Movies / Home Theatre

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire Ultimate Editions

By Chris Zimmerman
October 25, 2010 - 13:36

The Harry Potter franchise is by and large one of the most popular franchises to burst onto the scene in recent years thanks to a successful mix of childhood dreams and dark overtones of war and racism cleverly hidden behind a veil of magic.  J.K. Rowling’s masterpiece has managed to touch people of all ages because of her affecting storytelling. While the films aren’t necessarily as multi-tonal as the novels, they have managed to snare millions of new fans who otherwise might not have given a dip into Harry’s magical world. After going through a rough patch for the first two adaptations the movies have gotten progressively better and are now something of a holiday tradition. As fans expectantly await the arrival of the final leg of Harry’s journey, Warner Bros. has begun releasing the past films in new ultimate editions that will no doubt have fans both intrigued and frustrated at the same time.

Warner Bros. are the kings of re-releases. It seems as though every year a new ultimate edition is prepped for store shelves of an already existing film, tempting fans to make the much maligned decision of sticking with their older version of the disc or taking the double dip for the increase in bonus content. For diehard fans it’s a no brainer but for the common consumer, this can be a much more problematic. No one likes spending money on something they already have, so when a spruced-up edition promising more content with all the bells and whistles to go along with it hits store shelves, those who bought the film earlier on probably are left feeling a tinge of anger. At this point though, most should be aware of Warner’s MO by now. They’ve done it with every major film in their library with the most recent being One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. However for review purposes, the examination of the Ultimate Editions boils down to one thing and that’s whether the extra content warrants another purchase.

Upon first eyeing the release, one will most certainly notice the DVD’s are housed in a much larger and sturdier box. While they don’t leave much room for shelf space, these new editions are admittedly gorgeous with lenticular cover and an even thicker box contained inside adorned with stills from the film and textured overlay. The box opens in a similar fashion to an envelope revealing a host of goodies inside.

Looking first at the DVD’s, both editions relegate the first disc to the film and appear to be exact duplicates of the first release right down to the menus. This is somewhat to be expected but no-less disappointing. Would it really have been so difficult to put together a commentary?

Disc two houses the bulk of the special features and those already in possession of the two-disc DVD will notice the similarities. To the best my recollection, everything that was featured in the first DVD Releases of the films is present here. While Prisoner of Azkaban’s first release was a double disc, the Goblet of Fire came with two releases, a single disc lacking bonus features and a two disc collector’s edition that is pretty much repeated here. Noticing a pattern yet?

The third disc is what is sure to catch fans eyes as it was not a part of the original releases and is touted as containing brand new, never-before-seen content. For the new ultimate editions, Warner Bros. has commissioned an eight part documentary chronicling the phenomenon of the Harry Potter franchise, focusing more on the films rather than the books. Each one is around an hour in length and broaches a different subject. Prisoner of Azkaban is packaged with a documentary covering the evolution of the series’ creatures while Goblet of Fire takes a look at the music of the films and how it has helped to shape key scenes and characters. Both are admittedly informative in discussing the material in question but the hour-long length is a bit on the short side and probably should have been expanded to better entice buyers.    

Each set comes with a hard back book that acts as a companion piece to the third disc. For example, The Goblet of Fire’s book includes quotes from the actors and the score composers along with stills from the film and from what I can tell, new concept art. The book’s page counts range from 44-48 pages in length and are quite nice to breeze through. Rounding out the sets are four character cards that appear to be merely promotional images of the characters and a one sentence description.

While it’s plainly obvious Warners put a descent amount of effort into these new sets, one still has to feel a bit disappointed. While the new hour-long feature in comprehensive, it could have been longer and the fact that these releases lack commentaries has to be a drawback for film buffs. That aside, These are easily recommended to those who don’t yet have the films or only have the single disc versions put out in the last couple years. For those who have the previous collector’s editions, the choice boils down to whether the book, packaging, and documentary are worth the second buy.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban – B+

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire – B+

Bonus Content – A

Last Updated: September 6, 2021 - 08:15

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