Limited Edition | Harry Potter and ... the Sorcerer's Stone / the Chamber of Secrets / the Prisoner of Azkaban / the Goblet of Fire / the Order of the PhoenixWarner Bros. | 2001-2007 | 5 Movies | 750 min | Rated PG-13 | Dec 11, 2007
The Harry Potter Limited Edition gift set includes Harry Potters Years 1-5, a Harry Potter DVD game Hogwarts Challenge, along with a bonus disc containing over 2 hours of enhanced content, an exclusive "Harry Potter's Bookmark Collection", and collectible trading cards.
Warner Bros. | 2001 | 152 min | Rated PG | Region free
| Dec 11, 2007
Harry Potter is a ten-year-old orphan who has been living under the stairs in the house of his
cruel and abusive aunt and uncle. But on his eleventh birthday, Harry receives a letter
informing him that he has been accepted...
Warner Bros. | 2002 | 161 min | Rated PG | Region free
| Dec 11, 2007
Harry returns for his second year at Hogwart's School of Witchcraft and Wizardry along with his best friends Hermione and Ron. He ignores warnings not to go back to Hogwarts by a mysterious house elf named Dobby. Soon into the...
Warner Bros. | 2004 | 142 min | Rated PG | Region free
| Dec 11, 2007
Harry and his friends Ron and Hermione return for their third year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, where the teenagers are forced to face their darkest fears as they confront a dangerous escaped prisoner and the...
Warner Bros. | 2005 | 157 min | Rated PG-13 | Region free
| Dec 11, 2007
When Harry Potter's name emerges from the Goblet of Fire, he becomes a competitor in a grueling battle for glory among three wizarding schools - the Triwizard Tournament. But since Harry never submitted his name for the...
Warner Bros. | 2007 | 139 min | Rated PG-13 | Region free
| Dec 11, 2007
Lord Voldemort has returned, but few want to believe it. In fact, the Ministry of Magic is doing everything it can to keep the wizarding world from knowing the truth - including appointing Ministry official Dolores Umbridge as...
Since J.K. Rowling first introduced the world to Harry Potter in her enormously successful novels,
young wizard has captivated children and adults alike. It may seem odd that in an age of
cynicism, the saga of a young, orphaned boy destined to discover his talents in wizardry and do
battle with the forces of darkness should quickly rise in the ranks of our cultural icons.
in Potter, Rowling managed to imbue many core values shared by different cultures around the
world: the element of self-worth, the triumph of good over evil, the magic of discovery and the
power of both mentorship and friendship. Each of these messages is brought home with
characters and an odd assortment of mythological creatures, including hippogriffs and centaurs.
With the release of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix on Blu-ray,
Warner also delivered on BD the four previous Potter films and issued a limited version box set.
This review will focus on the Blu-ray gift box as a whole, with links to separate
reviews of the individual titles. The box looks spiffy in low-res images online, but up close it is a bit
chintzy in the look and feel department. Of course, it is meant
to resemble an old piece of luggage, like Harry's case of belongings he carries to Hogwarts each
year. Potter fans will find fun things inside--not the least of which are the BDs themselves. Each
disc is enclosed in a case resembling a text book.
The set also includes two extra DVD "books": the interactive DVD game and an disc full of Harry
Potter extras (various short documentaries for each film). In addition to the BDs and DVDs, the
box contains ornate trading cards and bookmarks. Each
metal bookmark resembles a different symbol: Hedwig, Harry's broom, a golden snitch, the
Gryffindor shield, and Voldemort's prophecy.
The gift box includes all five films in book-like cases, two DVDs containing the supplementary
material, a set of metal bookmarks and trading cards.
Let's quickly recap the saga of Harry Potter. In The Sorcerer's Stone, young Harry is adopted by his
wicked aunt and uncle, who keep him as a virtual prisoner in a small room under the stairs. After
much anguish, he is found by the groundskeeper of the wizards' school, Hogwarts, where he
is invited to attend. Harry meets his friends Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint) and
Hermione Granger (Emma Watson), and together they attend classes, master the art of
broomstick flying, face detention in the Forbidden Forest and play a high-stakes game of wizard's
chess as they try to find the Sorcerer's stone. In The Chamber of Secrets, a menacing force
emerges from within Hogwarts itself. Together, Harry, Ron and Hermione must use their
resourcefulness and burgeoning magic skills to pursue a series of clues. Following the trail of clues leads Harry into the
darkest of places, including a nest of giant spiders in the middle of the forest and ultimately, into a Chamber in Hogwarts where a threat eminates.
Harry Potter and
the Prisoner of Azkaban is the strongest film in the series. It focuses on a convicted
murderer, Sirius Black, who escapes prison and tries to sneak into Hogwarts to find Harry. The
theme of lycanthropy plays a key role in the story. Harry learns that people are not who they
seem to be, and he must risk everything to find Sirius and learn his true intentions. But who will save Harry from the spectral,
wraith-like creatures known as dementors? Harry Potter and
the Goblet of Fire pits Harry in a wizardry contest with the most gifted seniors at
Hogwarts. Harry proves his meddle but must face an even more serious challenge when Lord
Voldemort returns to human form. This theme is quickly picked up in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. In the first few
minutes of the film, Lord Voldemort returns and attacks Harry. He finds himself facing off against
an enemy that mainlines through his subconscious and threatens to take over his identity. In the
end, his feelings of resentment and solitude are mollified by Hermione, Ron and other friends,
who assist him in his battle against evil.
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone: The first film in the
series has a diffuse appearance. The film noise takes on an almost digital sheen--a quality I found
lackluster in that it detracted from the dynamics we enjoy in reference-quality 1080p. Granted,
observations are by degrees, and overall The Sorcerer's Stone is significantly more detailed than
the DVD. Part of the problem lies in the development of visual graphics and special effects, and
the integration of CGI elements into the picture. Simply put, it was not done with the utmost
care or quality compared to other films in the series, let alone films placing similar emphasis on
CGI in children's fantasy.
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets: While the first
film appears soft and diffuse, Chamber of Secrets has very good definition and contrast. With rich
colors and convincing skin tones, it also shows none of the slight digital sheen within the grain
noise observed in Sorcerer's Stone. Detail in textured clothes, facial expressions and hair are
good. But the predominant beneficiary of the definition is the barrage of special effects, which are
handled better this time around compared to the first film, where they appeared more canned.
Harry Potter and
the Prisoner of Azkaban: The video quality is nearly reference quality. Unfortunately,
while the graphics are gorgeous, the CGI effectively flattens the picture. While the depth of many
scenes is admirable, several of the night scenes appear two dimensional. Contrast, black level,
resolution and color richness are excellent. The detail is pure eye- candy--especially in daytime
landscape shots, such as when Harry and his friends are hiding in the pumpkin patch on the
outskirts of Hogwarts. CGI effects, such as the Dementors and the breakneck ride of the Knight
Bus, are also very impressive. No motion artifacts or excessive noise was observed.
Harry Potter and
the Goblet of Fire: Digital manipulation appears to have dynamically squashed the
picture a bit, and depth suffers. This is especially true where significant CGI imagery is used. The
effects are impressive, and rendered with great care. But the cost is the absence of gorgeously
palpable definition that 1080p is capable of delivering. Another factor is the slight aqua
green tint in many of the computer-generated scenes. It almost looks as if a translucent film of
toothpaste was applied to the screen. For example, watch Harry fend off the dragon during the
first challenge in the wizards' competition. When Harry and the dragon take to the skies, the
picture seems ever-so-slightly obscured by a green tint. The aqua green is gone during the
brighter scenes which, not surprisingly, show superior depth and presence.
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix: Presented in
2.40:1 with a VC-1 codec, the video quality of Order of the Phoenix is crisp and detailed. The
overall dark, shadow-heavy picture, featuring excellent black level and contrast, still delivers
warm skin tones and light effects--fireworks and magical flashing lights. In CGI-laden productions,
the processing required for merging the artificially generated graphics with the film reduces the
element of depth. But the effects in Order of the Phoenix are rendered very convincingly and
some sacrifice in depth is worth it.
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone: While not laden
with reverb or smearing, voices and music do not have the
precise, crisp definition associated with most audio content on BD. Like the video, it has a soft,
quality. The use of surround effects is good, and some content is fairly innovative, such as the
quidditch game played on broomsticks where students from different Hogwart dormitories face off
in not-so-friendly competition. Listen to the sound of the golden, winged ball that Harry must
chase down. It hums, buzzes and blips with fairly engaging audio resolution. However, the
broomsticks sound more like jet engines, often with heavy LFE content. Again, the production
was held back by some amateur decisions and cannot quite achieve the magic it so desperately
tries to depict. Insofar as the Blu-ray production is concerned, it feels like Warner's choices also
held it back, as there is no high bitrate PCM track.
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets: The sound
definition adds greatly to the impact of the special effects. Taking the example of the
scene with the basilisk in the chamber, each element of the serpent's movements is
characterized by a tonally distinct sound. When the basilisk strikes, there is plenty of deep bass
and mid-bass rumble, as the rocks of the sculpture break apart from the impact. Although the
sounds are palpable and convincing, they occasionally have a canned quality that does not
perfectly match the visuals. For exampls, in the quidditch match between Gryffindor and
Slytherin, the broomsticks sound more like flying jets than brooms moving through the air. Yet
the overall impact is very impressive, and the audio quality has as much to do with this as the
video. Surrounds are aggressive and so is use of the LFE channel. I would have liked to hear this
mix in 24-bit resolution, but clearly Warner is unprepared to deliver the best that Blu-ray can
Harry Potter and
the Prisoner of Azkaban: The audio is near reference quality, which only makes one
wonder how impressive it could have been with higher bit-rate PCM. Voices and musical
arrangements are full and clear, the soundstage is immersive and apt sonic cues are delegated to
the appropriate speaker(s) for a powerful home theater experience. The audio production values
are admirable. Sound effects really hit their mark with more impact than previous Potter films.
The rumble and squeal of the bus ride is a good example. So, too, is the quidditch match, in
which a whole array of sonic cues barrage the ears, from the flying balls that tweak the tweeters
to Harry's Nimbus 2000 broomstick that rumbles the subwoofer.
Harry Potter and
the Goblet of Fire: The surround sound is crisp, with pinpoint imaging of some effects.
Voices are clear, with good detail, but many of the other effects and the massed strings prevalent
in the score had a homogeneous quality to them and did not sound as dynamic or vibrant as in
The Prisoner of Azkaban. The audio assigned to various characters, creatures and props at times
didn't seem mastered at the correct level. Returning again to the dragon scene--which, done
right, could have been a reference-quality, standout in the series--the sound of the dragon flying
and Harry's broom made noises that were surprisingly similar. Now granted, I've never heard the
flight of a dragon, or a broom either, for that matter, but one would think the dragon would
create more voluminous audio effects and that a broom would be relatively quiet. But that is not
the way the sound was produced. Part of the problem is that the 16-bit 5.1 PCM track, at 48 kHz,
is not of significantly higher resolution than your average CD or DD track. That is not sufficient
resolution for a complex audio mix with music and a variety of sound effects.
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix: The audio is
presented in 16-bit PCM 5.1 at a sampling rate of 48 kHz. With excellent use of surrounds and
prodigious LFE content, the mix is produced with great attention to detail. It will give any
system's tweeters and woofers a serious workout. One of the technical triumphs of the BD's
audio content is the good definition of massed strings. Orchestral compositions by Nicholas
Hooper figure prominently in the score. Making good use of the 5.1 soundstaging, "Order of the
Phoenix" carries these symphonic passages through the scenes dense with audio effects and
dialogue. Rather than constrict each element of the mix, the music, voices and effects maintain
good clarity and resolution, even during the loudest moments of the battle scenes.
Without exception, the bonus materials for each film mirror the DVD versions, with very few
featurettes getting the HD upgrade. For a more detailed roundup of the supplementary material
included for each film, please see the individual reviews (links above). In general there is nothing in
these bonus featurettes that would make one want the box over any other version. The main draw
is the box itself and the gift materials--the cards and bookmarks shown above. These can make very
enjoyable trinkets for children who are fans of Harry Potter.
The Blu-ray box set not only makes a great gift for fans of Harry Potter, it is a convenient way to
collect all five films in 1080p. If you're at all into the Potter series, memorabilia, collector's items or
box sets, this package is the way to go. The material is somewhat uneven in terms of the acting,
direction, audio and video, with the third film in the series and the fifth taking top honors. But as a
package, the Harry Potter saga offers many hours of solid, wholesome, imaginative and engaging
entertainment. It's an expensive box set, but will find a good home in many burgeoning Blu-ray
libraries. If you're interested, get it while the limited edition box is in production!
Warner Home Video has announced that they will release the 'Harry Potter Years 1-5 Giftset' to Blu-ray on November 11th, day-and-date with the DVD re-release. Last year, Warner released the 'Harry Potter Limited Edition Gift Set' in a collectible case, and this ...
Harry Potter: Years 1-5 Gift Set Blu-ray, Forum Discussions