Upon seeing the movie during it’s original theatrical run, it was hard to escape the idea that Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald felt like easily the most unnecessary film in the Harry Potter series of film adaptations. Conceived as a spinoff of the supremely popular Harry Potter franchise, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them was a 128-page companion piece that has been somehow drawn out into five films. That’s a lot of story to tell for such a slim amount of source material, and Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald feels mostly like filler for that reason alone.
While the first film was good for what it was, the sequel often feels monotonous to revisit. The plot is convoluted, and the characters often roam from scene to scene with no clarity to their actions. While David Yates’ direction is solid here, it’s held back by the screenplay by author J.K. Rowling. It’s pretty clear that Rowling was having trouble trying to figure out where to take the story in the sequel, and this confusion somehow manages to manifest itself in the plot of the final film. There are some good character interactions, but many scenes feel perfunctory at best.
While some of the story and plot elements drop the ball, the sheer technical wizardry on display by Yates and company lives up to the reputation of the series. Although many of the visuals are on par with what we’ve come to expect, it’s the films ensemble cast that once again shine in the film. Even though this isn’t really Newt’s story, Eddie Redmayne gives a fairly likable performance the second itme around. The rest of the supporting cast provides what we’d expect from the first film, but its Jude Law’s portrayal of young Dumbledore that is most memorable. While Law’s gravitas is welcome here, its Johnny Depp’s performance that feels boring and uninspired.
For a movie called Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, there are not many crimes and there’s not much Grindelwald. By the film’s conclusion, it’s hard to make sense of what you’ve watched because so many of these storylines remain unresolved. While a second viewing certainly makes some of the relationships clearer in the film, there’s still a lack of dramatic tension throughout. The ending feels anticlimactic, and as a result, the film feels a bit like filler until the next installment. You can read my original review for the film here, but suffice to say that the film doesn’t get any better upon a repeat viewing – even though the prospect of a third film is still intriguing considering what we now know.
The 4K UHD disc for Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald is presented in it’s native aspect ratio of 2.39:1 using a HEVC / H.265 codec. The disc also naturally contains HDR capabilities, offering a fairly vivid viewing experience on the film’s home video presentation. The film was shot using the Arri Alexa 65 system, which offers a great amount of detail in the image on this disc. Clarity is outstanding, and the image is extremely crisp throughout. Skin tones are solid, and contrast naturally gets a boost from the HDR. The overall look of Philippe Rousselot’s cinematography in the film is well represented, even if the muted color palette doesn’t really do this transfer justice.
The film often has a cold and steely look to it, except for small bursts of color. It’s these moments of extreme color saturation that are where this disc really shines. There seem to be no traces of artifacting, noise or banding, which are welcome surprises that help this transfer feel a bit more naturalistic. Overall, the 4K release of Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald offers a top-notch video transfer that is much more nuanced than it has any right to be considering the lackluster content of the film itself and the fairly drab way that the movie was shot. With that said, sequences like the Circus Arcanus truly amaze in this transfer.
In terms of audio tracks, the 4K version of Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald contains both an Atmos Track and a Dolby TrueHD 7.1 mix. While the Atmos track is sure to impress, the 7.1 mix itself is also given a worthy transfer on this disc. Surround elements are omnipresent throughout, offering an equally nice representation of the film’s theatrical mix. Dialogue is clean and there are no sync issues, along with distinct and clear channel separation in the mix.
Sometimes James Newton Howard’s wonderful score sometimes gets lost in the shuffle, and feels slightly downmixed in the more quiet moments of which there are plenty. Additionally, the low end on this mix is paltry at best, although that may also be due to the fact that there aren’t many earth rumbling moments of action in the film. Overall, this track is slightly disappointing considering the capabilities of the format. Although the track is solid throughout, this also because it’s almost too subtle for it’s own good.
The Special Features
Although the 4K disc itself contains only the movie, all of the below special features can be found on the standard Blu-Ray disc that accompanies this release. It’s important to note that while an extended cut of Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald is touted on the box art, this is a digital exclusive and is not included on either disc in this release.
J.K. Rowling: A World Revealed (10:15; 1080p): This featurette takes a look at the genesis of the Fantastic Beasts franchise, along with how Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald came to fruition. Rowling discusses the challenges of writing the sequel, along with how the admittedly complex structure of the screenplay came to be. Additionally, the featurette discusses Grindelwald’s presence in the movie, along with giving some cryptic hints as to where the story might go next.
Wizards on Screen, Fans in Real Life (19:22; 1080p): This fairly in depth featurette follows cast members Ezra Miller (Credence) and Evanna Lynch (Luna Lovegood) as they sit down to watch scene form the film for the first time. Two confessed Potter super fans, the duo delve into a few key scenes while watching them for the first time. Although this feature is certainly lighter than was anticipated, it’s also refreshing to see the duo geek out over the many reveals in the film.
Distinctly Dumbledore (9:31; 1080p): discusses the process of bringing Jude Law’s young Dumbledore to life in Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald. The featurette delves into the process of casting the role and how Law prepared for the part. Along with this, we learn how the actor was able to create a younger version of the character that still fell in line with his older counterpart. Additionally, we get some insight on the character’s costuming, the way that Dumbledore was writen and portrayed, along with some insight into the backstory of Grindelwald’s relationship with the future headmaster.
Unlocking Scene Secrets (49:09; 1080p): In this 6-part feature that almost feels like a production documentary, we get some insight into some of the film’s notable sequences. As easily the best special feature on this disc, the various sections feature a nice mix of b-roll footage with interviews of the key crewmembers used to bring these sequences to life. Regardless of how you may feel about the content of the movie itself, the level of detail that all of the many craftspeople bring to a project like The Crimes of Gridelwald is absolutely astounding.
- The Return To Hogwarts
- Newt’s Menagerie
- Credence, Nagini and the Circus Arcanus
- Paris and Place Cachée
- Ministere des Affaires Magiques
- Grindelwald’s Escape and the Ring of Fire
Deleted Scenes (14:23; 1080p): In total, there are ten deleted scenes included on the disc, some of which offer some the connective tissue that was missing from the theatrical cut. Mostly, these are just extended scenes form the film, so there’s not much to gain here. Even though some of these moments are revealing, it’s easy to see why they were cut.
- Credence Reborn
- At the Docks
- Walk N Talk
- Ballroom Dance
- Tina and Skender
- Newt’s Basement
- Newt and Jacob Walk to Kama’s
- Nagini and Credence in Alley
- Dumbledore and McGonagall
Although the film itself is a bit of a letdown, the 4K UHD release of Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald is another solid technical release from WB. While it’s hard to recommend this disc to a casual viewer, die hard fans of the franchise are sure to eat it up. Although the digital only extended cut doesn’t add much to the story, the technical elements of the discs are mostly worthy. However, it’s the film’s surprising amount of special features that will appeal to Potter heads the most. It’s a shame that there’s no director’s commentary, but that’s something that has been consistent with most of the releases in this franchise. Regardless, this disc is worth checking out if you’re an average consumer, while it is sure to impress for the hardcore fans.
Overall Rating 3.5/5
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