Even the biggest muggles among us (or no-majs as they're called in this movie) would have heard of the Harry Potter phenomenon. There have been 7 books, 8 movies and several decades of growing up with the characters and being drawn into J.K. Rowling's magical world. However, you would be forgiven for not knowing the origins of the current franchise. The movie is based on a textbook in the Harry Potter world, a guide to magical creatures, which was then written and published in the real world (as a textbook) and finally turned into a screenplay about the fictional author.
Newt Scamander, played by Eddie Redmayne, is a not-so-subtly-Asperger's wizard who understands animals more than he does man/wizard-kind. He travels from the British wizarding world to America, carrying a magically-expansive case full of magical creatures. The American wizarding world is bleaker than the cosy British charm we are used to. No-maj fanatics proclaim the existence of witches (correct in this instance) and the magical world is fighting to keep their world contained and secret. This is enforced with brutality and rigidity. At the same time, a dark wizard named Grindelwald is terrorising Europe and a mysterious spectre is ransacking New York.
It is into this environment Newt arrives and accidentally releases several of his creatures. Teaming up with a hapless-heart-of-gold no-maj, Jacob Kowalski (played by Dan Fogler), an out-of-favour auror (wizarding detective), Tina Goldstein (played by Katherine Waterston), and her stunning sister, Queenie (played by Alison Sudol), Newt tries to find his creatures, navigate his new environment and the relationships with his companions, and stay out of the way of the aurors and magical government officials investigating the spectre.
This is a grown-up Harry Potter movie, potentially for the reason that the original Harry Potter fans are now of an older age. The movie doesn't shy away from darkness, with explorations of prejudice, persecution, child abuse, and punishing bureaucracy. Yet there are moments of wonder and magic, as one would expect. At times the movie felt a bit bloated, and the pacing of the first half of the movie was slightly stagnant. But overall the storyline is engaging, and magical and non-magical friends alike should enjoy the immersion into this new facet of J.K. Rowling's seemingly endless imagination.