Harry Potter Wizard's Collection (Blu-ray / DVD Combo)
I've been slowly plodding through all 31 discs and finally hit a snag with DH1. It seems like those nasty "damaged movie" rumors are true, at least in part. Although the disc doesn't appear to be wholly damaged (I did check them all for scratches and found nothing out of the ordinary) this movie is unplayable in at least two parts, and it skips over a couple of scenes (it stops right when Ron is about to destroy the horcrux locket....effffff). I did attempt to call Amazon customer service but as the collection is no longer for sale through them, the most they were willing to offer me was a refund, despite it being past the return date. That doesn't work for me as I purchased this on a gold box deal and I'm not guaranteed that by spending more the quality control issue would even be fixed. So alas, it appears I am stuck with at least one damaged movie. I guess it's a good thing I didn't get rid of my old ultimate editions yet, so I still have at least one playable copy of DH. Just be aware that the QC issues haven't necessarily been rectified.
Let me preface this review by stating I bought this set during the Amazon lightning deal last week, so I paid $100 less than what it's going for now. I've wanted this since I heard it was being released last year, despite already owning (at that time) the Ultimate Editions of movies 1-6. I wasn't willing to pay $350 for it then, mostly because I just wasn't in a position to spend that kind of money. Despite buying DH 1&2 ultimate edition, I jumped on this lightning deal when I saw it because I wasn't sure I was ever going to see it for less. I am VERY glad I did.
This is not going to be a review full of whining about how expensive it is (though it is, quite obviously, expensive), or how it's cheap and Warner Brothers is just a bunch of greedy goblins for thinking any self-respecting Potter fan would dare be expected to pay this much for something that is not worth it. Those reviews were either A) written by Muggles (the worst sort imaginable) or B) written by people who don't even own this set.
I can say with full confidence that this set was most definitely worth the $250 price tag. It's actually probably worth the $350 Amazon normally charges, though not the $500 retail price (which I think most people know is a joke). I'm very thankful for having the opportunity to snag this for the lightning deal price, but I probably would have bought it for $350, I just would have waited and saved up a little longer for it. The detail on this set is ridiculous (or riddikulus), and I think Potter fans should be straight-up honored at the attention and care that went in to putting this together. Most complete movie collections out there come in some stupid slipcase, and maybe you'll get a dumb bust or action figure to go with it. Not so here. I'm not much for buying these collector thingies, mostly because they take up lots of room, but this is reminiscent of what I've seen of the super delux Lost set, or maybe even the Alias one that came in the Rambaldi box.
The box this thing comes in is MASSIVE, Hagrid-sized almost. It is NOT cheap cardboard, as others have noted, but a nice, thick, solid-feeling cardboard that is embossed with a pebbled-leather texture. There are metal handles and drawer pulls, and overall it has a nice, solid, sturdy feel. It's heavy too. So no cheap pacakaging or slipcases. The artwork is just lovely, and I think any real Potter fan will appreciate it. Each of the 8 movies comes in its own little cardboard book (like some kids books are made of), outfitted with its own coordinating color scheme that plays off the theme/color scheme of each movie. The discs included are the exact same things you'll find in the already released Ultimate Editions. What I will say is that the "extras" that came with the UE's (lenticular cards, collectible books, and character trading cards) are NOT included here, so the only thing that repeats is the actual disc-content. If you're a completist/super HP mega fan like me, you might want to hold on to whatever ultimate editions you have for this reason. I did not appear to receive any scratched discs like some others have, nor did any of my movies come out the cases. I haven't watched anything yet, but by the looks of it it's all perfect so it should be fine. No missing content either, so it appears they've sorted out their manufacturing issues.
The new content includes two books of graphic art, the Horcrux locket (metal Noble Collection version), a blue print poster map thing of Hogwarts, an EXTREMELY nice fabric tapestry wall hanging of the Hogwarts grounds, some sketches by Stuart Craig (very nice cardboard, all ready for framing) and some lithographs of art from each movie, also sutiable for framing. You also get a disc of exclusive-to-this-set bonus content; I have yet to watch that so I can't say if it's worth it or not, but it sure looks fun. You also get a little scroll with a code that enables you to download digital copies of all movies. Yes, I said download. You have to download the Flixster app (for your computer/smartphone/tablet), as I believe you do for all WB movies, but yes, you CAN download the movies to your device and watch them without needing to be online. You just need the Flixter app to do it, which IMO is not a huge deal, because it's not like they're going to be any better or worse watching through Windows Media Player or anything. So I call bollocks on anyone saying you can't download these and can only stream them. Lies. And we must not tell lies.
I'll wrap this up by saying that this set is marketed very specifically to collectors and mega-fans. If all you want is the movies, then this is not for you. If that's all you wanted, you have no right to go out there and complain that they're charging too much, because nobody's forcing you to buy it. It's a collector's set. You have the opportunity to go out there and buy the Ultimate Editions, thus obtaining almost the same amount of disc content you get here, plus they all have coordinated packaging that looks nice on a shelf together if you like that sort of thing. So what if you can't buy them all in one box? Does that really matter if you just want the movies? Probably not, so shut up if that's all your after.
If you don't already own any of the UE's, this set is a wonderful investment, even at the $350 price tag. If you consider you'll be paying around $30-$40 on average for each UE (depending on whether you're getting DVD or bluray, and depending on where you're buying it) you're paying a fair amount of extra money for the EXTREMELY nice presentation and extra collectibles and content. $350 is a fair price for this set. $500 is not, but nobody is going to be paying full price for this.
In closing, if you're a big HP fan, you CAN'T pass this up. You just can't. I know it's a lot of money, but the real HP fans out there (books and movies) are going to find so much to appreciate here. If you're scared of the price, it might be a good idea to get an Amazon card when you buy it. You'll get some money off and earn some points on it (not shilling for the card here, just offerring suggestions on taking the price down for those that might be concerned about it). If you just liked the movies and want maybe a handful of extras, you are much better off buying the individual UE's or waiting for a possible mid-priced set (which may never come). If you just want the movies with no frills, get the $50 box set that's out there. If you're one of those weirdos that has some odd sense of entitlement that, as a fan, you should be automatically entitled to the biggest bestest set on the planet, with loads of extras, for a ridiculously low price, then I suggest you either be quiet or stand in front of a mirror and cast a crucio curse on yourself. It's not going to happen. You get a lot of bang for your buck here, and while it might not suit a lot of fans, the people it IS marketed towards are going to LOVE it. It's obvious a lot of thought was put into this set, and it is definitely on the same level as some of the other similar mega collection sets out there. It's not like WB got together with some Death Eaters and purposely conspired to charge a lot just to HP fans. Members of other fandoms have been subjected to the same pricing system as us Potterheads, so we are definitely not alone.
I daresay after opening this box that I would be able to cast quite the formidable patronus. It's THAT awesome.