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Harry Potter And The Sorcerer’s Stone (4K UHD Blu-ray Review)

You’ll remember back in March that Warner Brothers began the format jump on its acclaimed and super popular Harry Potter series. That batch of films, you’ll remember, started with the back four films, to coincide with the 4K Ultra-HD release of the first film in the prequel series in in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.  They promised the rest of the films in the hugely successful franchise later in the year and here we are with almost two months to spare. The remaining four films, the first four years at Hogwarts, will be out on 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray on November 7th. This review will focus on the first film, the one that started it all, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.

Film 

Harry Potter, a boy who learns on his eleventh birthday that he is the orphaned son of two powerful wizards and possesses unique magical powers of his own. He is summoned from his life as an unwanted child to become a student at Hogwarts, an English boarding school for wizards. There, he meets several friends who become his closest allies and help him discover the truth about his parents’ mysterious deaths.

When the Harry Potter books and series began, I was “too cool” for it. It looked like some kiddie stuff that I felt snobby and above it.  And in all honesty, the first two films in the series do fall under that umbrella. However, what I wasn’t seeing is that these were some very well done young adult adventures.  And they were more an “all ages” affair than they were just for the kids. JK Rowling’s Wizarding World has a tremendously rich display of mythology, environment and character work on display from the very get go of the series.

While The Sorcerer’s Stone may be one of my least favorites in the franchise (Might be last, I dunno), it still delivers in many regards and impressively sets up this world for the seven films that would follow.  The book does a great job in this regard, too. When it comes to directors of the films, I don’t think Chris Columbus is given near enough credit for what he’s done. While the film has the look of your normal upper tier blockbuster in terms of cinematography execution, the sets, environments, costuming, creature design and more magically look every bit like you were imagining while turning the pages of Rowling’s novels. Let’s also not forget that the guy set us up with one of the greatest young casts surrounded by an elite squad of veteran actors to carry on through a series of 8 films. All of these are probably the most important choices and base for the entire franchise going forward.

Harry Potter’s first adventure is a bit more kid friendly, but Columbus and the cast are able to create and sell a sense of wonder that makes it infectious and good enough to proceed on to the next film. The stakes are lighter and the final battle in this film is a bit of a whimper, but the best is going to come and luckily the series both in book and movie form deliver on said promise. It just that here its all a little safe, more traditional and light. Upon rewatches, this film becomes more lengthy on subsequent viewings, but its still very good.

The Sorcerer’s Stone (Known as The Philosopher’s Stone in most territories), while not the greatest film, is still a pretty fantastic introduction and guide into the world of Harry Potter. Nothing at all ever seems very confusing, outlandish or silly. Its a testament to the cast and crew of this film that they were able to lay such strong groundwork, in a film that’s plot is rather average, that would carry this epic series through to the end. While The Sorcerer’s Stone isn’t going to wind up anyone’s favorite or even in the top half of a “Best” ranking, it definitely serves as one of (If not THE) most important in the franchise.

Video 

Encoding: HEVC / H.265

Resolution: 4K (2160p)

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:01

Layers: BD-66

Clarity/Detail: Here we go again, how big of an upgrade is an upgrade for you. With this new 4K Ultra-HD transfer of Harry Potter’s original adventure, I feel it has a bit more of a full look to it in terms of colors and skin tones being stronger to go with the obvious natural blacks that come with the territory. Details are strong, with things like wood grians, specs of salt, fabric strings and more showing through quite nicely. Special effects hold up very well. This film almost has this sort of autumn sheen to it in its look on this release that doesn’t really come across in the original Blu-ray. HDR is applied in good places, but there’s nothing in the film that really demands a huge presence of it. There are exterior shots at night of Hogwarts that now look rather beautiful. Overall, this is a pretty good bump that further enriches the experience.

Depth:  Dimensional work sees a nice little uptick here in the 4K release. Separation and space between characters, objects in the frame look good. Movements are cinematic and see no issues with blurring during fast moving sequences.

Black Levels: Blacks are deep, which gives the picture the natural look and a “darker” illusion on the screen. Details, like dark hair, clothing, surfaces and objects in the shadows or shade of night hold up some very strong details. No crushing witnessed.

Color Reproduction: Colors are more lifelike and have boldness to them. Reds, greens and yellows run pretty strong. The blues in the sky turn out very pretty.  The HDR is most apparent with torches, lights, stars and some other glowing objects like floating jack o lanterns. This is where you can tell the most difference than what was there before. Overall, this first film doesn’t get too over the top with its colors, you’ll find them on cakes, some clothes here and there, but nothing bursting.

Flesh Tones: Skin tones are a little more warmer and full looking than before, staying consistent from start to finish of the film. Medium and close up shots give a good look into wrinkles, moles, make-up, lip texture and more.

Noise/Artifacts: Clean

Audio 

Audio Format(s): English DTS:X, English Descriptive Audio, Chinese (Simple) 5.1 Dolby Digital, Chinese (Mandarin) 5.1 Dolby Digital, Korean 5.1 Dolby Digital, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital

Subtitles: English SDH, Chinese (Mandarin), Chinese (Simple), Korean, Spanish

Dynamics: Once again, another rocking experience with the DTS:X track from Warner Bros here to even further blast a Wizarding adventure through your living room. This is an awesome mix that never forgets a speaker and does so with accuracy and a nice balance between the vocals, score and effects. Said effects are a load of fun, being rather well rounded and distinct.

Height: Appropriately placed sounds fill out overhead, especially during a Quidditch match where players or a snitch whiz by.

Low Frequency Extension: Crashes, magic bursts, large objects moving and more provide a rather large bump in the sub.

Surround Sound Presentation: What a super fun mix we have here. In addition to some terrific, well thought out ambiance that brings every room and environment to life, there are also thing that zip by every which way, giving each speaker its own workload for most of and at any given point in the film.

Dialogue Reproduction: Dialogue is crisp and clear, characters are audible at all times during even bigger action or loud crowd bits.

Extras 

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone comes with the Blu-ray edition (2-Discs) and an UltraViolet Digital Copy of the film.  All of the supplemental material is on the Blu-ray edition, which is the same 2-Disc special edition that has been available for a few years.

Blu-ray Disc 1

Extended Version

In-Movie Experience

Blu-ray Disc 2

Behind The Story

  • Introduction By Daniel Radcliffe (HD, 1:54)
  • Creating The World of Harry Potter, Part 1: The Magic Begins (HD, 1:02:47)
  • A Glimpse Into The World Of Harry Potter (HD, 9:15)

Deleted Scenes (HD, 9:36)

Teaser Trailer (SD, 1:55)

Theatrical Trailer #2 (SD, 2:27)

Theatrical Trailer #3 (SD, 2:21)

TV Spots (SD, 7:46)

Summary 

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone receives another solid upgrade from Warner Bros. The audio is quite an uptick from before and I rather enjoyed this new video presentation of the film. You’ll get all the extras carried over from before, so it should be with no hesitation that Potter fans and home theater/movie collecting enthusiasts can replace their old copy.

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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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