[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=94722[/img]Director: David Yates
Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Ralph Fiennes, Michael Gambon, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson
Studio: Warner Home Video
Media Release Date: Dec. 11,200
When we last left him in The Goblet of Fire, Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) was fresh off a climactic and deadly battle with Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) – and we, the viewers, were still running high from the intense drama that unfolded.
Now, on the edge of our seats, we meet up with Harry again in The Order of the Phoenix…but where’s the drama?
The film picks up with Harry capping off yet another despondent summer with the Dursleys, and heading off to Hogwarts for what is sure to be another adventurous, action-packed year of living dangerously.
Instead, Harry finds that fickle classmates and magical townsfolk have turned against him after events at the Triwizard Tournament, and his beloved Headmaster mysteriously won’t give him the time of a day – that’s a lot of time for a boy to be alone with his thoughts.
The first inkling of tension comes with the introduction of Delores Umbridge (Imelda Staunton), the
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=94682[/img]perpetually pink-clad member of the Ministry of Magic and Hogwarts’ new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher. With a fondness for cats and corporal punishment, Umbridge makes it her mission to overtake Hogwarts and keep students from learning the crucial spells necessary to fight Dark Magic (and, we can only assume, Lord Voldemort).
Taking matters of defense into his own hands, Harry bands together with the secret society Dumbledore’s Army, composed of well-loved characters like bumbling Neville Longbottom (Matthew Lewis) and new, yet equally enjoyable characters like the other-worldly Luna Lovegood (Evanna Lynch). Harry teaches his loyal subjects the full roster of defensive techniques, from minor league Expelliarmus! to the advanced Patronus charm.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=94690[/img]Representing the grownups in the fight against evil is the senior version of Dumbledore’s Army, the Order of the Phoenix – funny that the film should be named after this group, when we are given little insight into its members and their roles seem, at best, very minimal.
The only member of the Order to get significant face time is Harry’s godfather, Sirius Black (Gary Oldman). Through a series of visions, Harry learns that Voldemort is trying to obtain a mysterious glass orb called a prophecy, which can only reveal its secrets to the young wizard. The best way to lure Harry forth, Voldemort knows, is to torture his only living relation - Black.
In an attempt to save his godfather, Harry seeks out the prophecy. His finding it leads to a battle with Death Eaters (among them Bellatrix Lestrange, played by Helena Bonham Carter), which in turn leads to a battle with Voldemort himself. Based on prior HP films, we’re primed and ready to see Harry step into his old role and magic some bad-guy *** – but instead it’s Dumbledore (Michael Gambon), appearing out of nowhere, who choreographs a brief and fairly unremarkable vanquishing of Voldemort and the Death Eaters.
Aspect Ratio(s) 2.40:1
The Harry Potter movies are well documented as being “dark,” but this film really takes the gloomy, poorly-lit cake. The landscape scenes are rendered unremarkable by the grayness of grass and sky (making it fortunate that there’s not a Quidditch match to be held all year). Whether this was intentional to coincide with darkening plot lines, or not, the film lost much of the visual appeal created in the first of the series.
However, a saving grace of the film’s picture quality was the color saturation. Made apparent in scenes of boldly costumed characters lurking in dark rooms, the intensity of the color against deep, pooling blacks created an air of suspense and thrill.
• English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Surround (48kHz/24-bit)
• English Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (640kbps)
• French Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (640kbps)
• Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (640kbps)
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=94698[/img]Unlike video, sound quality needs no saving graces. Be it during the muted dialogue of a secret meeting of Dumbledore’s Army, or the heated (but brief) battle between Dumbledore and Voldemort, the surround quality will put you right in the thick of the action, and you’ll never have to reach for the remote to adjust between the two. Also, we’re treated to one of the richest theme scores of the series, which is a definite attribute to the film’s many expository scenes.
The Order of the Phoenix offered a mercifully short amount of special features, most of which are targeted at the film’s younger audience:
Featurette: Trailing Tonks – (SD, 19 minutes). A behind-the-scenes tour of the Harry Potter set, from actress Natalia Tena, who plays Nymphodora Tonks.
Interactive Feature: The Magic of Editing – (SD, 5 minutes +). An expose on film editing from director David Yates and editor Mark Day that features an interactive editing session.
Deleted Scenes – (SD, 10 minutes). A collection of snippets taken out of the film, mostly centering on secondary characters.
In-Movie Experience – (HD). Features picture-in-picture commentary, pop-up trivia and “focus points” (see below) that occur randomly in the film.
Focus Points – (HD, 63 minutes). A collection of 1- to 3-minute documentaries on production, action scenes, characters and locations.
Web-Enabled Features: - (HD). A group of interactive features, including: Live Community Screening, which allows multiple owners of the movie to watch at the same time via one host; a bookmarking function called Share Your Favorite Scenes; and a Downloadables section offering ringtones and other Harry Potter products.
By far the most cerebral of the Harry Potter films (and that’s being generous), The Order of the Phoenix leaves a viewer wondering where the action is – where are the dragons, where are the hormones and where on Earth is that dratted invisibility cloak? It seems as if the captivating world of Harry Potter has lost some of its “magic,” and a disconnect has formed between characters whose friendships and tensions are usually the star of the show.
Still, I’m hesitant to write this movie off altogether. Because it’s part of a series, the Harry Potter franchise can probably ride out one flop and viewers can spend 2 hours and 19 minutes banking that there should be bigger and better adventures ahead – but if The Order of the Phoenix is any representation of Harry Potter to come, I will certainly start saving my money.