Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince: 2-Disc Special Edition
Voldemort is tightening his grip on both the Muggle and wizarding worlds and Hogwarts is no longer the safe haven it once was. Harry suspects that dangers may even lie within the castle, but Dumbledore is more intent upon preparing him for the final battle that he knows is fast approaching. Together they work to find the key to unlock Voldemort's defenses and, to this end, Dumbledore recruits his old friend and colleague, Professor Horace Slughorn, whom he believes holds crucial information. Even as the decisive showdown looms, romance blossoms for Harry, Ron, Hermione and their classmates. Love is in the air, but danger lies ahead and Hogwarts may never be the same.
The bonus features on the two-disc edition are some of the best yet for Potter fans. The cast, having now grown up on a movie set for nearly a decade, each host behind-the-scenes looks at the aspects of filmmaking that interest them most: editing (Daniel Radcliffe), makeup (Emma Watson), stunt training (Rupert Grint), etc. (this includes James Phelps--a.k.a. Fred Weasley--who did double duty as a floor runner during production and laments that part of his job is fetching his other castmates tea and sweets). Tom Felton, who plays Draco Malfoy, also hosts a lightning-round Q&A with cast members on their favorite music, foods, and more. In "One Minute Drills," they're further challenged to summarize the story arc of their characters throughout the entire series in 60 seconds. The most compelling feature on this disc, however, is the excellent documentary "J.K. Rowling: A Year in the Life," which follows the author through writing the final book (you literally see her hit her final keystroke and hand off the briefcase to her literary agent at Heathrow), the red-carpet rollout, and her childhood haunts, including a tearful visit to the humble flat she lived in when she penned the very first installment. In the doc's in-depth interviews, Rowling also freely answers probing questions about her childhood--the early death of her mother, her estrangement from her father, and her bout with depression; her husband and sister are interviewed as well. She's portrayed as a shy, self-effacing, type-A personality uncomfortable with her success, particularly when she balks at a question about wondering if people close to her will ask her for money. And finally, there's the icing on the cake: snippets of scenes being filmed and nearly one minute of finished footage from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. No Potter fan should be without this edition in their Muggle hands. --Ellen A. Kim