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Blu-ray Review: FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM
Blu-ray Review; ROGUE ONE
Movie review: GHOST IN THE SHELL (2017)
DVD Review: DEATH RACE 2050
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FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM

Blu-ray review by David Blackwell

 

DETAILS: 132 minutes, featurettes, deleted scenes, digital HD copy, DVD

VIDEO:  2.40:1 (Anamorphic Widescreen) 1080p High Definition

AUDIO: English Dolby Atmos, English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, English 5.1 descriptive Audio, French 5.1 Dolby Digital, Spanish 5.1 DD

Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish, Portuguese

 

STUDIO: Warner Bros Pictures/ Heyday Films

Theatrical RELEASE DATE: 11-18-2016

Blu-ray/ DVD RELEASE DATE:  3-28-2017

In 1926, Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) makes a brief stop in New York City (on his way to Arizona) where he meets Jacob Kowalski (a No-Maj which means American version of Muggle/ a person with no magic) and a series of events leads to some magical creatures to escape from Newt’s magically expanded suitcase (which is bigger on the inside than the outside like a TARDIS).   His path also crosses paths with Tina (Katherine Waterson), a demoted auror.  Meanwhile, Percival Graves (Colin Farrell) searches for the host of a dangerous dark magical entity known as Obscurus with the help of the abused son of Mary Lou Barebone (a No-Maj who heads the Salem Philanthropic Society which believes witches and warlocks are real and dangerous).   This is all set against the backdrop of a time where the wizard world is afraid of dark wizard Gellert Grindlewald who has been causing havoc across Europe.

 

FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM is a movie with an original screenplay by J.K. Rowling as she uses the first of five planned movies to explore the history of the wizarding world before Harry Potter and Voldermort in a 19 year period from 1926 to 1945.  She already has the second movie written which will probably be made soon given to how successful this movie has been at the box office so far.  The movie has charm, humor, adventure, action, and danger.   1920s New York City is beautifully rendered through wonderful production and costume design aided with the help of special effects to show the full landscape of 1926 NYC and the magical creatures (and wand battles too).   I have a feeling the five movies will be a little looser in overall story compared to the storyline arc of the Harry Potter series as FANTASTIC BEASTS is more focused on Newt Scamander with Grindelwald to take more of a center seat as the series goes on.   Newt isn’t a chosen one like Harry Potter.  He is more of a well meaning goof where Harry is a boy who feels responsibility thrust onto him.

 

FANTASTIC BEASTS has some cute magical creatures including one called a Niffler that likes to get loose and steal anything shiny (like the funny bank sequence where Newt is trying to capture the thing again).  The instant attraction between Queenie (Tina’s sister) and Jacob Kowalski (a No-Maj played by Dan Fogler) is charming and somewhat tragic (knowing Jacob’s mind will have to be erased of any experience of any knowledge of magical creatures and wizards at the end of the adventure).   The first sequel is supposed to take place in the United kingdom and Europe which means Newt will have other adventures taking him elsewhere in quest to find other magical creatures he is trying to save from a world that don’t understand these fantastic beasts.   Newt Scamander is a magical Doctor Doolite while Tina is too by-the-books in her interpretation of magic laws that govern the wizards and creatures in North America.   As a movie, FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM is a good start to a new franchise which fantasy and Harry Potter fans will enjoy.   There is also enough detail to examine with repeat viewings as many scenes has lots of eye candy and some scenes refer to a history that is being built on by J.K. Rowling.  Go see it now and own it when it comes to Blu-ray and 4K.

 

SPECIAL FEATURES:

A few featurettes are on the blu-ray disc:

BEFORE HARRY POTTER: A NEW ERA OF MAGIC BEGINS!- how the new film came together as this featurette takes us behind-the-scenes from development to casting to production

 

CHARACTERS featurettes:

THE MAGIZOOLOGIST- all about the lead character of Newt Scamander and the actor who plays him

THE GOLDSTEIN SISTERS- a featurette on Tina and Queenie with interviews from the actresses who play them and writer J.K. Rowling

THE NO-MAJ BAKER-

THE NEW SALEMERS featurettes reveals the hidden back story that they were once witches who have been breeding with No-Majs over the centuries to breed out magic

THE PRESIDENT AND THE AUROR-

 

CREATURES featurettes:

MEET THE FANTASTIC BEASTS, BOWTRUCKLE, DEMIGUISE, ERUMPENT, NIFFLER, OCCAMY, THUNDERBIRD reveal behind-the-scenes footage of how they filmed the actors with the CGI creatures while many actors and J.K. Rowling gush over some of the creatures (which are their favorites and J.K. Rowling reveals the origins of the magical beasts)

 

DESIGN featurettes-

SHAPING THE WORLD FO FANTASTIC BEASTS which focuses on production and costume design

NEW YORK CITY reveals how they built sets for 1920s New York City with grey screen walls to extend the sets in post via visual effects

MACUSA- a look at the set design for the headquarters of MACUSA

NEWT’S MAGICAL SUITCASE reveals how production artists had bigger design plans for the world inside Newt’s suitcase before J.K. Rowling told them it was too expansive and that he wasn’t a perfect wizard

THE SHAW BANQUET shows production designers using Liverpool to double for 1920s New York City

THE BLIND PIG- behind-the-scenes of the Blind Pig set and using motion capture for some of the characters

 

11 deleted scenes which are 15 minutes total and one cut scene shows Jacob’s girlfriend break up with him since he didn’t get the loan for the bakery

 

Also included in the package of this combo is the movie in standard definition on DVD and a code to stream and download a digital HD copy of FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM.

 

FINAL ANALYSIS:  FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM is a good start to a prequel series, but I wish they combined the featurettes with a play all option or made it into a more comprehensive documentary.

 

This review is 4-17-2016 David Blackwell and cannot be reprinted without permission.  Send all comments to feedback@enterline-media.com

 

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