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A view from the Blu (-ray) on DVDBeaver by Leonard Norwitz


Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix - BRD

(David Yates, 2007)








Studio: Warner Pictures (USA) / Warner Home Entertainment (USA)



Aspect ratio: 2.40:1

Feature film: 1080p

139 minutes

Supplements: HD/SD



PCM: English 5.1, English 5.1

French 5.1 (Parisian), French 5.1 (Quebec)

Spanish 5.1, Catalan 5.1, Dutch 5.1

Japanese 5.1, German 5.1, Italian 5.1

Swedish 5.1, Danish 5.1, Flemish 5.1



English, French, Spanish, Portuguese,

Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Finnish,

German, Dutch, Swedish, Danish, Norwegian,

Flemish, Italian, Catalan



Focus Points: Featurettes & Production Diaries

The Hidden Secrets of Harry Potter: Clues to the Mystery of Harry's True Destiny

Trailing Tonks: A Tour of the Set Guided by Natalia Tena (Nymphadora Tonks)

Harry Potter: The Magic of Editing with Director David Yates & Editor Mark Day

• Additional Scenes


32 chapters on 1 disc

Standard Blu-ray case

Release Date: December 11, 2007



Harry Potter & the Order of the Phoenix ~ Comment

This is the first Harry Potter film for which I waited until the release on high definition DVD to watch AND which I did not read Rowling's version in print.  And since I don't  make a practice of reading reviews before I see most movies, at long last I would be able to evaluate critically a Potter movie without having to sort out what I knew or remembered, consciously or un-, from this source or that.



In The Order of the Phoenix Harry continues to torment himself with guilt over the various calamities, personal and at large, that visit Hogwarts and his friends.  Under the circumstances, considering his involuntary association with You-Know-Who, this is neither surprising nor entirely inappropriate.  He also continues to feel he must deal with You-Know-Who and his minions entirely on his own – a conclusion which is becoming tiresome, as if he isn't aware of the outcome of each of his adventures: viz., that he always requires the help of others and little bit of luck to pull through.  This results in a certain predictable amount of dramatic repetition that makes each new movie suffer from a certain lack of spontaneity.




The problem is that it is necessary to read or see the adventures in succession in order to grasp the plot, but since one of the key plot devices is repeated in each episode, it can get a little boring. . .  perhaps less so to youngsters.  Maybe having Harry go through the same angst in book after book, movie after movie, is all part of what is so appealing about him.


Case in point: Harry finally gets to suck a little face with Cho, a character first introduced in the previous adventure, The Goblet of Fire, but whose presence in this installment is nearly submerged by surrounding events.  In fact, if we didn't already know that there was something brewing between these two before the movie starts, we wouldn't have a clue, despite Hermione's observation that Cho can't take her eyes of Harry.  It's something that she sees that we don't, unless we're looking for it.  Cho is so self-effacing that we are shown no more interest in Harry than any other girl or boy at Hogwarts.  The cumulative effect of the relationship between Harry and Cho exists only if we know what happened in Episode 4.


I think we're supposed to ignore the fact to a certain degree that Harry continually slights his friends, despite their loyalty to him.  I find it unfair that each time they need to prove themselves to him while Harry – narcissistically, to a certain extent – feels that only he can face the enemy.


That said, Harry has grown from his first days at Hogwarts.  While he continues to be appreciative of its relentlessly fascinating magical world, as witness his arrival at the underground train station and his encounter with the Thestrals, he is now stronger and more willing to take on responsibility at shool – most importantly as the secret teacher of Magical Defensive Arts to what he calls Dumbledore's Army.


It is this part of the movie, where Harry and his friends meet to learn the very magic that Hogwarts' usurper and agent of the misguided Ministry of Magic, Dolores Umbridge, has prohibited, that is the most fluid of all the Potter movies that preceded it.  By the very nature of the way the books are written, there is an episodic nature to the narrative.  In an effort to remain faithful to the books, the various filmmakers have retained a kind of stop and go pacing to the flow of things.  But basic intercutting techniques saved the day in The Order of the Phoenix - a device that future directors should make more of.


As I said, the key issue at play in The Order of the Phoenix is loss: Harry is still mourning and agonizing over the death of his schoolmate, Cedric Diggory, at the end of The Goblet of Fire which, quite naturally, connects to the deaths of his parents and to the past deaths of others in the Order.  These are all unnatural deaths at the hands of Lord Voldemort and his associates. Harry is never given sufficient time to work through any of this before yet another person very close to him is killed while trying to protect him.  It is no wonder, I suppose, that Harry is the very personification of an obsessive-compulsive disorder.




Harry Potter & the Order of the Phoenix ~ The Score Card


The Movie : 7.5

Still wincing over the death of Cedric, there are accusations by the Ministry of Magic that Harry and Dumbledore are spreading malicious lies about reappearance of Lord Voldemort.  The Order of the Phoenix meets to inform Harry of what he is up against and that they are behind him.  Meanwhile, to ensure that Harry's influence at Hogwarts is nipped in the bud, Minister Fudge sends Dolores Umbridge to see to it that only "proper" magic is taught and that "wrong" thinking is to be discouraged.  Harry is nominated to teach Defensive Magic anyhow, which comes in handy as the forces of evil gather. 


Image : 9 (9-9.5/9)

The score of 9 indicates a relative level of excellence compared to other Blu-ray DVDs.  The score in parentheses represents: first, a value for the image in absolute terms; and, second, how that image compares to what I believe is the current best we can expect in the theatre.


The picture quality is consistently very good here – not, to my eye, quite as awesome or as sharp, even in its best moments as the Fox TV series, Prison Break, but damn good – and on any high quality display will not fail to please.  A near-seamless integration of live action and CG effects has been the Harry Potter movie trademark from the start, and this one gets it close to right.  There are the occasional people looking in not quite the right direction as bits of flying magic whizzes by, but for the most part what you see is what seems to be there.














Audio & Music : 10/9

What is required is a sound mix that conveys the magic, the space, the fears and frights, together with a supporting musical score and the Britishy dialog. What we get is: the magic, the space, the fears and frights, together with a supporting musical score and crystal clear Britishy dialog. Major points here. The music by Nicholas Hooper (new to the series, as is the director) channels the usual suspects, especially John Williams (first at bat on The Sorcerer's Stone.)


Operations : 7

Before we know it, the movie begins – no previews or Blu-ray ads. The menu, though not particularly interesting nor taking advantage of the medium, is straightforward, simple, and easy to understand. As is typical with Warner Blu-rays, the slightly expanding thumbnails are not titled.  Thank you, Warner, for not overwhelming us with chapters, even for a movie of this length.




Extras : 5

Not much here.  Warner decided to create a somewhat different palette of Extra Features for their HD and Blu-ray editions this time out, pretty much to the detriment of the former: The BRD extras are all in 1080 whereas the HD extras are all in 480.  Also, the BRD, like the SD, includes the 3/4 hour made-for-television featurette, The Hidden Secrets of Harry Potter.  Curiously, there is no audio commentary.  I liked Trailing Tonks for its light touch – only about twenty minutes, though.




Recommendation: 8

Major film releases, such as this installment of the Harry Potter series, are now receiving feature-packed simultaneous DVD releases in standard and high definition in as little as five months. It is getting so that people with serious home theatre setups don't even have to spring for multiple admissions to the multiplex, so long as you're willing to be out of the water cooler conversation loop for a while.

Leonard Norwitz
December 5th, 2007








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