Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Review
I enjoyed the Harry Potter movies, but by the time the second Deathly Hallows came around, I was pleased to see the Potter universe come to an end. I should have known better because franchises never die in Hollywood, especially if there’s money to be made. So now we have FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM, which is a sort of a prequel extension of the original Harry Potter. None of your favorite Potter characters show up in the film, but Dumbledore’s name gets mentioned once, solidifying the connection. Instead, the film follows the author of the titular book and his quest to educate fellow wizards on all the various creatures in the wizarding world.
Newt (Redmayne) is a wizard traveling to New York to return a creature he found to its rightful place. While in NYC, he encounters the muggle (called no-Maj in the US) Kowalski (Dan Fogler) and their cases get mixed up. Kowalski accidentally lets loose some of Newt’s fantastical creatures and so Newt and Tina (Watterson) set out to find them. But they also stumble on a situation between agent Graves (Farrell) and Credence (Ezra Miller), who are somehow tied to a mysterious darkness that’s terrorizing the city.
Director David Yates assumes the viewers are already acquainted with the general story. Since I haven’t read the books, I wasn’t sure what was going on right away since I didn’t realize every city had their own version of the wizarding world we met in the Harry Potter films. Along with that, they each apparently have their own rules and customs, which Yates thought we already knew. It didn’t take long for me to catch up, but it was off-putting in the beginning since I felt like I walked into the film in the middle. But the actual story was pretty decent. I liked being introduced to all of the fantastical creatures and I appreciated the political undertones presented in the film. In this world, the wizards are fully trained, so it was fun to see them put their powers to use. That was probably fun for the CGI team as well since they were able to utilize some new tricks.
The biggest complaints come with the casting. Eddie Redmayne is a talented actor, but we needed someone a little more likeable than him to carry Newt. I realize part of the character is that he’s not a people person, but we needed more charisma to carry someone with so little backstory. Katherine Waterston is also talented, but Tina is a very unlikable heroine and Waterston’s dry portrayal didn’t help matters. Farrell was efficient as the determined Graves, as was Dan Fogler as Kowalski. But the characters aren’t the stars of the film, it’s the various creatures and the CGI team did a great job of bringing the creatures to life.
FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM is probably a welcomed return to the world of Harry Potter for the legions of Potter fans out there, but as someone that was only a casual fan of the franchise, I found it to be a bit of a letdown. It’s technically beautiful and efficient, but it lacked interesting characters or a deeper story to really bring me in.
4K ULTRA HD BLU-RAY REVIEW
Video: FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM looks wonderful on 4K UHD. If you’ve seen a lot of CGI heavy films on 4K, you know that sometimes the new format can make CGI look more fake than it does on Blu-ray. There’s a little of that here, especially with any wide shots of the Thunderbird. But whatever was lacking on the CGI-4K issue was made up for during the final battle, where everything looked really impressive, especially as Graves was chasing the Obscurial through New York. For the non-CGI scenes, colors are deep and beautiful (when there is color) and the detail adds a whole new level to the film, from everything to details on Eddie Redemayne’s face (he needs a closer shave) to the details in the fabrics. Overall, this is a very nice looking 4K and a worthy upgrade over the Blu-ray.
Audio: The included Dolby Atmos track is amazing. This is a terrific sounding film and very worthy of the Dolby Atmos mix.
This title was reviewed using a Samsung UBD-K8500 with a Sony XBR75X850C TV.
The 4K UHD does not contain any exclusive features, but it does include a Blu-ray of the film, which includes the following special features:
Before Harry Potter: A New Era of Magic Begins (15:31): Potter mastermind J.K. Rowling and others show up to talk about revisiting the Harry Potter world without Harry Potter.
Characters (24:19): Five separate featurettes cover all of the main characters. Each featurette includes some cool behind the scenes looks as well as interviews with the actors that portrayed them on screen.
Creatures (20:59): Seven featurettes cover the various creatures in the film. I think just about everyone involved with the film shows up to talk about them.
Design (34:33): Each location gets its own featurette (six in total). The various crew members talk about what went into creating the look and feel of the new locations.
Deleted Scenes (14:33): We get 11 total scenes, including one I recognized from the trailer. These were actually pretty decent, but I don’t think they would have changed the film much.