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Category:    Home > Reviews > Fantasy > Adventure > Battles > Literature > Teens > British > Harry Potter and The Sorcerer's Stone (2001)/Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets (2002)/Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban (2004)/Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire (2005/Years 1 through 4/

Harry Potter and The Sorcerer's Stone (2001)/Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets (2002)/Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban (2004)/Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire (2005/Years 1 through 4/Warner 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray w/Blu-ray sets)

Picture: A/B+ Sound: A/B+ Extras: B Films: B+/B/B+/B

You hear about franchises all the time, but most of them are tired package deals. However, you have those that become huge hits and Harry Potter is now up there with Star Wars (as of this posting, both have eight main films and one hit spin-off, ironically) as one of the most successful franchises ever. The James Bond films are far ahead as the biggest ever and is still having huge blockbuster hits. Last year, we had the pleasure of covering Potter universe prequel Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them as well as Harry Potter films 5 through 8 on the new 4K Ultra HD format, which you can read more about here....


All eight films in the series are sold separately and now also are in a single 4K box set as pictured in the upper right hand corner, BUT NOTE: THE BOX SET DOES NOT INCLUDE EACH SET'S SECOND BLU-RAY OF EXTRAS, so you have to buy all eight films separately to get all the extras. Warner is now releasing the first four films in J.K. Rowling's Potter franchise in stunning new 4K transfers that easily best all previous releases on Blu-ray in the new 4K format. The films have surprisingly, hardly aged, with many of the digital effects still realistically shining through even in 2160p and the new color correction that Warner Brothers gave each entry for this new release is a huge improvement.

Twenty years after his debut in bookstores all over the world, Harry Potter still remains a pop culture phenomenon and one of the most beloved young adult fantasies of all time easily. For those 'Potter-heads' out there, you're probably thinking ''great, now I have to buy them all again'' (a feeling that Star Wars fans have all but become numb to at this point with countless re-releases on different formats, though visual effects are no updated over and over here as they used to be for those films), but for those who maybe haven't seen them yet this is definitely a good time to check them out. Comparable to The Wizard of Oz (the MGM classic now owned by Warner, reviewed elsewhere on this site) for its excellent fantasy narrative, there's a lot to like about these films.

The Sorcerer's Stone (2001)

The world of Harry Potter begins with the faithful screen adaptation of The Sorcerer's Stone, directed by Chris Columbus (the Home Alone films, Mrs. Doubtfire), the film was a huge success in the box office and with audiences alike, even those nit-picky skeptics. Filled with an enormous cast of colorful characters and mind blowing production design, there's no question that this is a strong way to start out an epic franchise of this stature. In retrospect, especially seeing the cast grow over the span of the film saga, makes these films rare and unique.

Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) is an orphan boy that is finally coming into his teenage years. Stuck living with his dreadful Aunt and Uncle, he is soon invited by Professor Dumbledore (the late Richard Harris) to attend his first year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardary. After meeting Hagrid (Robbie Coltrane), he soon is introduced to a whole new world that he never knew about and soon discovers that he is not only rich, but famous amongst the magical community. He soon befriends Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint) and Hermione Granger (Emma Watson) and together the trio end up solving their first mystery together surrounding the mysterious Sorcerer's Stone.

The Chamber of Secrets (2002)

While not quite as impressive story-wise as the first film, there's still a lot to like about The Chamber of Secrets, with Director Chris Columbus at the helm for the last time in the franchise. Some stand out moments happen in the first act which feature Ron's flying car and a bumpy re-entrance to Hogwarts thanks to a nasty tree.

Much like Star Wars, the Potter-verse has a Jar Jar Binks-like CGI character in the shape of Dobby - a house elf. Realistic in one respect, the house elf is a bumbling idiot like Jar Jar and is about the size of Gollum from Lord of the Rings. When Dobby visits Harry at in his real-world home, he warns Harry not to return to Hogwarts. Haunted by weird noises, students at the skull being attacked, and various other threats, Harry must enter The Chamber of Secrets to solve the latest mystery plaguing him.

For more thoughts on this film, try the link to our previous Blu-ray coverage...


The Prisoner of Azkaban (2004)

Children of Men and Gravity Director Alfonso Cuaron's entry in the franchise is arguably the strongest and my personal favorite for its spooky Halloween setting. Introducing Gary Oldman in one of his most well known roles as the deranged killer Sirus Black, this Potter film is darker than the first two and shows a more mature young cast with several memorable sequences.

Harry Potter ends up back at Hogwarts after an interesting bus ride on the way there. On the bus, he hears about the murderer Sirius Black (Oldman) who is hell bent on killing him. If this wasn't enough stress, Harry and his friends are blossoming into teenagers and are still a little rusty on their magic. But when a new teacher shows up, Harry and his friends discover there's a bizarre connection to Black that's a little closer to home than they expected.

The Goblet of Fire (2005)

Harry's fourth year at Hogwarts focuses on a grand Triwizard Tournament between three rival magic schools (Hogwarts, Beauxbatons and Durmstrang) and the looming threat of his arch nemesis Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) growing ever so near. Featuring (soon to be Twilight superstar) Robert Pattinson and directed by Mike Newell (who made the box office bomb Prince of Persia in 2010, but has had his critical and commercial hits otherwise), Goblet is a fun ride but not as strong as the previous film.

All four feature films were shot on 35mm film and are presented on 2160p HEVC/H.265, HDR (10; Ultra HD Premium)-enhanced Ultra High Definition disc that your home entertainment system can hopefully deliver. Each film has a pristine 2.40:1 widescreen aspect ratio and stunning DTS-X 11.1 lossless upgrades (Stone was issued in 8-track SDDS/Sony Dynamic Digital Sound and Sorcerer was in 6.1 mixes, so the previous Blu-rays were not delivering all the tracks to begin with, plus the mixers have to consider sound for IMAX blow-ups)/DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 7.1 lossless mixes, which best previous versions. Also included in each set is the aged 1080p transfer and DTS-HD MA 5.1 mixes only (save 6.1 on Sorcerer) on the regular Blu-rays which, when put side to side in comparison with the 4K, show significant difference in quality.

The scores to the films really stand out, with John Williams' exceptional music on the first three films and Patrick Doyle stepping in for The Goblet of Fire. Hardcore Potter fans will be sure to pick up the individual soundtracks as well as they make for great companions to reading the books. Also included are Digital HD copies of each film.

Special Features include (on 1080p Blu-ray discs which were released in a previous edition).

The massive Making of Harry Potter featurettes - ''Creating the World of Harry Potter''

Part One - The Magic Begins

Part Two - Characters

Part Three - Creatures

Part Four - Sound and Music

Each set features the 4K UHD disc and two Blu-rays: one Blu-ray devoted to extras and the other one just for the film itself.

All in all, the Harry Potter films are solid proof that there is a significant and noticeable improvement with the new 4K UHD format. These films are all very well made with high production value and great digital effects that stand the 2160p test. This is worth an upgrade if you're a hardcore fan or if you're new to the franchise, this is a good way to dive in and see them the way they were intended to be seen.

With the Fantastic Beasts films continuing over the next several years, which serve as prequels to these films, the Potter Universe is showing no signs of slowing down.

- James Lockhart



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