Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (Blu-ray)
SPECIAL FEATURES B
BLU-RAY GEEK FACTOR 8
(OUT OF 10)
The final installment in the boy-wizard series sends the franchise off with solid pyrotechnics and an emotional punch. It also stands as one of the better films in the series.
Part 2 obviously picks up where Part 1 left off, with Lord Voldemort (a creepy-as-all-hell Ralph Fiennes) ready to shred Hogwarts in his pursuit of one Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe, now proven as a legitimate actor). Harry and his cohorts are out searching for the horcruxes, the objects that must be destroyed in order to defeat The Man With No Nose.
It all leads up to a final showdown at Hogwarts that has a rather high death count. This is easily the most-violent and darkest film in the franchise, which has done a lot of growing up since the goofy Chris Columbus costume pageant that kicked off the Potter movies a decade ago.
Watching Part 1 before Part 2 might be a good idea. The two films certainly feel like one big movie split into two more-economical parts. Some big characters die in the final installment, and they don't get any real screen time before their demise in Part 2—so watching the first part is beneficial, because it gives their deaths a little more heft. (I don't know if what I just wrote made any sense ... but I tried. You have to give that to me.)
Part 2 is very "Harry-centric," meaning it's very much about Harry, and even less about secondary characters than the book is. While characters like Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint), Hermione Granger (Emma Watson) and Neville Longbottom (Matthew Lewis) certainly have their moments, much of their character development from the novel has been stripped away to save time.
Thankfully, the film does grant plenty of time and energy to Harry's nemesis, Lord Voldemort, and their final smackdown, which doesn't disappoint. The laser show between the battling wands is a treat to watch.
There's also significant time given to Professor Severus Snape (the wonderful Alan Rickman) and his extremely complicated character. Author J.K. Rowling did a magnificent thing when she conjured him up. He certainly winds up being one of the Potter universe's most-fulfilling creations.
All in all, the series finishes on a high note. Not all of the Potter films were great, or even very good, but they had some majestic moments. (Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban remains my favorite.) Many of those majestic moments occur in this final couple of hours. The last scene—a fitting and sweet epilogue—reminded me that these characters really grew on me over the years. I will miss them.
Buy this one soon if you want it: All Harry Potter videos will be temporarily discontinued at the end of the year and sent into "the vault."
SPECIAL FEATURES: Maximum Movie Mode features the stars and filmmakers taking you through behind-the-scenes stuff as you watch the movie. You also get some additional scenes, a conversation with J.K. Rowling and Radcliffe, and a preview of Pottermore, Rowling's new Internet creation.
SPECIAL FEATURES D
BLU-RAY GEEK FACTOR 2
(OUT OF 10)
Two Oscar-winning performers, Nicolas Cage and Nicole Kidman, waste their time with one of filmdom's worst directors in this shameless rip-off of nearly every hostage drama ever produced.
Joel Schumacher, who has worked with both Cage and Kidman before, continues getting handed the reins of big budget films, and—wouldn't you know it—he keeps churning out nuclear waste.
Cage plays a diamond-trafficker whose house is besieged by armed thieves, putting his life and the lives of his wife (Kidman) and daughter (Liana Liberato) in jeopardy. Of course, the thieves have darker, more-mischievous intentions than simply stealing stuff—and Schumacher does his best to make those elements as melodramatic and lame as possible.
This is one of those movies in which Cage is simply lost. As is often the case with Cage these days, it's hard to watch one of my former favorite actors blowing it. As for Kidman, she's pretty good here, but far too classy for the garbage surrounding her. Liberato has tremendous potential; she just needs an agent to steer her clear of crap directors.
This isn't the worst thing Schumacher has done ... but it's in the ballpark.
SPECIAL FEATURES: A making-of featurette, and that is all.
SPECIAL FEATURES F
DVD GEEK FACTOR 5.75
(OUT OF 10)
Errol Morris directs this odd documentary about Joyce McKinney, a former model accused of kidnapping and sexually assaulting her Mormon boyfriend in the late-'70s. McKinney, who fled England before her trial was finished, has led a rather peculiar life that also includes extreme dog-cloning.
Yes, she's an eccentric one, and Morris has a field day with her story. The movie is a bit slow in parts, but McKinney's weirdness should keep your attention.
SPECIAL FEATURES: You get nuthin'!