Warner Bros. // 2007 // 139 Minutes // Rated PG-13
Reviewed by Judge Jim Thomas // June 27th, 2011
"You're a fool, Harry Potter, and you will lose everything."
At the end of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Hermione observes, "Everything is going to change, isn't it?" Truer words were never spoken, as Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix marks a turning point in the series. Beginning with this movie, Harry and Co. begin to move away from the comfort and (relative) safety of Hogwarts and its environs. They start to move into the "real world," as it were, and so they have to deal with real-world problems. Chief among these is the Ministry of Magic's dogged refusal to acknowledge that Voldemort has returned; the Ministry's campaign against Dumbledore (Michael Gambon, Gosford Park) and Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) serves to cut Harry off from the bulk of his Gryffindor classmates, as they can't help but wonder if perhaps the Ministry is correct. The Order of the Phoenix -- the group of wizards who opposed Voldemort the last time he came to power -- have reformed, but they are reluctant to bring Harry into their circle, even though they all know that he is the key to defeating the Dark Lord. Adding insult to injury, for some reason Dumbledore is studiously avoiding Harry, cutting Harry off from one of his more stabilizing influences. Worst of all, Hogwarts itself is no longer a sanctuary, as Delores Umbridge (Imelda Staunton, Vera Drake), an undersecretary with the Ministry of Magic, arrives to take a more active role in (read that "meddle in") the school's administration.
That interference goes to such extremes that Harry and other students are forced to hold their own lessons in the deviously hard-to-find Room of Requirement. That would be a full enough plate for anyone, this is Harry Potter; with all that swirling, Voldemort is scheming to penetrate the Ministry of Magic itself, into the Hall of Mysteries, to retrieve something that just may give the Dark Lord the key to vanquishing Harry once and for all.
That extended plot description illustrates the movie's main weakness -- there's a hell of plot there, and screenwriter Michael Goldenberg, taking over for Steve Kloves, fails to find a proper balance between plot and character. Even the much anticipated kiss between Harry and Cho Chang is handled in a "OK, we've checked that off, what's next?" manner. The movie's a great ride, with some magnificent set pieces -- the battle in the Hall of Mysteries is great, and the much-anticipated throwdown between Dumbledore and Voldemort is nothing less than spectacular, but at some point, the characters need a little room to breathe, and they just never get it.
The Ultimate Edition Blu-ray has the same feature disc as the original Blu-ray release; Judge Ryan Keefer already sang the praises of the VC-1 encoded video and the stellar surround sound in his review of Harry Potter And The Order Of The Phoenix (Blu-Ray).
The primary issue before this court is the validity of the "Ultimate Edition" appellation. In that regard, the edition is found wanting. The new installment of Creating the World of Harry Potter, "Evolution," traces the development of various aspects of the series through the various films. The development is traced primarily as the function of the various changes in directors, and it's a fun and enjoyable hour, but that's really it. There's the collectible booklet -- handsome, but the small format means that none of the photos have good resolution, and attempting to read the tiny text promptly gave me a headache -- the lenticular cover, and two oversized character cards; get all the ultimate editions, you get all the character cards.
That's really it as far as new material. The film itself isn't expanded -- even though deleted scenes not included with the set are referred to in various extras. With its rushed story, the move could have greatly benefited from a little more breathing room. They've expanded earlier movies, so it's not like they're not aware of the option.
At the $49.99 MSRP, the set is a complete ripoff. There's a certain amount of collectible value here, but not enough to justify that kind of price. Since you can usually find it online for closer to $29.99, it becomes a more palatable purchase, particularly if you're not upgrading. If you're looking into the entire series, though, you'd best free up a large chunk of shelf space.
Guilty of being a shameless marketing ploy.
Review content copyright © 2011 Jim Thomas; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Warner Bros.
* 2.40:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
* DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio (English)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Catalan)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Dutch)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Flemish)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (French)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (German)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Japanese)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Portuguese)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Spanish)
* English (SDH)
* German (SDH)
Running Time: 139 Minutes
Release Year: 2007
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13
* Deleted Scenes
* Focus Points
* Official Site
* Harry Potter Wiki