Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. While not a stellar transfer, the presentation satisfied.
My main complaint came from an issue that also marred some earlier Potter flicks: grain. The Super35 format tends to be grainy, and that was a distraction at times here, mainly – but not exclusively – in low-light shots. Otherwise, the image appeared free from defects.
As with prior discs, sharpness looked great. The movie maintained a fine sense of detail and distinctiveness at all times. I noticed no jagged edges or shimmering, and edge enhancement appeared to be absent.
Like I mentioned in the body of my review, Phoenix lacked many prominent hues. Umbridge’s outfits and room tended to be the most dynamic tones in the flick, though the colors always stayed pretty subdued. Within the production design, though, the hues looked good, and the purples and pinks looked pretty rich. Blacks were dark and dense, while shadows seemed clear and smooth. Only the graininess of the image knocked it down to a still-solid “B+”.
In the case of the film’s Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, it also seemed very good but not quite up to “A”-level standards. I thought the soundfield didn’t quite present the consistently enveloping experience I’d require to earn that higher grade. Not that it didn’t offer some strong bits. The variety of action sequences – especially the climactic one – created a lively sense of environment in which different elements zipped around the room. These opened up matters well and allowed the action to become vivacious.
I just didn’t think we got enough of these to make it to “A”-level. However, the track remained engaging, even during quieter scenes. Music showed good stereo imaging, and environmental elements formed together in a smooth, natural fashion. All of these made the soundfield quite good, if not killer.
Audio quality always satisfied. Speech was natural and concise, without edginess or other issues. Music sounded bright and vibrant, while effects came across as tight and powerful. Bass response appeared deep and firm. Across the board, this was a very good soundtrack.
Virtually all of this set’s extras are on its second disc. DVD One opens with a few ads. We get promos for Harry Potter Interactive DVD Game, Lego Batman: The Video Game, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix: The Video Game, Get Smart, 10,000 BC and I Am Legend.
Over on DVD Two, we start with a collection of nine Additional Scenes. Taken together, they run a total of 10 minutes, 26 seconds. The first is really just an alternate angle; it shows Professor Trelawney’s awkwardness during Umbridge’s introduction at the Hogwarts banquet. It’s cute but would’ve been a terrible choice to include in the movie, as it completely distracts from Umbridge’s fascism.
Trelawney also comes to the fore in one of the others, as we see an alternate version of the scene in which Umbridge demands a prophecy from her. This one might actually be a little better than the segment in the final flick, mostly because it better explains why Trelawney can’t produce a vision for Umbridge; in the film as released, Trelawney looks incompetent.
An extension to the scene where ther kids take Umbridge to the forest either makes her look more sympathetic or nuttier – I’m not sure. It’s not particularly useful, though, so it was a good cut. All the remaining snippets tend to be minor bits that don’t stand out enough to merit individual mention. They’re interesting to see but not memorable.
An “on the set” featurette called Trailing Tonks goes for 19 minutes and 20 seconds. It follows actor Natalia Tena as she wanders around the movie’s sets. We watch her go through hair and makeup and then checks out various aspect of the production. This is a decidedly fluffy look at Phoenix, but it gives us an interesting perspective and entertains as it goes. I must admit it doesn’t make sense that she gets her hair and makeup done just to give us a tour, though; I figured the program would end with her at work, but we never see that.
The Hidden Secrets of Harry Potter lasts 43 minutes, 49 seconds. Narrated by Jason Isaacs, we find comments from Tena, producer David Heyman, What Will Harry Do? author Janet Scott Batchler, The Harry Potter Lexicon’s Steve Vander Ark, Unlocking Harry Potter author John Granger, director David Yates, and actors Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Gary Oldman, Ralph Fiennes, Imelda Staunton, Evanna Lynch, Helena Bonham Carter, Emma Watson, James and Oliver Phelps, Brendan Gleeson, Matthew Lewis and Emma Thompson.
Essentially “Secrets” acts as a primer to bring fans back up to snuff before they see Phoenix. However, it fails to provide a particularly concise summary of stories, characters and themes. It kind of hops around from one area to another, all with the goal to promote Phoenix. This could’ve been a good summary program, but it’s too disjointed to succeed.
Finally, Harry Potter and the Magic of Editing provides two components. It starts with a five-minute and 19-second featurette that provides remarks from Yates and editor Mark Day. They discuss their work together and get into some specifics about particular scenes. This proves to be a tight, informative chat that tells us a lot about editing in its short running time.
Once the featurette ends, we can create our own edit of a Phoenix scene. I like this piece in theory but I think the reality disappoints. It’s very limited and doesn’t allow for a lot of creativity. It’s fun to see some alternate angles of the scene in question but otherwise it’s not particularly engaging.
The best of the series, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is the first one to make me interested to see what happens next. It’s still too long and meanders a bit too much, but it offers better focus and greater drama. The DVD presents excellent picture and sound but lacks substantial supplements. Though the continued absence of quality extras remains a disappointment, there’s a lot to like about this interesting movie and good DVD.