Warner Home Video
Cast: Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Maggie Smith, Richard Harris, Alan Rickman
Extras: Introduction, Video Commnetary, Documentary, Featurettes, Interviews, Book, Deleted Scenes, and much more
Although the books had gone to be quite successfully at the time, no one could have predicted the immense impact that J. K. Rowling's books would have had on the world of entertainment in the longer run. The years was 2001 when Harry Potter made his silver screen debut and shattered box office records, spawning one successful movie after another. Now arriving on Blu-Ray Disc once again, Warner Home Video has prepared a spectacular package for the film that will have fans drooling over it.
Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) is an orphan who lives with the family of his mother's sister, where he is abused and exploited in the best Cinderella fashion. As he is approaching his eleventh birthday suddenly things change when letters from a place called Hogwarts arrive for Harry. When his uncle keeps destroying them, more and more letters arrive but Harry gets to read none of them. Upon his birthday then, finally the letter is delivered by a messenger, Hagrid, a towering man, who tells Harry that he has been accepted to Hogwarts, the world's best School for Witchcraft and Wizardy. It turns out that Harry is a wizard, with an innate ability that has been handed down to him by his parents. When he joins Hagrid to go to Hogwarts, he slowly learns that a power seems to have been slumbering inside of him that he never realized even existed. Quickly he becomes one of the most acclaimed students of Hogwarts and before he even knows it, he is on the trail of some mysterious goings-on inside the walls of the giant castle-like school. With his friends Ron (Rupert Grint) and Hermione (Emma Watson) he is determined to find out what the secrets are, and in doing so, he slowly unravels his own past – and future.
What is immediately obvious is how well-cast and shot the film is. The images are beautiful and atmospheric, and the introduction to Harry's character and his escape from the abusive home make a great exposition for what is to come, despite the fact that this lengthy exposition runs for almost a full hour. Daniel Radcliffe as the titular Harry Potter is a perfect cast. Innocent at times, boyish coy at others, then smug and eventually dominant, Radcliffe pulls off the part so convincingly that it is impossible to envision someone else playing the role. High caliber cameo appearances add to the film's credibility and overall, the story evolves at a good pace, making it a thoroughly enjoyable movie experience. Special effects are a bit weak and unconvincing at times, but somehow it never hampers the experience – too caught up are we in this magical world of wizardry.
"Harry Potter And The Sorcerer's Stone " is presented here in two versions – it's original theatrical cut and an extended version with 7 minutes of additional footage – a wonderful 1080p high definition transfer that is absolutely free of blemishes or defects. Strikingly detailed ,the transfer is incredibly sharp and brings out even the most subtle detail in the movie's beautiful cinematography. Textures are perfectly reproduced as are skin tones, with colors that are rich but never oversaturated. The high definition transfer seems to make some of the computer generated special effects slightly more noticeable, but at the same time, it actually serves as a testament to the technical quality of the high definition transfer. The film's black levels are deep and solid, making sure the many atmospheric shots of the film are reproduced with great visual depth, rendering shadows without ever breaking up. All in all, this is an absolutely ravishing transfer of the film.
The audio on the release is a DTS HD Master audio track that improves on previous releases of the film. One thing to keep in mind with a film like "Harry Potter" is the fact that it is a family film, generally speaking, and all aspects of the production reflect that in one way or another. In the audio department, it is witnessed by the fact that the mix is not nearly as aggressive as it could have been. Although very wide and with a good frequency response that produces deep basses and clear high ends, the surround usage is clearly restrained. It doesn't make the film the sonic roller-coaster it could have been – and the way the more recent sequels in the franchise are – which his perfectly fine with me. Bombarding especially younger audiences with a bombast of explosive surround may not really be such a good idea, especially given the fact that in many cases it would take viewers out of the experience rather than allowing them to immerse themselves fully. The mix is very good and dialogues are always well above the mix. The reproduction is very natural sounding and reflects the film's high production values. John William's whimsical score is also reproduced without problems, allowing the wide orchestration to make full use of the spatial range of the surround format.
Included on the release are a number of bonus materials to supplement the film itself and allow you to dive deeper into the world of Harry Potter. The theatrical version, for example, features a picture-in-picture video commentary that is full of valuable insight and behind the scenes footage that will give yo a good idea about the production of the film.
Also included on the release is an introduction by Daniel Radcliffe as well as a selection of deleted scenes and a gallery of trailers and TV spots. But the heart of the second disc bonus materials is the documentary "Creating The World Of Harry Potter." On this release you will find part 1 of the documentary called "The Magic Begins," which as a deep dive into the production of the film. Featuring countless interviews and behind-the-scenes clips, this is a documentary showing viewers how this first film in the series came about, but also how all of the decisions essentially impacted the forthcoming movies. It is an enchanting journey that should satisfy even the most hard core Potter fan. Warner plans to have another installment of this documentary on each of the seven subsequent Harry Potter releases, making it probably the most comprehensive look at the franchise ever.
The third disc of the set is a DVD, which essentially contains all of the bonus materials from the previous DVD release of the film. Everything on this disc is presented in a very playful manner that invites viewers to explore the world of Harry Potter, nicely expanding the sense of wonder from the film to the bonus materials. There are little games taking you to Diagon Alley to do your shopping of wizard's supplies. This is an essential step as some of the other features on the disc will require you to have your utensils ready, just as required by the school rules.
An interactive, narrated tour through Hogwarts is also part of the release, giving you the chance to explore every corner of the place. You will notice many details you did not catch while watching the movie and this feature truly allows your imagination to take over, placing you in the famous school yourself.
The "Sorting Hat" feature gives you some more information about the different houses of Hogwarts and in the library you can pick various books to look up different aspects of Hogwarts and the movie. You will find vast galleries of pre-production art here, explanations of some side-characters and important hints for the general game that is the menu itself.
In the "Interviews" section then you will find an interview featurette entitled "Capturing the Stone" filled with comments by the filmmakers as they discuss the making of the film and their attachment to the project. A surprising amount of ground is covered in this 15-minute featurette as the producer, director and other crew members talk about the film the casting, the adaptation of the novel to the screen and much more.
"Hogwarts Grounds" gives you access to more games and information. You can try to catch a snitch to obtain more information about it and the game of Quidditch, or you can take a closer look at Hagrid's hut, among many other things, collecting hints and objects that are required to unlock the ultimate feature of the disc – the deleted scenes.
Once you have managed to collect all the objects needed you can go about trying to find the "Third Corridor" where the deleted scenes are located. It is not an easy task and will take quite some time. While it may be frustrating for those of you who are used to having direct access to all contents on a release, from a Potter fan's perspective, I think these deleted scenes are the ultimate reward for exploring the disc and spending more time in the world of Hogwarts.
apart from the digital supplements, Warner has also added a some tangible extras that are nothing to sneeze at. The most impressive one – apart from the book-like hard cardboard box – is the hardcover book "Creating the World of Harry Potter" filled with full-color photographs and production images. Also included is a Digital Copy of the film in a separate case and two beautiful character cards.
"Harry Potter And The Sorcerer's Stone" is a wonderfully enchanting film and it is easy to see why the books have caught on so well with its readers and why the film turned out to be as successful as it is. It is a great tale that contains everything a young mind dwells on, also leaving plenty of room for your own imagination to soar. The film strikes a perfect balance between being entertaining, suspenseful and intriguing but makes sure never to become too dark or explicit, making it a perfect escape for young viewers and an entertaining story for adults. This Blu-Ray release that Warner has prepared here is a spectacular release that offers everything fans could ask for. This is must-own for all fans of Harry Potter!