Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix - Ultra HD Blu-ray
- Street Date:
- March 28th, 2017
- Reviewed by:
- Bryan Kluger
- Review Date: 1
- April 10th, 2017
- Movie Release Year:
- Warner Bros.
- 139 Minutes
- MPAA Rating:
- Release Country
- United States
Portions of this review also appear in our coverage of the Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix Blu-ray. Specifically, Aaron Peck wrote about the Movie Itself, while Bryan Kluger penned new Vital Disc Stats, Video, Audio, and Final Thoughts sections. Both Aaron and Bryan contributed to Special Features.
The Movie Itself: Our Reviewer's Take
It's a strange phenomenon, but as J.K Rowling's Harry Potter books get longer, their film adaptations seem to get shorter. The longest of Rowling's tomes, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is 870 pages long, yet the movie version clocks in at sparse (by Potter flick standards) 139 minutes. The end result is a bit like finally getting to sneak into the grand library of Hogwarts, and only finding a stack full of Cliff's Notes.
Even at her most indulgent, Rowling has always maintained a keen appreciation for story, with each of the Harry Potter books functioning as a satisfying stand-alone adventure while also fitting snugly into a larger whole. But while 'Order of the Phoenix' hits all of the same narrative notes as Rowling's book, it doesn't sing the same tune. The story and character omissions are the most damaging of all of the Potter flicks so far, giving the film an at times perfunctory feel, as if we are witnessing only a stepping stone to the next movie and not a film that lives and breathes on its own. Make no mistake, Order of the Phoenix is far from a terrible film -- there's plenty of magic and whimsy on hard, and there's still great pleasure to be had in watching Rowling's now-classic characters and set-pieces come to life -- it just lacks the true engagement of its predecessors.
Given that so many have either read the book or seen the film, it hardly seems necessary to recap the story but I'll give it the old college try. In Order of the Phoenix, Lord Voldemort has returned, but few want to believe it. In fact, the Ministry of Magic is doing everything it can to keep the wizarding world from knowing the truth, including appointing Ministry official Dolores Umbridge as the new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher at Hogwarts. When Professor Umbridge refuses to train her students in practical defensive magic, a select group of students decides to learn on their own. With Harry Potter as their leader, "Dumbledore's Army" meet secretly in a hidden room at Hogwarts to hone their wizarding skills in preparation for battle with the Dark Lord and his Death Eaters. Needless to say, a terrifying showdown between good and evil ensues.
I know it is said every time a new Harry Potter hits the big screen, but Order of the Phoenix is truly the darkest and most mature film in the series yet. As Harry has matured (with Daniel Radcliff evolving nicely as an actor), so too have Rowling's themes and concerns. The film's final 45 minutes, in particular, contain the harshest and most assaultive violence yet seen in the series. Yes, this is a still a PG-13 adventure, but it's clear that Rowling is playing for keeps, and it is Order of the Phoenix's best asset that there are real consequences to the actions in the film. Few "children's films" these days generate any real suspense, but Order of the Phoenix does so in spades.
Unfortunately, the majority of the film still feels overloaded by the burden of simply advancing the story, rather than letting it soar. For much of the first half of the film, characters are given little to do but spout exposition. It doesn't help that Harry is so busy preparing for his quests and challenges that the kid doesn't seem to exist anymore as a flesh and blood teenager with emotions that are identifiable outside of what the plot requires. Indeed, one of the few scenes to generate any real affection is when Harry enjoys his first kiss with the cute Cho Chang (Katie Leung). How ironic is it that the most magical moment in all of Order of the Phoenix comes only when Harry lays down his wand and actually acts like a... muggle?
Having said all that, I wouldn't dream of dissuading any Harry Potter fan from seeing Order of the Phoenix. The film still gloriously realizes Rowling's universe, from the impeccably designed interiors of Hogwarts Academy to the moviemakers' clear love for their native Britain, which looks positively radiant. The final 45 minutes are also legitimately exciting, with fantasy-action sequences that rival any Lord of the Rings film, and the villainous Snape and other creatures are truly something to behold. Order of the Phoenix may lack the charming naivete of the early Potter films (and I can only hope that the final two entries in the series give the characters a bit more room to breathe), but as a stepping stone to the excitement that is still undoubtedly to come, Order of the Phoenix will more than do.
Vital Disc Stats: The Ultra HD Blu-ray
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix comes with a dual-layered UHD66 Disc, a Blu-ray Disc of the film, and a second Blu-ray Disc with all of the Bonus Materials. The Blu-rays are Region A Locked. There is an insert for a Digital HD copy as well. The discs are housed in a hard, black plastic case where two of the three discs are stacked on top of each other. There is a cardboard sleeve too.
The Video: Sizing Up the Picture
The UHD release of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is presented in 4K Ultra HD with an HEVC H.265 encode in 2160p and a 2.40:1 aspect ratio. Order of the Phoenix was filmed in Super 35mm and finished as a 2K Digital Intermediate before this release, which was up-converted to 4K UHD with an impressive HDR10 / WCG grading.
The films at this point had not fully transitioned into the darker tone, which leaves this image a bit brighter than Deathly Hallows Part I and Part II. The detail looks a bit better here and is quite vivid throughout. There is a bit of grain intact as well, so the movie doesn't look overly digital either, which is always great and gives the film depth. Take a look at the robes worn by the head wizards here. You can see the individual threads on each of them as they move through different lighting scenarios.
Inside the Department of Mysteries, you'll be able to see specks of dust on all of the robes, as well as each textured piece of glass in there nicely. The heavier CGI scenes look great as well with the different animals and beasts on display and never go soft. It all looks excellent. Perhaps the biggest upgrade here is the fantastic HDR, which just highlights every color perfectly. From the varying shades of pink on Umbridge's outfit and her office color scheme to the blue and silver lighting that covers the screen in the Department of Mysteries looks utterly outstanding.
Shades of green, blue, along with the colors of the different houses all pop off the screen and give new life to each color. Black levels are deep and inky and never cause any crush, while the white levels are perfectly balanced in the brighter of scenes where gold is seen. Skin tones are natural and smooth, and there are no major instances of any banding, aliasing, or video noise to complain about, leaving this video presentation with great marks.
The Audio: Rating the Sound
This UHD release of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix comes with a great English DTS:X track that sounds excellent.
Much like Deathly Hallows Part I & II, Order of the Phoenix has a bit more heft to it with this added track. The mix handles all of the softer conversations between the students very well in addition to the bigger wizard fights with an excellent low end. Here we are fully immersed into the student's lives as they walk through the hallways and eat in the great hall.
Through the surround speakers, you'll be able to hear great side conversations, chatter, and sound effects from all angles. When students walk on stairs or are on balconies, you'll be able to hear sounds from overhead with great directionality here. The bigger sound effects pack a good punch, specifically during the big wizard battle towards the end of the film, as well as the broom travel scene to the Order of the Phoenix. All of the spells that shoot from the wands sound sharp and hefty while panning across all of the speakers and keeping audiences fully immersed.
The score always adds to the suspense in every scene and sounds sweeping and energetic throughout. The dialogue, no matter if the characters are yelling or having an intimate conversation, sounds excellent, clear, and is free of any pops, cracks, hiss, or shrills, leaving this audio presentation with excellent marks.
The Supplements: Digging Into the Good Stuff
Blu-ray Disc 1 (Movie)
In-Movie Experience - Here is a PiP featurette, which you can access during the film, which was a great decision to do so, because Daniel Radcliffe provides a wonderful overview of the movie as we get to see everything from behind-the-scenes footage to "how did they do that" featurettes which focus on the movie's visual effects.
Focus Points (HD, 63 Mins.) - The Focus Points have been carried over from the original Blu-ray release which featured them as a Blu-ray exclusive. There are 28 short vignettes in all covering a wide variety of topics from the film. Everything from the effects used, to the characters, to the shooting locations is covered in these short but entertaining and informative Focus Points.
Blu-ray Disc 2 (Extras)
Creating the World of Harry Potter Part 5: Evolution (HD, 58 Mins.) - People who are purchasing these sets are no doubt doing it in most part because of these extensive documentaries that have been put on each release. At the end we'll have just over eight hours of behind-the-scenes footage from the filming of 'Harry Potter' over the last decade or so. This installment in the 'Creating the World' series discusses the evolution of the series. How the look and the feel of the movies change over the years as the stories get progressively darker and more harrowing. This is certainly a must watch, since this feature is the real reason to buy this set.
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix: Behind the Scenes (HD, 47 Mins.) - This has more glimpses of behind the scenes during the bigger scenes of the film with tons of interviews with the cast and crew and some on-set footage.
Building the Magic: The Sets of Harry Potter (HD, 21 Mins.) - While "The Rebellion Begins" focused on the making of the movie as a whole, this more in-depth featurette focuses on the construction of the myriad of different sets that they need to construct for the movies. It shows the thought and engineering that goes into making the world of Harry Potter as lifelike and as real as possible, but still keeping that sense of whimsy that we've grown to love.
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix: The Rebellion Begins (HD, 24 Mins.) - This is the making of featurette, more or less, for this the fifth installment in the 'Harry Potter' franchise.
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix: Fulfilling a Prophecy (HD, 13 Mins.) - This seems to be the most promotional featurette of the bunch. Lots of clips from the film interspersed with information about the plot and characters.
Trailing Tonks (HD, 20 Mins.) - Actress Natalia Tena hosts this tour of Leavesden Studios where 'Potter' is filmed.
Harry Potter: The Magic of Editing (HD, 6 Mins.) - Bored? Well, here's your chance to create your own 'Harry Potter' scene by editing a few clips together.
Deleted Scenes (HD, 11 Mins.) - There are nine scenes included here, which were also included on the first Blu-ray release. They aren't much, just a few scenes that continue on from other scenes you'll find in the movie. This is where I would've loved to see an alternate or director's cut of the movie with this stuff added in just so we could get a different cut of the film.
Trailers (HD, 3 Mins.) - Trailers for the film.
HD Bonus Content: Any Exclusive Goodies in There?
There are no HD exclusives.
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is an excellent film and furthers the story of the characters that will lead to the upcoming battle of their lives. The characters are growing up and having more adult situations now and every moment is captured perfectly.
The 4K video and HDR look amazing and the DTS:X soundtrack is fully immersive -- both are definitely an upgrade from previous versions. All of the previous extras have been imported over here too. Highly Recommended!
- Ultra HD/Blu-ray/Digital HD
- 2160p HEVC/H.265
- English: DTS:X
- Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1
- French: Dolby Digital 5.1
- English, Spanish, French
- Maximum Movie Mode
- Focus Points
- Behind the Scenes
- Deleted Scenes
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