The Wizarding World returns on blu-ray this week with Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald. With oodles of special features and plenty of new lore to chew on, is the blu-ray worth picking up? Check out my official review to find out!
I’m going to say something crazy. Something I KNOW quite a few readers aren’t going to agree with….I enjoyed Fantastic Beasts (and the ideas/lore it brought up) more than a majority of the Harry Potter films. I know, I know that seems like sacrilege but something about the ideas around Fantastic Beasts hooked me more and I’ve been eager to see how this story comes together.
I wasn’t able to check out Crimes of Grindelwald in theaters (though to be honest, I wasn’t all that upset given all the problems associated with Johnny Depp these days), but with it’s release on blu-ray I had the chance to catch up on it. While the film didn’t have the best critical reception, there are some moments of brilliance that kept me going…
The Crimes of Grindelwald picks up after the events of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, where Newt Scamander is still dealing with the fallout from his escapades in the previous film. As Grindelwald escapes custody and gathers his followers around him in Paris, war between the Wizards is brewing and sides must be chosen.
Newt, refusing to take sides embarks on a journey to help save his friends from America as they try and track down Credence (Ezra Miller). Along the way, more magical shenanigans ensue and plenty of mysteries are uncovered (possibly). There’s a lot going on with in the story, and it’s hard to summarize quickly. The overall plot essentially boils down to everyone trying to find Credence and figure out who, exactly he is. The reasons for doing so, and how they become involved are different and makes for a myriad of different plot threads.
Herein lies the film’s greatest problem, it never quite figures out what story it wants to tell. It’s very much a “middle” film in that it’s obviously a setup for the bigger story down the road, which will ultimately lead us to war against Grindelwald. As a standalone story, there’s not much to go on and if not for any of the previously established Wizarding World lore, it would be ridiculously confusing.
While the previous Harry Potter movies were ALSO building up to a specific conclusion, those films at least set up their own plots and felt like complete stories on their own (even Deathly Hallows Part 1!). The Crimes of Grindelwald, however, doesn’t seem to have a core plot at its heart and is instead focused on establishing details that will, undoubtedly, be necessary in future films. Just as the film seems to be building toward something, it’s over and you’re left mostly unsatisfied.
Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of things I enjoyed about the new Fantastic Beasts movie. For one, I personally loved the lore that’s been introduced and the new takes on some of the returning characters. While a few fans have been upset with how some things clearly contradict things that were established in previous books/movies, I think it still works and in some instances more engaging than what came before.
The acting is also well done and give life to these characters in fun ways that’s instantly engaging to watch. There are a myriad of character moments that are the film’s real strength and keeps you invested enough to keep watching and wanting to know more. Some of the action set pieces are also among the most interesting in the Wizarding World films to date. There are so many good elements in Crimes of Grindelwald that it’s really a shame it couldn’t pull everything together with a more capable story. Still, as the franchise continues to move forward, I suspect the events depicted here will become more relevant than ever.
Sight and Sound
As in the first Fantastic Beasts movie, The Crimes of Grindelwald does a great job of recreating the period feel of the 1920s in excellent detail (though the action takes place across the pond and in France this time). The magical elements shakes things up visually, while still fitting well within the setting.
This is all captured excellently in the 4K transfer of the film. The image is sharp and clear, while the blacks are deep without crushing. Since quite a few scenes take place in darkened streets or at night in general, this was incredibly helpful.
The sound design is equally well done, immersing you in the heart of the action during the battles, while also ensuring dialog is given the proper priority. Overall, there’s not much to fault on the technical side of the blu-ray release.
Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald 4K Ultra HD includes a digital copy of the film, along with a slew of bonus features for fans to dive into on the Blu-Ray copy of the film:
· J.K. Rowling: A World Revealed
· Wizards on Screen, Fans in Real Life
· Distinctly Dumbledore
· Unlocking Scene Secrets: The Return to Hogwarts
· Unlocking Scene Secrets: Newt’s Menagerie
· Unlocking Scene Secrets: Credence, Nagini and the Circus Arcanus
· Unlocking Scene Secrets: Paris and Place Cachée
· Unlocking Scene Secrets: Ministere des Affaires Magiques
· Unlocking Scene Secrets: Grindelwald's Escape and the Ring of Fire
· Deleted Scenes
All of these featurettes are fairly lengthy, with the “Unlocking the Secrets” altogether totaling nearly an hours worth of behind the scenes material. If you’re a fan of the Wizarding World, there’s a lot of extra details thrown in that will have you more than eager to watch all of these. For more passive fans, however, there’s some fun movie-making material in here to be worthwhile as well.
Among the bonus features is an “Extended Cut” of the film which adds in seven minutes of footage to the overall film. Sadly, it’s attached directly to the digital copy of the film, which I wasn’t able to redeem until it was too late to write about. I’m not sure those seven minutes will dramatically change my overall perception of the film, but it’s definitely a nice bonus thrown in for the purchase.