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on July 16, 2011
When all is said and done - when the eye candy special effects of Quidditch matches and fantastical creatures has been superseded by advances in technology in Hollywood blockbusters yet to come - it is the little moments that this viewer and his wife will return to.

When a friend one time bemoaned the fact that `Half-Blood Prince' gets bogged down in pointless hormonal teen-angst instead of getting on with the story, I smiled... and shook my head.

No, I said, that IS the story and it's what I love about the Harry Potter series: it never loses track of the characters. It never forgets that, when viewed as a whole, these eight movies are a story of growing up, of the transition from childhood to adulthood. Of love and friendship and death. Because without those little funny and touching moments between the characters - if all you want is for the movies to rush from one plot element to another - then all you're left with is plot... and no story. Remember: plot is what happens TO the characters; story is what happens AS A RESULT of the characters.

That's the real gorgeous beauty of these movies, and it's what will bring viewers back repeatedly to their DVD shelves. As Frodo said to Sam in `The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers': "What are we fighting for Sam?" "That's there's still some good in this world," Sam replies, "and that it's worth fighting for."

That's why you need those little indulgent moments, because without them it's just razzle-dazzle special effects and set-pieces. Harry and Ginny's first kiss: they're in the Room of Requirement and Ginny tells Harry to close his eyes while she hides Professor Snape's copy of Advanced Potion Making. And before Harry opens his eyes Ginny leans forward, kisses him and whispers, "That can stay hidden up here too, if you like." That, my fellow Muggles, is pure movie gold. That's what the characters are fighting for. Love. Yes, the PLOT concerns itself with good triumphing over evil, but that only comes to pass as a result of the STORY which is about friendship. Because that is something worth fighting for.

It's why the film adaptation of Philip Pullman's astonishing trilogy, `His Dark Materials', is an utter failure: `The Golden Compass' movie rushes from one plot element to another: and THEN we go here, and THEN we go there. Never slowing down to allow the characters TO BE characters. What are they fighting for? Well, nothing the viewer could care less about...

Ultimately, all of this success comes about because of the brilliant way in which the author J.K. Rowling has constructed her seven-volume storyline. See, `The Chronicles of Narnia' are good - very good - but in the end don't quite fully succeed, and this is because the author, C.S. Lewis, had never envisioned them as a series: `The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe' was originally intended by the writer to be a one off. As thoroughly enjoyable as the three Narnia movies are, there is no through-story like Rowling's Harry-Voldermort. Indeed, over the course of the three Narnia movies even some of the Pevensie children themselves become side characters. And although that was entirely the point - part of the plot - in the end it harms the story. It dilutes what the characters are fighting for. It weakens its forcus.

Look at the Harry Potter series: viewed in hindsight it's not just the story of teenage friendships, for it also presents an astounding portrayal of one man coming to be viewed in the end entirely differently by the viewer. Professor Snape. What an astonishing character arc - and yet Rowling had it all there, right from the beginning: Snape using a counter-curse against Professor Quirrell to save Harry during the first movie's Quidditch match. Wait, isn't Snape the bad guy?! We're made to wonder, right from that first movie all the way through to the revelations of the eighth. `Narnia' has nothing on that. It's clear that Rowling has thought her seven-volume story through like a military operation: the first four books may have come out only a year apart, but the author had begun planning them seven years before the first one was ever published.

And the friendships, that's all there too. Look at the Ron-Hermione moments seeded throughout the entire movie series. Harry and Hermione are just good friends, thus all the unself-conscious hugs she gives him. Yet there is a physical tension - a conscious awareness of each other - between her and Ron. At the end of `Chamber of Secrets' Hermione flings her arms around Harry... but, both of them equally awkward and embarrassed, Ron and Hermione only shake hands. In `Prisoner of Askaban' during Hagrid's first lesson with Harry cautiously approaching Buckbeak, Herminone grabs Ron's hand, before quickly letting go, both of them looking around uncomfortably. All, finally, converging in Hermione's emotional outburst at the end of the Yule Ball in `Goblet of Fire' where (like a soul crying out `Look at me!') she says, "Next time there's a Ball, pluck up the courage to ask me before somebody else does - and not as a last resort!" And in another moment of movie gold, Harry and Hermione comforting each other on the steps in Hogwarts, unable to be with the one they want. "How does it feel, Harry, when you see Dean with Ginny?" After Hermione sends her bird charms crashing into the wall beside Ron and Ron flees, Harry replies, "It feels like this."

It's why `Half-Blood Prince' is one of my favourite instalments: not only is it the calm before the storm of the seventh and eighth movies but it allows the characters' friendships to come to fruition. `Half-Blood Prince' does not become sidetracked, far from it. You need that, because that is the story. It's what I love about it: yes, they're wizards and witches but the film makers never lose sight of the fact that they're also young adults going through the most important transitional period of their lives. These movies aren't about fantastical magical events inconveniently interrupted by mushy teenage moments. Instead they're precisely all about those ordinary, everyday teenage moments, played against the backdrop of incredible events. Those amazing events only occur at all because of who the characters are; it's only natural that the plot should play second to the story of their lives. Because they are what truly matters. Because they, as Sam would put it, "Are worth fighting for."

As if that wasn't enough, as if the story of Harry-Ron-Hermione (and, indeed, Snape) isn't in itself reason enough to revisit this whole series, Rowling has also given us an amazing supporting cast of characters. All too often in a series, all the characters outwith the main group rarely hold a reader's/viewer's attention for long. And yet Rowling has created not one single boring character, and what an amazing supporting cast they are: the Dursley, the Weasleys, the Malfoys, Hagrid, Dobby, Sirius, Bellatrix, Luna Lovegood, Neville Longbottom, and on and on. In fact, one of Rowling's most inspired moves, and certainly a wonderful way of keeping things fresh, was to continuously have a new colourful character each year as the Professor of the Dark Arts. Glideroy Lockhart, Remus Lupin, Mad-Eye Moody, Dolores Umbridge. Not to forget the delightful potions master from `Half-Blood Prince', Horace Slughorn, or the Professor of Divination, Trelawney. Then, too, you have the caretaker Argus Filch, the ghost Nearly Headless Nick. Well, you get the idea. Quidditch, the Ministry of Magic, the Dementors. The richness of the world Rowling has created is so rewarding that I can't ever imagine tiring of it.

Watching these characters - and, indeed, the actors - grow up before us is fascinating. I love the fact the first two movies are kids movies; there's no hint, really, of what lies ahead. Until, of course, you get to `Prisoner of Askaban'. Even the naysayer film critics sat up at that one and said, "Hey, hold on a minute..." From the fifth film onwards these were no longer merely kids' movies. It's what accounts for their immensely broad appeal: children will watch them for the action and special effects, teenagers and adults for the humour and the series' growing depth. Even the opening titles change as the story darkens: from bright gold in the first few movies to chipped and crumbling grey stone.

Viewed as one 1100+ minute über-movie the achievement is nothing short of remarkable.

Thank you, Rowling.

And thank you Warner Bros and the cast and crew for the ten-year visual journey of these marvellous books that you have taken my wife and I on.
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on October 29, 2011
Ultraviolet is another feeble, doomed attempt by some dinosaur brain Hollywood execs to restrict the use of your legally bought digital purchase. Ultraviolet is NOT a digital copy that resides on a device of your choice to be used on a device of your choice. It is a streaming service, for which you have to sign up and maintain an account, at the expense of your bandwidth, compatible with some but not all mobile devices. If you're willing to wait another 4 weeks, order this disc set from Amazon's UK website you can do this with your current US account). Not only are you getting a REAL digital copy, but the Blu-ray disc is region free too!! Price + shipping is the same as the price in USD with free shipping.
142142 comments|1,914 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on November 15, 2011
*** How to get the digital copy of the movie to work on iTunes from ultraviolet***

I just wanted to share with everyone my outstanding experience with ultraviolet customer service, in resolving the issue of not being able to access the movie on iTunes.

After reading the reviews on Amazon, I was going to return the movie as I specifically wanted the Blu Ray and a digital copy to play on my iPad and iPhone.

After receiving the disc, I read the print on the back of the packaging and noticed a website address for the ultraviolet service: [...]
I contacted their customer service department and advised them that i was disappointed that the disc will not work on iTunes. I was not really expecting a response back and was amazed, as their Customer Service department contacted me almost immediately and requested that I provide them with the Reference Code (to verify my purchase of the movie) and they would send me an activation code which will allow me to redeem an electronic version of the movie on iTunes.

I sent them the code and they responded almost immediately with a reference code. I entered the code on iTunes and was able to redeem the movie on iTunes and watch it on my iPad.

I hope that this information is useful to other buyers of the movie.
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on October 28, 2011
I'm not buying the U.S. version, the region free UK release will include the Blu-ray 3D + Blu-ray + DVD and a real Digital Copy. No UltraViolet Digital Copy.
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VINE VOICEon July 21, 2011
In this superb conclusion to the tale we've been following for over a decade, the intrepid Harry Potter finds that only by satisfying his hankering for Horcruxes can he hope to defeat the dark lord. Most of the film is spent following his search for these last few objects, and what could have been a tedious series of fetch quests is kept from falling into the realms of boredom by a sense of pacing so perfect the future film student in me started taking notes. Admittedly, my last movie experience was Transformers: Dark of the Moon, a "film" with such atrociously jarring momentum that I nearly disgorged my five dollar hot dog (but five dollars is five dollars, so I willed it down). Even though anything will seem well-paced by comparison, I haven't been so blown away by such artful interweaving of action and calm, fear and love, and an ensemble cast, since, well, ever.

[Warning: Contains SPOILERS!]

The most powerful example of this is when Harry ends up alone in the Forbidden Forest in the middle of the giant showdown between good and evil. After seeing young students cut down by death eaters as they tried to hold their own in a war that was far beyond them, after witnessing stone statues come to life and make battle with club-wielding giants, after bridges burn, forcefields collapse, and spirits break, after dementors are driven off by those who refuse to relinquish their hope, we find ourselves in a clearing of silence.

Turning the resurrection stone in hand, Harry is suddenly accompanied by the ghosts of those he cares most deeply for: Sirius, Lupin, and his parents. Their undying love for him brought tears to my eyes, for it is a love that continued into the afterlife not thanks to some magic, but because all those who have left us live on in our hearts. The writing was beautiful, the acting sublime. The calm in the center of the storm, this one scene is a masterpiece of pacing.

The rest of the storm was nothing to shake a stick at either, not that shaking a stick at a storm is really that common of an activity. In fact, I'm not sure that it would accomplish much of anything, unless the stick is a wand and you have control over the weather. Then it would definitely help. Anyway, the point of all this is to say that, while the emotional punch packed by Deathly Hallows Part 2 is nothing to shake a wand at, the visuals are equally impressive.

For instance, cast your imagination gaze on Gringotts. Its labyrinthine rollercoaster-tangle transportation system is a wild ride that puts every Six Flags everywhere to shame, especially since it ends with a dragon. Now, a lot of movies have done dragons (Harry Potter included), but this was potentially my favorite CGI beastie ever (don't worry, Toothless. No one can replace you). The dragon was not a glorious mount of yore, but rather an emaciated, abject figure, trapped underground for his natural life, chains cutting into his majesty and leaving nothing but raw, bloody hopelessness. The creature instantly evokes overwhelming pity, something I've rarely witnessed from CGI.

Dragons are basically my favorite, but if there's one thing I love more, it's love itself. We all knew the Ron Hermione romance was going to come to a head. The only question was, after so many years of buildup, could the climax do it justice? I, for one, say that nothing has ever been more just. You know that moment in truth or dare when someone asks you your most seductive fantasy and you finally let spill the secret you've never told anyone? You launch into graphic detail, explaining that it's all about thrusting your basilisk fang into a goblet-shaped Horcrux in the Chamber of Secrets while under attack from a giant watery snake that eventually comes crashes over you? We've all been there. Everybody gives you these weird looks, as if that's somehow not the hottest thing ever. Ron and Hermione certainly thought it was, because they immediately launch into a passionate kiss that had the theater cheering up a storm.

Perhaps the most beautiful scene is the one bathed all in white. Halfway between life and death, Harry finds himself in King's Cross Station, his own personal limbo. There, the sage and mysterious Dumbledore delivers some of the most compelling wisdom in years of cinema. The English major in me rejoiced when such a beloved figure told us that words are the most powerful magic, able to do great harm but also to heal. I'm using words right now, and man do I feel mighty. And when Harry asked "Is this all just in my head or is it real?" and Dumbledore responded with "Of course it's in your head, but that doesn't mean it's not real." Gah! So sagacious!

But enough nonsensical gushing. As perfect as this movie was (and it was), there were still a few things that I would've done differently. The whole series is about the battle between Harry and Voldemort; this is a showdown ten years in the making, and I wanted it to be perfect. The buildup was there, but when the final blow was dealt, it felt understated. Voldemort simply drifts away into nothingness. If it were me, I'd have Harry explain the entire Deathly Hallows wand switching thing while the two of them struggled against each other, beams of energy locked in a pulsing impasse. Then, as soon as it became clear that Harry was going to win, he'd shout "Avada Kedavra!" and Voldemort would EXPLODE. That's how a dark lord goes out.

In fact, I could go for a lot more spell shouting in general. Aberforth Dumbledore should've bellowed "Expecto Patronum!" before taking care of all those dementors, and Molly Weasley definitely needed to scream some serious stuff at Bellatrix before the end. And I know it would've gone against the books and fans everywhere would have gone on a David Yates manhunt, but I could've done without that 19 years later scene. I just don't think it works in the film version.

After having been underwhelmed year after year by subpar adaptations of the formative novels of my youth, finally have I received the cinematic experience I've long craved. At long last, we are given epic battles of half-giant proportions, momentous stakes that belie the series' light-hearted origins, and characters whose superb performances tug at our dragon-heart strings. At long last, we have a film that is truly magical.

Score: 5/5 ¢

Also, let it be noted that Neville is a champion.

Check out more on "The Nickel Screen" (Google it!)
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on November 11, 2011
I could not download my digital copy onto itunes, which prompted me to read the reviews here. I was so frustrated to learn it was not user error, and would not be able to download onto my chiilds itouch. This purchase was made for that specific reason. We immediately contacted Ultraviolet support. At first it did not look good as we were given a "ticket #" and told we would be contacted via email. Well, much to our surprise we received a response within the hour. They understood the issue and want to rectify the problem and make sure the customer is satisfied. They offered to send us an itunes code to download a digital copy immediately. We did have to first reply with our original redemption code found in the dvd insert. Upon doing so, we received a response back from them within 5 minutes, giving us our itunes code. I am not sure if this will solve everyines issues, but hopefully it will please a majority of those upset by this issue.
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on November 7, 2011
As evidenced by the many other reviews on this title and Green Lantern, Ultraviolet IS NOT a digital copy of the film. It is a blatant and misleading lie by the Warner Brothers attempting to control the content that you purchased. It DOES NOT work. The streaming is terrible. The functionality is gawd awful. You do not get to keep the 'digital copy' as it expires after three years from when you register it. It is currently impossible to download a physical digital copy without also putting Warner's Flixter application on your computer so they can DOCUMENT AND CONTROL your entire movie collection (if you read the terms, they also state that you may lose access to ANY of your movie content at anytime... even if it was not obtained through UV by installing this software).

Read all the terms and conditions. Read the privacy policy (or lack thereof) on Flixter and UV.

It is all a scam.

I wish studios would stop being stupid and just go with what works. Get over the greed and try to look at things from your customers perspective for a change. Studios will find they make A LOT more money when they stop fighting their customers and simply make good movies.

All this does is push legitimate purchasers to piracy as an only option.

Stupid.
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on November 11, 2011
Well, seeing the numerous 1 star reviews here tells me that everybody is in the same boat and opinion as me. I just got this blu-ray today, and as usual, when I saw the word digital copy, I fired up iTunes, punched in the code for it to download the digital copy. iTunes doesn't recognize the code provided in this blu-ray. Apparently WB has decided to not support devices with the largest market share and went with its own "digital copy."

To get started, you have to sign up for a Flixster account, then sign up for an Ultraviolet account, then link them together. Are you still with me? Then punch in the code on the website and the movie will show up on your "digital locker." How do you watch the movie then? Well, there's a download button, but clicking that will reveal that you have to download and install an Adobe Air app for your computer. Yes, it doesn't support iTunes nor Apple TV. The website shows that it supports iDevices, which is misleading. iDevices are not supported natively. You have to download the flixster app for iOS, and stream the movie via that app, not via the built-in video player.

Now, who would want to go through all that just to watch the movie that you already paid for on your own devices? It's easier to just rip the DVD and make your own real digital copy, free from any hassles. This Ultraviolet method is a complete mess, and only confuses and punishes legitimate users. On the Ultraviolet website, they said there will be official Ultraviolet devices coming soon. Yeah, we'll see when that's going to happen.

UPDATE:
I moved up my ratings from 1 star to 3. If you go to flixster support: support dot ultraviolet dot flixster dot com, request a support ticket explaining nicely how you cannot use this ultraviolet copy with iTunes, you will receive a quick response from WB that will give you an iTunes code (make sure you have your original UV redemption code). Now, don't bother asking support directly from ultraviolet (uvvu dot com), they will simply said it is what it is and ignored your plea. So, added 2 stars for prompt response from flixster and WB, and now I have an iTunes digital copy.

UPDATE 2:
I moved the rating up to 4 stars. The iTunes code I obtained gave me the movie PLUS the iTunes extras! iTunes extras are bonus contents that you would get when you purchased the movie directly from iTunes. Usually on previous iTunes digital copy you get from purchasing blu-ray movies only get you the movie itself, not the iTunes extras. I'm happier now, and glad that WB did the right thing.
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I don't want to spoil anything so I won't lol.
I've been with the Potter series since someone (I can't remember who) told me to watch "Sorcerer's Stone". I loved it. I watched "Chamber" as soon as it came out and loved that also.
Then came the books and there you go...another devoted Potter fanatic.

And we come at last to the final movie...(sniffle).
The good?
Everything....everything that really mattered from the last half of the book was included.
An amazing translation.

Beautiful direction.
FX are amazing.
The score is gorgeous.
My only advice is bring tissue...there was a lot of crying going on around me and I had to bite my bottom lip REALLY hard in a few parts to keep my own tears in check.

Any complaints?
Yes...it's over. :(
It was a brilliant movie, the perfect send off but I'm already sad.
It's such a rich and wonderful universe I don't want it to end.
I really hope JK decides to revisit this world again some day.

All in all....genius.
If you're new to the Potter world this probably isn't the place to start, start with the first one and work your way up, you'll be so happy you did.

And lastly,
It's been a joy and a pleasure to see these actors grow up right before our eyes.
They've all turned into fine actors and I wish them the best in the future no matter what they decide to pursue.
I think like a lot of you I'll be doing a Potter marathon this weekend.
Oh and I saw it in 2d not 3D and the 2d was still amazing.
Highest recommendations.
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on November 11, 2011
Digital Copy usually means that you are purchasing the ability to download the movie to iTunes or other player. This Ultraviolet "digital copy" does not work with iTunes and it looks like you have to stream it versus having the ability to load it onto an iPad or iPhone for viewing without an internet connection - like on a flight.
My kids and I are not happy with this "Digital Copy".
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