Explore a new era of the Wizarding World before Harry Potter. Something mysterious is leaving a path of destruction in the streets of 1926 New York, threatening to expose the wizarding community. Newt Scamander arrives in the city nearing the end of a global excursion to research and rescue magical creatures. When unsuspecting No-Maj Jacob Kowalski inadvertently lets some of Newt’s beasts loose, a band of unlikely heroes must recover the missing beasts before they come to harm, but their mission puts them on a collision course with Dark forces.
1080p, DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1, 2.39:1 Aspect Ratio
2016, Rated PG-13, 2 hours, 12 minutes
Starring: Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterston, Alison Sudol, Dan Fogler, Colin Farrell
Directed by: David Yates
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them invites us back to a world in which wizard and no-maj (or Muggle as they call them in Britain) live side by side. As a fan of all 7 Harry Potter books and movies, I was very excited to return, regardless of whether the original characters were involved. This time we are taken to the year 1926, a time long before Harry Potter, and Voldemort for that matter, were born.
We also find ourselves in the United States rather than Great Britain. Newt Skemander, an expert in the field of magical beasts, has crossed the ocean with a briefcase full of them, on business. Due to a happenstance meeting with a Muggle named Jacob Kowalski, some of the beasts escape and wreak havoc on New York City. At the same time, some sinister dark magic is doing the same, though the blame is placed on Newt and his beasts by the Magical Congress of the USA. Getting help from his initial jailor, Tina Goldstein, her sister Queenie, and Jacob, Newt must not only retrieve his beats, but also face the dark magic growing in the city.
Fantastic Beasts won the Academy Award for costume design, and was nominated for Production Design. It was a beautifully created world, and absolutely deserved those accolades. 1926 New York City looked perfect, both at the smallest details and the largest scale. At the same time, the special effects could also have been nominated. The magical characters such as Gnarlack the mobster, and beasts like the rhino-looking Erumpent looked amazing. My favorite was the Bowtruckle, which looks like a tiny plant that stays in Newt’s pocket a good portion of the time. The film was a visual beauty overall.
Still, as I mentioned earlier, simply getting to visit the wizarding world again was what engaged me the most. The government building for the Magical Congress is accessed by a special door, much like platform 9 ¾ in the Harry Potter books. The mailroom has typewriters doing their own work. Goblins are elevator operators and wand polishers. When Jacob and Newt hole up at Tina and Queenie’s apartment, dinner is prepared via magic – and is utterly delicious to Jacob. And of course, entering Newt’s briefcase to a magical beast sanctuary takes the cake. The attention to detail here, and all the subtle things that are magical reflections of the no-maj world are what makes the film special.
The Dolby Atmos soundtrack was an extraordinary treat. This was perhaps my favorite Atmos-encoded track on any Blu-Ray I’ve yet reviewed. They made exceptional use of the ceiling and surround channels. Things like the billywig buzzing around (a small magical insect and the thunderstorm really received added dimension with the sound mix. As I mentioned above, the movie is visually beautiful, and the blu-ray presentation conveys it. Though I did not review them, there are both 3D and 4K versions as well.
- Before Harry Potter: A New Era of Magic Begins!
- Characters: The Magizoologist
- Characters: The Goldstein Sisters
- Characters: The New Salemers
- Characters: The No-Maj Baker
- Characters: The President and the Auror
- Creatures: Meet the Fantastic Beasts
- Creatures: Bowtruckle
- Creatures: Demiguise
- Creatures: Erumpent
- Creatures: Niffler
- Creatures: Occamy
- Creatures: Thunderbird
- Design: Shaping the World of Fantastic Beasts
- Design: New York City
- Design: MACUSA
- Design: Newt’s Magical Case
- Design: The Shaw Banquet
- Design: The Blind Pig
- Deleted Scenes