Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them 4K Blu-ray
By Chris Heinonen on
Summary: There are growing dangers in the wizarding world of 1926 New York. Something mysterious is leaving a path of destruction in the streets, threatening to expose the wizarding community to the No-Majs (American for Muggles), including the Second Salemers, a fanatical faction bent on eradicating them. And the powerful, dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald, after wreaking havoc in Europe, has slipped away…and is now nowhere to be found.
Unaware of the rising tensions, Newt Scamander arrives in the city nearing the end of a global excursion to research and rescue magical creatures, some of which are safeguarded in the magical hidden dimensions of his deceptively nondescript leather case. But potential disaster strikes when unsuspecting No-Maj Jacob Kowalski inadvertently lets some of Newt’s beasts loose in a city already on edge–a serious breach of the Statute of Secrecy that former Auror Tina Goldstein jumps on, seeing her chance to regain her post as an investigator. However, things take an ominous turn when Percival Graves, the enigmatic Director of Magical Security at MACUSA (Magical Congress of the United States of America), casts his suspicions on Newt and Tina.
Now allied, Newt and Tina, together with Tina’s sister, Queenie, and their new No-Maj friend, Jacob, form a band of unlikely heroes, who must recover Newt’s missing beasts before they come to harm. But the stakes are higher than these four outsiders–now branded fugitives–ever imagined, as their mission puts them on a collision course with dark forces that could push the wizarding and No-Maj worlds to the brink of war.
Movie Review: Fantastic Beasts is a very enjoyable extension of the Harry Potter universe. I’ve admittedly read none of the novels, though the rest of my family has. I have seen the films, and this one is one of the more enjoyable ones. Able to stand alone without needing to have read the novels, it makes a good introduction into the world of wizards and witches if you haven’t seen the prior films.
At just over two hours long, the story has plenty of time to develop, including good backstories and information for the major characters. The backstory of the major enemy isn’t as well developed as some of the others, but I never felt left behind because of that. What the story really allows is for J.K. Rowling to get creative with the Beasts of the Harry Potter world. Her imagination can run wild here, and it makes for a well-done story.
Technical Review: Fantastic Beasts is shot on a 3.4K source and uses a 4K digital intermediate, so it is presented as perfectly as it can be. Set in the 1920’s New York, it does a very good job of capturing the period feel. Overall color and clarity are good, but not quite as good as the recent reference releases we have seen on UHD Blu-ray. When it changes to the captured Beasts of the title, then HDR and WCG really become utilized. Bright, vivid colors of fur and feathers, the occasional specular highlights, they all look amazing here. The glittering gold coins in the opening bank scene show both bright colors and highlights that are wonderful.
What surprises me a bit is that this film is one that Dolby gave me a preview of in Dolby Cinema this month. There the scene that I watched looked even more vivid and detailed than it does on UHD Blu-ray. That’s the first time in ages I can recall a theater experience being better than a home experience. By comparison, the UHD version of the scene seems a bit darker, which makes me wonder how much of that is the mastering and how much is the display. Overall Fantastic Beasts looks, well, fantastic and as good as it can look at home.
It is important to note that the default audio track for Fantastic Beasts is a DTS-HD Master Audio, so you’ll need to select Dolby Atmos from the menu. If you do that then you’ll find the soundtrack to be fantastic. Surrounds and ceiling channels are used continually for atmospheric effects, but also put you right in the middle of the action when the Beasts of the title show up. The soundtrack from Fantastic Beasts is reference quality and puts you right into the center of the film.
Special Features: Deleted scenes, virtual reality design features, featurettes on creatures, characters, and more.
Review System: Vizio P65-C1 display, Oppo UDP-203 UltraHD Blu-ray Player, KEF Ci5160RL-THX Fronts, Ci3160RL-THX Center, 2x Ci200RR-THX Surrounds, 4x CI200RR-THX Atmos Speakers, Anthem MRX 1120 Receiver.
Good movie and story, good image with nice use of HDR and WCG in places, immersive Atmos soundtrack.
Atmos soundtrack isn't the default one, image lacks that final bit of sharpness that is possible with better sources.
Fantastic Beasts is a very good film and a very good disc that comes up just a hair short of the reference UltraHD titles.