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Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (3D Blu-ray Review)

27 Mar, 2017 By: John Latchem

Street 3/28/17
Box office $233.99 million
$28.98 DVD, $35.99 Blu-ray, $44.95 3D BD, $44.95 4K UHD BD
Rated ‘PG-13’ for some fantasy action violence
Stars Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterston, Dan Fogler, Alison Sudol, Ezra Miller, Samantha Morton, Jon Voight, Carmen Ejogo, Ron Perlman, Colin Farrell.

The simple premise of Fantastic Beasts seems like a perfect fit for a 3D spectacle — unleash a bunch of magical CGI creatures in New York in 1926 and watch the chaos ensue.

Set in the cinematic universe of what has been dubbed “J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World,” the film is a prequel of sorts to the “Harry Potter” films, focused on Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne), the original author of one of Harry Potter’s textbooks. It doesn’t tie in directly to anything from the “Potter” movies, though it does promise younger versions of some characters, deeper backstories for others, and a whole lot of expansion of the wizarding world.

In particular, the film, with a screenplay by Rowling, shows off the culture of magic users in America, where a leadership council meets in a tucked-away corner of the Woolworth Building hidden away from any unsuspecting No-Maj (the American word for non-magic users, otherwise known as Muggles in England).

Newt, having traveled the globe collecting rare magical creatures in his supernatural suitcase (which is bigger on the inside, like Mary Poppins’ bag, or the TARDIS), in preparation for writing his future textbook, has finally made his way to America. After a run-in No-Maj named Jacob (Dan Fogler), some of the creatures escape. An American witch named Tina Goldstein (Katherine Waterston) works with Newt and Jacob to track down the creatures before incurring the wrath of the Magical Congress of the United States of America and exposing the existence of wizards and witches to the public.

Tied into this is an investigation by a MACUSA agent (Colin Farrell) into a movement seeking to expose magic users to the world and eliminate them.

Since the light show of casting spells is old hat to the Potterverse, the real showcase here is all the mystical beasts on display, while the filmmakers take advantage of the 3D process by whizzing multiple flying creatures toward and in front of the camera for maximum effect.

It's a lot of fun to see how the non-magical Jacob reacts to all the wizardry, and to see how the non-magical world reacts to magic in general. It's also interesting to see how the underground magical society works, even if some of the logic behind it makes as much sense as the rules of Quidditch. It’s a good start to a new Wizarding franchise that paves the way for expanding on a lot of the details hinted at in the “Potter” films and books.

The Blu-ray includes about 95 minutes of behind-the-scenes featurettes covering a variety of topics. The longest one is a 15-minute piece about bringing in Rowling and long-time “Potter” director David Yates to re-visit the Wizarding World.

Other featurettes profile the characters and creatures involved, and more deal with creating the settings in the film. Some of the more elaborate sets are offered with 360-degree views through the Warner Bros. Movies All-Access mobile app.

Finally, the Blu-ray includes about 15 minutes of deleted scenes that show off a few more creatures and the magical culture of America.

About the Author: John Latchem

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