Overall it's stunning. One of my favorite things about this film is the chrome-like feel it has visually. The colors are rich and saturated and the Blu-Ray transfer is gorgeous. It's the first of the series to really take on the grand scale of the Magical universe. From the Quidditch World Cup to the Yule Ball, we truly see how sweeping and immense this world really is. Harry's task versus the deadly Hungarian Horntail dragon and eerie descent into the Black Lake give this film an adventurous epic feel, more so than the previous three where most of the action takes place in the classroom or around Hogwarts.
I've heard some complaints that the films get too dark at this point, to which I'd like to remind those complaining that this entire series is an allegory to the events leading up to and involving World War II, and that wasn't exactly our crowning achievement was it? After all, this was the first Potter film to get a PG-13 rating. Harry's growing up and realizing, like we all must, that the world can be a dark place. A dark place that cant be illuminated by a simple Lumos spell, but only kept at bay by the light of close friends and brave choices. The series only gets darker as Harry grows older and the movies reflect this growth. The opening scene sets the stage as we see dark forces kill an innocent bystander as easily as throwing away trash. The movie also has one of the series' most heart wrenching scenes of a father mourning his dead son. Again, these are necessary to get the point across that these are not cute villains who clumsily kidnap and monologue. They are true evil and mercy is not their forte.
We also finally get our first real look at the corporeal Voldemort, played by Ralph Fiennes. Fiennes can play creepy, as anyone who has seen Red Dragon knows, but he takes it up a notch to play Mr. Nightmare Fuel himself. This is an enormous step up from the initial glimpse of Voldemort in Sorcerer's Stone, which was simply awful. Ralph Fiennes has admitted to not taking his role as You-Know-Who too seriously, and yet he totally immerses himself in this role, shaving all his body hair and trying take after take to get it "scary enough". His dedication truly pays off as he is more than believable as a inhuman psychopath.
We also get a much-needed lighter feel from the highly-anticipated Yule Ball. From the get-go, the cast demonstrates the devastatingly awkward task of finding a date to the dance. Even at this awkward age, the cast is still charming and endearing and the Ball itself is absolutely beautiful. One of my favorite scenes from the entire franchise is the Hogwarts mosh pit in front of the Weird Sisters' performance of "Dance Like a Hippogriff". (And yes, those are members of Radiohead.) There's also the fan-favorite moment of Harry basking in the sudden beauty of his girl best friend, in all it's platonic glory.
It's a wonderfully encompassing film, truly engrossing you in the Potterverse. Sweeping cinematography, epic scores and an international cast truly bring you into the Magical world. Having read the books, I cant speak for any confusion or plot holes that more casual movie-only fans might experience. The book is immense, over 700 pages, and there's bound to be omissions, but overall I think the true storyline and important points are conveyed.
Games: There are several simple mini-games on the Extra Features. Having played Goblet of Fire on the Xbox, they were slightly below my skill level, but my Kindergartner had a blast evading the dragon and mermaids.
Behind-The-Scenes: Surprisingly, one of my favorite extras. Cameras follow around the three TriWizard champions for a day. Clemence Poesy as Fleur Delacour, Stanislav Ianevski as Viktor Krum and a surprisingly charming, pre-sparkle Robert Pattinson as Cedric Diggory, all lead you around on a typical day of filming at Leavesden Studios. This is particularly fun for those of us who love all seeing the day-to-day life on set, including wardrobe and make-up, stunt production and even cafeteria food.
Extra Disc "Creating The World of Harry Potter PArt 4: Sound & Music: Again, I might be biased, with being a huge score and composition nerd, but this was really fun. It incorporates all the music and its production from each film. Seeing and hearing how "Hedwig's Theme" (the quintessential Harry Potter song) was born is a real treat. There is also the breakdown of several characters' themes, such as the appropriately pompous tango for Gilderoy Lockhart and the annoyingly personification of Dolores Umbridge in her theme. There are also a few explorations of sound effects and foley production, including how they made that ominous freezing of the Black Lake in Prisoner of Azkaban.
Commentary: The Phelps twins are the perfect embodiment of the Weasley twins. Just hearing them talk and joke around confirms this. They always have a bit on the Extra Features, either as DVD guides or, like they are here, commentary hosts. Clever humor aside, they also introduce little factoids and trivia throughout the commentary.
Interview: The trio has an interview with Richard Curtis in the Gryffindor common room. Unfortunately, there's nothing really new discussed, and in my opinion it falls a little flat.
Booklet: Hardcover book comes with glossy color stills and images from the film.
Collector cards: Two collector cards featuring Ron Weasley and Alastor "Mad-Eye" Moody are nice, but nothing special, especially when compared to the epic collector cards one might get in (for example) the collector's edition of The Wizard of Oz. ( A film produced long before lenticular and high-def film)