Disney’s The Sorcerer’s Apprentice hits SA’s screens on Friday 27 August and is set to become an instant hit amongst fantasy film fans! The genre is one of the most lucrative and followed of films, appealing to old and young alike. The top 10 Fantasy Films of all time, according to the experts is below.
1. The Lord Of The Rings Trilogy
The Two Towers has a very different feel to it than the Fellowship which focused around developing characters, relationships, and plot lines. The Two Towers was essentially the action climax that never fully happened in the Fellowship. With new character’s entering our already complicated story and with the plot diverting into three different directions it seems like a lot to digest, but it moves so quickly the viewer moves on to the next event without having time to reflect on what happened. When the film ends it feels like half the length of its predecessor. This middle portion of the epic tale is more entertainment based than story or plot building which felt necessary after the Fellowship. This final instalment of the trilogy, Return of the King, is incredibly powerful, and really evokes a compass of emotions. There is fear, hope, love, and desperation. Almost seven hours of story telling has brought the viewer to this point and Return of the King does not let you down. It has all of the elements of both The Fellowship and The Two Towers. There is amazing character development and plot twists, but there is also one of the most overwhelming battles scenes ever onscreen. This trilogy is some of the most amazing film making ever in the history of cinema. A frequent question is what the best of the three is, but in truth there really isn’t one. Each is unique to the part of the story they told, and each are portions of the journey. The Beginning, the Middle, and the End.
2. The Wizard Of Oz
If someone were to argue this was the greatest fantasy film of all time over the #1 choice above, I don’t think it would be an unfair argument. The Wizard of Oz was a magical stepping stone in the creation of fantasy fiction that only in recent decades has really been acknowledged for its achievements. It’s a film that is just as inspiring to kids today as it was forty years ago. The magical mystery of the Land of Oz is enjoyable and entertaining for the masses. A film over-looked because of it’s close release to the monster Gone With The Wind is now just as loved, but enjoyed on an even wider spectrum. You’ll be hard-pressed to find anyone who hasn’t seen or hasn’t enjoyed The Wizard of Oz.
3. Alice In Wonderland
Alice in Wonderland is one of the first animated films to really utilize the genre of fantasy and it did to its fullest extent. Even today it’s one of the most revered tales of fantasy told in its most creative form of storytelling. There have been many adaptations and interpretations of Alice in Wonderland, even a live action Tim Burton, but very little actually compares with the movie that started it all.
4. The Harry Potter Series
I don’t think anyone is going to argue the profound affect that Harry Potter has had on modern film integrating fantasy. It is one of the best examples of a novella series translated brilliantly onscreen. Even the worst movie in the five that have been released is strides better than most solo films. As each story progresses, the character’s evolve and there is an awesome depth to each of them, that is also incredibly tangible to the viewer. The adventures, the storyline, and the compelling characters make the tales of Harry Potter a brilliant modern addition to the fantasy genre.
5. The Last Unicorn
This is a film I’ve recommended often over the years. The first time I saw this I was a young child and was completely enthralled by it. After years I’d forgotten all about it until my own kids were born and then revisited it. I was completely surprised to see exactly how melancholy and darkly appealing it was, at times even disturbing. I wouldn’t have necessarily referred to this as a children’s or family film, as it was more entertaining, but also more tangible as an adult, but somehow it’s appeal remains at least with my kids that watch it over and over again. There is some great voice over’s and some pretty intense moments, but moreover a puzzling story that’s intentions can be incredibly ambiguous. I love the fact that it still remains a mystery to me after all these years.
Not to be confused with the witch from Buffy, this Willow is actually quite short, though also aspiring in the magical community. Maybe in the world of fantasy they are distantly related? Or maybe I just like the idea of that. Either or, Willow is a pretty good example of all the positive aspects of what should be in a fantasy film. There are compelling characters, solid acting, a brilliant pacing and direction by Ron Howard, a love story, action, magic, and adventure, and all of it executed in an infectious way that is both exhilarating and sometimes even funny.
Oooooh Tim Curry at his ultimate uber creepiest. Ridley Scott created a physical universe for this film that resonates just as strongly against today’s technology as it did when it was released. This is a film that people have forgotten about over time, but how I can’t imagine. There are creepy goblins, Tim Curry as Darkness, Magic, Monsters, Tom Cruise via. Risky Business time frame, the hot chick Mia Sara from Ferris Bueller in naughty good and bad girl clothes, and FREAKING Unicorns! It doesn’t get better than that. It’s adventure, fantasy, and a hypnotic score that will linger with you long after the film has ended. It’s all emphatic of the 80’s but still timeless.
8. Labyrinth/The Neverending Story
A troubled boy dives into a wondrous fantasy world through the pages of a mysterious book. There are definite levels of campy when I think of The Neverending Story, but there is also a very dark side to this fantasy story that makes it visually stimulating for kids but also intellectual on a plain for adults to comprehend. It’s one of those films that it’s truly unclear as to whether it was a film actually made for adults masked in the package of a children’s film, or it was a children’s film that manifested into something much darker.
Labyrinth is one of the most exciting movies of the 80’s stylistically and with an exciting and tangible story about a girl trying to save her young half-brother in a world of magic and goblins. Jim Henson hit every mark on this dark adventure in a fantastical world you’ve never seen before. The suspense and mystery of the Labyrinth is coupled with a light humour and joy that shows in most of Henson’s work and makes the tale that much more complex and compelling. This story will forever be a warning to prove the old saying: “Be careful what you wish for, it may come true.” Sarah meets friends along her journey as well, but her friends aren’t obediently loyal to her and in search of their own rightness. Her friends are troubled beings, outcasts amongst outcasts, and have had to battle good and evil to make their way in the menacing world of the Labyrinth. The dark overtones of the film make it an even more exciting adventure and when mixed with great humour it has all that is required of a great movie. Labyrinth is an original classic that will forever be remembered as my favourite piece of art Jim Henson left behind.
9. Pirates Of The Caribbean
What Pirates exudes is pure and simple action and fun. You can almost feel what a great time the cast and crew had making this film. Whether they predicted it’s box office surplus or not, the spirit of the films creation is clearly emoted in its enthusiastic finished product. Pirates hit the marker on what we love that’s cliché about pirates, but also was clever enough to poke fun at itself without losing its dramatic integrity. With all the story book elements of great plots involving love story’s, maniacal villains, action, and hilarious dialogue, this film hits the marker as an adventure story that will go down in history with films like the Indiana Jones series, The Princess Bride, and Lord of The Rings. Pirates of the Caribbean is the most fun way to escape reality and enter a world of pure fantasy pleasure. This is what action-adventure films are all about. With a great love story, intense battles, insanely entertaining characters, and plain good fun, Pirates of the Caribbean is a classic film that will be remembered and last through the times.
10. The Princess Bride
The Princess Bride is structured around the idea that love conquers all. But in this story of giants, coward princes, men with extra limbs, sword fights, torture, revenge, bandits, pirates, heroes and true love it’s told through a realm of comedy along with it’s epic scope. With a perfectly structured cast and fantastic screenplay it is entirely conceivable. Wesley’s unconditional love for Buttercup enables us to believe that love has no boundaries. And Buttercups conviction that he will rescue her from her fate as Humperdink’s wife is unwavering. The final sword fights are meticulously choreographed and are one of the most exciting and technical ever on film. Rob Reiner captures the perfect balance of action with comedy while giving the film its overall feel of utter sweetness. It is essentially a fairy tale made for the old, the young and the in between. The Princess Bride will be able to be enjoyed for all time and is a movie everyone should put on their list to see. In an over the top way it creates a mystic fun world that everyone wants to be part of. Cheers for Buttercup and Wesley.