Director: David Yates
Cast: Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterston, Dan Fogler
Release Date: March 12, 2019
A Review By: Kevin Lovell
Film Rating: 7.5/10
Disc Rating: 8.5/10
At the end of the first film, the powerful Dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald (Johnny Depp) was captured by MACUSA (Magical Congress of the United States of America), with the help of Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne). But, making good on his threat, Grindelwald escaped custody and has set about gathering followers, most unsuspecting of his true agenda: to raise pure-blood wizards up to rule over all non-magical beings.
In an effort to thwart Grindelwald’s plans, Albus Dumbledore (Jude Law) enlists his former student Newt Scamander, who agrees to help, unaware of the dangers that lie ahead. Lines are drawn as love and loyalty are tested, even among the truest friends and family, in an increasingly divided wizarding world.
Please Note: Warner Bros. Home Entertainment provided me with a free copy of the Blu-ray I reviewed in this Post. The opinions I share are my own.
The second installment in J.K. Rowling’s ‘Fantastic Beasts’ saga; ‘Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald’ sees an increasingly dark time in the wizarding world. With the escape of the recently captured deadly wizard Gellert Grindelwald (Depp) now free to begin his terrifying plan, he sets out in search of the one individual who he believes can guarantee his victory. Meanwhile, Newt Scamander (Redmayne) finds himself still banned from international travel due to his unwillingness to play along with the questionable practices of the Ministry. But when his trusted friend Albus Dumbledore (Law) requests his help following Grindelwald’s escape he must once again risk everything to do what he believes is right; seeking the assistance of his new American friends in the hope of completing his task before it’s too late and evil gains the upper hand.
Directed once again by franchise regular David Yates (and marking the sixth consecutive entry he’s directed in the Harry Potter/Wizarding world film universe) from a screenplay which was once more written by J.K. Rowling (the creator of Harry Potter and the Wizarding World) herself, Yates does another great job at the helm of ‘Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald’ guiding along the tale with style and never having trouble diving into the darker tone and aspects within. The film also benefits from a solid cast that features both various returning individuals and newcomers to the series and includes Eddie Redmayne (The Theory of Everything), Katherine Waterston (Alien: Covenant), Dan Fogler (TV’s The Goldbergs), Alison Sudol (TV’s Dig), Ezra Miller (Justice League), Zoë Kravitz (Rough Night), Jude Law (Vox Lux), Callum Turner (Green Room) and Johnny Depp (the ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ franchise) along with more, the majority delivering quite competent performances for the most part in each of their respective roles.
‘Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald’ is a solid follow-up to ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them’ that delivers plenty of tension, heart and new directions to take our characters, as well as some fan favorites making their ‘Fantastic Beasts’ debut. Taking things in a far darker direction and without a doubt one of the bleakest films in the entire franchise, it focuses far more on the human characters and relationships this time around as opposed to the creatures, while still giving the unique beasts their time to shine. The film does suffer from its overabundance of storylines and important elements which can seem a bit forced and become overwhelming, but even so it comes together into a solid sequel overall that’s unafraid to delve into the darker aspects of the universe; after all, we were certainly never given the impression that Grindelwald’s reign of terror would be a pleasant time in the Wizarding World. I would strongly encourage fans to ignore the bad word of mouth and give ‘Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald’ a fair shot in order to make up your own mind. The film may not be quite up there with its predecessor ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them’ but it’s also far better than many would lead you to believe, daring to take things in a different and notably darker direction in order to do this story justice. There’s a pretty solid chance that it will prove worthy of the price of a rental and a couple hours of your time one evening at the very least and many fellow fans will also undoubtedly find themselves wanting to purchase a copy and add it to their collection.
For those looking forward to the Extended Cut of the film who haven’t noticed the fine print on the front cover, I did want to point out that the Extended edition is unfortunately not included on the physical Blu-ray release (or on any physical release of the film in North America) and is in fact a Digital exclusive; although the Digital code included in the package will provide that cut for you digitally. It’s additionally worth noting for those who aren’t fans of the Digital format that I went ahead and redeemed the included code to also view that cut on Digital and can confirm that the Extended Cut is made up of integrating a number of the film’s ‘Deleted Scenes’ back into the movie (very similar to the extended cuts of the ‘Harry Potter’ movies) and all of these additional scenes are also included separately in the bonus content of the Blu-ray release. While it’s certainly not the same and disappointing that they couldn’t seamlessly branch those scenes into the film on the disc, at the very least you’ll still be able to see all of the content, including some additional Deleted Scenes that aren’t present in the Extended Cut.
Overall, ‘Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald’ is a dark, tense and exciting second installment in the latest Wizarding World saga that may suffer somewhat from the overloaded character arcs and wide focus on so many important elements but it’s certainly not the horrid mess many claim; offering a competent second film in the series that isn’t afraid to take things to some necessarily darker and bleak places. ‘Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald’ is definitely highly recommended. Especially for anyone that enjoys the first ‘Fantastic Beasts’ film and the Harry Potter/Wizarding World universe in general who will each want to ignore the drastically differing opinions and decide for yourself. As a big fan of Rowling’s Wizarding World myself, I certainly enjoyed it a great deal and albeit imperfect, the film still delivers overall and should be a must see for fans who weren’t able to catch it during its theatrical run.
The Blu-ray release of ‘Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald’ features a full 1080p High Definition presentation of the film’s Theatrical Cut (the Extended Cut is only available on Digital) utilizing the film’s original 2.40:1 Cinemascope Aspect Ratio. The video presentation looks pretty great altogether and provides a sharp, clean and richly detailed presentation from start to finish that showcases the film’s prominently cool, smooth colors within, while never allowing anything onscreen to become negatively affected or rendered indiscernible. Overall, this is a pretty fantastic high definition video presentation that should easily please the fans as well as first time viewers.
The Blu-ray release features a Dolby Atmos (Dolby TrueHD 7.1 channel compatible) soundtrack. Please note that this review pertains solely to the Dolby TrueHD 7.1 audio presentation. This multichannel soundtrack delivers a crisp, clean and hard hitting audio presentation throughout. It constantly takes full advantage of all seven available channels in order to send vehicles, people and spells whipping throughout the various speakers with regularity, along with nature elements, crowd chatter and a great deal more, and all the while never causing any dialogue or other audio elements that might be occurring simultaneously to become distorted or rendered inaudible. Overall, this is a magnificent Dolby Atmos (Dolby TrueHD 7.1 compatible) soundtrack that sounds great every step of the way and perfectly complements the onscreen excitement.
The Blu-ray release of ‘Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald’ includes a rather satisfying collection of extras that fellow fans should enjoy. Included on the release is a collection of ‘Deleted Scenes’ from the movie (running approximately 14 minutes in length combined), in addition to various Behind the Scenes Featurettes and fun videos that take you deeper into the Wizarding World and bringing the film to life, including interviews/comments with members of the cast and crew, plus behind the scenes footage and much more. The included Featurettes are: ‘J.K. Rowling: A World Revealed’ (running approximately 10 minutes), ‘Wizards Onscreen, Fans in Real Life’ (approximately 19 minutes), ‘Distinctly Dumbledore’ (9 minutes), and a look into various key segments in ‘Unlocking Key Secrets’ (approximately 49 minutes altogether). The release also includes a Digital Code which will unlock the Digital Exclusive ‘Extended Cut’ of the movie, although as mentioned in the main review above, the Extended cut is not included on the physical release.