The Film (3.5/5)
The Harry Potter series of films ended in 2011 with Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2. That left Warner Bros. without their largest franchise money-maker, and the DC films aren’t exactly of the same family friendly mold as the Potter films, so of course they were hungry for another trip into the Wizarding World. J.K. Rowling seemed all too happy to oblige them, and wrote a script based on the textbook Harry Potter and company had to read as first years at Hogwarts Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by Newt Scamander.
The series is being developed by Rowling and Warner as a five film franchise following Scamander, and also acts a prequel to the Potter films that takes place in the early 20th century. The first film sees protagonist Newt Scamander take a trip from London to New York with his suitcase that contains magical creatures in a zoo like environment. Of course, there is a mix up at the airport and a "No-Maj" (Muggle, Non-Magic User) gets Scamander’s suitcase, and it creates a spiral of events, that leads to Newt being blamed for a bunch of unrelated dangerous magical attacks. Newt is a protector of his creatures, and not out to use them for offensive purposes, so he teams up with some newly made friends to help clear his name, stop the attacks, and also save his creatures.
When watching Fantastic Beasts I had to tell myself that this was the start of something, because I felt that there was a lot going on, and not a lot of it was terribly interesting. That being said it feels like a lot of this is world building, and plot creation for what will come in the future. Newt Scamander seems like he could be an interesting character, but at the moment he seems very much like a typical Potter-verse hero, and the team he assembles seems like they would be interesting enough to spend a few movies worth of time with.
The fact is Fantastic Beasts... has a lot to live up to. The Harry Potter films while not always perfect, were a fun and interesting series of adaptations of their source material, and after 5 years of not having them left a sizable gap in the cinematic landscape. Fans will just have to wait and see how things pick up in the series other outings.
Fantastic Beasts is presented with a 2:40:1 1080p AVC encoded transfer preserving the films OAR. The Blu-ray looks and sounds quite excellent, detail is excellent, colors pop, and blacks are deep.
Audio is presented with a DTS-HD MA 5.1 track in English. The track is quite excellent and services the film well. Everything comes through crisp and clear.
A lot of stuff is present on the disc that covers the behind the scenes aspects of the film, we get interviews and behind the scenes documentaries on the production. None of it is too long or too deep, but it will certainly interest fans. There are also trailers for the film.
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is the ultimate wait and see experience. The first film is entertaining in parts, but is very busy laying the groundwork for the 4 films left to come, and I think will become more interesting in future rewatches after those are released. The Blu-ray looks and sounds excellent, and has a nice slate of extras. RECOMMENDED (for now).