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Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 on DVD and Blu-Ray

Maija Gustin | Sunday, November 13, 2011

The end has finally come. Be it the end of your childhood or the end of those incessantly annoying fanatics who talk about horcruxes and Muggles, the end of “Harry Potter” on screen has arrived.

With Friday’s release of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2” on DVD, the saga comes to a close and your video collection of the boy wizard’s adventures can come to a close as well.

Or can it?

Warner Bros. isn’t going to make buying your copy of the movie easy on you. Yes, you can drive over to your local Target or head to Amazon.com and pick it up. But which one do you get? Warner Bros. has released countless versions of the video, each with different features and each carried by different retailers.

The special features range widely in quality and some features are only available on certain versions of the movie.

Every edition comes with a glorified advertisement video for the new Warner Bros. “Harry Potter” studio tour. Starting next year, Leavesden Studios, the home of “Harry Potter,” will be opened to the public for tours of the sets and glimpses of costumes, props and all the other magic you saw on screen. The video is pretty nice, with cast interviews and some footage of the sets, but it’s nothing you can’t get online.

Each version of the DVD also comes with a set of deleted scenes. Unlike many films, where the deleted scenes are never edited and therefore look distinctly different from the movie they’re attached to, the “Deathly Hallows” scenes are thankfully fully edited and fit in well with the movie. However, the eight scenes included are short and fairly unexciting. There are some charming moments between Luna and Harry, Tonks and Lupin, Hermione and Ron and Harry and Ginny, but nothing to get too excited about.

The real excitement for fans comes from a series of “Behind the Story” videos. There is a nearly hour-long interview with J.K. Rowling and Daniel Radcliffe on the creation of the eponymous character that should not be missed. There is also a featurette on the creation of Gringotts’ goblins and a video about the women of the “Harry Potter” universe. These videos are the meat of the special features.

Finally, for a few savvy shoppers (read on to learn how to be one yourself), there is an additional feature included. The documentary “When Harry Left Hogwarts” was shot during the filming of the final two movies and includes an unprecedented look into the world of “Harry Potter.” This might be the juiciest extra of them all.

But buying any edition of the movie won’t get you all of this.

The first question is DVD or Blu-Ray. In no real surprise, the image and quality of the Blu-Ray version of the film is much better — that is the point of the new technology. But, ultimately, as is the case with many Blu-Rays, the value of the Blu-Ray over the DVD is as much dependent on the quality and size of your television than it is with the disc itself. You probably know which version is for you.

Here comes the tricky part, though — Warner Bros. is pushing you to get Blu-Ray. In fact, for “Harry Potter” fanatics and cinephiles alike, Blu-Ray is almost the only way to go. If you choose the buy the basic DVD, you’ll get the movie, the studio tour ad and the deleted scenes. There’s really not that much there for hardcore fans.

There is one beacon of hope for non Blu-Ray owners who want the special features. Head to Wal-Mart (and only Wal-Mart) and you can buy a special two-disc DVD that will include all of the special features except for “When Harry Left Hogwarts.”

If you love the special features, though, spring for the Blu-Ray. You can go basic and buy a standard Blu-Ray set with just the deleted scenes or you can step up for the three-disc combo pack with the Blu-Ray, a DVD copy, a downloadable version and all of the special features except for the documentary. This version is available almost everywhere.

If you’re dying for “When Harry Left Hogwarts” though, Target is your sole saving grace. The documentary is exclusive to their four-disc set, which includes everything from the Blu-Ray three-disc combo pack plus the doc.

For 3D fanatics, Best Buy has an exclusive 3D version of the film.

The bottom line? If you want all the nuts and bolts, splurge on the Target special. If not, then you have plenty of alternative options.

But don’t be so quick to ask for the eight-movie Blu-Ray collection for Christmas this year. You may have heard the shocking news that Warner Bros. is “vaulting” us —taking a page from Disney and stopping the shipment of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2” to stores after the New Year. But don’t freak out just yet.

Yes, this is true. But Warner Bros. has commented in interviews that they are aware they have never released any special editions of any of the films with all of the bonus material they’ve certainly been compiling over the last decade. They’ve hinted enough at the release of an ultimate collector’s edition of all of the films to make it an inevitability sometime in 2012. There are no extra features on this year’s eight-movie set, so be a smart shopper and wait until the complete, ultimate

edition sometime next year.

Contact Maija Gustin at mgustin@nd.edu