Fresh on 4K: ‘FANTASTIC BEASTS: THE CRIMES OF GRINDELWALD’ unleashes a magical high-quality presentation

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Connor Bynum // Film Critic

FANTASTIC BEASTS: THE CRIMES OF GRINDELWALD

Rated PG-13, 134 minutes.
Director: David Yates
Cast: Eddie RedmayneKatherine WaterstonDan Fogler, Alison Sudol, Ezra Miller, Claudia Kim, Callum Turner, Zoë Kravitz, Johnny Depp and Jude Law

When we reviewed FANTASTIC BEASTS: THE CRIMES OF GRINDELWALD theatrically, we gave it a mostly favorable recommendation in spite of controversial casting choices and some struggles with balancing action and a wide range of character threads. However, with the film’s release on 4K UHD, it’s safe to say that the magic is still there for this prequel franchise.

Movie Grade: B-

From our theatrical review:

“There’s an inherent magic to crafting a solid sequel. The potion needs to be more potent, the incantations more intense. Director David Yates and screenwriter J.K. Rowling seem to know a thing or two about how to make that enchanted formula pack a punch, having done so with the HARRY POTTER series. With FANTASTIC BEASTS: THE CRIMES OF GRINDELWALD, they craft a fully immersive world filled with wonder, spectacle and delight that goes beyond what the first film delivered. It’s a thrilling, breathtaking, fantastical extravaganza that masquerades as an allegory for our current social and political climate.There’s an inherent magic to crafting a solid sequel. The potion needs to be more potent, the incantations more intense. Director David Yates and screenwriter J.K. Rowling seem to know a thing or two about how to make that enchanted formula pack a punch, having done so with the HARRY POTTER series. With FANTASTIC BEASTS: THE CRIMES OF GRINDELWALD, they craft a fully immersive world filled with wonder, spectacle and delight that goes beyond what the first film delivered. It’s a thrilling, breathtaking, fantastical extravaganza that masquerades as an allegory for our current social and political climate.

The picture’s pacing throws off the balance between the large action set pieces and the character-driven dramatics, making them too segregated rather than carefully interwoven. Still, there’s a lot to like about this second chapter, which surpasses the first – and leaves audiences craving a third.”

Courtesy of Blu-ray.com

Video/Audio Grade: A

CRIMES OF GRINDELWALD was captured in 6.5K and mastered in 4K, making for a simply stunning 4K presentation. Minor details in clothing, set dressing, skin, and hair all have a distinct increase in clarity over the film’s 1080p counterpart. Additionally, magic spells and creature designs are as impressive as is to be expected with these films. The 4K disc comes with both Dolby Vision and HDR10 viewing options for compatible 4K displays as well. With the film featuring a notably muted color palette filled with greys and browns beyond belief, the increased depth for both color and contrast makes for a much more pleasant experience.

However, the real star of the show is undoubtedly the superb Dolby Atmos audio track. One scene, in particular, at about an hour into the extended cut of the film, is masterfully mixed and executed and indeed takes advantage of homes outfitted with the latest and greatest in home audio. Spells swiftly fly from one speaker to the next making the viewer genuinely feel like they are surrounded in the wizarding world.

Extras Grade: B-

As is the unfortunate norm with 4K discs, all special features can only be found on the included 1080p Blu-ray. These five features clock in at just under two hours and cover various aspects of the film’s production.

An extended version of the film comes as a digital exclusive and can be viewed in 4K on devices such as an Apple TV 4K. Interestingly enough, the words “Deleted Scene” appear in the bottom corner of the screen whenever a new scene takes place in the extended cut. Having not seen the film personally in theaters, I did not mind the film going out of its way to let me know what was new and what was not. However, this is an otherwise very jarring decision that can easily break the immersion for dedicated viewers.

Special Features:

  • “J.K. Rowling: A World Revealed”
  • “Wizards on Screen, Fans in Real Life”
  • “Distinctly Dumbledore”
  • “Unlocking Scene Secrets”
  • Deleted Scenes

Final Grade: B

While the latest entry to the FANTASTIC BEASTS series is divisive among fans, to say the least, the 4K presentation offered on this disc is hard to not recommend, even to casual fans of the series.

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