- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Starring the best interactive technology for the high-definition format.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part I (Warner Home Video, rated PG-13, $35.99) The darkest of days are upon the boy wizard as sides are drawn for the ultimate battle with Lord Voldemort in the seventh film tied to J.K. Rowling’s popular books.

The release of the epic on Blu-ray delivers some of the darkest imagery of the film series (literally, somebody turn on a lantern or get that Deluminator away from Ron), but includes an extra treat for fans of the Potter mythology.

For the first time, Warner Home Video gives viewers the chance to take part in its Maximum Movie Mode. Actually, it’s the second time  sort of. Unfortunately, I found the Maximum Movie Mode more a minimum on the Blu-ray release of “Half-Blood Prince,” a pretty weak picture-in-picture effort at best.

Now, this film-school-style presentation features actors and production staff on digital sets talking about the production as the film and resources plays next to them within miniscreens.

In this case, Jason Issacs (Lucius Malfoy) begins as tour guide during the movie’s opening, shown on the left side of the screen. He quickly yields to director David Yates, who takes over to explain a deleted scene starring the Dursleys.

Other moments include Mr. Issacs interrupting to talk about the romances of Harry Potter (complete with appropriate scenes from the earlier movies), producer David Barron stopping the action to look at the last scene shot of the Potter films and actor Nick Moran explaining the clothing choices of his character Scabior.

The interruptions, occurring every five to 10 minutes or so, continue to entertain throughout with standout segments including make-up effects designer Nick Dudman’s clinics on how to make bloody injuries look real or even actor Tom Felton (Draco Malfoy) reading passages from the books.

The viewer also can click on occasional focus points to watch a full behind-the-scenes explanation of an on-screen event, such as the production design of the wedding tent scene or creating the elves Dobby and Kreacher.

I’ll offer a warning to fans. With the Maximum Movie Mode in place, prepare for more than three hours of movie dissection with the Potter gang. Although it’s not as deep as Zack Synder’s solo deconstruction of “Watchmen” or Kevin Smith’s hysterical look at “Cop Out,” all levels of fans will be duly impressed with the “Deathly Hallows” experience.


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