J.K. Rowling’s magical universe returned to cinemas last year in a medium-sized blockbuster sequel and now hopes to mesmerize Muggles smitten with the Potter mythos and the ultra-high definition format in Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald(Warner Bros. Home Entertainment, rated PG-13, 134 minutes, 2.39:1 aspect ratio, $44.95).
Director David Yates also returned to help capture the continuing adventures of the quirky magizoologist Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) in a bridge movie nearly devoid of humor and more oppressive than enchanting.
After conferring with Albus Dumbledore (Jude Law), Newt gets tasked with finding the Obscurus parasite-wielding Credence Barebone (Ezra Miller) but must also contend with the pure-blood-loving dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald (a, cold, soft-spoken Johnny Depp).
The recently escaped sociopathic autocrat is looking to align with Credence and harness his powers to allow wizards to reign supreme in a Muggle-infested world.
Mr. Redman often carries the movie on his scrawny shoulders, offering an awkward charm and calm in a crisis approach to life while displaying a constant sense of wonder in this rich universe.
Potter fans will love watching creatures such as a Zouwu (an elephant-sized cat with a Chinese origin), a too cute Niffler (kind of a platypus that also appeared in the last film) and bat-like horses called Thestrals in action within a visually superior digital realm.
I’ll also defy any fan not to smile watching Newt riding on a Scottish Loch Ness-style beast called a Kelpie in an underwater sequence.
However, the ending is woefully unsatisfying and simply reveals the true identity of Credence, but alas, fans will need to wait for an epic battle between Grindelwald and Dumbledore in future films.
4K UHD in action
The UHD transfer ported from a 4K master adds high-dynamic-range upgrades and offers a reference quality presentation.
The visual package is no better witnessed than wizards near the end of the film using walls of bright orange-and-red flames to contain a crackling blue conjured dragon from attacking Paris.
Also, stunning views of early 20th century Paris, London, New York and Hogwarts School of Magic will not disappoint as well as the incredible spiral designs of the French Ministry of Magic.
Under the topic of crisp detail, fans of 4K will appreciate the translucent wing of a recently fried fly floating near the cursed prisoner Grindelwald; water droplets falling off an open umbrella; and a green oxidized-copper statue in Paris coming to animated life.
Best Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald Extras:
More than 1.5 hours of extras do a great job of revealing J.K. Rowling’s latest fantastical world and the production of the current film.
Best of the bunch is a 49-minute collection of six vignettes that touch on the creation and mythology of the old and new films.
They cover Newt’s animal menagerie (contained in his suitcase); the return to Hogwarts and its Defense of the Dark Arts classroom; the dangerous Circus Arcanus and Nagini the Maladictus (a human snake shape-shifter); Grindelwald’s best moments; recreating a 1920s Paris on backlot sets; and the circular design of the French Ministry of Magic.
Interviews abound with Miss Rowling; Mr. Yates; VFX supervisors Christian Manz and Tim Burke, costume designer Coleen Atwood; art director Martin Foley; production designer Stuart Craig; and actors Mr. Redmayne, Mr. Law and even a chatty Mr. Depp to name a few.
Also worth a look, just because it’s really fun, is a 20-minute segment starring actors Ezra Miller (Credence Barebone) and Evanna Lynch (Luna Lovegood in the “Harry Potter” films) who happen to be major nerds of the franchise.
They talk about appreciating the mythology and acting in the films as well as offering fan commentary while watching scenes of the latest movie. Both are hilariously giddy with excitement throughout.
Additionally, viewers get 10 deleted scenes including an alternate opening to the movie with Credence and a brief meeting between Dumbledore and Professor Minerva McGonagall.
Finally, an extended cut of the movie, only available through a redeemable code in the package, takes viewers to the Movies Anywhere streaming service to enjoy an additional seven minutes of action.
• This story originally appeared in The Washington Times.