You want fantastic? Good, because you can definitely find it here. David Yates and J. K. Rowling lighten up for Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, newly untethered to the demands of a narrative-in-progress, buoyed by the opportunity to riff on material that's so very familiar to them both. If their winsome magic was occasionally all on which the Harry Potter films had to go, it's not necessarily a drawback to note that Fantastic Beasts inevitably loses some such magic in the changes made. What it gains is an equally-agreeable freedom, a looseness in tone and plot in which Rowling appears to delight, and in which Yates follows suit. By now, these two know how to get to where they're going, and so indulge in one cheeky little tangent after another along the route - Fantastic Beasts rollicks from one silly setpiece to the next, and, if anything, it's those scenes which are devoted toward the development of plot that feel like they're intruding. Yates is a fine director of darkness, though, and is once again blessed by the presence of yet another brilliant cinematographer in Philippe Rousselot; as ever, one of the principal joys of these Harry Potter-related pictures is their artistic and technical beauty, and particular, predictable credit must go to the increasingly invaluable Stuart Craig on production design. They bring the fantasy to fantastic life in this uncommonly winning blockbuster, enlivened further by an attractive sense of social conscience and some charming performances. Half a star off for a reproachable twist, for not knowing when to end, and for the single most appalling use of slo-mo 3D in film history.