The reviews are in for the third instalment of the Fantastic Beasts franchise, and while the overall ratings are mixed, most critics have agreed on one thing: Mads Mikkelsen excels as the evil wizard Gellert Grindelwald.
Previously, Mikkelsen said he would attempt to “connect the bridge between what [Depp] did and what I’m gonna do and then we’ll see what lands”.
In Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore, Mikkelsen shows a dramatically different Grindelwald: the shock-white hair is gone, the pale eye has been toned down.
“With Depp, I couldn’t understand why anyone would want to follow a wizard who comically looked like another bizarre invention out of the actor’s menagerie of eccentric characters he’s played over the years,” a review in Insider said.
“In contrast, Mikkelsen plays Grindelwald with a suave, charming charisma that convinces you of why anyone would be seduced by this alluring, handsome wizard and be suckered into fighting a war for him.”
The review added: “Mikkelsen slips into the role of Grindelwald so naturally that it’s easy to forget Depp had ever played the role.”
Other critics concurred that Mikkelsen’s more relatable, charismatic Grindelwald is superior to Depp’s.
Brian Truitt wrote for USA Today: “Mikkelsen provides the Voldemort-level evil personality the Beasts movies have been lacking. While Depp’s take – essentially playing Grindelwald as a wild-haired freaky cult leader – was fine, Mikkelsen’s feels more dangerous, as he wields a public charm as crowd-pleasing, manipulative man of the people while hiding his inherent ruthless cruelty.”
The Guardian’s Peter Bradshaw agreed that “Mikkelsen gives a subtler and more insidious performance than Depp’s”, while Peter Debruge wrote for Variety that Mikkelsen’s iteration is “more grounded” and “less cartoonishly menacing”.
In a review for The Telegraph, critic Robbie Collins suggested that Mikkelsen “should have been cast from the start”.
Meanwhile, The Times said that Mikkelsen creates a believable romantic link between Grindelwald and Dumbledore – something fans have been calling for since author JK Rowling first revealed the Hogwarts headmaster was gay 15 years ago.
“Mikkelsen’s simmering intensity adds a new layer of menace to the character but also suggests a credibly torrid romantic history with Dumbledore,” the publication’s four-star review said.
Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore is in cinemas Friday 8 April.
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