WRITER J.K. Rowling and director David Yates’ much anticipated sequel to Fantastic Beasts offers a whole magic book full of special effects.

There is plenty of wow factor in The Crimes of Grindelwald which will leave you spellbound, particularly all manner of creatures great and small including a number of great scenes with a cat-like dragon called a zouwu.

But the film about the adventures of magizoologist Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) – set in Rowling’s Wizarding World which brought us Harry Potter – suffers from ‘middle chapter syndrome’.

Once all the movie magic and spells sparkle and fade, you realise it was mostly smoke and mirrors as you are left with little plot or character development.

The film’s only real device is to introduce the true threat of Gellert Grindelwald (Johnny Depp) and the importance of outcast Credence Barebone (Ezra Miller).

Grindelwald is an understated but visually striking villain who is rarely on screen but who has a malevolent presence throughout.

With clunky metaphors for prejudice and intolerance in the real world, the charismatic villain’s goal is for pure-blood wizards and witches to rule over all non-magical beings.

Out to stop him is mild-mannered but extremely likeable Newt Scamander who shuns a request to serve the Ministry of Magic alongside his older brother, Theseus (Callum Turner), to answer the call of Hogwarts professor and high wizard Dumbledore instead.

Newt again makes a great double act with ‘muggle’ Jacob Kowalski (Dan Fogler) but at times it is hard to keep up with the story as it zips between the magic ministries and hidden worlds of London, New York and Paris.

The Crimes of Grindelwald also pays fan service with a visit to Hogwarts – both in the story’s timeframe and as a flashback – with a fair bit of scene stealing from Jude Law as Dumbledore who has his own connections to Grindelwald.

One of the nicest elements in the film is it taking time to develop the sweetly awkward love story between Newt and half-blood American witch Tina Goldstein (Katherine Waterston). But the role of new characters like wizard Yusuf Kama (William Nadylam) leave you scratching your head until their role is explained away with a load of exposition towards the end.

Characters also bump into each other with little explanation or coherent narrative thread, with a constant sense of serendipity shrugged off as magic.

And the movie somehow feels rushed despite a two hours and 15 minutes runtime which is mostly dedicated to digital wizardry.

By the end, the magic – and your patience – will have worn off.

RATING: 5.5/10