Harry Potter And The Half-Blood Prince 4K Ultra HD

Featured In Issue 223, January 2018

WSR Score4
Basic Information on new release titles is posted as soon as titles are announced. Once reviewed, additional data is added to the database.
Warner Home Video
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Scary images, some violence, language and mild sensuality
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David Yates
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DTS:X, DTS HD Lossless 7.1
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In "Harry Potter And The Halr-Blood Prince," emboldened by the return of Lord Voldemort, the Death Eaters are wreaking havoc in both the Muggle and wizarding worlds, and Hogwarts is no longer the safe haven it once was. Harry Potter (Radcliffe) suspects that new dangers may lie within the castle, but Dumbledore (Gambon) is more intent upon preparing him for the final battle that he knows is fast approaching. He needs Harry to help him uncover a vital key to unlocking Voldemort's defenses—critical information known only to Hogwarts' former Potions Professor, Horace Slughorn (Broadbent). With that in mind, Dumbledore manipulates his old colleague into returning to his previous post with promises of more money, a bigger office... and the chance to teach the famous Harry Potter. Meanwhile, the students are under attack from a very different adversary as teenage hormones rage across the ramparts. Harry's long friendship with Ginny Weasley (Bonnie Wright) is growing into something deeper, but standing in the way is Ginny's boyfriend, Dean Thomas (Alfred Enoch), not to mention her big brother Ron (Grint). But Ron's got romantic entanglements of his own to worry about, with Lavender Brown (Jessie Cave) lavishing her affections on him, leaving Hermione simmering with jealousy, yet determined not to show her feelings. And then a box of love-potion-laced chocolates ends up in the wrong hands and changes everything. As romance blossoms, one student remains aloof with far more important matters on his mind. He is determined to make his mark, albeit a dark one. Love is in the air, but tragedy lies ahead, and Hogwarts may never be the same again. Harry Potter And The Half-Blood Prince is based on the novel by J.K. Rowling. (Tricia Spears)

Special features include eight featurettes: "Creating The World Of Harry Potter Part 6: Magical Effects" (HD 01"04:09), "Behind The Magic" (HD 46:50), "J.K. Rowling: A Year In The Life" (HD 49:46), "Close-Up With The Cast Of Harry Potter" (HD 28:34), "One-Minute Drills" (HD 06:45), "What On Your Mind?" (HD 06:43), "The Wizarding World Of Harry Potter - Sneak Peak" (HD 11;40), "First Footage From Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows" (HD 01:50); eight deleted scenes (HD 06;51); five interstitials (HD 04:42); teaser trailer (HD 01:41); theatrical trailer #3A (HD 01:53); theatrical trailer #4B (HD 02:27); theatrical trailer #5 (HD 02:27) and a digital copy.

The 2.40:1 2160p HEVC/H.265 Ultra HD HDR10 picture, reviewed on a Sony Bravia Z9D 4K Ultra HD HDR display, was photographed on 35 mm Kodak Vision2 film stock using Arricam LT and ST cameras in Super 35 and sourced from a 2K (not 4K) master Digital Intermediate format. As the 2K Digital Intermediate has been upconverted to 2160p, there is no real gain in native resolution. The picture is nicely rendered, with a prevailing darkness and greater desaturation throughout, and should be viewed in a darkened environment, preferably a black one, to optimize low-level shadow detail. The HDR encoding enhances the contrast with deep and solid blacks, and dark shadows revealing of detail. The darker visuals are most pronounced in the lengthy scene in a seaside cave where Harry and Dumbledore look for a Horcrux at the bottom of a poisonous fountain. On this new rendering, the last vestiges of color have been removed, including the slight reddish tint of Harry's jacket. With the deeper blacks, added contrast and enhanced highlights of HDR, the scene is now strikingly stark and the scene concludes with a horde of zombie-like Inferi swarming to the attack. As in Order Of The Phoenix, the brightest colors are reserved for magic visual effects, including the mystically induced flames that Bellatrix and her gang ignite to encircle, and then destroy, the Weasley home. The darker effect also is pronounced in large, crowded expanses, such as the Room of Requirement where Draco is repairing a Vanishing Cabinet hidden amongst stacks of other objects, the crowded Christmas dinner table at the Weasleys, and the huge field of reeds into which Harry and others run when the Weasley home is attacked by Bellatrix Lestrange and her posse. Resolution is excellent, with fine facial features, clothing, and object textures clearly delineated. The feel is period medieval stylization, with a play on dark and light that creates an engaging cinematic visual effect. The color palette otherwise exhibits dark saturated hues with brown tints, to create a very warm visual. As noted, at times the imagery is dramatically desaturated for effect, to the extent of a black-and-white rendering. This is a challenging picture to reproduce by any display standard and will test the native contrast capabilities of your display system. Dimensionality is superb. Fleshtones appear natural, yet subdued and desaturated in the dimly lit scenes. Occasionally there are spots of vivid color, but these instances are limited in visual impact. While an exceptionally dark picture, the stylization effectively transports you to a place and a period seemingly long ago with engaging visuals that are elaborately portrayed. A WOW! segment begins at 0:14:45 and ends at 0:18:42. Another follows between 0:18:43 and 0:20:31. (Gary Reber)

The DTS:X/DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1-channel soundtrack is terrific, with an impressive holosonic® presence throughout. Though the dialogue is production sound and ADR, spatial integration is well managed and the dialogue sounds perfectly natural within the context of each scene. Atmospheric sound effects are prominent and directionalized, which enhances the dimensionality of the soundfield. The soundfield is engaging and scenes are powerfully dimensional, extending out from the frontal soundstage. The music score is well recorded, with a wide and deep soundstage that extends deep into the surrounds and reveals nuances in instrumental timbres. Even phantom center back surround is evident and effective in a number of scenes. Low-frequency effects can be powerful in the .1 LFE channel, with bass extension to below 25 Hz and at loud SPL. The sound has a solid bass foundation in numerous scenes, with sound effects enhanced with motion and panning. The Dementor attack that opens the film is effectively energized and enveloping, and the destruction of the Millennium Bridge is also impactful as is the attack on the Weasley residence, with an expanded sense of the attackers' flight and a larger auditory sense of the reedy field into which Harry pursues Bellatrix. Dumbledore's reassembly of the Muggle residence where he and Harry first find Horace Slughorne is fully energized all around the soundfield, as glass, pottery and bric-a-brac clatter back into their rightful place. The sonic character throughout is smooth and natural sounding, with no incident of harshness or stridency. The Immersive Sound element consists of thunder, distant voices and whiz-bang sounds at the opening of the film, rain, subtle pounding and voices in narrow and dark passageways, train whistle and other train sounds, low-level ambience, bubbling water, echoed voices, swooping brooms, wind, fire storm, other sound effects and atmospherics and an extended, though, very subdued orchestral score. Except for the music, Immersive Sound elements are object-based and quiet brief. And while some carry some SPL weight and are effective with exceptional power and precision, for the most part the perception is subliminal. As with before in this Immersive Sound series, much in the way of soundscape dimension has been ignored by the sound designers. This is an impressive soundtrack, with an engaging sound design that establishes mood and excitement. (Gary Reber)