Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (DVD)
It's 1926, the Jazz Age before the Great Depression and New York City is hopping in more ways than one. In Europe, Gellert Grindewald, a dark wizard still on the run, has spread terror with his attacks on Muggles. He wants to start a war between Muggles and magicians.
As in Europe, the NYC population of No-Majs (No-Magic, the American term for Muggles) have only suspicions that there are magicians among them. To keep it that way, the American wizarding community has strict laws, enforced by MACUSA, including a ban on magical beast ownership in the U.S.
Enter Newt Scamader. Literally. He disembarks a ship in New York Harbor with a small suitcase and it soon becomes apparent that he is not only holding magical beasts in his suitcase but those beasts are prone to escaping.
But is it Newt's fault that a horrific gray cloud is descending on NYC streets to kill people and destroy buildings? MACUSA thinks so. The truth is MUCH more interesting.
I think "Magical Beasts and Where to Find Them" is a great addition to PotterWorld. The first time I watched it, I thought it was good though a little slow sometimes. The 2nd time, because I knew the story, I was able to pay more attention to detail and production values. Now I think it is a very good movie. In particular, it is a lot of fun to pay attention not just to the main action, but the background, and find hints of the Harry Potter world in the original films. One of those, incidentally, is NOT Leta Lestrange. We know the Lestrange last name of old, but Leta did not appear on the original family tree in "The Order of the Phoenix."
If you watch the movie on BluRay/DVD, you can have the options of audio in English Descriptive Video, French or Spanish. You can also watch with subtitles in English, French or Spanish.
I enjoyed the Special Features on the BluRay/DVD release. They have interviews, film clips and rehearsal clips with a total of some 32 people commenting. The only audio on the Special Features is English. But they have subtitles available in English, French, and 3 more languages which I'm not sure of because they are not shown in English letters.
....A..."Before Harry Potter: A New Era of Magic Begins" (15 minutes) Alison Sudol (plays Queenie) says, "Friendship is something that Jo [JK Rowling] does beautifully. It's always a very strong through-line in all of her stories."
....B..."Characters: The Magizoologist, Goldstein Sisters, No-Maj Baker, New Salemers, and The Presidennt and the Auror" (total 23 minutes) Hear from writers, crew and the cast. Eddie Redmayne (plays Newt) talks about developing his character, "I went about it by meeting people from the zoologist world, meeting trackers. They would talk passionately about their techniques and their methods." This was particularly helpful in the hilarious scenes with the Erumpent.
Dan Fogler talks about Jacob and Queenie, "There are strict laws, especially in New York, that we're not allowed to be together, which also mirrors the racism of the time. It's really beautiful how J.K. parallels all of these cultural conundrums."
Last, but not least, J.K. Rowling, "This is the back story [of the Barbones] you don't learn in the movie." Watch this bonus to find out.
....C..."Creatures: Meet the Fantastic Beasts, Bowtruckle, Demiguise, Erumpent, Niffler, Occamy and Thunderbird" (total 20 minutes) This includes lots of interesting shots with the puppeteers doing their own magic.
JK Rowling, "You can make an invisibility cloak from the pelt of a Demiguise. Which is why they're hunted and endangered."
....D..."Design: Shaping the World of Fantastic Creatures, New York City, MACUSA, Newt's Magical Case, The Shaw Banquet and The Blind Pig" (total 32 minutes)
David Heyman (producer): "We visited New York [City] and did a scout there. There is remarkably little of New Yok 1926 in New York today." So they created it at Warner Brothers Leavesden back lot in 15 weeks. Most movies would only dream that they had enough money to do that.
David Watkins (special effects supervisor) shares great footage of how they filmed the Obscurus damage at the Shaw Banquet.
....E..."Deleted Scenes" (total 14 minutes) There are 5 scenes. The character of Mildred was totally deleted and I think the film is better for it.
The funniest and most open-minded baker in the world: "I don't think I'm dreaming. I don't got the brains to make this up."
I'm looking forward to the next Newt Scamander installment. It sounds like there will be at least 3 movies total. For one thing, we'll learn more about the best wizarding school in the U.S., Ilvermorny in Massachusetts. The houses are the Horned Serpent, Wampus, Thunderbird and Pukwudgie. Check out pottermore(dot)com for JK Rowling's story of the school.