Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. The movie offered a largely positive presentation.
This meant good delineation, as the film showed accurate imagery. A sliver of softness hit some wider shots, but the majority of the transfer showed nice clarity. I saw no jaggies or moiré effects, and neither edge haloes nor print flaws marred the image.
As for the palette, it opted for a fairly desaturated bent. Some orange and teal appeared but in an abnormally subdued manner meant to match the period setting. Within those confines, the colors appeared fine.
Blacks were dark and dense, while shadows showed good smoothness. A lot of the movie opted for low-light shots and these came with appropriate definition. All in all, the transfer satisfied.
Even better, the film’s Dolby Atmos soundtrack excelled. Downconverted to Dolby TrueHD 7.1, the mix came with many magical moments that utilized all the speakers in a compelling manner.
Because of this, we got a lot of information all around the room. Flying creatures/elements zoomed about the domain, and other action components managed to flit and dash. All of these combined into a broad, well-integrated soundscape that engulfed us in the action.
Audio quality remained pleasing. Speech was natural and concise, as the lines remained intelligible and lacked edginess.
Music appeared full and rich, and effects dazzled. Those elements came across as dynamic and bold, with excellent low-end response. From start to finish, the movie’s soundtrack worked exceedingly well.
When we move to the set’s extras, we open with Before Harry Potter: A New Era of Magic Begins. In this 15-minute, 31-second piece, we hear from author/screenwriter JK Rowling, producers Lionel Wigram and David Heyman, director David Yates, and actors Katherine Waterston, Dan Fogler, Eddie Redmayne, Carmen Ejogo, Jon Voight, Ezra Miller, Jenn Murray, and Alison Sudol.
The show looks at the source and its adaptation for the screen, story and characters, cast and performances, and Yates’ impact on the production. “Era” mixes useful footage and facts with fluff. That makes it a decent but inconsistent program.
Under Characters, five clips appear. We find “The Magizoologist” (4:14), “The Goldstein Sisters” (5:04), “The No-Maj Baker” (4:42), “The New Salemers” (4:42) and “The President and the Auror” (5:37). Across these, we get comments from Redmayne, Rowling, Waterston, Sudol, Fogler, Heyman, Yates, Miller, Murray, Ejogo, costume designer Colleen Atwood, junior concept artist Molly Sole, textile artist Matt Reitsma, and actors Faith Wood-Blagrove and Colin Farrell.
In these, we learn about the various roles in the film as well as the actors involved and related subjects like costumes and props. All offer useful material, though those that focus on secondary characters fare best, as they flesh out those roles well. The five programs give us good information.
Another compilation of featurettes shows up within Creatures. This domain breaks into seven segments: “Meet the Fantastic Beasts” (4:18), “Bowtruckle” (2:36), “Demiguise” (2:20), “Erumpent” (3:42), “Niffler” (2:29), “Occamy” (3:09) and “Thunderbird” (2:25). Here we locate remarks from Yates, Heyman, Fogler, Rowling, Redmayne, Waterston, Sudol, VFX animation director Pablo Grillo, visual effects supervisors Christian Manz and Tim Burke, hod prop modeler Pierre Bohanna, supervising creature puppeteer Robin Guiver, and puppeteers Ayve Leventis, Jack Parker, Finn Caldwell and Rachel Leonard.
As expected, these reels discuss the design and execution of the movie’s various “fantastical beasts”. They do so with reasonable depth – they tend to seem a little short but they still give us a nice array of thoughts about the character design and effects topics.
Six more featurettes come to us via Design. In this area, we get “Shaping the World of Fantastic Beasts” (5:54), “New York City” (7:25), “Macusa” (7:07), “Newt’s Magical Case” (4:59), “The Shaw Banquet” (4:29) and “The Blind Pig” (4:39). Over these, we hear from Ejogo, Heyman, Yates, Burke, Redmayne, Atwood, Farrell, Voight, Manz, Sudol, Miller, Bohanna, Waterston, Rowling, Fogler, Grillo, production designer Stuart Craig, graphic designer Miraphora Mina, construction manager Paul Hayes, action vehicle coordinator Alex King, wardrobe master Gary Hyams, concept artist Dermot Power, art director Toby Britton, scenic artist Marcus Williams, stunt coordinator Eunice Huthart, special effects coordinator David Watkins, graphic designer Eduardo Lima, and actors Ronan Raftery, Ron Perlman and Josh Cowdery.
In these programs, we learn about costumes, sets, vehicles, and other production design elements. While we get some good notes, these tend to be fluffier featurettes than I’d like. They’re worth a look, but they lack great depth.
11 Deleted Scenes fill a total of 14 minutes, 33 seconds. Most of these tend to offer extensions to existing sequences, and this leaves them of limited utility. The majority toss out minor tidbits – like the “school song” for the US wizardry academy – and not much more.
The “No-Maj” Kowalski gets a minor boost, though, particularly in a scene that follows his disappointment at the bank. This segment shows that Jacob had a fiancée who dumped him because he couldn’t get a loan to start a bakery, while the theatrical cut leaves him as someone who never gets dates.
That’s the major expansion, and a couple other slivers add to Kowalski. Most of the scenes offer some entertainment but outside of the Jacob footage, none of them seem especially substantial.
The disc opens with an ad for the Harry Potter film series. No trailer for Beasts appears here.
A second disc presents a DVD copy of Beasts. It lacks any of the Blu-ray’s extras.
A spin-off/prequel to the Harry Potter franchise, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them boasts the requisite spectacle but lacks much of the usual substance. While the film comes with some magical entertainment, it fails to deliver an involving narrative or memorable characters. The Blu-ray provides solid visuals, excellent audio and a moderately informative set of supplements. Maybe subsequent chapters will work better, but this first Beasts entry largely leaves me cold.