Harry Potter And The Order Of The Phoenix

Harry Potter And The Order Of The Phoenix

HD-DVD Rating: ****1/2

Reviewed by: Scott Macdonald

Read Andrew Robertson's film review of Harry Potter And The Order Of The Phoenix

The Order Of The Phoenix is one of the most efficiently compressed adaptations I have ever seen, squashing 768 pages of loquacious prose into an adventure that is concise, effective and nothing less than watchable. Imelda Staunton is a terrific addition to the cast as the nutjob Ministry of Magic stoolie Professor Umbridge. However, the distinct lack of magic from Goblet Of Fire continues - with only a breath of pleasure (the Hogwarts revolution), the Potter series of movies is becoming more of a chore than anything else. Daniel Radcliffe never fails to impress, however. I also can't imagine why it recieved its 12A - there's hardly anything to warrant such a rating.

The high-definition edition lands on the UK shores with a sumptuous two-disc set full of goodies and features. Unlike the standard DVD editions - I did take the time to go through both the HD DVD and DVD versions - the collection of extras and presentation is excellent, by far the most substantive of the series so far.

Copy picture

The VC-1 encoded 1080p digital transfer is superb - this is a dark, claustrophobic film, drenched in shadows and potential horrors throughout. The grayscale is full, vivid and crisp, and the colour - especially in Voldemort and Dumbledore's mighty clash of sorcery - pops off the screen magnificently. Detail, textures (especially cloth and stone) are only a shade away from the finest I have ever seen on high-definition product. In short, this is fantastic video quality. The standard DVD is fine, but the HD knocks it for six.

The audio is reference-quality. Presented in a lossless Dolby TrueHD mix (mastered at 24-bit) this soundtrack, to lack a better phrase, seems alive. A permanent audio surround soundfield is provided, from the opening, where the score only barely makes itself known, to the marvellous final 30 minutes where every mixing trick in the book is used. Very deep bass is present, and will require a mighty subwoofer to fully appreciate. Order of the Phoenix is also presented in Dolby Digital Plus mixes in English, Dutch and Flemish in 5.1. (encoded at 640kbps)

On with the extras! Oh, what a lot we've got... First up is the In Movie Experience (IME) - found on many Warner HD DVD products such as Batman Begins and Charlie And The Chocolate Factory. This combines video commentary from the young cast, with branching points which allow the user to view short subject featurettes, much like The Matrix's standard DVD Follow The White Rabbit feature. The video commentary is overlaid on the main video stream, so we can follow the movie as they are onscreen simultaneously. It's far from the most consistent commentary I've heard, certainly the main cast are the most incisive and interesting - but it's there.

Furthermore, there are several web-enabled features. The user must register their email address using an onscreen keyboard and activate their account using a computer. It's far from the most user-friendly means. Anyway, my registration owl must have gotten lost somewhere across Bristol... These features include a Pick Your Favourite Scenes - anything in the Dumbledore's Army scenes would be my pick, or Ron having "the emotional depth of a teaspoon". And a Live Community Screening feature... I have no idea how this would properly function, although it seems to let multiple users link up and have international screenings of Order Of The Phoenix, while using a text-chat facility... This remote control functionality might be an interesting feature, much like The Simpsons Movie has done on DVD, with pausing and discussion on various points during the experience - perhaps a way of syncing up a recorded film lecture with pausing, graphical amendments to the onscreen image and so on. But I digress.

On to Disc 2, and we have a short collection of deleted scenes lasting 10 minutes. More accurately, this would be described as scene-extensions and trims. Nothing that would placate the Potter-maniacs who demand absolute adherence to the text.

The Hidden Secrets Of Harry Potter is a decent enough featurette - made prior to the movie's release, and hence the final book. It's a discussion of plot themes, backed up with film clips and talking heads - including much of Phoenix's filmic talent and other knowledgeable Potterphiles. Knowing what we know about the outcome of the story, it's rather outdated - but for an appreciation of how faithful these movies have been to the core story, it's not too bad.

Trailing Tonks - Natalia Tena, who plays the Metamorphagus character Nymphadora Tonks, takes us on a tour round the set of Harry Potter And The Order Of The Phoenix while they're shooting. The plan is simple, an intimate nuts-and-bolts tour of Leavesden Studios while a major motion picture is revving up. It's nice, relaxed and rather fun - although you're not going to learn too much about the making of the movie.

The Magic Of Editing, like the Men In Black: Limited Edition and Die Hard DVDs, gives us an insight to how important editing is towards scenes. Not just piecing together shots, but also overlaying music and sound effects tracks. It's grossly simplified stuff, but worth a spin. It's preceded by a short discussion and demonstration with director David Yates and editor Mark Day of why editing is so important.

Also, the IME branching featurettes are duplicated on disc 2, and can be watched together with a Play All option, which lasts a total of 60 or so minutes. I gained yet more appreciation of the art and craft of invisible special effects by watching this.

It's also worth noting that all of these extras are presented in full high-definition (1080 lines of image) video.

This is a fine special edition, with bounteous extras, a distinctly okay film, and top-notch audio and video.

Reviewed on: 11 Dec 2007
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Harry Potter and friends find themselves in trouble as a mysterious stranger seizes power at Hogwarts.
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Region: 0

Ratio: 2.35:1 1080p transfer encoded with VC-1

Sound: Dolby TrueHD; Dolby Digital Plus

Extras: In Movie Experience, Trailing Tonks, Deleted Scenes, The Hidden Secrets of Harry Potter, The Magic of Editing, HD DVD exclusive web-features

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