Sunday 26/05/2019 - 01:12 am

"Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them" review (4k UHD)

2017.04.03 10:59

Director David Yates and screenwriter J.K. Rowling’s successful cinematic expansion of the Harry Potter universe moves to ultra high-definition home theaters in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (Warner Bros. Home Entertainment, rated PG-13, 133 minutes, 2.40:1 aspect ratio, $44.95).

The story follows the adventures of famed author and wizarding magizoologist Newton “Newt” Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) and takes viewers into a 1920s New York City filled with wondrous animal and magical beings mixed in with muggles (non-mag humans).

The introverted Newt is on route to Arizona, but some of his creatures escape his beaten-up suitcase and flee into the Big Apple. He is now stuck looking for his odd friends and avoiding capture by agents of the Magical Congress of the United States of America (MACUSA), not pleased by his creature-causing havoc on the city.

He gets help from investigator Tina Goldstein (Katherine Waterston), Tina’s younger sister Queenie Goldstein (Alison Sudol) and a bumbling non-mag named Jacob Kowalski (Dan Fogler).

Along the way, the quartet uncovers a plot by the infamous dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald that threatens to start a war by exposing the magical community to the distrusting non-mag citizenry.

Although the movie is a bit on the sinister side, it’s still loaded with plenty of whimsical and memorable scenes.

For example, viewers will especially love getting a look into Newt’s suitcase. It actually contains a full-sized game reserve where he hangs out and protects all of his endangered animals and creatures, too often hunted and poached by wizards.

And, equally fun, the group ventures into a vintage speakeasy called The Blind Pig and interacts with the grumpy goblin owner (voiced by Ron Perlman).

Running into the many creatures and with an occasional tip of the Sorting Hat to the Potter canon,” Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” pleasantly harkens back to the old days when the boy wizard ruled the box office.

Suffice it to report, the entire journey of Newt and his friends will not disappoint fans or a family in love with magical fantasy.

Parents should take note that some of the darker scenes, especially when encountering a noisy and destructive parasite called the Obscurus and watching the overbearing and abusive leader of an anti-witch organization threaten to beat her children may frighten youngsters.

4K UHD in action: Offering a pure 2160p experience digitally transferred from the original 4K master and enhanced with high-dynamic range imaging, the disc gives owners the best possible way to enjoy the movie.

Especially slick was French cinematographer Philippe Rousselot’s juxtaposition of a muted almost noirish color pallet (seen in New York City) compared to the vibrant hues unleashed during visits to Newt’s magical suitcase realm.

The visual dynamics are most impressive when admiring the minutia of the wonderful assortment of magical creatures designed by the effects team.

Perhaps most outstanding was the majestic Thunderbird, a multi-story eagle with three sets of wings that can create storms.

The glints of gold among its feathers and the slight cracks in its beak as the creature flew against a backdrop of swirls of menacing clouds, lighting cracks and drenching rain were stunning to watch.

Next, noted for the sheer detail in its fur, was the Demiguise, a primate-like creature with the power of invisibility and able to predict the future.

I loved examining the subtle motion of its white, hairy, hanging pelt and looking at its large, glistening and hue-changing eyes. They reminded me of Yoda’s peepers.

Equally impressive was the Occamy, a beautiful two-legged serpent with feathered wings that can expand or contract to fit into the available environment. Of course, the beast boasts impeccably crafted, colorful scales and a plume.

Watching the room-sized creature hunt a free-falling cockroach and then condense itself to fit into a teapot was visual magic.

Finally, another favorite was the Erempent, a powerful beast resembling a rhinoceros. Viewers will marvel at its red-and-orange, glowing and undulating sack of combustible fluid around its cranial area that feeds into its horn and can be used with explosive results.

Best extras: Owners will need to put into their players the Blu-ray version of the film to find all of the bonus content.

They will first enjoy a 15-minute overview of the production, highlighted by some informative moments with Miss Rawlings and Mr. Yates, and then a collection of short segments (totally over an hour) that cover the main characters, creatures and designs of the film.

Specifically, fans learn about the creation of such pint-sized stars as the Bowtruckle and Niffler, the costuming for the Auror Percival Graves (a Dark Arts investigator played by Colin Farrell) and a behind-the-scenes look at the Blind Pig, all supported by interviews with the cast and crew.

Many of the segments offer snippets of some enjoyable banter between the four primary cast members in a group session and well worth watching.

Additionally, the disc offers 15 minutes of deleted scenes that include alternate takes of the Obscurus in action and a delightful school song by the Goldstein sisters remembering their days at Illvermorny. That’s the American version of Hogwarts to you naïve muggles.

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