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The Continuing Life of Fantastic Beasts

The Wizarding World is abuzz. About a month and a half after the March 12 release of the Blu-ray for Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, Ron Sanders (President, Worldwide Theatrical Distribution and President, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment) announced that the third film of the planned five-part series will be released in November 2021. Naturally, the announcement that the wait between films will be prolonged — the first two films had but a two-year waiting period between them, as they were released in 2016 and 2018  — has already resulted in the mass speculation of reasons for the delay by bloggers and vloggers with too much time on their hands and nothing of substance to say. Optimistically speaking, the sound of all of these geeks buzzing is indicative of the fascination that still exists for the universe that spawned the famous Harry Potter book and film series. An examination of the new Fantastic Beasts Blu-ray and a re-visitation of its predecessor demonstrate that there are still infinite story possibilities within this fantasy realm.

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The first Fantastic Beasts film introduced audiences to the magizoologist Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne), the author-to-be of one of Harry Potter’s fictitious schoolbooks. Newt’s work with magical creatures brought him to United States and introduced the fans of J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World to a new cast of characters and showed them how the secret magical society works in America.

In the second film, [SPOILER ALERT] we learn that Newt had been sent by Professor Albus Dumbledore (Jude Law) to find an obscurial named Creedence Barebone (Ezra Miller), and in this film, Creedence ventures to France to learn the secret of his parentage. As he quests, various factions of wizards — including the villain Gellert Grindelwald (Johnny Depp), Newt (by way of Dumbledore’s persuasion), the Ministry of Magic’s aurors, and the mysterious Yusuf Kama (William Nadylam) — try to track him down for their own purposes; you can’t very well have an obscurial running around on the streets, after all!

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Along the way, Creedence befriends a familiar character (in an unfamiliar form). Nagini (Claudia Kim) is Creedence’s only real friend, and the breaking of their friendship at the conclusion of the film, when Creedence is beguiled by Grindelwald, signals that the boy’s journey seems to be on a neverending downward spiral — much to the fear of the wizarding community and much to the advantage of the murderous Grindelwald.

The Blu-ray release of The Crimes of Grindelwald provides fans with a great package to supplement their appreciation of the storyline. In addition to the terrific audio and video presentations, there are a number of deleted scenes; at least some of these were likely cut for pacing purposes, and several are a bit heavy on exposition. While all of the cut scenes are worth watching, a few of them comprise a relationship arc between Creedence and Nagini that would have been nice to have seen in the final film. Other features include a series of mini-docs that delve into the film’s environments, with story and production commentary by J.K. Rowling, director David Yates, and members of the production design department; a featurette on the expansion of the Dumbledore character; a discussion with J.K. Rowling on expanding the cinematic universe of the Wizarding World; and an entertaining bit featuring Ezra Miller and Evanna Lynch (Luna Lovegood) screening, discussing, speculating, and geeking over clips from the film. All in all, while it is a bit disheartening to learn that the next entry in the series will leave us hanging for two more years with the cliffhanger ending of The Crimes of Grindelwald, it is reassuring to know that the creative and receptive forces that surround the Wizarding World are in great health.

About Scott Feinblatt

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