Warner Bros., Limited Edition box set, £177.99
Reviewed by Phil Lunt
You won’t believe me when I tell you that this was delivered under armed guard last Thursday, handcuffed to the wrist of a big chap in a black suit and sunglasses, will you? The neighbours will be talking about it for months.
Anyway, you all know the Harry Potter films well enough. Of course you do. Did you know that my mate Francis appeared in two of them, though? As a student at Hogwarts? No? Didn’t think so… Well, he did and here you can see him and the rest of the gang in all their high definition glory!
At its most basic, this Wizard’s Collection box set includes all of the Harry Potter films in at least three different flavours: Blu Ray, DVD and UltraViolet Digital Download, for those so inclined. The HD versions give you everything that you would expect with a modern film, in that it is crisp on HD screens and the effects leap off the screen. Deathly Hallows parts 1 and 2 are also presented in 3D.
Theatrical and Extended versions of each film are provided as well as including all the extras previously available. The films are packaged in their own, separate, luxuriously illustrated “book” and these are stored in a magnificent chest of drawers style box that would look perfectly at home at Hogwarts, replete with various goodies and secret compartments.
There are various new extras sneaked in with each of the movies, such as Creating the World of Harry Potter, Part. 7: Story and Creating the World of Harry Potter, Part. 8: Growing Up on the Deathly Hallows discs but the Wizard’s Collection also has a bonus disc all of its own with just under 4 hours of new features including the rather excellent When Harry Left Hogwarts (Extended Cut – a previous version was available with Deathly Hallows Part 2), a behind-the-scenes look at the final few days of filming; Secrets Revealed: Hagrid, a wee feature detailing the work involved in bringing Hagrid to life involving Robbie Coltrane’s 6-foot 10-inch stand-in, voluminous body-suits and animatronic heads; and Designing the World of Harry Potter, highlighting how production designer Stuart Craig and his creative team brought the work of J. K. Rowling to life. Each feature shows that the magic that goes on behind the scenes is as brilliant, if not more so, than the magic on screen and in the stories.
Most folk would turn up just for the movies but the Wizard’s Collection has much more. As well as the awesome box that the set comes in, which deserves a hefty shelf of its own (this monster weighs in at about 19lbs) there are many other goodies that fans of the film will go crazy for such as the Catalogue of Artefacts, a 48 page book featuring the favourite props of the film’s graphic designers; Concept sketch prints by Stuart Craig; a 24″ by 36″ map of Hogwarts and the surrounding areas, printed on fabric; a 22″ by 26″ detailed blueprint of Hogwarts which, as a designer who has drawn his own fair share of technical drawings, I absolutely love; and a wearable, replica prop from the film in the shape of Salazar Slytherin’s locket! There’s also the compulsory Certificate of Authenticity, here inspired by the design of the Hogwarts Express ticket.
Early on in the When Harry Left Hogwarts feature, a fan is filmed saying “…what’s more important than Harry Potter? Like, it’s everything. That’s our lives”. This Wizards Collection, limited to 63,000 sets, is for fans like that. This collection is pure prestige. It is representative of the Harry Potter fan shouting from the rooftops and showing the world just how much they love these movies. Even though I count myself as only a casual fan of Harry Potter, I’m more of a Skulduggery Pleasant man, I find myself coveting this collection just as much as I covet my neighbours ox. If not more so. Unfortunately, the burley bloke in the black suit and shades has returned, wanting his Wizard’s Collection back. If it wasn’t so heavy I’d try making a run for it out the back door…