Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald Ultra HD Blu-ray Review

Ralph Potts reviews the Ultra HD Blu-ray release of Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, the second installment of the “Fantastic Beasts” series featuring the adventures of Magizoologist Newt Scamander.

The Review at a Glance:
(max score: 5 )

Film:

Extras:

Audio/UHD Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )

90

Details:

Studio and Year: Warner – 2018
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Feature running time: 134/141 minutes
Genre: Fantasy/Adventure

Disc Format: BD-66
Encoding: HEVC
Video Aspect: 2.40:1
Resolution: 2160p/24

Audio Format(s): English Dolby Atmos, Dolby TrueHD 7.1, English/French/Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French
Starring: Eddie Redmayne, Katherin Waterston, Dan Fogler, Alison Sudol, Johnny Depp, Ezra Miller, Zoe Kravitz, Callum Turner, Claudia Kim, William Nadylam, Kevin Guthrie
Directed by: David Yates
Music by: James Newton Howard
Written by: J.K. Rowling
Region Code: A

Release Date: March 12, 2019

“The Fate of One Will Change the Future of All”

Synopsis:

“After the powerful Dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald escapes from custody, Magizoologist New Scamander is called upon my Hogwarts professor Albus Dumbledore once again. Facing unforeseen dangers, Newt must find a way to stop Grindelwald, whose plan for pure-blood wizards to rule over non-magical beings threatens to divide the entire wizarding world.” – Warner Brothers Home Entertainment

My Take:

I will begin my review of Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald with some of my comments from Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them:

I haven’t read one of J.K. Rowling’s books, but that hasn’t prevented me from enjoying the films based on them. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them marks the screenwriting debut of J.K. Rowling, whose seven Harry Potter books were adapted into one of the highest grossing film franchises of all time. The Potter films undeniably brought her delightful characters to life, and endeared them to us while fundamentally establishing the theme of good versus evil. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them continues much in that vein, with a storyline that takes place roughly 70 years before Harry Potter attends Hogwarts. Apparently the first in an anticipated series of films, “Fantastic Beasts” borrows from the rich context of Potter, while spinning a new narrative that stands quite well on its own. 

At the end of the first film, the Dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald (Johnny Depp) was captured by MACUSA (Magical Congress of the United States of America), with the help of Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne). In Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald Grindelwald, making good on his threat, escapes custody and sets about gathering followers, most unsuspecting of his true agenda: to raise pure-blood wizards up to rule over all non-magical beings. Lines are drawn as love and loyalty are tested, even among the truest friends and family, in an increasingly divided wizarding world.

I am a fan of the Harry Potter film series and enjoyed Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. The trailer for this film didn’t inspire me to head out to see it in the theater so viewing it at home was option two. Written by J.K. Rowling the plot picks up very near to where the first film leaves off. From there to stage is set by a series of subplots, several which are clearly designed to lay the foundation for the next installment. Unfortunately, it leaves this entry’s narrative feeling a bit scattered as it introduces several new characters as well as interjecting familiar elements that will come to bear well into the future. It would be fair to say that I found the film as a whole to be mildly entertaining but, not on the same level as its predecessor. There was a lack of enriching magical storytelling and not enough character strength.

I do enjoy watching Eddie Redmayne in the role of Newt and I like Katherine Waterston so, that part’s easy. I am hoping that the next installment brings everything together in a more cohesive way. For now, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald only serves to whet the appetite of series fans.

This Ultra HD Blu-ray Combo Pack contains the theatrical cut (Ultra HD/Blu-ray) and a 7 minute longer Extended Cut (Digital only).

Replay Value: 3 Stars

Parental Guide:

The rating is for some sequences of fantasy action.

AUDIO/VIDEO – By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100/EXCELLENT = 83-91/GOOD = 74-82/AVERAGE = 65-73/BELOW AVERAGE = under 65

**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**

UHD Presentation(HDR-10): 92
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

 

  • HDR: Dark Highlights: 
  • HDR: Bright Highlights: 
  • HDR: Expanded Color: 
  • Resolution: 
  • Visual Impact: 

 

UHD Presentation (Dolby Vision): 92
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

 

  • HDR: Dark Highlights: 
  • HDR: Bright Highlights: 
  • HDR: Expanded Color: 
  • Resolution: 
  • Visual Impact: 

 

Dolby Atmos Rating: 88
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

 

  • Level of immersion: 
  • Soundstage integration: 
  • Audio object placement: 
  • Effectiveness of Atmos platform: 
  • Entertainment factor: 

 

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald comes to Ultra HD Blu-ray from Warner Brothers Home Entertainment featuring 2160pHEVC encoded video and lossless Dolby Atmos/TrueHD 7.1 channel sound.

For its presentation in Ultra HD Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald was rendered from a 6.5K source and finished on a 4K DI.

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald is a period-based film that isn’t boldly colorful, relying on stylized visuals that employ stark contrast, reserved chromatic elements and lots of CGI. I found that this Ultra HD rendering makes the most of its elements. The 1080p transfer looks terrific but this rendering takes it up a notch with a discernible increase in detail, and emboldened highlights, both light and dark. This is readily apparent in the sequence where Newt checks in with his caretaker at his animal sanctuary. The beautiful earth toned colors, shimmering water, and sunny sky look terrific. Close ups reveal oodles of fine detail and abounding textures. Wide angle shots and the contrasting cinematography, going from brightly lit exteriors to the variety of dark, shadowy sequences look great in Ultra HD.

I found the application of high dynamic range to be spot on and quite complimentary. Some of the best examples of the presentation’s effective use of HDR comes during the opening escape sequence and, the scene in Paris, which looks gorgeous. The HDR highlight comes during Grindelwald’s unleashing of his white fire attack. The brilliant highlights of what follows, above Paris, look terrific. The scenes shot at night, or in the low light of dawn or dusk, are equally rewarding, delivering a noticeably dimensional image, with excellent delineation.

While Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald looks great on either platform, seeing it in Ultra HD makes for a more involving viewing experience.

Dolby Vision vs HDR-10:

I utilize the TCL 55P607 UHD Dolby Vision HDR flat panel in my review system to enable me to compare the visual quality of titles that contained the Dolby Vision metadata versus its HDR-10 counterpart on the same disc. All titles are first watched via my JVC front projector. I then select specific scenes which are watched on the TCL, first via HDR-10 then via Dolby Vision. The TCL isn’t among the top tier flat panels with DV, however it came recommended by AVS Forum Senior Editor Mark Henninger, and calibrates/performs extremely well for a set at its price point.

* The cumulative A/V score will still be based upon the HDR-10 rating, with the DV rating serving as informational only for now.*

Comparing the DV and HDR-10 presentations for Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, I found the HDR renderings to be similar. The title looked solid on both formats with respect to the reproduction of HDR. I felt that the each handled of the finest details in shadows, delineation in specular highlights and gradations in variants of gray equally. You can’t go wrong with either.

Dolby Atmos:

In listening to the Dolby Atmos surround mix I found it to be of the moderately active variety that made steady use of the platform. Its use of audio objects placed above is a mix atmospherics and discrete effects. The music score is subtly mixed over the platform so as to add natural depth to its orchestrated elements while complimenting the story’s thematic tone. When the action kicks the level of immersion increases but not to a compelling degree. In general, I enjoyed the presentation’s balance of atmosphere and integration of discrete object placement. I would have preferred a more aggressive overall Atmos listening experience but in the end I think it complimented the source material.

For those not familiar with the details regarding Ultra HD Blu-ray you can refer to my article that includes some pertinent data on the subject. Here is the link:

Ultra HD Blu-ray Has Come to AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews

Blu-ray Video:

Video: 94
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

 

  • Resolution/Clarity: 
  • Black Level/Shadow Detail: 
  • Color Reproduction: 
  • Fleshtones:
  • Compression: 

 

Audio: 92
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

 

  • Dynamics: 
  • Low frequency effects: 
  • Surround Sound presentation: 
  • Clarity/Detail: 
  • Dialog Reproduction: 
  • DSU/DTS Neural:X Rating * (non-rated element): NA

 

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald comes to Blu-ray Disc from Warner Brothers Home Entertainment featuring 1080p AVC encoded video and lossless Dolby Atmos/TrueHD 7.1 channel sound.

Colors are effectively used in this film to help set the tone/period setting based upon the mood of the scene. The chroma range isn’t broad and hues can vary from being sullen and inanimate to warm and inviting. Skin tones are appropriately bland with natural highlights and descriptive variation. Images onscreen were exquisitely detailed and sharp with superb depth of field and visible texture during wide angle shots. Contrast is spot on and blacks are deep with revealing delineation that provides excellent perceptibility during scenes shot at night or in lower lighting. The video has a pristine quality that is free of video related artifacts.

The lossless Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (Atmos core) soundtrack has solid dynamic range, detail rich clarity, and makes ample use of the entire surround platform to drive the film’s elements. The detection of subtle background sounds, off camera cues and spatial dimension within the room’s acoustic environment is notable. The low frequency effects channel is active as the subwoofer works in tandem with the rest of the system to convey the palpably rich bass associated with the action-based sequences. Dialog is firmly planted in the center channel and renders voices and effects with appropriate distinction. I enjoyed this audio presentation and while it didn’t prove quite as engaging as its predecessor’s surround mix, I thought that it mated well with the source material.

Bonus Features:

  • Disc 1: Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald Ultra HD Blu-ray
  • Disc 2: Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald Blu-ray
    • J.K. Rowling: A World Revealed
    • Wizards on Screen, Fans in Real Life
    • Distinctly Dumbledore
    • Unlocking Scene Secrets: The Return to Hogwarts
    • Unlocking Scene Secrets: Newt’s Menagerie
    • Unlocking Scene Secrets: Credence, Nagini and the Circus Arcanus
    • Unlocking Scene Secrets: Paris and Place Cachée
    • Unlocking Scene Secrets: Ministere des Affaires Magiques
    • Unlocking Scene Secrets: Grindelwald’s Escape and the Ring of Fire
    • Deleted Scenes
  • Digital (Extended Cut)

Final Thoughts:

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald is the second installment in the Fantastic Beasts film series, Written by J.K. Rowlings and inspired by the Hogwarts textbook “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them,” written by her character Newt Scamander. This film doesn’t have the narrative depth of the first film, feeling more like a bridge that leads up to the next but, it kept me entertained for most of its two plus hour runtime. It comes to Blu-ray on this Ultra HD Blu-ray Combo Pack from Warner Brothers Home Entertainment featuring excellent overall video quality, solid lossless sound, including a Dolby Atmos immersive mix and a fair supplemental package. Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald is worth picking up for series fans. Otherwise, a rental is a good place to start.

 

Ralph Potts
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews

Reference Review System:

JVC DLA-RS500 3D/4K Ready High Definition Front Projector
(Calibrated with Calman 5 & C6-HDR Meter from Spectracal)
Stewart Filmscreen – Studiotek 130 G3 100” 16×9 Screen
Carada Masquerade Electronic Horizontal Masking System
Marantz AV7704 Audio/Video Processor
Emotiva XPA-7 Gen 3 Seven Channel Amplifier
Emotiva XPA-11 Gen 3 Amplifier
Panasonic DP-UB820 Ultra HD Blu-ray Player
System Controller: Apple iPad/iRule Pro HD Universal Remote Control
Canton “Ergo” and Canton In-Ceiling Series Speakers
SVS Ultra Surrounds (Gloss Finish in Bipolar Configuration)
Dual SVS PC4000 Cylinder Subwoofers
Panamax M5400-PM Power Conditioner/Surge Protector
Wireworld, Better Cables (Silver Serpent) – Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling
AC Infinity Aircom T8 Component Cooling Systems 

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