The replacement of Johnny Depp by Mads Mikkelsen as Gellert Grindelwald (Dumbledore’s lost love, now intent on dominion over the magic world and war with the muggles) results in a marked improvement on the previous Fantastic Beasts film. In this third outing, there’s a crucial crackle of chemistry between Mikkelsen and Jude Law’s younger Dumbledore.
But despite the ornate world-building constructed from CGI, a mid-20th-century European fascist aesthetic and lots of very nicely tailored tweed, it’s still a lumbering, unwieldy creature compared to the first film: fewer fantastic beasts, more stuffy political plotting and electoral malpractice. Jessica Williams, playing the defensive magic specialist Eulalie Hicks, is a welcome addition to a cast that is underserved by significant female characters. An escape from a dungeon filled with some sort of enchanted hell-crustacean is terrific fun in a film that is otherwise not over-endowed with humour.