Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald UHD Review

Much Ado About Nothing 3 Stars

Warner brings Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald­­ to 4K UHD Blu-ray with a stunning transfer, but the movie itself has its own set of problems.

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald (2018)
Released: 16 Nov 2018
Rated: PG-13
Runtime: 134 min
Director: David Yates
Genre: Adventure, Family, Fantasy
Cast: Johnny Depp, Kevin Guthrie, Carmen Ejogo, Wolf Roth
Writer(s): J.K. Rowling, J.K. Rowling (based upon characters created by)
Plot: The second installment of the "Fantastic Beasts" series featuring the adventures of Magizoologist Newt Scamander.
IMDB rating: 6.8
MetaScore: 52

Disc Information
Studio: Warner Brothers
Distributed By: N/A
Video Resolution: 2160p HEVC w/HDR
Aspect Ratio: 2.39.1
Audio: Dolby Atmos, English 7.1 Dolby TrueHD, English DVS 2.0, Spanish 5.1 DD, French 5.1 DD, Other
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French, Other
Rating: PG-13
Run Time: 2 Hr. 14 Min.
Package Includes: UHD, Blu-ray, Digital Copy
Case Type: 2-disc UHD eco keepcase with slipcover
Disc Type: UHD
Region: All
Release Date: 03/12/2019
MSRP: $44.95

The Production: 2.5/5

I rather enjoyed Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them when I reviewed the movie on 4K UHD Blu-ray nearly two years ago, and had been looking forward to its sequel, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald. To say the sequel was a letdown would be an understatement, but as the end credits rolled, I asked myself, what just happened over the last two plus hours? Apparently, I’m not the only one, the film garnering a measly 37% on Rotten Tomatoes (with a 59% audience score), scoring slightly better on Metacritic with 52%.

The dark wizard Grindelwald (Johnny Depp) has escaped the confines of his New York prison, fleeing to London in search of Credence Barebone (Ezra Miller), in an effort to weaponize him in the wizard’s attempt to, pardon the expression, rule the world. Meanwhile, magizooligist Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) has arrived back in London, having been given an ultimatum – join the Ministry or have his travelling privileges revoked. When he refuses, he is tasked by Albus Dumbledore (Jude Law) to travel to Paris to find Credence before Grindelwald does. Newt is joined by Muggle Jacob (Dan Fogler), who is also searching for his true love Queenie (Alison Sudol). The team is reunited when they find Auror Tina (Katherine Waterston) in Paris, who is also on the trail for Credence. The film contains several more characters and subplots to make one’s head spin, and then throws in a few more just to completely confuse you. There is a final showdown between the Ministry Aurors and Grindelwald, with lots of swirling visual effects, but nothing really exciting. One member of Team Newt switches sides, a link between Grindelwald and Dumbledore is revealed, as is Credence’s true identity.

To be somewhat fair, one should know going in that The Crimes of Grindelwald is the second of a proposed five-part film series whose main intent is to keep the Wizarding World franchise alive and kicking now that the Harry Potter films have run their course. The problem is that this second entry isn’t nearly as fun or magical as the first Fantastic Beasts, too overstuffed with characters and subplots, but ultimately gaining very little traction in telling its pre-Harry Potter epic story. It is even more disheartening when you realize the talent involved here – a screenplay by J.K. Rowling, director David Yates (who helmed the previous installment and the last four Harry Potter films), the top-notch cast, etc. It should also be noted that this review is of the theatrical cut, and not the Extended Cut, which is only available on digital.

Video: 5/5

3D Rating: NA

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald­­ arrives on 4K UHDS Blu-ray in an impressive 2160p HEVC-encoded transfer with both HDR10 and Dolby Vision high dynamic range that preserves the film’s theatrical aspect ratio of 2.39:1. Captured at 6.5k resolution on Arri Alexa 65 cameras and completed as a 4k digital intermediate, detail and overall clarity is exceptional, from minute wrinkles in costumes to individual hais on some of the creatures featured in the movie. Colors are bold and vivid when they need to be (such as Newt’s basement or the Circus Arcanus sequence), otherwise they appear natural and consistent. Contrast is also very good, providing deep blacks with high levels of shadow detail. I should mention that the disc was viewed on HDR10-capable equipment.

Audio: 4.5/5

Every now and again, Warner surprises me and releases a disc with an Atmos track and foregoes a redundant DTS-HD MA5.1 track, giving me hope that future releases will follow suit. Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald­­ is such a disc, and we may have to wait until Aquaman surfaces to see if the this becomes a trend (more often than not, it tends to be a rare one-off instance). The Atmos track is a pleasing one, with very active surrounds and heights where necessary, and clear dialogue that is well-prioritized. LFE, though, is somewhat lacking where one may expect it to really kick in.

Special Features: 3/5

All of the special features can be found on the included Blu-ray edition.

J.K. Rowling: A World Revealed (1080p; 10:15): Authort and screenwriter J. K. Rowling, producer David Heyman and director David Yates discuss going beyond Harry Potter and designing the prequel series of Fantastic Beasts.

Wizards on Screen, Fans in Real Life (1080p; 19:22): Ezra Miller (Creedence from Fantastic Beasts) and Evanna Lynch (Luna Lovegood from the Harry Potter series) discuss their love of Wizarding World and take a look at a few scenes from the movie.

Distinctly Dumbledore (1080p; 9:31): Director David Yates, producer David Heyman, costume designer Colleen Atwood, and actor Jude Law discuss bringing a younger Dumbledore to the screen.

Unlocking Scene Secrets (1080p; 49:09): Cast and crew discuss six key scenes from the movie – The Return to Hogwarts, Newt’s Menagerie, Credence, Nagini and the Circus Arcanus, Paris and Place Cachée, Les Ministére Des Affaires Magiques: The French Ministry, and Grindelwald’s Escape and the Ring of Fire.

Deleted Scenes (1080p; 14:23): Ten scenes from the cutting room floor – Credence Reborn, At the Docks, Walk N Talk, Ballroom Dance, Tina and Skender, Newt’s Basement, Murmuration, Newt and Jacob Walk to Kama’s, Nagini and Credence in Alley, and Dumbledore and McGonagal.

Digital Copy: An insert contains a code to redeem a digital copy (in UHD where available) on Movies Anywhere of both the theatrical and extended cuts of the film.

Overall: 3/5

For those that really enjoyed this film, they are in for a treat with exceptional video and audio, plus a decent set of special features.

Published by

Todd Erwin

editor,member

18 Comments

  1. Great review, I think you did a good job of capturing what works and what doesn’t here.

    When the Fantastic Beasts series was announced, it was originally slated to be a trilogy. That plan remained in place all while the first film was being written and produced. It was only after work was completed on the first film that it was announced that it would now be a series of five films.

    My guess – and it’s just that, a guess, with no inside info or anything – is that when Rowling was writing the second film, the ending kept getting further and further away from her, and that the number of films was expanded to accommodate that the story was twisting and turning into something more unwieldy.

    I think she’s in a tough spot because of the nature of the project. It’s a prequel. So the story is already constrained on what it can and can’t do because it has to fit into the larger world. Furthermore, the events in the Harry Potter films/books are meant to be the biggest and most dangerous conflict that’s ever happened in this situation. And we know from the Potter works when and how Grindelwald is defeated.

    So Rowling has put herself into this impossible situation where the stakes can’t be too high, the outcome can’t be a mystery, and the bad guy can’t win or even die. This entire film series is built to lead up to a dual that its target audience already knows the outcome of.

    What the first film had going for it was that it had new characters in a new setting. We had never seen America in the Potter world, and the cultural differences between Newt’s British upbringing and the rest of the Americans in the story gave the movie a little niche to occupy. But by shifting the ground back to Europe and reintroducing and reemphazing known characters and situations, Rowling ends up trapped where she can’t really move any of the pieces on the board in an interesting way because there’s only one way it can go, and that means that everything our characters want or hope to accomplish is ultimately irrelevant or already known to the audience.

  2. I liked the first film and I've never watch a single Harry Potter film. My 3-D order is ready for pickup at Best Buy so I'm hoping when I redeem my code it upgrades to 4K/Dolby Vision on iTunes. If it does, I might forgo purchasing the 4K/UHD disc depending how much I really like this film. If I like it, I'll probably wait until Black Friday sales to buy it on 4K/UHD disc.

  3. Robert Crawford

    My 3-D order is ready for pickup at Best Buy so I'm hoping when I redeem my code it upgrades to 4K/Dolby Vision on iTunes.

    It doesn’t.

    Despite the fact that the first one did.

  4. Robert Crawford

    Did you redeem at MA?

    Sorry. Brain fart. Confused with a different film.

    But I think the first film was the only 3D film that redeemed in 4K as far as I know. Let us know how you make out.

    Also I redeem ALL my codes thru MA.

  5. Robert Crawford

    I liked the first film and I've never watch a single Harry Potter film. My 3-D order is ready for pickup at Best Buy so I'm hoping when I redeem my code it upgrades to 4K/Dolby Vision on iTunes. If it does, I might forgo purchasing the 4K/UHD disc depending how much I really like this film. If I like it, I'll probably wait until Black Friday sales to buy it on 4K/UHD disc.

    According to some folks on Bluray.com who got it early, it doesn't. I can remember 1 or maybe 2 Warner 3D that did upgrade (?Tomb Raider maybe), I don't think any of the others have.

    Do Warner code redeem directly in iTunes? I thought they had always been exclusively UV side of MA and it ported through to Itunes from there.

  6. David Norman

    According to some folks on Bluray.com who got it early, it doesn't. I can remember 1 or maybe 2 Warner 3D that did upgrade (?Tomb Raider maybe), I don't think any of the others have.

    Do Warner code redeem directly in iTunes? I thought they had always been exclusively UV side of MA and it ported through to Itunes from there.

    Yeah, it didn't work after redeeming at MA. Not a big deal as I wanted the 3-D disc with theatrical and extended versions. I'll pick up the 4K/UHD either on Digital if the pricing falls to $9.99 on iTunes or purchase the 4K disc during Black Friday sales.

  7. Thanks for the review, Todd. I enjoyed both the Harry Potter films and books, but did not really care for the first installment in this prequel series — thankfully I just rented it. I wasn't planning on seeing this 2nd film, and it sounds like from your review I am making the right decision. Stretching this story into five films seems like nothing more than a money grab from Rowling and Warner Brothers.

  8. Ethan Riley

    Why didn't they just put the extended version on the disc? I don't get it.

    I do. They're trying to hasten the transition to digital-only by offering digital exclusives. Remember, it's the studios who truly benefit from digital, not the consumer. Aside from the convenience offered by digital, the picture and sound are not as good as can be had with a disc, consumers are only paying for what amounts to an extended rental that can be revoked by the studio at any time, you can't trade it in, re-sell it, or let a friend borrow it; and there is no such thing as a secondary market when a studio makes a film unavailable for sale or rental. The studios gain full control over their films and there are no manufacturing or distribution costs. Studios LOVE digital and can't wait for the day when the market for physical media has shrunk to the point where they don't have to worry about it any longer.

    Sadly, the general public doesn't care about any of those things. It's the film fans who are losing out, but we're just a drop in the bucket when it comes to revenue. Nothing to be done about it, but I still don't like it.

    Now, if you'll excuse me, I think I hear some young whipper-snappers on my front lawn that I feel compelled to shoo.

  9. Ethan Riley

    Why didn't they just put the extended version on the disc? I don't get it.

    Here’s my guess: Physical media isn’t selling as well as it used to, and market research has determined that bonus features don’t drive sales, though they do drive up the budget on any release. Putting the extended version on disc would have cost the studio more – either in authoring costs if they included it on the same disc via seamless branching, or in replication costs if they included a second disc. The extra money spent would likely not result in a measurable increase of sales for the disc version, so they didn’t bother.

    That’s just my guess.

  10. I watched this on UHD/Dolby Vision tonight. Yes, the films are very busy with a diverse set of characters that just don't have the charm and interest of the Harry Potter series. It's interesting to see elements of the Potter mythology turn up in various ways in these Fantastic Beasts films, but I have to say a little bit of the beasts goes a long way with me. I was a lot more interested when we returned to Hogwarts for a bit of the film.

  11. Robert Crawford

    Yeah, it didn't work after redeeming at MA. Not a big deal as I wanted the 3-D disc with theatrical and extended versions. I'll pick up the 4K/UHD either on Digital if the pricing falls to $9.99 on iTunes or purchase the 4K disc during Black Friday sales.

    Well, the digital pricing for this movie in 4K/HDR has dropped to $9.99 on iTunes. I'm debating whether to purchase it and bypass the 4K/UHD disc all-together since I already own the 3-D disc.

  12. We really enjoyed the first film but this one just didn't have the same spark as the first. Honestly I can barely remember what all happened in this one. I can't believe they are going to drag this out into 5 films.

  13. I am presently watching this movie in 3D as I write this. It is an absolute reference disc on my modest Sony Active glasses system. I feel as if they have completely perfected this system only to abandon it!

  14. Watched the 3D version of this tonight. The video quality and 3D was excellent, but I was very disappointed in the audio track. The 3D version has only a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track (while the 2D has Dolby Atmos). Very little in the way of LFE (mostly just the scenes with the large Zouwu stomping around) and only a few instances where the surround sound kicked in. The whole soundtrack seemed very front-heavy.

    I'll have to put in the 2D version sometime and see if there's improvement, or if it's just the film. It seems like the whole opening escape sequence would have been a showcase for the sound system. It seemed very quiet and subdued on this version.

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