To celebrate the 20th anniversary of the theatrical release of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Warner has released a very odd curiosity piece – a Magical Movie Mode edition of the film on DVD, Blu-ray, and digital.
The Production: 3/5
When it was announced that JK Rowling’s popular novel, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, would be made into a movie, the filmmakers were challenged to remain faithful to the book as to not alienate it’s very young fanbase. This meant trying to cram as many small moments from the very long novel into an acceptable running time for a family film. In many ways, that ultimately worked against them as critics complained that the movie was overly-long, running two and a half hours. I tend to agree with them on that point, especially as this is the lightest and possibly weakest of the Harry Potter novels. It is also the sweetest, with the three leads at their most innocent.
If you are not familiar with the story, you likely have been living under a rock for the last 20+ years. Some of the film’s strengths come in its casting (nearly every character has been perfectly cast), the gorgeous production design, and, of course, John Williams’ memorable score. The movie may not have been a home run with critics and those who had not read the books, but it did set up the franchise that would improve with each additional film.
The Magical Movie Mode is kind of an odd animal. Available as the bonus disc on the DVD and Blu-ray editions, or as a stand alone digital version from select retailers, it is essentially the old In-Movie Experience picture-in-picture track from the original Blu-ray release, now “burned in” to the video and mixed in the audio. I’m guessing this is handy for those who don’t like to change the Secondary Audio settings on their Blu-ray or UHD Blu-ray players, or for those looking for more tidbits of trivia that was not included in the original PiP version. The digital version, however, does not include the movie without all the pop-ups and audio commentary. The Magical Movie Mode edition is also included as a bonus feature on Movies Anywhere for those who have purchased Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone either digitally or redeemed a code from purchasing a disc.
3D Rating: NA
The digital version of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone: Magical Movie Mode is only available in either 480p Standard Definition or 1080p High Definition. I viewed this on the Movies Anywhere app on my Roku Ultra, and was nearly identical to the old VC-1 transfer Warner has provided on Blu-ray for nearly 14 years now. The picture overlays, though, appear much sharper than the movie itself.
Unfortunately, the only audio option is a mixed-down stereo track for the Magical Movie Mode edition.
Special Features: 0/5
Although the Magical Movie Mode is a “free” special feature for those who have purchased or redeemed a digital copy of the film on Movies Anywhere, asking $16.99 for this add-on without including the movie on its own and all of its special features is a real money grab. While the DVD and Blu-ray editions also include the movie (the Blu-ray also includes a digital code), none of the special features from previous disc editions are included.
I really am not sure who this version is marketed at. Fans who already own the movie on digital will already have access to the Magical Movie Mode version on Movies Anywhere, and if you own the movie on Blu-ray and 4K UHD Blu-ray, the In-Movie Experience is included on the Blu-ray movie disc, which contains most of the same material, plus additional special features. Not Recommended.
Todd Erwin has been a reviewer at Home Theater Forum since 2008. His love of movies began as a young child, first showing Super 8 movies in his backyard during the summer to friends and neighbors at age 10. He also received his first movie camera that year, a hand-crank Wollensak 8mm with three fixed lenses. In 1980, he graduated to "talkies" with his award-winning short The Ape-Man, followed by the cult favorite The Adventures of Terrific Man two years later. Other films include Myth or Fact: The Talbert Terror and Warren's Revenge (which is currently being restored). In addition to movie reviews, Todd has written many articles for Home Theater Forum centering mostly on streaming as well as an occasional hardware review, is the host of his own video podcast Streaming News & Views on YouTube and is a frequent guest on the Home Theater United podcast.
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