"Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald" picks up at the end of the first movie where the powerful Dark Wizard Gellert Grindelwald (Depp) was captured by MACUSA (Magical Congress of the United States of America), with the help of Newt Scamander (Redmayne). But, making good on his threat, Grindelwald escaped custody and has set about gathering followers, most unsuspecting of his true agenda: to raise pure-blood wizards up to rule over all non-magical beings. In an effort to thwart Grindelwald's plans, Albus Dumbledore (Law) enlists his former student Newt Scamander, who agrees to help, unaware of the dangers that lie ahead. Lines are drawn as love and loyalty are tested, even among the truest friends and family, in an increasingly divided wizarding world. (Gary Reber)
Special features include four featurettes: "J.K. Rowling: A World Revealed" (HD 10:15), "Wizards On Screen, Fans In Real Life (HD 19:22), "Distinctly Dumbledore" (HD 09:31) and the six-part "Unlocking Scene Secrets" (HD 49:09); 10 deleted scenes (HD 14:23); upfront previews and a Movies Anywhere digital code.
The 2.40:1 2160p HEVC/H.265 Ultra HD HDR10/Dolby Vision picture, reviewed on a Sony Bravia Z9D 4K Ultra HD HDR display, was photographed digitally using the Arri Alexa 65 camera system and sourced from a 4K master Digital Intermediate format. A 3D conversion was performed by GENER8, but not made available for review. Picture quality is superb throughout. The wide color gamut is excellent with a nuanced range of hues and shadings. The color palette is warm and rich with solid, nicely saturated hues across the spectrum. The result provides a glow to the imagery, such as the scene with the fiery encirclement and the blue light beast. Fleshtones retain their naturalness within various settings, including the more muted and darker sequences. HDR contrast is excellent and exhibits deep, revealing blacks and shadow delineation. Lighting highlights are naturally rendered and never inappropriately exaggerated. Resolution is excellent with textures and costumes, as well as city skylines finely resolved, including the foggiest London scenes. Close-ups reveal fine detail in all manner of facial features. The production design is nicely exposed in terms of background and foreground detail. WOW! segments are from 02:00 to 07:19, 22:48 to 25:22, 33:16 to 34:00, 01:00:00 to 01:01:15, 01:12:07 to 01:14:13, 01:19:06 to 1:20:23, 01:32:32 to 01:34:34, 01:47:50 to 01:48:47 and 01:57:02 to 01:58:67. This is a fantastic-looking picture that will not disappoint. (Gary Reber)
The Dolby Atmos/Dolby TrueHD 7.1-channel soundtrack features a wonderful orchestral/choral score that wraps around the soundstage and extends to the height layer. Surround energy is apparent throughout with excellent sound effects that support the magic depictions. The sonic nicely shapes the imagery sounds of swirling spells and mystical creatures. The soundfield is generally robust, though, quiet moments are nicely nuanced. The music sound is enveloping and dynamic with natural bass extension. Sound-effect dynamics are boosted with effective enhancement from .1 LFE bass extension for the most part, but not always, as the low frequencies are at times wanting in weight and power. Dialogue is consistently intelligible with generally good spatial integration.
The Immersive Sound element features an extension to the height layer of the orchestral/choral score. Sound effects and atmospherics include a flying insect, prison sounds, lightening and thunder, carriage horses, bird chirps, a wave splash, rain and thunder, a beast growl, swoops, creature growls, sparks, panned thunderous sounds, and other insignificant subtleties. These are brief moments overall. This is a height layer that could have been far more engaging, to create a fully dimensional spherical surround, but falls short. Except for the music, there are long lapses of silence between atmospherics and sound effects.
Overall, this is a great-sounding track with well-balanced dynamics and excellent fidelity, with satisfying holosonic® dimensionality at ear level and wanting consistent spherical surround presence. (Gary Reber)