This week I took a closer look at the Warner Home Video 4K Ultra HD release for Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them on March 28th, 2017.
This family fantasy is a spin-off of the Harry Potter film series, written by J. K. Rowling in her screenwriting debut.
The story follows Newt Scamander as he visits 1920s New York with his case full of magical creatures.
The film received positive reviews and was the eighth highest-grossing film of 2016.
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them the Movie
In 1926 the British wizard and self proclaimed magizoologist Newt Scamander arrives in New York on his way to Arizona.
He encounters Mary Lou Barebone, a woman who leads the New Salem Philanthropic Society.
The group claims that witches and wizards are both real and dangerous.
A Niffler escapes Newt’s magical suitcase, and as he attempts to recapture it, Newt runs into a cannery worker and aspiring baker named Jacob.
During their encounter their suitcases get swapped, leaving Newt with a case full of pastries and Jacob with a case full of magic creatures.
A demoted Auror named Tina Goldstein arrests Newt for being an unregistered wizard.
While hoping to regain her former position by highlighting Newt’s carelessness with illegal magical creatures, the MACUSA leaders have bigger problems to deal with.
At Jacob’s tenement apartment a number of the creatures escape from Newt’s suitcase.
After Tina and Newt find Jacob and the suitcase, Tina takes them to her apartment and introduces them to her sister Queenie.
Newt persuades Jacob to help search for the missing creatures, but a darker and more sinister force is at work in New York City.
Can the unlikely foursome save the city from disaster, avoiding the MACUSA agents who seek to execute them for their crimes?
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them – My Thoughts
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is the eagerly anticipated follow on from the Harry Potter series, and for the most part if delivers on the promise.
The film serves as a prequel to the Potter films, and astute viewers with a good knowledge of the books and films will find many references to people, places and creatures from the series.
The movie has been set in New York, and it is interesting to see Rowling’s impression of how wizarding is different in the USA, including references to the Salem witch trials.
The story is really made up of two different major challenges – the recapturing of the escaped magical creatures, and defeating the evil force that is tormenting New York City.
I found that the pursuit of the creatures took too much screen time, given that it didn’t really add a great deal to the overall story arc.
That said, the scenes are typically comical and do allow a bond to build between Newt and Jacob.
All in all the film is a strong technical achievement and will no doubt play well to young and old.
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Cast, Crew and Performance
The cast includes Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterston, Dan Fogler, Alison Sudol, Ezra Miller, Samantha Morton, Jon Voight and Carmen Ejogo.
The film was nominated for five BAFTAs, winning for Best Production Design.
It also won the Academy Award for Best Costume Design, becoming the first film in J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World to win an Academy Award.
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them was directed by David Yates, who was also behind Potter films Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Order of the Phoenix, Deathly Hallows: Part 1, and Deathly Hallows: Part 2, as well as The Legend of Tarzan.
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them was a big success in the cinema, taking in $232.2M at the US box office, and additionally more than double that overseas.
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc
The video on the disc is an HEVC 2160p encode with HDR10, is presented in its original aspect ratio of 2.40:1.
While we don’t have the tools to determine the average video bitrate, the full stream comes in at around 62.5Mbps, so the video is likely to be at least 50 Mbps average bitrate, all things considered.
Regardless the image quality is of the highest level here, with a 4K Digital Intermediate for footage shot on high dynamic range Arri equipment.
The result is an excellent picture quality that takes full advantage of the new HDR displays available today.
Certainly this disc could easily become the reference material you show off to your friends.
The main audio is Dolby Atmos object based audio, and again we get a strong mix that takes advantage of the new technology.
All told this Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them 4K Ultra HD release is going to please the gearheads!
The disc is dual layer BD66 with 63.6 GB used, and is coded for All Regions.
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them 4K Ultra HD – The Bonus Features
As we typically find with Blu-ray 3D releases, the extras are not found on the Ultra HD disc, rather they can be found on the regular Blu-ray Disc that is included in the package.
Before Harry Potter: A New Era of Magic Begins! – 15:31
Author J.K. Rowling, along with director David Yates and David Heyman, discusses the return to the ‘Potterverse’ and the writing of the screenplay.
Rowling talks about her experiences writing the screenplay, and we also see some if the behind the scenes footage.
They discuss the main character Newt in some depth, and how out of place he was in New York.
The other characters and the casting is also discussed, and the actors weigh in on David Yates’ style as a director.
The main characters are covered here in a series of short segments with a specific focus on a character or group of characters.
The Magizoologist – 4:14
Eddy Redmayne and J.K. Rowling discuss the character of Newt Scamander, his nature and history, and how he fits in to the Potter-verse.
Newt’s wardrobe and props are also covered in this segment.
The Goldstein Sisters – 5:04
Tina and Queenie Goldstein are the key female characters and are quite different from each other.
Again the actors discuss their take on the characters that they portray.
The No-Maj Baker – 4:42
Jacob Kowalski is a genial muggle cannery worker who dreams of being a baker.
Dan Fogler talks about the role and Rowling discusses how the character became involved in the story.
They also comment on the role Jacob plays in getting Newt out of his shell, and his relationship with Queenie.
The New Salemers – 4:42
The Barebone family, also known as the New Salemers, are a cultish group that oppose the wizard world.
The back story for the characters is revealed here in a depth we don’t get from the movie.
Credence is an adopted member of the family and his dark secret is discussed.
The President and the Auror – 5:37
The president Seraphina Picquery is the head witch in MACUSA, and is charged with keeping the magical world separate from the general population.
The Auror are her officers, who help enforce the rules, with Percival Graves being the Director of Magical Security.
The relationships are discussed here, with a lot of spoilers if you haven’t watched the film.
Similarly the creatures of the film are discussed in a series of short segments.
Meet the Fantastic Beasts – 4:18
The collection of fantastic beasts is summarized in this segment, along with the overall goal of the creature effects.
Authenticity to the world is perhaps the main goal, and we also get to see the puppets used on set to give the actors something to interact with.
Bowtruckle – 2:36
Picket the Bowtruckle is a twig-like creature that prefers Newt’s company to that of his fellow Bowtruckles.
This tiny character is partially brought to life with puppeteers.
Demiguise – 2:20
Dougal the Demiguise blends into its surroundings, and its fur is used to make cloaks of invisibility.
Erumpent – 3:42
The giant Erumpet is like a massive glowing rhinoceros, and puppeteers again create a physical representation on set.
Niffler – 2:29
The Niffler is a mischievous little platypus like create that creates quite some mayhem in the story.
Occamy – 3:09
The Occamy expands to fill the space that it inhabits, making it quite a tricky one to catch in a large room.
This sequence required set destruction and stunts to create the desired effect.
Thunderbird – 2:25
The Thunderbird wasn’t actually an escaped creature, however this giant eagle-like bird plays a key part in the story.
Again puppeteers were key in creating some of the scenes with this creature.
Set design played a major part in the movie, and some of the key locations are covered in short segments.
Shaping the World of Fantastic Beasts – 5:54
The overall concepts and the surreal nature of the wizarding world are again front in center in this new movie.
The goals for the set design are generally covered in this first segment, along with the team who created them.
Extensive physical sets were built, with some of the key sets given their own segment.
New York City – 7:25
Needless to say that 1926 New York is a key location for the movie, and the team found it easier to build all the sets they wanted rather than shoot on location.
This was an extensive facade, that could be extended in many ways using digital special effects.
I was most impressed with this segment and recommend you check it out.
MACUSA – 7:07
The Magical Congress of the United States of America (MACUSA) headquarters is another key location for the movie.
The Woolworth building, or at least the base of it, is faithfully recreated for the movie.
Once again many of the props were functional and detailed beyond the visual need.
Newt’s Magical Case – 4:59
The magical interior of Newt’s case is a ‘TARDIS’ where the inside is much bigger than the outside.
Newt’s workshop is in there, as well as the huge open ‘outside’ environments for the magical creatures.
The Shaw Banquet – 4:29
The banquet takes place in a large ballroom in Liverpool as a stand in for New York.
This was one of the few ‘real locations’ used for the film.
Again there was a huge collection of extras dressed in the costume for the era in attendance.
The Blind Pig – 4:39
The underground speakeasy was a fun set, with the excess of seediness at every turn.
The motion capture used for Ron Pearlman’s character is also revealed in this segment.
11 Deleted Scenes – 14:33
The deleted scenes feature some interesting background including a scene between Graves and Tina and Jacob’s fiancee giving his ring back.
Others were likely cut for pacing, not being entirely necessary, like the school song sequence.
This release includes an UltraViolet Digital Copy code.
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them 4K Ultra HD – Final Thoughts
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is a fun family film that extends the Harry Potter series with new set of characters.
Warner Home Video has put together a technically excellent 4K Ultra HD release for the movie, with excellent visuals and sound throughout.
There is also an extensive collection of supplemental features and an Ultra Violet Digital Copy code included in this release.
The retail price is $44.95, though you can get it at Amazon for $29.96, saving 33%!
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them 4K Ultra HD Extras:
- Before Harry Potter: A New Era of Magic Begins!: Join J.K. Rowling as she, David Yates and David Heyman return to Leavesden Studios to build a new and exciting corner of the wizarding universe.
- Characters: The Magizoologist, The Goldstein Sisters, The New Salemers, The No-Maj Baker, The President and the Auror
- Creatures: Meet the Fantastic Beasts: Bowtruckle, Demiguise, Erumpent, Niffler, Occamy, Thunderbird
- Design: Shaping the World of Fantastic Beasts, New York City, MACUSA, Newt’s Magical Case, The Shaw Banquet, The Blind Pig (360°)
- 11 Deleted Scenes
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them 4K Ultra HD Synopsis:
There are growing dangers in the wizarding world of 1926 New York. Something mysterious is leaving a path of destruction in the streets, threatening to expose the wizarding community to the No-Majs (American for Muggles), including the Second Salemers, a fanatical faction bent on eradicating them. And the powerful, dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald, after wreaking havoc in Europe, has slipped away…and is now nowhere to be found. Unaware of the rising tensions, Newt Scamander arrives in the city nearing the end of a global excursion to research and rescue magical creatures, some of which are safeguarded in the magical hidden dimensions of his deceptively nondescript leather case. But potential disaster strikes when unsuspecting No-Maj Jacob Kowalski inadvertently lets some of Newt’s beasts loose in a city already on edge—a serious breach of the Statute of Secrecy that former Auror Tina Goldstein jumps on, seeing her chance to regain her post as an investigator. However, things take an ominous turn when Percival Graves, the enigmatic Director of Magical Security at MACUSA (Magical Congress of the United States of America), casts his suspicions on both Newt and Tina. Now allied, Newt and Tina, together with Tina’s sister, Queenie, and their new No-Maj friend, Jacob, form a band of unlikely heroes, who must recover Newt’s missing beasts before they come to harm. But the stakes are higher than these four outsiders—now branded fugitives—ever imagined, as their mission puts them on a collision course with dark forces that could push the wizarding and No-Maj worlds to the brink of war.