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Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix


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#1 Andy_Alderslade

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Posted 15 July 2007 - 06:55 AM

In what's been a summer of sequels this is actually a really watch-able and entertaining film - far more thrilling and yet less conservative than the previous films, even the acting from the teenage cast is extremely polished and at times inspired!

Slawomir Idziak's work here is very satisfying, and unlike the trailers suggest he's avoided going oppressively dark and mixing limited moments of naturalism and beauty with hyper-real atmosphere. The film hasn't quite got the extreme and beautiful naturalism that Michael Seresin brought to the third film - but it still respects some of that. If anything the speed of the film doesn't let you appreciate Idziak's work

One location an enchanted room where the kids train to fight, is both a cinematographer's wet-dream and wet-nightmare, the room is lit with gothic-moonlight but is completely lined with mirrors, I hate to think the headache that went into shooting there.


However just like the third film, its actually the overall direction that really impresses you most, David Yates is driving the film along at an incredible pace, but he's also employing every trick in the book, inter-cutting scenes, jump-cutting etc. In many respects its the opposite to the lyrical long lingering and forever moving takes of Curan's direction which I found enchanting when first watching the third film. However it draws you in and holds your attention so completely that I didn't find myself yearning that back.

Is it the best of the films? Well I don't know yet, the third film personally was such an intriguing little (i'm aware of the irony) tale about that difficult time when childhood ends and teenage-hood begins, that time in life when you really learn what to 'worry' is - the almost Truffaut like freeze-frame at the end seemed so appropriate. However that film did have its flaws, acting was a little unclarified at times, and the time-traveling climax was annoying. This film doesn't have any of those flaws, and plenty of interesting moments, but perhaps it doesn't have that depth or level of consideration.

Either way, you really have to respect the bravery and insight of the producers of these films, who keep managing to churn out these polished productions, but also take incredible risks, lets remember before the 3rd film Curan's last films was Y Tu Mamma Tambien, and with David Yates, perviously a TV director, Sex Traffic was one of his recent achievements.
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#2 John Allardice

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Posted 15 July 2007 - 04:58 PM

and the award for 'most apt typo of the year' goes to......

......and with David Yates, perviously a TV director, Sex Traffic was one of his recent achievements.


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#3 Andy_Alderslade

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Posted 15 July 2007 - 05:10 PM

and the award for 'most apt typo of the year' goes to......


HA! Sorry about that, obviously even a spellchecker can't cure dyslexia.

What's worrying is that it took me five minutes to figure what the typo was....
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#4 Max Jacoby

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Posted 15 July 2007 - 06:15 PM

I find there's quite a few dyslexic people in the film industry. Just hope it's not the line producer...
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#5 Tim Partridge

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Posted 15 July 2007 - 07:11 PM

Saw the movie earlier-

Most interesting and unexpected, it was a digital projection (though I'm pretty sure I was the only audience member who cared to notice). As soon as the real world opening sequence commenced, I wasn't convinced. Unneccessary TV "verite" operating and an overgraded image- I actually thought it was suppose to be a joke within the film, as though Harry was watching a TV show recreation of his life or something. It literally looked like the David Tennant DR WHO show, shot on Digibeta. I have seen stuff shot on the 750 (that I've worked on) that looked way more textured than this. It did all also reflect the tone of the direction and storytelling, which often felt like a primetime BBC drama.

Swalomir Idziak's lighting is competent but a completely uninspired, workman job. Don't expect any Three Colours style visuals on this (even his Bruckheimer work had a bit of style). Lovelessly exposed dense negative, artistes eye-light close ups always kinos wrapped in 216 (the clarity of this digital projection made this VERY evident in eyeball reflections)! Often the masters don't match the close ups, although it's probably never intrusive. There is one sequence near the end where some white haired villain is waving his wand, and in the master he is side and backlit, a really dramatic portrait. Cut to the close up and it's frontal lit, astop over, obviously to "flatter" the performer and not upset anyone.

I am assuming David Yate's regular DP Chris Seager was either busy or the studio wanted a big name cameraman to hold the hand of the TV guy - I'm guessing it was the former if they were content letting new composer Nicholas Hooper score the movie. Had Seager (or anyone else) shot the movie with Yates, I'm sure it would have looked the same.

My big beef is still the use of super35. Compositions are just inherently goofy and jarring. Not using all of the negative area and then having to compose within what is magnified just creates this annoying claustrophobia. The problem has been on all the Potters from the start. Unfortunately on this film, it is made worse by the TV-style direction, where a two shot seems to be as wide as we go (unless it's a brief master or CG shot). There is a courtroom scene towards the beginning of the movie, a birds eye angle of the set, and it's dollying, only lasting a few seconds. Made all of the beautiful set design worthless- why can't we just hold shots like they use to?

The operating combined also left me disappointed. Too much unmotivated, "relevant" TV verite stuff, or close up tracking shots seemingly done exclusively with medium focal length lenses on steadicam (which with the super35 was way too claustrophic). You would think it refreshing when the camerawork becomes conservative with level tripod shots, but as mentioned before though, the "two shot and close up" directorial style cancels it out.

A fairly entertaining film (Imelda Staunton is fantastic) and the general tone is fairly straight (unlike the annoying hip makeover Alfonso Cauron gave part three). Stylistically however, the conservative yet elegant camerawork of Roger Pratt for Columbus/Newell seems to be the most cinematically satisfying for a film of this genre. Just my opinion.
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#6 Zamir Merali

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Posted 15 July 2007 - 11:05 PM

I thought that the movie did not stand up to the quality of the previous ones. Allmost every shot with people in it was a CU or a two shot making it very claustrophobic. Even the scene with the giant, which is supposed to be 30 feet tall was covered in mostly closeups for the first 30 seconds. Since the giant was in close up and the actors were in closeup you couldn't even tell that it was a giant. Comparing this to how the scene with the troll was covered in the first movie, every shot of the troll was a wide shot that had tiny actors and a giant troll in the same shot to establish some danger and give us a sense of size. It doesn't really matter though, this movie will make incredible amounts of money anyway, O well.
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#7 Andy_Alderslade

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Posted 16 July 2007 - 03:42 AM

I find there's quite a few dyslexic people in the film industry. Just hope it's not the line producer...


I've actually met a few dyslexic producers, it tends to be a help rather than a hindrance - the ability to think backwards/three-demsionaly or whatever it is seems to help with problems solving abilities.

Edited by Andy_Alderslade, 16 July 2007 - 03:45 AM.

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#8 William A Chapman Jr

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Posted 19 July 2007 - 10:13 PM

I just got back from seeing it. I thought it was pretty good. It was a lot darker then the others I thought. David Yates did a good job. Dose any one know if hes doing the next one?
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#9 Jonathan Bowerbank

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Posted 19 July 2007 - 10:37 PM

I really enjoyed this one. Much better than "Goblet of Fire" which I felt was somewhat uninspired in its direction.

I really liked the perspective the team decided to take in this one though. It was much more internal and really kept us in the middle of what was going on during each scene. Very well done.
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#10 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 20 July 2007 - 02:56 AM

One thing that really bothered me about this film was how conventional the coverage was in many scenes.

Most would start with a wide establishing master, craning down on the action (usually with some CG set extensions or enhancement), and then instead of continuing to develop the shot, the film would cut to a close-up of one of the characters. And we'd never see the wide master again. I much preferred seeing Alfonso Cuaron's complex camera blocking and long takes. I thought the direction in this film was rather dull, and that the choices of coverage were pedestrian.

I was also bothered by how soft the wide and medium wide shots were in comparison to the close-ups (I saw a 35mm print). But I don't go to the theater much, so maybe that's how bad 35mm projection is in the big theater chains these days. Was this a 2K DI? I'm assuming so because of the large number of CG shots.

I was a little shocked to see Slawomir Idziak's name in the credits -- I saw nothing distinctive in the film that would make me think that he was behind the camera (well, I noticed one grad-filtered shot, but that's about it!). BTW, "Three Colors: Blue" is one of my favorite films, so nothing against him at all. I just wish he had been able to show his talent more in this film.

I thought the scene at the climax of the film which was supposed to be illuminated entirely by the wizard's wands was an interesting lighting challenge. The way it was done in this film, it looked like the scene was lit to key and then brought down in the DI, a rather boring and conventional choice, though perhaps inevitable because of the number of effects elements which had to be integrated into the scene. There was a similar (though much smaller scale) scene in Cuaron's "Prisoner of Azkaban" where Harry sneaks through the halls of the school at night by wandlight and is caught by Snape. In that scene, the contrast was much higher and the blacks were really inky black, with no fill at all. The look of it was realistic, disturbing and ominous.
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#11 Robert Hughes

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Posted 24 July 2007 - 12:27 PM

The 35mm print I saw was clean and sharp. This movie made very effective combined use of in-camera and CGI effect. I loved the room of mysteries; all those racks of globes crashing down in disastrous waves of glass, and the Voldemort/Dumbledore duel where shattered windows fly like shrapnel through the air, to be turned to dust and sand before hitting their mark. And Harry definitely should get better acquainted with Luna; she's more his type than Cho is.

Edited by Robert Hughes, 24 July 2007 - 12:29 PM.

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#12 Matt Workman

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Posted 30 July 2007 - 10:59 PM

I just saw the film today.

The opening shots of Harry in the fields and the 2.35 always make for some sexy shots IMO. However I believe the color grade shift from Straw Sunset to Berlin Contrasty drew attention to itself. Also the dolly/jib or steadicam shots in the beginning were pretty edgy for that scene. I liked em though. :rolleyes:

I agree that the street scene proceeding the dementor attack was over graded. It looked like they lit the scene with HMI's then graded the full blue to green/yellow. It played out a little muddy for me.

I really like the blue/green they use for the fantasical moonlight in the scenes. Its a very simliar hue to 8 mile. I want to start using this color on some of my night stuff. Also their candle scenes always feel good to me. Well motivated, color temp matched, etc.

The CG extension work I thought was more obvious in this film, especially in the bridge scenes. Also the school EXT courtyard didn't feel very natural this time around, very "set like." The last film in the winter scenes it felt very real.

I also noticed the wide shots beeing a little soft, like when we are birds eye view of Harry.

I still love the Harry Potter movies and will see the next ones. :ph34r:
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#13 Andy_Alderslade

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Posted 02 August 2007 - 10:13 AM

I also noticed the wide shots beeing a little soft, like when we are birds eye view of Harry.


Actually so did I, the opening shot in the parched field certainly felt soft, so did many other wide shots.

I saw this on a 35mm print on enormous odeon marble arch screen. Presumably the film went through 2K DI? Perhaps thats the reason?
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#14 John Holland

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Posted 02 August 2007 - 01:28 PM

Yep another crap 2k DI , getting really fed up with this low quality.
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#15 Pavlos Sifakis

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Posted 30 December 2007 - 12:03 PM

Saw the movie earlier-

Most interesting and unexpected, it was a digital projection (though I'm pretty sure I was the only audience member who cared to notice). As soon as the real world opening sequence commenced, I wasn't convinced. Unneccessary TV "verite" operating and an overgraded image- I actually thought it was suppose to be a joke within the film, as though Harry was watching a TV show recreation of his life or something. It literally looked like the David Tennant DR WHO show, shot on Digibeta. I have seen stuff shot on the 750 (that I've worked on) that looked way more textured than this. It did all also reflect the tone of the direction and storytelling, which often felt like a primetime BBC drama.

Swalomir Idziak's lighting is competent but a completely uninspired, workman job. Don't expect any Three Colours style visuals on this (even his Bruckheimer work had a bit of style). Lovelessly exposed dense negative, artistes eye-light close ups always kinos wrapped in 216 (the clarity of this digital projection made this VERY evident in eyeball reflections)! Often the masters don't match the close ups, although it's probably never intrusive. There is one sequence near the end where some white haired villain is waving his wand, and in the master he is side and backlit, a really dramatic portrait. Cut to the close up and it's frontal lit, astop over, obviously to "flatter" the performer and not upset anyone.

I am assuming David Yate's regular DP Chris Seager was either busy or the studio wanted a big name cameraman to hold the hand of the TV guy - I'm guessing it was the former if they were content letting new composer Nicholas Hooper score the movie. Had Seager (or anyone else) shot the movie with Yates, I'm sure it would have looked the same.

My big beef is still the use of super35. Compositions are just inherently goofy and jarring. Not using all of the negative area and then having to compose within what is magnified just creates this annoying claustrophobia. The problem has been on all the Potters from the start. Unfortunately on this film, it is made worse by the TV-style direction, where a two shot seems to be as wide as we go (unless it's a brief master or CG shot). There is a courtroom scene towards the beginning of the movie, a birds eye angle of the set, and it's dollying, only lasting a few seconds. Made all of the beautiful set design worthless- why can't we just hold shots like they use to?

The operating combined also left me disappointed. Too much unmotivated, "relevant" TV verite stuff, or close up tracking shots seemingly done exclusively with medium focal length lenses on steadicam (which with the super35 was way too claustrophic). You would think it refreshing when the camerawork becomes conservative with level tripod shots, but as mentioned before though, the "two shot and close up" directorial style cancels it out.

A fairly entertaining film (Imelda Staunton is fantastic) and the general tone is fairly straight (unlike the annoying hip makeover Alfonso Cauron gave part three). Stylistically however, the conservative yet elegant camerawork of Roger Pratt for Columbus/Newell seems to be the most cinematically satisfying for a film of this genre. Just my opinion.





I disagree. I saw the movie again on DVD and I'm totally convinced this a first rate direction. The close-ups are not the problem. They're the big advantage. Having seen LOTR and Golden Compas' great self-admiring wide masters that just show us the hard work of production designers, the Order of the Phoenix stays close to the characters, while keeping the composition always interesting. I've also seen Sex Traffic and although it's a TV miniseries the directional style is perfectly cinematical. Suddenly handheld camera and Steadycam moves are Tv'stylish? Why?

And the framing is claustrophobic, but that's part of the feeling of the film. It's how the main character is feeling.
Try look again some of the scenes: 1) Harry yelling LOOK AT ME! at Dumbledore. Excellent movement. Nice close ups.
2) Harry alone in Hogwarts bedroom. The camera Dollies back, revealling HArry and his reflection in the mirror.
3) Harry trying to reach Dumbledore after Trelawny's sucking. He's left alone in an empty space in the center of the frame and we dolly close to him from a high angle.
4) And the scene after the 3rd!
I could go on for hours, but my point is Yates did a very good job, away from Cuaron's melacholic lyrisism but close to Newell's intensive and wild style. Close to the characters but also good at the action scenes (mostly handhelded) he kept my attention to the screen all the time.

And a final notion. I am usually not a big fan of handheld camera (it's a bit cliche nowadays) but i here it worked preety well. When you use wild movement in a perfectly lit-blockbuster-beautifull world, it makes quite a contradiction. It creates a sense that something is wrong. And I think that was Yate's goal.
I found the lighting very good with intense colors, a great use of green and a very atmospheric and dark(yet preety colorful) look. Seresin did a better job, but this one is nice as well.

P.S.And just to avoid misunderstadings talking about self-admiring wide shots (did you ever count how many of them were when we first saw that Mina Tirith city at LOTR) I don't include the excellent job by Alfonso Cuaron in Azkaban. His wide slowly-moving long shots flow with the action, (they are not just a waste of time that interfers in the action) and they create great atmosphere keeping again the characters in focus and not the settings or th CGs.

Sorry for the spelling mistekes!
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#16 Jonathan Bowerbank

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Posted 01 January 2008 - 11:48 PM

Just got the film on DVD for Christmas, and there's a horrific problem with the compression. And it appears it's not an isolated incident. The first 15 minutes of the movie is so very pixelated, it's like watching the film thru a scrim. I'm returning it for the single-disc edition to see if there's a difference...but I'm not getting my hopes up :/
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#17 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 02 January 2008 - 01:42 AM

Just got the film on DVD for Christmas, and there's a horrific problem with the compression. And it appears it's not an isolated incident. The first 15 minutes of the movie is so very pixelated, it's like watching the film thru a scrim. I'm returning it for the single-disc edition to see if there's a difference...but I'm not getting my hopes up :/

I have the single disc version and I'm not noticing any pixellation on my monitor. BTW, I like the film better after a 2nd viewing, and I feel it works better on a smaller screen.
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#18 Jonathan Bowerbank

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Posted 02 January 2008 - 02:06 AM

Turns out it's not specifically the first 15 minutes, but whenever I press pause it takes 15 minutes for the system to recalibrate. Which is probably the same problem that so many others are experiencing.

I'm printing out my return form right now for Amazon, so I'll be sure to get the single disc edition. The 2nd disc was a disappointment anyways :/
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#19 Jonathan Bowerbank

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Posted 02 January 2008 - 02:54 AM

I like the film better after a 2nd viewing, and I feel it works better on a smaller screen.


I liked it the first time I saw it, but yeah, I see what you mean. Closeups do abound throughout the film, which would be a Yates/BBC style of thing to do.
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