“When few believe that Lord Voldemort has returned, Harry must secretly train his friends for the wizarding war ahead.”
In Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Harry returns to Hogwarts facing skepticism from not only his classmates, but the entire Wizard community, as only his closest friends believe him when he claims he fought You Know Who the previous year. Also joining the faculty is Dolores Umbridge, sent by the Ministry of Magic as basically a tool of propaganda, imposing her cruel will and archaic lesson plan disguised in cute giggles and pink outfits. Seeing as she won’t teach them anything useful in how to defend themselves, Harry takes it upon himself to train his fellow classmates in what he knows, knowing that dangerous times are ahead.
As the members of the self-proclaimed “Dumbledore’s Army” struggle to remain hidden as rules against congregation are strictly enforced by Umbridge and her minions, Harry begins to have visions of a place and events of which he cannot explain. Worried about a connection between him and Voldemort, Harry begins to train with Snape to protect his mind from invasion. But, as the students are discovered, and Dumbledore stripped of his title, Umbridge takes over Hogwarts and enforces even stricter rules.
Harry has one final vision, which sends him and his friends to the Ministry of Magic to retrieve an item sought after by Voldemort. In a thrilling and action-packed third act, Harry and his friends face danger on all sides, as Voldemort reveals himself to the rest of the world.
Odds are most people who are interested in Harry Potter have seen it already, multiple times. Those who have and are interested in this new release by Warner Bros. are only asking themselves one question: is it worth the upgrade? In my opinion – Yes, it is. I’ve always enjoyed the films, never read the books, so I have only a mild love for the films and don’t feel I’m very biased in that opinion. They spark something magical (no pun intended) however, and take the viewer on a journey of wonderment as they literally watch these children grow up before their eyes who live in a world we all dreamed of when we were kids.
Now, for a more technical exploration of this release, since that’s what you’re really paying for.
Warner Bros. and I have had a beef for a long time when it comes to packaging. Since my early days collecting DVDs, I was, and still am, plagued with the dreaded snap cases that they decided to sell all of their titles in. Smooth rows of beautiful movie titles, all in sleek cases, all alike—until the ugliness of the snap case visibly lets you know it wants to be different from all the rest. Anyway, Warner Bros. got their act together, and in the new formats, Blu-ray and 4k they have decided to play nice and follow the standard.
Their packaging for these Harry Potter films are simply stunning. The cover, which isn’t just a picture of the movie poster or the dreaded floating heads, is a picture of an item of meaning in that particular film. This one, for example, is a beautiful depiction of the prophecy that Harry seeks to obtain. Each film comes with a slip cover as well, which surprisingly means a lot to some people. I normally wouldn’t mention the cover, but Warner Bros. did such a beautiful job that it deserves recognition.
This is another source of contention I have with Warner Bros. While other studios go all out in the making of their menus, highly interactive with clips and sound effects, Warner Bros. does the exact opposite, to make it as bland as possible, and unfortunately this hasn’t changed much. Although the menu buttons are spruced up a bit to look like some kind of Harry Potter font, they are still horrible to navigate through and have no fluidity to them whatsoever.
This is why you’re paying to own this for the 3rd or 4th time. The video for the 4k disc is presented in 2160p Ultra High Definition 2.4:1. Right on the cover it reminds you of the benefits of 4k, “for brighter, deeper, more lifelike colors”, and what better world to show this off in than Harry Potter, where the wizarding world has in abundance. The 4k transfer is simply stunning, with all the promises on the cover kept.
Also included is the blu-ray version of the film, which is presented in 1080p High Definition 2.4:1.
The audio on the 4k disc is presented in DTS:X and sounds incredible. Levels are well balanced, with powerful utilization of all the surrounds. The Harry Potter films have always had an impressive score accompanying the films, and it sounds fantastic on this DTS:X track.
The blu-ray disc contains a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track.
There aren’t any new special features created for this release, however, there is still an impressive list of special features here, which are included on both the blu-ray disc and a separate disc. These will include:
On the blu-ray disc:
This release features the In-Movie Experience, which honestly I find quite intrusive while watching the film, but thankfully you have the option to watch all these mini-featurettes by themselves, which takes a little over an hour to watch.
- Dementors at Little Whining
- Grimmauld Place
- Tonk’s Face Transformation
- The Ministry of Magic Atrium
- Neville’s Cactus
- Rupert’s Giggle Fits
- The Paper Swallow
- Professor Umbridge
- Professor Umbridge’s Spies
- Professor Umbridge’s Office
- The Thestrals
- Hog’s Head Tavern
- The Room of Requirement Door
- The Room of Requirement
- The Inquisitorial Squad
- Harry and Cho Under the Mistletoe
- Azkaban Prison
- The Mirror Explosion
- The Weasley’s Fireworks Display
- The Explosion of Decrees
- The Centaurs of the Forbidden Forest
- The Centaurs Take Professor Umbridge
- The Thestral Flight
- The Hall of Prophecy
- The Choreography of Magic
- A Wizard’s Duel: Voldemort Vs. Dumbledore
On the stand alone special features disc you’ll see:
- Behind the Story
- Creating the World of Harry Potter Part 5: Evolution (57:16)
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix: Behind the Magic (46:46)
- Building the Magic: The Sets of Harry Potter (20:22)
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix: The Rebellion Begins (23:13)
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix: Fulfilling a Prophecy (13:02)
- Trailing Tonks (19:25)
- Harry Potter: The Magic of Editing
- Deleted Scenes
Although you aren’t going to see anything new in these releases, the stunning visual quality will make you feel like you are watching the film for the first time. Unfortunately, the first four films won’t be released until later in 2017, so if your plan was to watch them all in order, you will have to wait. Hopefully by then a box set of the 4k releases will be available as well, so if you can wait it out, I would, but owning the collection in 4k is a must.