BLU-RAY REVIEW: FANTASTIC BEASTS - THE CRIMES OF GRINDELWALD

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by Tony O'Brien

20th March, 2019

BLU-RAY REVIEW: FANTASTIC BEASTS - THE CRIMES OF GRINDELWALD

The first 'Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them' film came as a little bit of a surprise. While the Harry Potter films were enjoyable, they’re told through the eyes of children, and as an adult, it’s hard not to feel a certain amount of detachment.

I suppose I was expecting much the same of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them but was pleasantly surprised to discover the film was targeted more towards adults - JK Rowling I imagine is continuing these stories for the generation of adults who grew up reading her books. 

Naturally, being pitched at adults, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them explores more adult themes and introduces us to a darker side of the Harry Potter universe.

Much the same can be said for the sequel, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, which although, is not without its more charming moments, is undoubtedly a tale for adults. And with it, brings a different perspective on the characters we were introduced to in the Harry Potter series.

Set in 1927, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, takes place approximately a year after the events of the first film. Enroute from New York to London, where he is to be tried for his crimes-, the wizard Grindelwald escapes from the air-borne carriage which is transporting him.

Grindelwald views the mandates of the Ministry as outdated and envisions a world where wizards no longer have to conceal magic from the muggles. A world where wizards are free to do and marry whom they please and a world where wizards rule.

It’s hard not to draw parallels between Grindelwald and Voldemort. However, rather than coming across as “yet another deathstar” the plot raises some interesting questions about  Harry Potter’s Voldemort and his motivations, indeed even his lineage.

It also serves to expand on the universe, helped in no small part with the introduction of both Dumbledore and a parchment-faced Nicolas Flammel.  Rest assured, however, there are no puffy wizard robes or wispy beards to be found here. Instead, we see a younger and more complex portrayal of Dumbledore.

Unlike Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, which felt like a standalone movie, it’s quite evident that The Crimes of Grindelwald is setting the stage for something much bigger. And this is the only criticism my wife and I shared over The Crimes of Grindelwald.

After some research, it appears there are several more Fantastic Beasts films to come and given the events in Crimes doesn’t reach a conclusion, it feels a lot like we’re in for a series of prequels.

Video Quality 

Filmed in a 2.40:1 aspect ratio, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald comes to 4K Ultra HD with one of the format’s better video transfers to date.

Like all the films in the Harry Potter franchise, Crimes of Grindelwald has been aggressively colour-graded. The overall colour tone of the film changes, depending on the content, at times appearing decidedly blue, yet at other times featuring warmer, sepia tones.

While I’m not usually a fan of such heavy-handed colour grading, as with many things, there’s a time and a place. In the case of Crimes of Grindelwald, it rather suits the fantastical story-telling, the sepia tones giving the late 1920’s period the film is set in an air of authenticity.

This is further reinforced by the film’s use of colour, which apart from the odd splash of colour in clothing, has predominately drab colours, such as browns and greys. Flesh tones, however, for the large part remain mostly natural.

Black levels vary, but at times are inky, helping to give the image a sense of dimensionality and pop. Contrast never appears blown out, but has moments where it comes close, giving the picture an intentional dreamy look.

This is a film that benefits from HDR, with numerous examples of its use in the form of lightning blasts, flames and explosions. The closing scenes, in particular, offering many showcases of its HDR usage. Watching Crimes of Grindelwald on a projector, I couldn’t help wondering how much better the HDR would have looked on a high-luminance television.

Taken from a 4K Digital Intermediary Crimes of Grindelwald has an incredibly sharp transfer that oozes detail. From pockmarks and weathering in stone to fine detail in facial close-ups and clothing texture, it’s all there, often serving as a reminder as to why you invested in a 4K display. 

In contradiction to my previous comment, this is where the sheer size of projection is crucial to exploit as much of the film’s detail as possible.

This is one of the better video transfers the UHD format has produced and is going to resonate with 4k fans who like their movies to be sharp and grain free.

Audio Quality 

Fantastic Beasts Crimes of Grindelwald comes with a “serviceable” Dolby Atmos Soundtrack.

Much of the soundtrack is confined to the front soundstage, taking the odd foray into the rear and height speakers. This tends to occur during the more action-laden moments of the film, particularly as magic whizzes around the room.

Likewise, dynamics are restrained, and while nudging the volume 2-3 dB helped, Crimes of Grindelwald is far from a reference piece to demonstrate your home theatre system's capabilities - at least when it comes to sound.
 
While the subs are called into play from time to time, the Dolby Atmos soundtrack isn’t going to rattle the foundations of your home. In some ways, the soundtrack reminded of the more heavily compressed Dolby Digital soundtracks that accompanied early release DVD’s.

Gripes about the soundtrack’s dynamic range aside, once the volume level is given a little bit of a nudge Crimes does have a richly detailed soundtrack. From the sound of the actor’s breathing to environmental cues, such as vehicles chugging their way down the road, there’s a lot of detail to be found.

Likewise, dialogue never wavers, always remaining discernable, even at lower listening levels and during the film’s more dynamic moments.

While the plot of The Crimes of Grindelwald is interesting enough in of itself, I question if it’s enough to carry us through several more films, where it runs the risk of merely becoming a rehash of Voldemort and the Harry Potter series. 

Crystal ball gazing aside, in of itself, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald is a fantastic film and a very entertaining watch. It not only allows us to see the Harry Potter world through the eyes of adults but also expands on both the characters and the universe.

The Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald 4K UHD Blu-ray is available now at Amazon for $35.00.

PICTURE QUALITY - 
SOUND QUALITY - 
MOVIE RATING - 

  • Review Format: 4K Ultra HD
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.40.1 
  • Audio: Dolby Atmos 
  • Genre: Fantasy, Adventure 
  • Available Formats: bluray, DVD, 4K Ultra HD & Digital Download
  • Time: 133 Minutes
  • Rating: M (Fantasy themes and violence)
  • Label: Roadshow
  • Release Date: 11 March 2019
  • Director: David Yates
  • Cast: Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterston, Ezra Miller, Jude Law, Johnny Depp, Zoe Kravitz

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Tony O'Brien's avatar

Written by:

Tony O'Brien

As the owner of Adelaide based ‘Clarity Audio & Video Calibration’, Tony is a certified ISF Calibrator. Tony is an accomplished Audio-Visual reviewer specialising in theatre and visual products.

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