Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix isn’t great but still quite good and highly entertaining. As to whether or not this Ultimate Edition is worth the money to upgrade is, at best, questionable. The only addition to the set, in terms of actual features, is the hour-long documentary which is well done no doubt but I highly suspect that once Deathly Hallows Part 2 is released, Warner will release a separate documentary with all 8-parts on one disc with some new extra thrown in.
Genre(s): Fantasy, Adventure, Drama
Warner Bros. | PG13 – 139 min. – $49.99 | June 14, 2011
Directed by: David Yates
Writer(s): J.K. Rowling (novel); Michael Goldenberg (screenplay)
Cast: Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Helena Bonham Carter, Tom Felton, Ralph Fiennes, Michael Gambon, Brendan Gleeson, Gary Oldman, Alan Rickman
Theatrical Release Date: July 11, 2007
Features: In-Movie Experience, Focus Points, Featurettes, Deleted Scenes, Theatrical Trailers, BD-Live, Digital Copy
Number of Discs: 2
Audio: English (DTS-HD MA 5.1), Dutch (Dolby Digital 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 5.1), German (Dolby Digital 5.1), Portuguese (Dolby Digital 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1)
Video: 1080p/Widescreen 2.40
Subtitles: English SDH, Dutch, French, German, Portuguese, Spanish
Region(s): A, B, C
THE MOVIE – 3.5/5
Although certainly Prisoner of Azkaban made the turn towards a darker tone in the Harry Potter series, things grow dimmer in Order of the Phoenix as the ultimate confrontation between Harry and Lord Voldemort comes closer.
In this outing, Harry (DANIEL RADCLIFFE) enters his fifth year at Hogwarts under much scrutiny and ire after the events in Goblet of Fire in which Cedric Diggory (Pattinson) was killed by Voldemort. However, the Ministry of Magic headed by Cornelius Fudge (ROBERT HARDY) is in denial that the Dark Lord is back and goes out of his way, with the help of the Wizardry World’s newspaper, to discredit both Harry and mentor/Hogwarts Head Master Dumbledore (MICHAEL GAMBON).
When the film opens, Harry and his ogre of a step brother (HARRY MELLING) are attacked by Dementors for which Harry uses magic to save their lives which is a big no-no in the world of magic for an underage wizard or witch to use magic in public. He’s been called in for an inquiry by the Minister of Magic but before which Harry enters the home of godfather Sirius Black (GARY OLDMAN) and the headquarters of the Order of the Phoenix, an organization created by Dumbledore decades earlier to fight and stop Voldemort.
After Harry is cleared of the charges thanks to Dumbledore’s help when the committee did everything in their power to get things to go their way (first by moving up the time by hours), Harry and best friends Ron (RUPERT GRINT) and Hermione (EMMILY WATSON) return to Hogwarts with a not so nice surprise: one Dolores Umbridge (IMELDA STAUNTON) is now part of the faculty, under the order of the Ministry of Magic, as the school’s new Defence of the Dark Arts teacher, though she wants to teach in a safe, structured environment where defensive magic will not be necessary.
So Harry, Hermione and Ron take it upon themselves to teach real defensive magic as Umbridge’s power at Hogwart’s becomes more extensive ruling with an iron fist trying with all her peppy might to snuff out any talk of Voldemort as well as any groups who might try to up-rise such as Harry’s group named “Dumbledore’s Army”.
I remember that my first viewing of Order of the Phoenix wasn’t anything special and was in fact a bit of a step down from Goblet of Fire and, especially, Prisoner of Azkaban which is my favorite of the series; it was also the darker turning point in the franchise, a drastic departure to the tone of what Columbus brought, even compared with Chamber of Secrets. In any case, despite my misgivings with Order which stems mainly from a story that never quite connects on an emotional level until perhaps the very end.
Of course the biggest reason the OOTP succeeds is thanks to the cast. Obviously we know what kind of actors the original trio are as they continue to grow up before our eyes, but I like the progression of the supporting characters such as Luna Lovegood (EVANNA LYNCH), Cho Chang (KATIE LEUNG) and the members of the Order whom we’ve met before like Sirius (OLDMAN), Remus (DAVID THEWLIS) plus newer members (my favorite is Tonks). So what Warner and the producers have done with compiling a fantastic cast makes this a worthy, if not slightly disappointing, entry.
What also succeeds is the choice of David Yates taking the director’s chair for not only Order but the final three films as well. While each of these directors bring something different to the franchise, it does have a certain consistency which makes it easier going from one film to the next (it’s not like a drastic departure like Batman Returns to Batman Forever for instance, even with the casting change).
I guess overall I thought Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is an a good film and acceptable entry in the series and one I won’t mind checking out again once the movies are complete. Although I’m still unsure about bringing in the writer of 2003’s Peter Pan and, albeit a few years in the future, the critically lauded Green Lantern, I have to give props to screenwriter Michael Goldberg for coming in almost cold turkey into the fifth movie.
SPECIAL FEATURES – 4.5/5
The set matches the Prisoner of Azkaban and Goblet of Fire releases with a large outer box (with removable lenticular front cover) containing sturdy larger box that has an envelope with two character cards (Luna Lovegood and Dolores Umbridge), hardcover book on the evolution of Harry Potter and a digital copy slip with the download code.
In-Movie Experience is a picture-in-picture and trivia track feature that plays with the movie and every so often members of the cast or crew, mostly from interview footage best I can tell, pop up in a small window and talk about the particular scene. ** Blu-ray Exclusive **
Focus Points (TRT 1:03:10; HD) are a series of short featurettes that covers different aspects of the film from making the cat plates in Umbridge’s office, Rupert Grint’s smiling personality, creating the various sets, etc. ** Blu-ray Exclusive **
This and the IME were available on the regular Blu-ray release as well as on the HD-DVD format. While these are nothing new, they’re still fairly interesting.
Last up on the disc is a BD-Live portal where you can check out different Warner titles, featurettes and such. As I’ve said before, I’ve rarely seen anything of interest within this save for maybe a live commentary or two otherwise it’s just a waste of time. ** Blu-ray Exclusive **
Creating the World of Harry Potter Part 5: Evolution (57:16; HD) – The only new feature on this release, the crème de la crème if you will, and it chronicles how the series has progressed from one movie to the next. It has the usual interview and behind-the-scenes footage from the different movies. It’s a well made featurette, though I’m not sure how much you’re missing. I think with the other parts of the “Creating the World…” series it’s a fine addition and I’d be shocked if one day Warner didn’t release all 8-parts separately in one long documentary (along with some new feature to get fans to drop some dough down). ** New Feature **
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix: Behind the Magic (46:46; HD) is a featurette which takes a look at different aspects of the HP films from visual effects, make-up, set designs and all that. This was originally filmed for the BBC as a special to promote the release of Order of the Phoenix.
Building the Magic: The Sets of Harry Potter (20:22; HD) – This featurette focuses only on the set designs created for OOTP and has interview footage some of which were already used in the Focus Points feature. Of course, this featurette takes a more expansive look over anything in the others.
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix: The Rebellion Begins (23:13; SD) is another television special that offers some basic behind-the-scenes footage intermixed with interviews. It doesn’t offer a whole lot of info as it was made to advertise the release of OOTP. It is presented in letterboxed widescreen.
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix: Fulfilling a Prophecy (13:02; SD) – This is the third TV special that has some more footage but also often the same interview sound-bites that we’ve seen before. Like the last one, it is in letterboxed widescreen.
Trailing Tonks (19:25; HD) – Actress Natalia Tena who plays Tonks giving viewers a glimpse at her day on the set from the hair and make-up, the food court to actual filming. It’s nothing profound or informative but not bad either.
Harry Potter: The Magic of Editing (5:21; SD) – Director David Yates and Editor Mark Day show what a difference a good edit makes and then allows us, the viewer, to give it a try.
Deleted Scenes (10:57; HD) – Here we get 9 deleted and extended scenes that didn’t make it into the final cut most likely, since there is no accompanied commentary, for pacing reasons.
And finally we get the Teaser Trailer (0:59; HD) and the Theatrical Trailer (2:15; HD).
VIDEO – 4.5/5
I can’t be positive but I assume this video transfer is probably the same encoding as the one used for the previous Blu-ray released a few years ago. In any case, this is a crisp transfer with fine amounts of noise and film grain giving it the right amount of detail one would expect. Colors are of course muted as per the director’s wishes which might not make for a visually pleasing video but still exactly how it was intended without the fussing and clean-up studios like to do.
AUDIO – 4.5/5
The previous Blu-ray release had only a PCM 5.1 track (and HD-DVD Dolby TrueHD) so the Ultimate Edition release gets a slight upgrade, albeit in name only, with DTS-HD MA. I can’t speak to what the differences are between the two, I assume the only one is the amount of disc space used, but this track sounds great through and through. Dialogue is clear and the multiple action scenes make decent use of the other channels. I can’t say this audio mix will blow you away but it’s in line with the other Potter releases.
OVERALL – 4/5
Overall, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix isn’t great but still quite good and highly entertaining. As to whether or not this Ultimate Edition is worth the money to upgrade is, at best, questionable. The only addition to the set, in terms of actual features, is the hour-long documentary which is well done no doubt but I highly suspect that once Deathly Hallows Part 2 is released, Warner will release a separate documentary with all 8-parts on one disc with some new extra thrown in to entice fans to throw down an additional $20 or so.