Adventure Blu-ray Review

'Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them' Blu-ray Review: This return to J.K. Rowling's wizarding world has more than just a few tricks up its sleeve

April 7, 2017Ben Mk





FEATURE: 
If you don't know what a Muggle is, you're clearly not a Harry Potter fan. For everyone else, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is for you; and in a world where dead film franchises and cancelled TV shows are being resurrected for new audiences, it's one of the few examples of the approach done right.


The year is 1926, and Magizoologist Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) — and his suitcase of fantastical creatures — has just landed in New York City. Unfortunately, the atmosphere is less than hospitable for individuals of non-Muggle descent, due to the terror wreaked across the pond by Dark Wizard Gellert Grindelwald. The agents of the Magical Congress of the United States of America (aka the MACUSA) are on edge, and anti-witchcraft sentiment has reached a boiling point, thanks to the propaganda spread by a group calling themselves the Second Salemers.

Making matters worse, a mysterious, dark force has been unleashed upon the Big Apple. And when suspicions fall on one of Newt's menagerie of magical beasts — a few of which have just so inconveniently managed to escape — it's up to him to find the real culprit, while also wrangling up his runaway pets along the way. Luckily, he'll have a little help from a few newfound acquaintances, including former MACUSA investigator Tina Goldstein (Katherine Waterston), her mind-reading sister, Queenie (Alison Sudol), and "No-Maj" Jacob Kowalski (Dan Fogler).

The film also stars Colin Farrell, Samantha Morton and Ezra Miller; and, suffice to say, the top-notch cast is just one of the reasons viewers will adore this imaginative, yet grown-up prequel. Scripted by J.K. Rowling herself and directed by four-time Harry Potter veteran David Yates, Fantastic Beasts proves to be a wondrous return to the Potterverse, albeit with a slightly darker edge. Nonetheless, with no fewer than four followups planned, it's a side of the beloved franchise moviegoers can look forward to seeing much more of in the near future.

AUDIO & VISUALS: 
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them conjures up nothing short of a fantastic viewing experience on Blu-ray, with a stellar 1080p transfer that offers up a crisp and film-like image, from the movie's recreation of 1920s New York, to the Art Deco design of MACUSA's headquarters, to the feathers, fur and scales of the many CGI creatures, all of which is bolstered by a color palette that, while somewhat dark and desaturated, shines vibrantly whenever wizardry is afoot. Similarly, the disc's dual Dolby Atmos and DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 sound mixes provide excellent accompaniment to the visuals, creating a soundscape alive with the sounds of spells, not to mention the chittering, roaring and chirping of such fantastic beasts as Nifflers, Erumpents and Occamys.


EXTRAS: 
Warner's two-disc Blu-ray combo pack includes an UltraViolet digital copy, a DVD and the following Blu-ray extras:

  • Before Harry Potter: A New Era of Magic Begins! (15:31) - J.K. Rowling reflects on the Harry Potter phenomenon; she, Director David Yates and Producers David Heyman and Lionel Wigram talk about returning to the franchise; and the cast recount making the film.
  • Characters (24:19) - Five featurettes about the film's main cast of characters, the actors' portrayals, and the costume and production design ("The Magizoologist," "The Goldstein Sisters," "The No-Maj Baker," "The New Salemers" and "The President and the Auror").
  • Creatures (20:59) - A series of seven featurettes in which Visual Effects Supervisor Tim Burke, VFX Animation Director Pablo Grillo and the filmmakers talk about breathing life into the film's diverse assortment of creatures ("Meet the Fantastic Beasts," "Bowtruckle," "Demiguise," "Erumpent," "Niffler," "Occamy" and "Thunderbird").
  • Design (34:33) - Six behind-the-scenes looks at the work of Production Designer Stuart Craig, Costume Designer Colleen Atwood, and Visual Effects Supervisors Christian Manz and Tim Burke ("Shaping the World of Fantastic Beasts," "New York City," "MACUSA," "Newt's Magical Case," "The Shaw Banquet" and "The Blind Pig").
  • Deleted Scenes (14:33) - Eleven scenes ("Major Investigation Department," "Jacob Tenement," "Newt's Case," "MACUSA Cell," "Creocreatura" "Tracking Demiguise," "Suitcase Celebration," "Skyscraper Roof," "Obscurus Unleashed, Part 1," "Obscurus Unleashed, Part 2" and "Newt Goodbye").


Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is available from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment as of March 28th, 2017. The Blu-ray features English Dolby Atmos, English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, French, Spanish and Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1, and English Dolby Digital 5.1 Descriptive Audio tracks. The film is presented with English SDH, French, Spanish and Portuguese subtitles. The total runtime is 2 Hrs. 13 Mins.








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