Sprung from the pages of a Hogwarts textbook, J.K. Rowlings brings Newt Scamander to life in this prequel to the Harry Potter series. Ms. Rowlings wrote the screenplay and produced the film as well.
The first film in a planned series introduces us to Newt, a British wizard, as he arrives in New York City in 1926. He quickly finds himself in the middle of a growing confrontation between "No-Mags" (American Muggles or ordinary people) and wizards with a very dark wizard on the loose threatening them all.
Newt is played with a child-like quality by Eddie Redmayne. He is shy and reserved but still maintains an amazing aura around him. He seems wrong for the part at first but you quickly realize, he's actually perfectly cast. Co-starring as allies and enemies are Katherine Waterston, Dan Fogler, Colin Farrell, Samantha Morton, Ezra Miller, Allison Sudol, Carmen Ejogo and John Voight.
Mr. Fogler almost steals the film as a "No-Mag" who helps Newt save the day. The human cast is excellent but they are overshadowed by the cast of CGI fantastic beasts that live in Newt's suitcase (not your ordinary piece of luggage). In fact the film's CGI visuals are really the star here. The recreation of 1926 New York, all the creatures and the havoc they create really define the words "special effects".
Director David Yates, already familiar with the Harry Potter world, uses all the tools at his disposal to create a wonderful visual treat from start to finish. The film is fantastic fantasy fun for young (not too young) and old alike.