Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix: Two-Disc Special Edition – DVD Review

Available at Amazon.com

Director:

David Yates

Starring:

Daniel Radcliffe ………. Harry Potter
Emma Watson ………. Hermione Granger
Rupert Grint ………. Ron Weasley
Michael Gambon ………. Albus Dumbledore
Ralph Fiennes ………. Lord Voldemort
Gary Oldman ………. Sirius Black
Katie Leung ………. Cho Chang
Bonnie Wright ………. Ginny Weasley
Matthew Lewis ………. Neville Longbottom
Imelda Staunton ………. Dolores Umbridge
Evanna Lynch ………. Luna Lovegood
Alan Rickman ………. Severus Snape
Emma Thompson ………. Sybil Trelawney
Helena Bonham Carter ………. Bellatrix Lestrange
Robbie Coltrane ………. Rubeus Hagrid
David Thewlis ………. Remus Lupin
Natalia Tena ………. Nymphadora Tonks
Brendan Gleeson ………. Alastor “Mad-Eye” Moody
George Harris ………. Kingsley Shacklebolt
Peter Cartwright ………. Elphias Doge
Maggie Smith ………. Minerva McGonagall
Julie Walters ………. Mrs. Weasley
James Phelps ………. Fred Weasley
Robert Hardy ………. Cornelius Fudge
Harry Melling ………. Dudley Dursley
Tony Maudsley ………. Grawp
Warwick Davis ………. Filius Flitwick
Richard Griffiths ………. Vernon Dursley
Jason Isaacs ………. Lucius Malfoy
Fiona Shaw ………. Petunia Dursley
Tom Felton ………. Draco Malfoy

The Movie

Adapting films from popular books is not a recent trend. Neither is fans of those books complaining about the films that are made. You see there are usually two kinds of fans of very popular books who then see the movies. There are “fanatics” and “realists”. Fanatics complain about how the movie is nothing like the book, how the book is superior to the movie in every aspect, and then vilify the movie as being horrible based on it not being like the book. Realists, on the other hand, understand that the movie can’t be exactly like the book since most books translated word-for-word into a movie would last far too long. Realists are also able to form their own opinions on the movie as they are able to separate the movie from the book. Yet realists can still be called super fans of the books.

While it’s hard to imagine, there are still some people who don’t fall into either of those groups when it comes to the highly popular series of Harry Potter books. Some people have never read the seven fantasy adventure novels by J.K. Rowling. They instead opt to watch the movies without ever reading the books. This group of people tends to be closer to the realists than the fanatics when they watch the Harry Potter films. They are able to judge the films on their own merits without knowing that anything is missing.

When it came to adapting the fifth novel into a movie, it looked like a rather large feat. After all, the fifth novel is the longest book in the Harry Potter series. With a new director and a new screenwriter on board for Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix as well, there would be little doubt that the movie would attract all kinds of critics including fanatics, realists, and non-readers.

In Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe), Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint) and Hermione Granger (Emma Watson) enter their fifth year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Much of the wizarding community has shunned Harry and Albus Dumbledore (Michael Gambon), Hogwarts headmaster, who claim that Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) has returned after 14 years by regaining a body, which has restored him to full power. The “Order of the Phoenix”, a group sworn against Voldemort, is using its vast array of wizards and witches magical abilities to combat Voldemort. Meanwhile, Cornelius Fudge (Robert Hardy), Minister for Magic, suspects that Dumbledore is using these claims of The Dark Lord’s return as a means to over-throw Fudge as Minister. In retaliation, a new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher is appointed by the Ministry in order to keep an eye on Hogwarts. This new teacher, Dolores Umbridge (Imelda Staunton), implies strict new teachings and rules, forcing a group of students, under the tutelage of Harry, to form a club, by the name of “Dumbledore’s Army”. Harry teaches “Dumbledore’s Army” to use defensive magic as they prepare for the inevitable war with Voldemort.

The first thing you will notice about this film is that is much darker than the rest of the films in the series. The fourth movie, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, was the first in the series to be rated PG-13. Once again, this movie is rated PG-13. That shouldn’t surprise you as Harry and the rest his class at Hogwarts are no longer kids. They are full-fledged teenagers. That means their hormones are in well working order now. What may surprise you is how somber this movie actually is, though. Of course, you might expect that when the most vile character in the Harry Potter series, Lord Voldemort, returned in the previous movie and is now featured extensively in this film.

While most of the core cast is back for this fifth film, there are some notable additions. Imelda Staunton as the new “Defense Against the Dark Arts” teacher is a wonderful addition to the cast. She seems prim and cheerful on the outside, but on the inside she is nothing but an evil bureaucrat. You will love to hate her in this film. Helena Bonham Carter as Bellatrix Lestrange is definitely freaky and crazy enough to be one of Voldemort’s minions. But perhaps the most understated new addition is the role of Luna Lovegood, played by Evanna Lynch. That character is a little weird, but she fits in nicely in the Harry Potter world.

As has been mentioned, this is the longest book in the series but the movie actually turns out to be the shortest of five films so far. That will draw the ire of many fanatics out there. There are definitely many parts of the book missing here. However, new screenwriter, Michael Goldenberg, decided to focus on the major parts of the book. We mostly follow Harry Potter’s emotional journey. He is no longer fighting outside demons. He is fighting the demons on the inside as well, along with all anxiety of being in adolescence. Most of the action in this film takes place inside of Harry’s mind. However, there is at least one great supernatural fight at the climax of this film to look forward to.

The biggest complaint that can be said about this film is that it often feels like it is just treading water, waiting for the something bigger to occur in future films. At times the plot seems to jump around too much as well. But with that being said there can’t be any real conclusion to this movie. There are still two more films to come and the ultimate ending is not far away. However, the plot of this movie advances the overall storyline nicely as we work towards the ultimate conclusion. There is just enough action to balance out the emotion.

While fanatics will point out that lots of the book is lost in translation to the big screen in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, realists will point out the pure emotion coming to life on the big screen. It’s one thing to read about all of this in a book, it’s another to actually see it. While this movie is short on action and fun like previous films, it does capture the essence of what this series has turned into. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is dark and somber, but get used to it as that mood shouldn’t change drastically in the next two films. If you can separate the novel from the movie, or better yet not read the novel before you see this movie, you will probably enjoy Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. While the scattered plot doesn’t allow this film to be the best so far, the emotion is kicked up just enough to make it a welcome addition to the Harry Potter series.

The Video:

The video is given in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen color, which is enhanced for 16:9 TVs. For the majority of this film, the video is top-notch. No complaints at all. There are some scenes, where the video is a little grainy though. Overall the video quality is pretty good, but it could have been better.

The Audio:

The audio included is available in either English Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround sound, French Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround sound, or Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround sound. There are subtitles available in English, Spanish, and French as well. The music and dialogue come out loud and clear, so no major problems here either.

The Extras:

“The Hidden Secrets of Harry Potter” Featurette
This run 43 minutes long. It is basically an in-depth look into all five movies in search for clues to the mystery of Harry’s true destiny. This also acts as a “behind-the-scenes” featurette to this movie as we talk to the cast, crew, and Harry Potter “experts” about the story of this movie and how it all fits in the grand scheme of things. This is very intriguing as it reexamines the major events of past movies and tries to give us clues on where future films could be going.

“Trailing Tonks” Featurette
This featurette has Natalia Tena, who plays Nymphadora Tonks in the movie, leading us on a personal film set tour of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. This runs 20 minutes long and is pretty entertaining. Natalia Tena is just as crazy as her character. So she is an entertaining tour guide. This is also fairly informative as well.

“Harry Potter: The Magic of Editing” Featurette
This featurette runs for 5 minutes and David Yates, director of the film, and Mark Day, editor of the film, show you how editing affects the final movie. There are lots of different takes for each scene and the job of the editor is to pick the best one with the help of the director to make the movie as good as possible. Music effects, visual effects, and sound effects all impact each scene in the movie. They take us through the process of editing one such scene as an example. It’s short, but it’s still interesting. In addition, you are then able to try it yourself and edit the same scene yourself using the instructions they give you.

Additional Scenes
There are ten minutes of scenes that didn’t make the movie. It is nothing you really have to see as most of it is filler that wasn’t needed to advance the plot

THE INSIDE PULSE

If you are a fan of the Harry Potter series of books or movies, at least rent this movie. I would lean towards buying this movie as well. If you have never read the books or movies, I wouldn’t necessarily start with this movie. However, there is an excellent special feature on this DVD where you can easily get caught up on the series and at least get some background information. So it may be worth renting this DVD for just that if you are new to the series.

The DVD Lounge’s Ratings for Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
CATEGORY
RATING
(OUT OF 10)
THE MOVIE

8
THE VIDEO

7
THE AUDIO

8
THE EXTRAS

7
REPLAY VALUE

8
OVERALL
8
(NOT AN AVERAGE)

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