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Blu-ray review by David Blackwell

DETAILS: 134 minutes, deleted scenes, featurettes, digital copy, extended cut (digital only), DVD
VIDEO: 2.40:1 (Anamorphic Widescreen) 1080p High Definition
AUDIO: English 7.1 TrueHD, English 5.1 Descriptive Audio, French 5.1 Dolby Digital, Spanish 5.1 DD, Portuguese 5.1 DD
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish, Portuguese

STUDIO: Warner Bros Pictures/ Wizarding World/ Heyday Films
Theatrical RELEASE DATE: 11-16-2018
Blu-ray/ DVD RELEASE DATE: 3-12-2019
FANTASTIC BEASTS: THE CRIMES OF GRINDELWALD starts about six months after the first one ends in a prelude that shows how Grindlewald (Johnny Depp) escapes in one of the better sequences of the movie. Then it flashes three months later in Great Britain where Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) is going up before the Ministry of Magic again for the fifth time to get his travel papers reinstated. We are introduced to his brother Thesus and Leta LeStrange who is about to marry Newt's brother. All of this is part of a set-up that includes Dumbledore (Jude Law) who wants Newt to covertly travel from England to Paris to stop Grindelwald's latest plot to recruit Credence (who somehow escaped his fate in New York City) and is in love with a woman who changes into a snake. Meanwhile, Newt is met at his home by Queenie and his old Muggle friend Jacob (Dan Fogler) who is under an enchantment by Queenie. You see a brief look at Newt's zoo of magical animals before that.

The big problem with this sequel amounts to at least two or three things. The title refers to crimes of Grinelwald where Grindelwald really doesn't do much in ways of crimes after he escapes. He has his followers do that as he has a gathering planned to recruit wizards to his way of thinking. FANTASTIC BEASTS: THE CRIMES OF GRINDELWALD has a bad title and it has lots of plot introduced without allowing it time to breathe for 20 to 30 minutes more. This is your basic setup movie for future sequels. It is nice to see old characters again, Hogwarts features in a couple of scenes, and a great cast set against great production values. Some characters seem a little grumpy, awkward, and sometimes out of character compared to the first FANTASTIC BEASTS. Maybe this second movie in the series will get higher regard once we see how all of this set-up plays in future movies.

10 deleted scenes with many which could have been left in the movie to the benefit of the story since many of the scenes provide more character bits to Credence and even one more scene for Leta LeStrange.

J.K. ROWLING: A WORLD REVEALED (10:15)- The writer of the FANTASTIC BEASTS films and Harry Potter novels talks about writing the sequel script, the collaborative process, and how the bad guys are a little different from the villains of Harry Potter
WIZARDS ON SCREEN, FANS IN REAL LIFE (19:22)- Ezra Miller and Evanna Lynch geek out about the Harry Potter universe and analyze key scenes in the FANTASTIC BEATS sequel as they even discuss Dumbledore's sister
DISTINCTLY DUMBLEDORE (9:31)- talk about a younger Dumbledore and his relationship to Gindelwald and his master/ apprentice relationship with Newt, and the casting of the role

THE RETURN TO HOGWARTS (6:18)- a behind-the-scenes look at making the scenes at Hogwarts
NEWT'S MENAGERIE (9:06)- all about production design for Newt's house and his enchanted basement menagerie for creatures, and his assistant Bunty
CREDENCE, NAGINI AND THE CIRCUS ARCANUS (5:52)- a look at the production design and creature design along with little nods to the beginnings of Credence and Nagini
PARIS AND PLACE CACHEE (10:05)- a look at the production design to recreate Paris of the 1920s for the movie on a back lot
LE MINISTERE DES AFFAIRES MAGIQUES: THE FRENCH MINISTRY (5:18)- a look at the J.K. Rowling's favorite set of the movie
GRINDELWALDS ESCAPE AND THE RING OF FIRE (12:27)- a behind-the-scenes look at creating the opening sequence and the climax of the movie from different take deliveries by Johnny Depp, changing the way people ride brooms, and production design

FINAL ANALYSIS: The second film in the FANTASTIC BEASTS series is hard to judge since it is lots of set-up that will pay off in future films. The behind-the-scenes extras and deleted scenes are great, but I wish Warner Bros Pictures had the extended cut available on the blu-ray instead do making it a digital only extra.

This review is (c)3-25-2018 David Blackwell and cannot be reprinted without permission. Send all comments to feedback@enterline-media.com and look for additional content at http://enterlinemedia.tumblr.com