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Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix Ultimate Edition Blu-ray



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#1 of 1 Cameron Yee

Cameron Yee

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Posted June 13 2011 - 04:02 PM

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Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix Ultimate Edition
Release Date: June 14, 2011
Studio: Warner Home Video
Packaging/Materials: Two-disc Digipak and extras in a heavy cardboard case
Year: 2007
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 2:18:14
MSRP: $49.99

  THE FEATURE SPECIAL FEATURES
Video 1080p high definition 2.40:1 Standard and high definition
Audio DTS-HD Master Audio: English 5.1 / Dolby Digital: French (dubbed in Quebec) 5.1, French 5.1, German 5.1, Castellano 5.1, Dutch 5.1, Spanish 5.1, Portuguese 5.1, Catalan 5.1, Belgian Dutch 5.1 Variable
Subtitles English SDH, French, German SDH, Castellano, Dutch, Spanish, Portuguese Same

Note: The following includes material from the HTF review of the "Harry Potter Limited Edition Collection: Years 1-5" on Blu-ray.

The Feature: 4/5
"Order of the Phoenix" presents a troubled, volatile Harry Potter, understandable given what he's been through in the last four years. And Daniel Radcliffe seems more than up to the challenge of depicting the character's emotional journey of confusion, disappointment and fear. Despite passing the halfway point in the series, things continue to feel fresh and exciting as audiences get a first look into the bureaucracy behind the Ministry of Magic and are introduced to the most perverse character outside of Lord Voldemort, Dolores Umbridge (Imelda Staunton). Though the books and films have always had some degree of mature element to them, themes or messages that have ranged from racism to the price of fame, the underlying notions in the film feel the most profound given recent and current events in the real world. "Goblet of Fire" was a disappointment, but "Order of the Phoenix" gets things back on track and renews hope that the subsequent films will be as exciting as their source material.

Unlike the previous Ultimate Editions, "Order of the Phoenix" does not include an extended version of the film but only the theatrical cut.

Video Quality: 4.5/5
The film is correctly framed at 2.40:1 and presented in 1080p with the VC-1 codec. The transfer is excellent all-around, whether it's the opening scenes in the Muggle world with their strongly saturated colors or the more monochromatic palette used in the rest of the film. Black levels and contrast throughout are consistently strong, stable and well-rendered. Fine object detail is likewise excellent, the dry playground grass in the opening and intricate details of the Grimmauld Place interiors standing out for their depth and clarity.

Audio Quality: 4.5/5
The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio mix returns to a more dynamic aesthetic, the soundtrack support in the surround channels sounding more aggressive than in "Goblet of Fire," though still balanced and seamless. Environmental and atmospheric effects are also used quite effectively, making for an immersive and engaging viewing experience. Consistent with the rest of the films, LFE is used sparingly but effectively, and dialogue is clear, detailed and intelligible.

Special Features: 4.5/5
The most notable addition to the extras is the hour-long "Creating the World of Harry Potter" documentary - part five of eight being released with each Ultimate Edition. The rest of the items are carryovers from past HD-DVD and Blu-ray releases, though there are several featurettes specific to the film that weren't included on either the special edition DVD or the high definition releases; however, some of the material has obviously been re-purposed for the In-Movie Experience and Focus Points. The "Hidden Secrets" franchise retrospective has also been left off, though the new documentary is a fine replacement. The vintage promotional items, while nice to have, tend to get repetitive with their recurring description of the plot and major additions to the story. Nevertheless, the package deserves high marks for the breadth and variety of extras.


[Disc One]

In-Movie Experience (IME), which appears to be the same as the one on the HD-DVD release, features Daniel Radcliffe as a sort of host for the various picture-in-picture elements that cover everything from the sound design to visual effects. With about half the time being filled by Focus Points (see below) and the rest consisting of cast and crew interviews and bits of trivia, there's a fair amount of material to keep viewers engaged and certainly an efficient way of working through the behind-the-scenes material.

Focus Points (1:03:00, HD) are vignettes that cover everything from visual effects, to funny incidents during production, to the various sets and props.

  • Dementors at Little Whinging (3:40)
  • Grimmauld Place (3:04)
  • Tonks' Face Transformation (1:54)
  • The Ministry of Magic Atrium (3:00)
  • Neville's Cactus (1:10)
  • Rupert's Giggle Fits (1:23)
  • The Paper Swallow (1:30)
  • Professor Umbridge (2:09)
  • Professor Umbridge's Spies (1:30)
  • Professor Umbridge's Office (2:24)
  • The Thestrals (3:05)
  • Hog's Head Tavern (1:06)
  • The Room of Requirement Door (1:32)
  • The Room of Requirement (2:25)
  • The Inquisatorial Squad (1:39)
  • Harry and Cho Under the Mistletoe (2:16)
  • Kreacher (3:10)
  • Azkaban Prison (1:41)
  • The Mirror Explosion (1:58)
  • Grawp (1:48)
  • The Weasleys' Fireworks Display (3:02)
  • The Explosion of Decrees (1:57)
  • The Centaurs of the Forbidden Forest (3:37)
  • The Centaurs Take Professor Umbridge (2:06)
  • The Thestral Flight (1:52)
  • The Hall of Prophecy (2:41)
  • The Choreography of Magic (2:17)
  • A Wizards' Duel: Voldemort vs. Dumbledore (3:02)
BD-Live

[Disc Two]

Creating the World of Harry Potter Part 5: Evolution (57:16, HD), the fifth installment in the eight-part documentary, takes a look at how the production design, costumes and characters have developed over time. The piece moves sequentially through each of the films, which means it doesn't really get to how things have changed until about a third of the way through, starting with the stylistically darker - and still the most artistic - third film, directed by Alfonso Cuaron. From there the changes are less aesthetic, coming mostly from challenges of adapting progressively larger and more complicated novels and the maturation of the core characters. Compared to the previous documentaries, there doesn't seem to be as much new or insightful, but it remains a solid retrospective on a monumental film franchise.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix: Behind the Magic (46:46, SD) is a 2007 promotional piece produced for British television, covering the main story elements with behind the scenes and interviews with the cast and crew.

Building the Magic: The Sets of Harry Potter (20:22, SD) takes a look at the designs of Grimmauld Place, Dolores Umbridge's office, the Room of Requirement and the Ministry of Magic. Much of this material can be found in the Focus Points.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix: The Rebellion Begins (23:13, SD) is a more condensed overview of the film.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix: Fulfilling a Prophecy (13:02, SD) is yet another promotional overview of the film.

Trailing Tonks (19:25, HD) follows the enthusiastic Natalia Tena, who played Tonks, as she takes viewers on a tour of the production at Leavesden Studios.

Harry Potter: The Magic of Editing (5:21, HD) features Director David Yates and Editor Mark Day providing an introduction to film editing for younger audiences. Viewers then have the ability to edit a scene, though the controls in the activity are a little clunky and I'm not sure if the limited choices (and the end product) will give youngsters a real sense of the editing process. Fortunately, for repeat visitors, the overview is now skippable to get straight to the interactive component.


Additional Scenes (10:57, HD)

  • Professor Trelawney eating in the Great Hall [extended] (2:44)
  • What Neville heard about the Daily Prophet [extended] (:17)
  • Students in Gryffindor Common Room [extended] (:30)
  • Professor Umbridge evaluates Professor Trelawney [extended] (2:50)
  • Malfoy, Crabbe and Goyle bullying (:21)
  • Filch blows out Professor Umbridge's hair (:25)
  • Harry, Hermione and Professor Umbridge in the Forbidden Forest [extended] (1:53)
  • Harry enters Professor Dumbledore's office (:41)
  • Harry packs and talks with Ron (1:11)
Trailers (3:14, HD)

  • Teaser Trailer (:59)
  • Theatrical Trailer (2:14)
[Packaging and Physical Items]

"Creating the World of Harry Potter: Evolution" Book is the fifth of eight volumes, which serve as companion items to the eight-part documentary. Book Five includes photos and artwork highlighting how the films' sets, props and visual aesthetics have developed over the years.

Collector Cards include two heavy, oversized (4" X 6") trading cards of Luna Lovegood and Dolores Umbridge.

Digital Copy download is accessed through a website. The offer expires June 12, 2012.

The Packaging includes a tri-fold Digipack case for the two Blu-ray discs and a cardstock envelope container for the trading cards. The Digipack case, the cardstock container and the companion book all slide into a sturdy cardboard case with a hinged cover. The cardboard case is printed and embossed like a hardbound book and looks quite handsome on the shelf. There's a slipcover for the case, but it's flashier and more commercial in design as it also serves as release's retail packaging. Those wanting a bit of dust and damage protection might want to keep it on despite its less distinguished appearance, though the lenticular cover image is a nice addition.


Recap
The Feature: 4/5
Video Quality: 4.5/5
Audio Quality: 4.5/5
Special Features: 4.5/5
Overall Score (not an average): 3/5

The fifth part of the documentary is solid, the book and trading cards are appealing, and the construction and design of the packaging is first rate, but will the Ultimate Edition draw anyone except the most devoted Harry Potter fan wanting every extra ever created (up to now)? I'm doubtful, especially for casual fans who already own one of the previous HD releases. For those yet to purchase the title (which I imagine aren't many) the Ultimate Edition makes for a nice package, but for a price. Currently, the Ultimate Edition is priced about $23 more than the standard edition BD. It's probably worth it if the extras will be revisited, but if not, that extra cost can go towards a whole other title that is certain to be watched again. Given the choice, I imagine many will opt for the standard BD release, making the Ultimate Edition only for the most ultimate of Potter fans.


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