more of the actual animals involved in the making of the film.  
  • Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire: Dark Matters, New Masters
    • Another featurette it feels a bit repetitive sharing a lot of footage from the previous featurettes
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Trailers

Part 5: Evolution

  • Creating the world of Harry Potter, Part 5: Evolution
    • This time around the featurette is all about how Harry Potter has evolved over the years through changing hands, Direction, and overall tone.  
  • Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix: Behind the Magic
    • Another segment much like the one we saw on the previous disc, this time, taking us behind the effects and story of Order of the Phoenix.   
  • Building the Magic: The Sets of Harry Potter
    • A closer look at the new sets from Stuart Craig combined with the vision of David Yates we are in for some incredible settings.  
  • Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix:The Rebellion Begins
    • A featurette about the mounting tension about the upcoming war that is becoming harder and harder to avoid.  It seems that the ministry of magic is avidly against supporting Harry’s opinion that Voldemort is back.
  • Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix: Fulfilling a Prophecy
    • Another featurette, this time, focusing on the prophecy aspect oddly similar to the previous Featurette
  • Trailing Tonks
    • A featurette where we follow actress Natalia Tena who plays Nymphadora Tonks(Lupin) as she goes all over the studios where they film the Harry Potter Films.
  • Harry Potter: The Magic of Editing
    • Featurette all about what all goes into editing a scene and what aspects can affect the way each scene is perceived.  It actually becomes interactive so you can try it out yourself
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Trailers

Part 6: Magical Effects

  • Creating the World of Harry Potter, Part 6: Magical Effects
    • We get to see the ever growing relationship between practical effects and visual effects layered together to create the unforgettable experience that is Harry Potter.  The way the crew talks about staying grounded reminds me of the way Marvel talks about their films.  
  • Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince: Behind the Magic
    • A follow-up to the previous installments of behind the magic. This time around taking us behind the scenes of the Half-Blood Prince
  • J.K Rowling: A Year in the Life
    • A look into the J.K Rowling herself, and how she came to be the famed success she is now.  Starting with her upbringing and leading to the writing of the novels.
  • Close-up with the Cast of Harry Potter
    • Editing with Daniel Radcliffe
      • We get to learn about the editing process of the film as Daniel Radcliffe gets to ask Mark Day about the whole process
    • Special Effects with Matthew Lewis, Oliver Phelps, and Tom Felton
      • The three young actors get to go behind the scenes of some of the practical effects they use on set
    • Owl Training with Jessie Cave
      • Jessie gets to learn more about how they are able to train the owls to do what they need on set
    • Stunt Training with Rupert Grint
      • Rupert goes behind the scenes and learns about some the stunt training, and what all is involved.  
    • Costume Design with Evanna Lynch
      • Evanna Lynch sits down Jany Temime and talks about what goes into costume designing for the world of Harry Potter
    • Art with Bonnie Wright
      • Bonnie Wright takes a trip to the Art Department and goes through the various set pieces they are responsible for
    • Behind the Cameras with James Phelps
      • James Phelps tries his hand at being an Assistant Director
    • Makeup with Emma Watson
      • Emma sits down with Amanda Knight who has done the makeup for all six films
  • One-Minute Drills
    • Various cast members have to recall their characters storylines throughout the six films
  • What’s on Your mind?
    • Tom Felton asks various cast member rapid-fire questions in regards to their personal interests
  • The Wizarding World of Harry Potter-Sneak Peek
    • Inside look at the Universal Studio’s attraction
  • First Footage from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Interstitials
  • Trailers

Part 7: Story

  • Creating the world of Harry Potter, Part 7: Story
    • Steve Kloves and J.K Rowling sit down and discuss the way the films have evolved over the years and how the story has been translated to film.  
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows-Part 1: Behind the Magic
    • Another installment in Behind the Magic, this time, it’s a rather fun look at the second to the last installment of the franchise.  
  • Harry Potter: On the Road
    • We get to take a look at what it is like to film outside the walls of Hogwarts for the first time they find themselves someplace completely unfamiliar.
  • The Return of the Order
    • Various cast members speak about how it felt to come back once again set many of which haven’t been on set in a couple of years.  
  • Scabior and Greyback
    • We get to see all that went into developing the characters of the infamous snatchers throughout the film
  • Dobby’s Farewell
    • We get to see everything that went into the emotionally gripping scene that will forever be engraved in the fans memories
  • The Look of Bill Weasley
    • We get to see how Domhnall Gleeson got the look of Bill Weasley just right.  
  • The Weasley’s
    • We get to take a look at the Weasley family and how the actors managed to make their onscreen family look so convincing.
  • The State of Evil
    • The casts member who play the dark wizards speak to the dark elements and the how the air of evil was achieved
  • The New Guys
    • We are introduced to Domhnall Gleeson (Who’s dad plays Mad-eye-Moody), Bill Nighy, and Rhys Ifans the newcomers to the film.  
  • One Book, Two Movies,
    • Producer David Heyman and Director David Yates talk about the decision to turn the final book into two movies.  
  • The Wizarding Prop Shop
    • Prop Maker Pierre Bohanna takes us through some of the fascinating props included this time round from wands to lockets, to death-eater masks
  • The Seven Harry’s
    • A behind the scenes look at how they accomplished the effect.
  • Dan, Rupert and Emma’s Running Competition
    • The trio seemed to rather enjoy racing through the woods for the memorable scene
  • Godric’s Hollow/The Harry and Nagini Battle
    • A behind the scene’s look at the eerie setting of Godric’s Hollow and how the battling Nagini came to be.
  • The Frozen Lake
    • We get to see a behind the scenes look at how filming the lake scene was rather trying physically
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows-Part 2: Sneak Peek
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Trailers

Part 8: Growing Up

  • Creating the world of Harry Potter, Part 8: Growing Up
    • In what might be my favorite of the sequence we get to see what it was like for the cast growing up on the sets of the various Harry Potter Films.  
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows -Part 2: Behind the Magic
    • The last installment of the behind the magic series touches base with the cast and crew on the emotional end to the ten-year-long journey.
  • A Conversation with J.K. Rowling and Daniel Radcliffe (extended Version)
    • Radcliffe and Rowling get to have an extended talk about what it was like to bring her beloved character to life
  • Hogwarts’ Last Stand (Extended Version)
    • An extended look at all that went into filming the last stand that took place at Hogwarts
  • The Women of Harry Potter
    • J.K. Rowling speaks to why it was so important to have many strong female characters within her story seeing how physical strength has nothing to do with magic.
  • The Goblin of Gringotts
    • We get to see the evolution of the goblins from the first film to the last one.  
  • The Great Hall of Hogwarts
    • We get to the dramatic change to the great hall from the early days to the ultimately destroyed great hall of the final film.  
  • Ron and Hermione’s Kiss
    • We get to see how the largely anticipated kiss between Ron and Hermione took place
  • That’s a Wrap, Harry Potter
    • A short all about the final moments filming Harry Potter.
  • Neville’s Battle Makeup
    • A look at the incredible Make-up effects that were done to create the on-screen burns,bruises, and cuts.  
  • The Gringotts Disguises
    • We get to see just how in character Helena Bonham Carter got for her scene portraying Emma Watson portraying Hermione portraying Helena Bonham Carter Portraying Bellatrix LeStrange(did you follow that)
  • Harry’s Death: The Courtyard Confrontation
    • The cast talks all about how emotional the scene felt to film and how dramatic of a turning point it was.  
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: The Quest
    • Secrets of the Cast Revealed! Emma Watson Gets a “Red Card”
      • We get to see a time when Emma couldn’t contain herself and was given a “Red Card” for ruining too many takes
    • Secrets of the Cast Revealed!Daniel Radcliffe Discusses his Mentors
      • Radcliffe takes us through some of the various mentors he has gained throughout the years
    • The Magic Behind the Movies Revealed: The Secret of Flight
      • We get a close look at how they make the characters appear to fly in the films
    • Secrets of the Cast Revealed! Ralph Fiennes as Voldemort
      • We get to see just how Ralph Fiennes has developed the Voldemort character throughout the series to this point
    • Secrets of the Cast Revealed! A Look Back on Severus Snape
      • A brief look back at the character of Snape and how he has changed over the course of the series
    • Exclusive Footage from the Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows- Part 2 London Premiere Revealed!
      • We get to look at the cast and their reactions as they arrive at their final Harry Potter film.
    • The Love Life of Ron Weasley
      • A comical look back at the misadventures of Ron Weasley’s love life throughout the series.
    • The Weasley’s: A Look Back at Harry Potter’s Favorite Family
      • A behind the scenes look at what the Weasleys are like off camera
    • Dumbledore and Harry: A Look-Back
      • We get to look at how the relationship between Dumbledore and Harry has progressed and how significant it is.  
    • Favorite Lines with the Harry Potter Cast
      • The various cast members go through what their favorite lines in the franchise are.
    • Favorite Propes with the Harry Potter Cast
      • Various member of the cast takes us through some of their favorite items they have seen and/or worn throughout the films.
    • Riding Along Memory Lane
      • Warwick Davis takes us through some of his favorite sets and moments he has been a part of throughout the series.
    • Finding Luna: A Dream Come True
      • The story of how fan Evanna Lynch landed the role of a lifetime
    • A Tribute to Dobby the Beloved House-elf
      • We get to relive Dobby’s most memorable moments in the series.
    • A Special Message to the fans of Harry Potter
      • The cast gives a special thank you to all of the fans of the films
    • The Cast of Harry Potter Says Goodbye
      • Cast and crew take a final look at what this incredible journey has meant to them
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Warner Bros. Studio Tour London-The Making of Harry Potter
  • Pottermore Preview
  • Trailers

Picture Quality

If there is something the Harry Potter franchise has always done well it’s finding the right combination of practical and visual effects.  This creates an unforgettable experience making it really feel as if we viewing a magical world.  From the very beginning, they have had the absolute best quality available and countless man-hours go into making sure these films stand the test of time.  I was shocked to see just how many of the effects were real animatronics or practical effects. It really has a way of keeping the films grounded and something that still brings out the childlike wonder the novels were able to capture.  It seems like each and every year the quality went up and the productions value tried topping the previous films.  The Blu-ray transfer is absolutely magical (pun intended) and jumps off the screen, some of the later films almost seem too dark but it is obvious that the point of the film was to be rather dark in general.  

Each film comes with its own sense of style as well.  Something great about utilizing four different directors is being able to see different points of view for each film.  The transition from Chris Columbus to Alfonso Cuaron (Chamber of Secrets to Prisoner of Azkaban) seems the most dramatic purely because Cuaron’s style is so unique and grounded in emotional connections.  One thing that stayed consistent between all four directors was the great care that went into the film.  Watching through the features (all in one sitting I might add) it becomes abundantly clear just how much these people cared about what they were creating from day one.  It is something you cannot fake and it is the driving force behind the films success if you ask me.

Picture Quality 5/5

Audio

There is something absolutely incredible about the score that carries the franchise along.  It is extraordinarily memorable and stays with you for days after (trust me).  Much like the directors, the franchise saw many different composers throughout.  John Williams (who did the first three films in the series) was able to set the tone for the films in a way that surprised everyone involved.  I think everyone in the first film knew there was a possibility that these films could be a big deal, but to have such a memorable score right off the bat was able to really carry those first two along.  Many of the special features focus on the amount of work that went into the foley artistry and overall sound editing. The features also make it clear that having the entire production on one site really creates an environment that is teamwork friendly.  The films belong on your shelf just as much as they belong in the theater, the Blu-ray transfer sounds beautiful and haunting and is without a doubt an experience you will not forget.

Audio 5/5

Alternate Ways to Own the Series

There are countless ways to bring home the Harry Potter films but for this, we are going to focus on three of the main ways I was looking to purchase the series that felt that it had the most to offer the home viewer and fan.  

Harry Potter: Complete 8-Film Collection

For several years now, if you wanted to own the complete eight-film collection this was the primary way to do so.  It is by far the most affordable and it seems to be available literally everywhere.  Depending on where you go it comes in at about $50-$70.  I have always really liked the idea of having it all in one boxset and the set does come with digital codes and special features for each. However, one of the biggest downfalls was having it all in on jewel case with the discs held by a spindle with multiple discs on each side.  For me, it seems almost haphazardly thrown together almost as if each disc was taken from another edition and put into the collection.  I really didn’t like how each disc felt like it belonged to something else.  Our very own Jeff Rauseo owns this edition and was kind enough to take some pictures to show you just exactly what’s inside.

You can Purchase this edition HERE.  

Harry Potter: The Hogwarts Collection

This is one of the more mysterious sets in that I have never, ever seen it in person.  For the most part, I don’t ever see it listed as an option.  Essentially, it is a boxset in a more traditional manner including 31-discs, digital copies of each film and each film on DVD as well.  It is packaged in more book form with each disc contained in its own little page and has over 45 hours of special features.  This is kind of an incredible deal if you can find it.  The discs seem to have somewhat custom artwork on the actual discs, however, the price seems to fluctuate quite a bit based on availability.  I have seen it anywhere between $150-170.  All-in-all a great value for what you are getting.  I almost bought this on more than a couple of occasions.  But ultimately, I liked the idea of having dedicated releases more.   

You can purchase this edition HERE.

Harry Potter: The Wizard’s Collection

This is a ridiculous set. One of the biggest I have ever seen for sale.  The price seems to stay anywhere between $700-$1000 consistently.  This set has just about anything you could ever want from a box set. It comes in a custom trunk straight from something you would see on the set of the films.  It also comes with 31 discs and compartments full of different memorabilia from the films.  I have to be honest, for a long time I was saving to buy this collection.  But ultimately the price just really doesn’t make sense.  I understand the gravity of everything that is included and the value of it all sold separately but for me there is just no way that I would bring myself to pay the inordinate price for something that I would open a few times and then just ultimately decide to watch just using the digital copies because it is simply less painstaking than opening up a trunk full of compartments to grab a single movie to watch.

If this seems like the set for you, you can purchase it HERE.

Technical Specs (click for technical FAQs)

Title Aspect Ratio Audio Subtitles Runtime
Sorcerer’s Stone (Philosopher’s Stone) 2.40:1 DTS-HD MA 5.1 English SDH, Spanish 152 minutes
Chamber of Secrets 2.40:1 DTS-HD MA 5.1 English SDH, Spanish, French 161 minutes
Prisoner of Azkaban 2.40:1 DTS-HD MA 5.1 English SDH, Spanish, French 146 minutes
Goblet of Fire 2.40:1 DTS-HD MA 5.1 English SDH, Spanish, French 157 minutes
Order of the Phoenix 2.40:1 DTS-HD MA 5.1 English SDH, Spanish, French 139 minutes
Half-Blood Prince 2.40:1 DTS-HD MA 5.1 English SDH, Spanish, French 153 minutes
Deathly Hallows 1 2.40:1 DTS-HD MA 5.1 English SDH, Spanish, French 146 minutes
Deathly Hallows 2 2.40:1 DTS-HD MA 5.1 English SDH, Spanish, French  130 minutes

Overall

Here’s the thing, I absolutely love this story and there are thousands of people out there to whom this story means a great deal.  When it came down to it for me, I wanted something that gave individual attention to each film and still stand out on the shelf as well as represent the general tone of the films the way I saw them.  I have found all these qualities in this release.  The sheer amount of special features that are included in all eight films is incredible.  They all connect as well it taking you on a journey with the members of the cast and crew. Now that I have watched all of it, I have a completely different outlook on the films than before.   I can really appreciate a completely different aspect of these films that I was unaware of because that is the amount of effort they took to make sure practical effects were used over visual effects if they could do it.  The use of these effects is incredible and I only learned that watching these features.  I love the way these films  look on my shelf so much that I dedicated a shelf to them.  They are just plain cool.  The other thing is I will not be hesitant about grabbing just one off the shelf to watch now and again whereas with the box set I might feel more obligated to do a weekend marathon (which I will still do with these).  I think the price point is just about right for what we get, especially now that they will be non-exclusive to Target and will essentially go down in price by three dollars.  I can confidently say that these films have a place in your collection and if this is the route you choose, you definitely won’t regret it.  You can purchase these releases HERE.

Overall 4/5  – Highly Recommended