Picking up shortly after the events of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, evil wizard Grindelwald escapes custody in New York and flees to Europe where he begins to gather followers. The Ministry of Magic tries to recruit Newt Scamander as an auror to try and capture him. Scamander instead embarks on a secret mission given to him by a young Albus Dumbledore. With muggle friend Jacob Kowalski and auror Tina Goldstein, he tracks Grindelwald to Paris where he and his followers are attempting to bring Credence Barebone, the Obscurial, into their fold. He sees a world where purebloods rule over all and are free to practice their magic. In the end, our heroes must make some hard choices as the world teeters on the edge of change.
2018, Color, Rated PG-13, 2 Hrs 14 mins
Dolby Atmos, TrueHD 7.1 2.40:1 Aspect Ratio
Dolby Vision, HDR10
Starring: Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterston, Johnny Depp
Directed by: David Yates
While I enjoy any story set in the Harry Potter universe, this second chapter in the Fantastic Beasts franchise left me bewildered. There are so many characters and tangential storylines that it becomes difficult to follow the important plot points. And if you haven’t heard already, three more films are planned. Honestly, the entire story, as it seems to be unfolding, could be told in one or two movies. I will likely be watching it again in hopes of filling in the blanks left by my first viewing.
Performances by all the principal actors are first-rate. That and the stunning visual effects are easily the biggest attraction here. If you want to concentrate on the finer elements of the story, I suggest watching the last three Potter films, so you are up on the various family trees in play. The material does move towards the events that lead up to the original seven books, but it will require patience. And if we must wait for three more films to bring the story to a known conclusion, I guess I’d better stock up on the popcorn.
The Ultra HD image is beautifully rendered with fine textural details and superb motion resolution. My complaint is the darkness of nearly every scene. The extended color palette is occasionally used to good effect when pops of color dot an otherwise murky backdrop. But most fleshtones and natural colors are covered with a cool blue haze. Only Grindelwald should have a pasty white complexion, but it seems that almost every character, good or bad, shares the same hue.
Audio comes in a Dolby Atmos encode which plays as TrueHD 7.1 on non-Atmos systems like mine. The mix is rich and dynamic but a little polite. Most action scenes lack the viscerality I’ve come to expect from object-oriented soundtracks. The best part is James Newton Howard’s musical score which is far more complex and engaging than the very-familiar themes penned by John Williams.
Nearly 90 minutes of special features are included. In addition to three short documentaries, a longer segment details the production of six key scenes in the film. You also get a selection of deleted scenes.