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FANTASTIC BEASTS: THE CRIMES OF GRINDELWALD
4K Ultra HD Edition

Review by Gordon Justesen

Stars: Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterston, Dan Fogler, Alison Sudol, Ezra Miller, Zoe Kravitz, Callum Turner, Claudia Kim, William Nadylam, Kevin Guthrie, Jude Law, Johnny Depp
Director: David Yates
Audio: Dolby Atmos-TrueHD
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 2.40:1
Studio: Warner Bros.
Features: See Review
Length: 134 Minutes
Release Date: March 12, 2019

The time’s coming, Newt, when you’re going to have to pick a side.”

Film **

Though I’ve never consider myself to be the world’s most enthusiastic fan of the Harry Potter universe, I have mostly enjoyed the series of films based on the popular series of books. But the one I liked the most was 2016‘s Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, a prequel to the Potter stories that wasn’t based on any pre-existing book but was an original screenplay creation by series author J.K. Rowling. Of all the films connected to the Potter series (and I’m bound to cause controversy by saying this), I thought it did the best job of establishing its world and array of unique characters.

Now comes the second installment in the prequel series, The Crimes of Grindelwald. And despite a most riveting opening segment and a standout turn from one particular cast member, we are supplied with what is the weakest entry in this series to date. And given everything that was promised by the previous film’s finale, the effect here is all the more underwhelming.

If you recall at the end of the previous film, young wizard Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne), along with Magical Congress ally Tina Goldstein (Katherine Waterston) had helped in the capturing of the evil wizard known as Gellert Grindelwald (Johnny Depp). Upon being transferred from prison to face trial, Grindelwald escapes and hatchets a plot to assemble an army of wizards and take control of non-magic users. In order to defeat Grindelwald, Newt must turn to none other than his long time friend, Albus Dumbledore (Jude Law).

And with that, we have the makings of a, if you’ll pardon the phrasing, fantastic follow up. Unfortunately, though, the movie gets incredibly sidetracked and overstuffed with supporting characters that don’t feel relevant the main story at hand. That is particularly true of Leta Lestrange (Zoe Kravitz), a former Hogwarts classmate of Newt’s who is engaged to his brother. So much time is devoted to her that we’re pretty much left wondering why the name Grindelwald is even featured in the title.

On the plus side though, Eddie Redmayne exudes charm and terrific screen presence as Newt, just as he did in the previous film. But by far, the biggest standout in the cast is Jude Law, who fits the role of a young Dumbledore like a perfectly fitted glove and commands the screen in his every scene he’s in. However, he’s only in a handful of scenes and whenever he’s not on screen you can’t help but feel that something integral to the story is sorely missing.

It’s far from a terrible movie, and I’m very eager to see where the series goes from here. The ending, once again, showcases similar promises like that of its predecessor. As it stands, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald simply suffers from a lack of focus and being overstuffed with one supporting character too many.

Video ****

All of the Potter films have looked nothing short of astonishing on Blu-ray, so it only makes sense the newest film in the series looks even more so in 4K Ultra HD! Being that there’s a visual effects marvel in just about every frame of the movie, 4K allows the visuals to pop out with even more vigor and detail. It also brings out tremendous color and detail in even the darkest of settings. In fact, this presentation might just be the biggest and absolute best showcasing of any film in the series to date!

Audio ****

Likewise results in the audio field, as Warner supplies a mesmerizing Dolby Atmos-TrueHD mix that does nothing short of zap you into the proceedings. From the very beginning, the sound mix practically engulfs you into this world with an amazing presence of surround sound. Everything from wand battles to the sounds of the many creatures is rendered in the utmost effective quality. And James Newton Howard’s music score is delivered in pure breathtaking form!

Features **1/2

First off, a minor quibble. This release from Warner does include an Extended Cut of the film. However, and I don’t think this has ever been done until now, the only way of viewing said cut is through the Digital Code included in the package. Since we’ve seen so many extended cuts get included on various releases, I don’t see what could’ve stopped them from including it on the actual disc. I’m certainly hoping this doesn’t become a trend.

As for the extras themselves, all of which can be found on the standard Blu-ray disc, we get four very well handled featurettes including “J.K. Rowling: A World Revealed”, “Wizards on Screen: Fans in Real Life”, “Distinctively Dumbledore” and “Unlocking Scene Secrets”. Also included are ten Deleted Scenes.

Summary:

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald is a slight misstep in an otherwise very engaging film series, and I’m sure, or at least hoping, will get back on track in the next installment, not to mention include much more Dumbledore too. However, the 4K Ultra HD release from Warner boasts one of the all around best presentations you’ll see and hear all year!

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