Chief Justice Michael Stailey needs a Butterbeer (or two) to recover from an overdose of bonus material consumption.
One collection to rule them all. Oh, wait…wrong franchise.
We all knew the day would come when Warner Bros. would stroke its most precious franchise and release a box set of everything Harry Potter. I can most assuredly state this won't be the last such release—after all, the studio loves its "Anniversary" editions—but Harry Potter Wizard's Collection is by far the most impressive (and expensive) to date. Carrying an MSRP of $499.99 USD—with most retail outlets discounting $150 or more—the cost is a bit steep, and is sure to anger a lot of people. If you've invested heavily in previous DVD, Ultimate DVD, Blu-ray, Ultimate Blu-ray, and Years 1-X gift sets, this is not the collection for you. Odds are, you have more than 85% of the bonus material offered here, and most (if not all) of the Blu-ray transfers. If, however, you are one of a miniscule number of people who love Harry Potter and have patiently waiting for the day when everything is collected in one place for you to purchase, here's the only Harry Potter collection you'll ever need…for now.
Given that Verdict has already reviewed these films in great detail with exceptional insight over the years, I won't waste your time or mine reiterating those opinions. You can find links to each of them below. In terms of technical presentation, none of the transfers have received any further remastering. What we have are the prints from the Ultimate Edition Blu-ray and DVD releases for the first six films, and the previously released 3D and 2D prints from the April and November 2011 Deathly Hallows releases. Now, since you're really reading this review to find out if there's enough value in this set to jettison what you already own…the answer to that is a bit complicated.
The meat of Harry Potter Wizard's Collection (Blu-ray) are the movies themselves, made available to those who are fully equipped with latest home theatre technology, and yet still accessible to those who have not yet purchased a Blu-ray player or invested in a 3D setup. While that's all well and good, the most significant aspect is that ALL previously released bonus material has been included here; which is great because there's nothing more infuriating than having to hold onto a DVD special edition because the studio released the Blu-ray without the extra bits you really enjoy. What's more, unlike what New Line offered up in their The Lord of the Rings Trilogy (Blu-ray) Extended Edition collection, all of the NEW! Harry Potter bonus material is presented in HD. Wise choice.
So what magical wonders can we look forward to above and beyond what we Potter-heads have already consumed?
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's
Stone—Discs 1, 2, 3, 4
Harry Potter and the Chamber of
Secrets—Discs 5, 6, 7, 8
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of
Azkaban—Discs 9, 10, 11, 12
Harry Potter and the Goblet of
Fire—Discs 13, 14, 15, 16
Harry Potter and the Order of the
Phoenix—Discs 17, 18, 19
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood
Prince—Discs 20, 21, 22
Harry Potter and the Deathly
Hallows: Part 1—Discs 23, 24, 25, 26
* Creating the World of Harry Potter: Part 7, Story (Blu-ray) NEW!—Author JK Rowling and screenwriter Steve Kloves sit down to reminisce about their process for translating the books to the big screen, and all the complexities contained therein. (48 min)
* Behind the Magic (Blu-ray) NEW!—Ben Shephard, Britain's version of Ryan Seacrest, hosts this behind-the-scenes special for British television; a raucous and sometimes touching look at the cast and crew at work and play. (44 min)
* On the Road (Blu-ray) NEW!—Director David Yates and his production team film a very different tale, one that takes place outside the confines of Hogwarts. Though a bit of a vacation for the cast, the many setups proved more than a bit of a challenge for the crew. (20 min)
* The Return of The Order (Blu-ray) NEW!—The seven surviving members of The Order of the Phoenix reassemble to get Harry safely from Privet Drive to Hogwarts. (6 min)
* Scabior and Greyback (Blu-ray) NEW!—I was disappointed with the reduced role of sadistic werewolf Fenrir Greyback in the films, but aligns himself with Scabior and his Snatchers as the bad boys doing the Ministry's dirty work. (4 min)
* Dobby's Farewell (Blu-ray) NEW!—One of the most heart-wrenching deaths in the Potter-verse, cast and crew talk about the impact this CGI elf (voiced by Toby Jones, Captain America: The First Avenger) had on them all. (5 min)
* The Look of Bill Weasley (Blu-ray) NEW!—One of the few remaining Weasley kids we haven't met, Brendan Gleeson's son Domhnall steps into this rock star role and the wardrobe choices his character demands. (4 min)
* The Weasleys (Blu-ray) NEW!—The Potter-verse's favorite family get a well-deserved retrospective. (4 min)
* The State of Evil (Blu-ray) NEW!—Team Voldemort gains some serious traction and has the whole world—Wizard and Muggle alike—on its collective heels. (10 min)
* One Book, Two Movies (Blu-ray) NEW!—The thought process behind breaking the story into two films, and the reluctance so many people had in going this route. (5 min)
* The Wizarding Prop Shop (Blu-ray) NEW!—Propmaster Pierre Bonhanna ( Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace) gives us a tour of the work created by his talented team. (6 min)
* Trailers (Blu-ray) NEW!—Teaser (3 min), Theatrical (3 min)
* Original Bonus Features (Blu-ray)
* UltraViolet Copy
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows:
Part 2—Discs 27, 28, 29, 30
* Creating the World of Harry Potter: Part 8, Growing Up (Blu-ray) NEW!—My what a difference 10 yrs can make. Dan, Emma, Rupert, and many of their fellow Hogwarts peers get to reflect back on their experiences in the Potter-verse and the changes each of them have undergone in the process. (50 min)
* The Deathly Hallows, Part 2: Behind the Magic (Blu-ray) NEW!—The Brits are as crazy for their behind-the-scenes TV specials as their American cousins, and this televised promotional special only serves to amp up the fervor surround the final Harry Potter adventure for all time. (48 min)
* A Conversation with JK Rowling and Daniel Radcliffe: Extended Edition (Blu-ray) NEW!—An additional 10 min have been tacked on to this sit down between JK Rowling and the young man who gave life to her most famous creation. Much like the Steve Kloves / JK Rowling on Disc 26, this back and forth banter reveals some beautiful insights on how the books informed Dan's performance and how Dan's performance informed Joe's writing the books. (63 min)
* Hogwarts Last Stand: Extended Edition (Blu-ray) NEW!—An in-depth look at designing and executing the critical climax to Harry's heroic journey. (30 min)
* The Great Hall of Hogwarts (Blu-ray) NEW!—Cast and crew reflect on 10 yrs in Hogwarts' Great Hall as it succumbs to a devastating climactic battle. (4 min)
* Ron and Hermione's Kiss (Blu-ray) NEW!—Rupert, Emma, and director David Yates discuss the biggest romantic moment of the franchise. (4 min)
* That's a Wrap, Harry Potter (Blu-ray) NEW!—Quick thoughts from the final day of principal photography. (5 min)
* Neville's Battle Makeup (Blu-ray) NEW!—Matt Lewis gets beaten and bloodied for Neville's heroic moment. (4 min)
* The Gringotts Disguises (Blu-ray) NEW!—David, Emma, and Helena Bonham Carter undertake a unique challenge, portraying Hermione in a different skin. (4 min)
* Harry's Death: The Courtyard Confrontation (Blu-ray) NEW!—An in-depth look at the franchise's most pivotal moment. (10 min)
* Secrets Revealed! Emma Watson Gets a "Red Card" (Blu-ray) NEW!—Emma gets busted for corpsing alongside Rhys Ifans. (2 min)
* Secrets Revealed! Daniel Radcliffe Discusses His Mentors (Blu-ray) NEW!—Daniel reveals just how much he learns from hanging around set, especially when not working. (5 min)
* Magic Revealed! The Secrets of Flight (Blu-ray) NEW!—Ben Shepherd exposes the magic behind filming broomsticks in action. (4 min)
* Secrets Revealed! Ralph Fiennes as Voldemort (Blu-ray) NEW!—Ralph discusses the sheer enjoyment he gains from playing public enemy number one. (4 min)
* Secrets Revealed! A Look Back at Severus Snape (Blu-ray) NEW!—Cast and crew reflect on Hogwarts' resident villain. (3 min)
* Deathly Hallows: Part 2 London Premiere (Blu-ray) NEW!—Red carpet revelry from London. (3 min)
* The Love Life of Ron Weasley (Blu-ray) NEW!—Rupert reminisces about Ron's luck (or lackthereof) with the ladies. (3 min)
* The Weasleys: A Look Back at Harry's Favorite Family (Blu-ray) NEW!—The ginger clan will forever hold a special place in all our hearts. (4 min)
* Dumbledore and Harry: A Look Back (Blu-ray) NEW!—A quick retrospective on the backbone relationship of the franchise, and the transition from Richard Harris to Michael Gambon. (4 min)
* Favorite Lines (Blu-ray) NEW!—Press conference highlights and clips from the films themselves. (4 min)
* Favorite Props and Costumes (Blu-ray) NEW!—More press conference highlights and film clips. (4 min)
* Riding Along Memory Lane (Blu-ray) NEW!—Warwick Davis gives us a Segue tour of the Harry Potter sets. (5 min)
* Finding Luna: A Dream Come True (Blu-ray) NEW!—Evanna Lynch explains how destiny brought her into the world of Harry Potter. (3 min)
* A Tribute to Dobby (Blu-ray) NEW!—Cast and crew remember everyone's favorite house elf. (3 min)
* A Special Message to the Fans (Blu-ray) NEW!—Cast members gives thanks to fans for their never-ending support. (3 min)
* The Cast Says Goodbye (Blu-ray) NEW!—The cast gives thanks for being a part of this amazing world. (3 min)
* Original Bonus Features (Blu-ray)
* UltraViolet Copy
Wizard's Collection Bonus Disc—Disc 31
* When Harry Left Hogwarts: Extended Edition (Blu-ray) NEW!—Cast and crew share even more final thoughts (38 min more to be exact) in a featurette previously available only on the exclusive Target Blu-ray release. An exceptional swan song to the franchise. Save this one for last. (87 min)
* 50 Greatest Harry Potter Moments (Blu-ray) NEW!—Robbie Coltrane narrates this clip-driven countdown created for British television and fueled by newly recorded interviews. (64 min)
* Designing the World of Harry Potter (Blu-ray) NEW!—Production designer Stuart Craig fronts yet another discussion of the filmmaking magic employed in bringing JK Rowling's world to life. (23 min)
* Secrets Revealed! Quidditch (Blu-ray) NEW!—If you haven't seen enough of how they created the Quidditch tournament sequences, here's another look. (11 min)
* Secrets Revealed! Haggrid (Blu-ray) NEW!—Exposing one of the franchise's best kept (and most entertaining) secrets, meet the people behind the practical effects used to make Hagrid appear to be 7'6" tall. (11 min)
* The Harry Potters You Never Met (Blu-ray) NEW!—In one of the most touching and unabashed segments, the stunt team is up front and completely honest about the accident with cost stunt double David Holmes his legs in a sequence gone wrong, as well as paying tribute to the many stunt performers who put their bodies on the line to make the action set pieces as realistic as possible. (12 min)
* The Label Collection—Reproductions of prop labels created for on-set books, potions, luggage, etc.
* Hogwarts Blueprint—A poster-sized detailed schematic of Hogwarts Castle.
* Fabric Map—A beautiful tapestry detailing the geography of Harry's wizarding world.
* Concept Art—Small-sized prints ("suitable for framing") of various production artwork.
* Stuart Craig Prints—HP's resident production designer supplies some of his favorite pencil sketches on 5x7 cards.
* Horcrux Locket—Full-sized reproduction of Salazar Slytherin's locket used by Tom Riddle as a Horcrux.
* Certificate of Authenticity—In case you need to prove these collectibles are the real things, Warner Bros. has given you written proof in the form of a Hogwarts Express train ticket.
* Steamer Trunk Packaging—I suppose you could consider this intricate display case a collectible, though it always amazes me at how awkward it is to display something like this, not to mention gain access to the discs when you want to watch one of the movies.
If you already own the Year 1-6 Ultimate Blu-ray releases, you're in luck. Warner Bros. is releasing the same treatment for Year 7 (Parts 1 and 2) with all of the additional material you see above, except for the Wizard's Collection bonus disc, which is exclusive to this set. So you don't have to buy this set to obtain those features.
Look, I'm an unashamed Harry Potter fan, having read all the books and seen all the films repeatedly. I see the cinematic Potterverse split into two segments—1) director Chris Columbus, and 2) directors Alfonso Cuarón, Mike Newell, and David Yates. Since I tend to revisit Azkaban through Deathly Hallows, a collection like this isn't on my must-have list. If you're looking for extended cuts for Years 3, 4, 5, and 6…don't hold your breath. There are no guarantees those will ever materialize, so don't fault this collection for not including them. If, however, Warner Bros. does ever release a collection of eight extended editions, I'll reconsider an upgrade. Until then, I'm happy with what I have.
Long story short: In grading this set for content provided, I'm giving it 95/100, as there's more information here in one place than has ever been collected before. In context with what the majority of fans have already purchased and the new value this expensive collection provides, I'm giving it a 50/100. There isn't enough here to justify an entirely new purchase. After all, you can buy all eight films in HD—Harry Potter: The Complete 8-Film Collection (Blu-ray)—for less than $100 USD and donate your DVDs to the local library or children's hospital for a tax deduction. Sure, you don't get all the bells and whistles, but how often are you going to return to those anyway. But the fact remains, for the small number of people who want the latest and greatest release being offered, this is the current Holy Grail…and Warner Bros. delivers.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Warner Bros.
• IMDb: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
Review content copyright © 2012 Michael Stailey; Site design and review layout copyright © 2013 Verdict Partners LLC. All rights reserved.