Harry Potter Wizard's Collection: Leaky Review (Part 1)Movies
This past week, Warner Bros. released the ultimate collection of the Harry Potter films: the Harry Potter Wizard's Collection. This box set is the culmination of 13 years of film-making, and everything a Potter fan could hope for. Leaky was able to get a review copy of the boxed set and now has online the first in a series of in-depth looks at this collection, its contents, and what you get inside the Harry Potter Wizard's Collection. With 31-discs and over 37 hours of special features all in one mega-set, this collection was well worth the wait.
My first impression upon taking the set out of its box was that it was massive. It opened up, and out, and down, and side to side, with discs and memorabilia at every turn. This 19 lb. collection is well worth the space it takes on your DVD shelf… or, more accurately, on its own special table, because it contains everything we've seen from the Harry Potter films-- the movies themselves, the extra scenes, behind-the-scenes features-- plus new and extended content all in one place. Blu-ray, traditional DVD, and UltraViolet versions of all eight Harry Potter films are the backbone of this collection, but the quality of both the special features and the packaging itself cannot be overlooked. The attention to detail and of the set goes above and beyond anything I've ever seen before for a DVD collection. This is not simply a vessel or a shipping case that you'd throw aside once you have extracted the DVDs and additional content from the box. Rather, it is something that will remain a home for the discs, each with their own special place (sometimes well hidden place) in the box.
Once everything had been niffled out of its hiding place, the entire collection is undoubtedly impressive. In addition to the DVDs, each box set contains a prop-inspired label collection, a blueprint poster of the Hogwarts Castle, film concept art, Stuart Craig sketch prints, a fabric map of Hogwarts, a Noble Collection Horcrux Locket, and a certificate of authenticity. These items, especially the sketches by Stuart Craig, are beautiful renderings of settings and scenes now iconic in the films. The hard-bound Catalogue of Artefacts is one of my favorite parts of this set, for it allows for a closer look at many of the painstakingly detailed and intricate props seen for seconds in the films.
Moving on to the new content, the most interesting disc (and the disc I put in first) would have to be the Wizard's Collection bonus disc. It is also-- a fluke, I'm sure-- the trickiest item to locate. This contains a mixture of new special features and extended editions of previously released features. Here's a rundown:
The extended version of the previously released When Harry Left Hogwarts adds nearly thirty minutes of extra material to the documentary, including the touching story of David Holmes, the long-time stunt double for Dan Radcliffe (Harry Potter), who was injured on set in 2009. We also get a glimpse at the filming of the Boat House scene in Deathly Hallows: Part 2, along with candid moments with the actors and director between takes. Next, production designer Stuart Craig is the focus of Designing the World of Harry Potter, which shows just how crucial his vision was to the film series. We also get a pretty intense look at the making of Quidditch in the films, as well as how they made the character of Hagrid appear as giant as they did. In these sections, we get a lot of behind the scenes looks at the technical craftsmanship that goes into creating what we see on the screen. Finally, in 50 Greatest Harry Potter Moments, the cast and crew go back through the eight films to recount some of their favorite moments to film. A highlight is Harry Potter author J. K. Rowling speaking of seeing the Mirror of Erised on the set of the first film and being thankful to the filmmakers for remaining true to her story's British roots. Together, the four plus hours of special features on this disc give us fans a new look into things that we may have already seen or read about, but sheds so much more light onto the craft and care taken to create these films.
The artistic design and presentation of these items is evident at every turn when exploring this collection. You can tell that the designers of this box continued the tradition of immersive detail the filmmakers used with crafting the Harry Potter films. There isn't one element in this collection that seems cheap or unnecessary. When it comes to what's new, this collection delivers on its claim to share new content with the inclusion of thoughtful and revealing behind-the-scenes looks at the processes and people that brought J.K. Rowling's books to the screen.
If you are or know a Harry Potter fan that is looking for the most comprehensive set of films, features, extras and then some, this collector's set makes for the perfect gift. Harry Potter Wizard's Collection, with an MSRP of $499 (although, discounted through many retailers), is available to purchase now via this link. More information about this collection can be found on the official site here.
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