Harry Potter DVD Reviews: Our Picks

We have done our best to make a complete roundup of the Harry Potter DVDs for sale in the US and in the UK. We report on the availability of normal versions vs. widescreen, blu-ray options, and box sets and collections. These are not reviews of the actual movies, but of the DVDs themselves–what they contain, and which ones we think are worth your money.  Of course, the final movie, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2, hasn’t been released on DVD yet, so we will all have to wait a bit longer for that. But rest assured that the studio is bound to produce an excellent complete collection in time for Christmas 2011, and they’ll probably make a super deluxe version, so if you want to wait until then, you’ll have the perfect Harry Potter Christmas present for any Harry Potter fan (or as a gift for yourself)! Read on for the list of videos that are currently available (and keep in mind that any of the links below will also allow you to watch Harry Potter movies online, through Amazon’s streaming service).  Each of the videos in our list is available in all formats by following the links at the end of each paragraph.

1. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (AKA Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone in the UK). This, the first movie in the series, is available in several versions, including basics in regular, widescreen, and blu-ray. There is also a three disc ultimate edition, which comes with a booklet full of photos, and the additional discs include an extended version of the movie (seven minutes of footage that was not shown in theaters, and which is not included on the other versions of the movie), as well as screen tests for Daniel Radcliffe, and interviews with the cast and some of the crew). If you are a collector of Harry Potter merchandise, this would make an excellent addition to a collection. This may be the only way you get to see the additional footage; it is not yet known whether the studio will release a collection of these extended versions of the movie. To see the current options available for purchase, US visitors should click here, while UK visitors can click here.

2. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. The second movie in the series was released in 2002. The movie is available in any of the previously mentioned options, including the three disc Ultimate Edition, which includes an additional 14 minutes of footage not shown in theaters, plus a 48 page photo book and many of the same extras (interviews with JK Rowling and screenwriter Steve Kloves, interviews with the cast, and interactive trivia game, and many other special features. US visitors can see all of the options available here, while UK visitors should click here.

3. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. My personal favorite of the movies, directed by Alfonso Cuaron. The young actors had matured and settled into their roles by this point, and the character of Sirius Black made a very exciting addition to the series. The three disc Ultimate Edition (available in both regular DVD and Blu-ray) in this case features no additional footage, but it does include all of the other extras (interviews, 48 page photo book, collectible cards). While we were happy with our copy of the DVD, it seems that some reviewers on Amazon were unhappy about the lack of any additional footage from the actual movie. All of the options for this movie are available by clicking here (US visitors) or here (UK visitors).

4. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Like the previous movies, this one is also available in a three disc Ultimate Edition, but as with “Prisong of Azkaban”, this ultimate edition does not include any additional footage. Many people on Amazon seem to have been particularly upset by this collection, although it does come with a 44 page booklet of photos and creatures, a few “TV specials” and the regular interview with cast and crew. In this case, you might wish to stick with one of the regular DVDs or widescreen or Blu-ray versions, rather than spend the extra money for the Ultimate Edition. To see all the available options, US visitors can visit this page, while UK visitors can see the options here.

5. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Once again, the three disc Ultimate version of this movie does not feature an extended version of the theatrical film. Rather, it has what the manufacturer calls “additional scenes”, which means a few scenes that were cut out of the film for various reasons. It still comes with the collectible cards and the rest of the behind-the-scenes interviews and set tours, but in this case, we recommend sticking with one of the other, non-ultimate, versions of the film, as the additional $20 in price (approximately) is probably not justified in this case, unless you are a true collector. For the Ultimate Edition and all the other available options (Blu-ray, DVD), US visitors may see here, while UK visitors can see their options here.

6. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. A great movie with a terrific, stirring, and ultimately heartbreaking ending. This movie is available in many different formats, including one, two, and three disc editions. In this case, we recommend the regular Blu-ray version if you have a Blu-ray player, or the regular widescreen version if you have a regular DVD player. The three disc Ultimate Edition still does not feature an extended version of the movie (as the first two movies did), but instead, it comes with two character cards, behind-the-scenes footage, and other assorted add-ons. All of the many versions can be seen by clicking here (for US visitors), or here (for UK visitors).

7. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1. Part one of the last of the two movies (the final Harry Potter book was split into two separate movies). This is the first of the movie that does not feature an “Ultimate Edition” release. Instead, it has a three disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo plus Digital Copy. What this means is that you will get both the regular version AND the Blu-ray version of the movie, and you also are allowed to download a digital copy directly from Amazon that you can watch on your computer. There is an additional disc that features several additional scenes, as well as a sneak peek of the last movie (Part 2), and a few other things like a short film of the cast’s first visit to the Harry Potter theme park in Orlando, Florida, during the park’s grand opening. Unfortunately, these Extras are only available on the Blu-ray disc, so if you only have a regular DVD player, you will miss out entirely, and in that case, you will want to buy one of the single disc versions of this movie. US visitors can see all the options available here, while UK visitors should look here.  (BTW, There is one special boxed version of this movie that comes with a cute Dobby the Elf bookend!)

8. Gift Sets. The eighth movie is not available yet, but in addition to the single movies that are available above, there are several boxed sets available. Some include movies 1 through 6, and one includes all the movies up through number 7 part 1.  All the versions available in the US can be seen by clicking here, and the UK versions can be seen here.  If you have a birthday boy or girl who would like to receive one of these as a gift between now and December, they will make an excellent gift, but if you prefer to wait, you will be able to purchase the TRUE collector’s edition of all eight movies, probably sometime in November.

Harry Potter DVD

So, our overall recommendations?  If you want to see the extended versions, the first two movies are the two to buy, as those are the only two movies that feature actual movies that are different than the ones released to theaters (seven minutes extra for Sorcerer’s/Philospher’s Stone, and fourteen extra minutes for Chamber of Secrets).  If you already have most of the movies, it’s worth it to buy the ones that you are missing just so you have a complete set.  If you wan wait, though, we expect the complete set to be released by November, so it might be a good idea to bookmark our page and come back later in the year, once we’ve updated it!