Sometimes you just need to get away from reality. You want to escape from work, school, and the mundane lunacy in order to immerse yourself in a rich fantasy. Films have been satisfying this desire for decades by introducing strange and endearing ‘other worlds’ to our screens.
Und natürlich, you could read a fantastic fantasy novel, but that would take eons. And you’re occupied. Therefore, we have gathered the 25 best fantasy films of all time and tied them together with magic rope (or ‘a feature’, as it is known in this domain). Why not get lost in one of these incredible films?
The 24 Best Fantasy Films That Provide a Fresh Perspective on Life
24. Magical (2007)
Who knew Disney was capable of such irreverence? The Mouse House writes both a love letter to its past successes and a rebuke to itself by vigorously shaking their large trunk of fantasy clichés.
The outcome? Amy Adams has never been better as Giselle, a princess banished from her kingdom by Susan Sarandon’s evil ruler. She must work out how to find her happily-ever-after in the real world after being banished to the mystical and strange land of New York City. It ushered in a new era for Disney in the realm of fairytales.
23. Jumanji (1995)
In one of Robin Williams’ finest family excursions, he portrays Alan Parrish, a man who has been trapped in a magical board game for 26 years, as a caveman. Kirsten Dunst and her brother Bradley Piece do not release Parrish until they uncover the dusty game while exploring an abandoned mansion. Sort of. If they wish to genuinely liberate Parrish, they must play the game, which is a brilliant twist. And this is not as easy as placing all the hotels on the dark blue Monopoly properties.
The two children are being pursued by an assortment of reptilian and fanged creatures, similar to Jurassic Park but much more fantastical. This is a wildly imaginative and entertaining adventure story.
22. 1987’s Conan the Barbarian
To crush your adversaries, to see them driven before you, and to hear the wailing of their spouses. Okay, it’s not quite Shakespeare. Who cares about intelligence when you have a greased-up Arnie charging across a fantasy land in the name of vengeance?
The film adaptation by John Milius is THE sword-and-sorcery film of the 1980s. In the end, it’s more about appreciating Arnold Schwarzenegger’s impressive chest measurements than contemplating the movements of the universe. This contributes to its ingenuity. It’s the finest kind of schlock that’s inspired by the stories of Robert E. Howard to introduce audiences to a new type of hero: a jacked warrior who will stop at nothing to do what’s right. This entails eating live birds on occasion.
21. Willow (1988)
Willow is so rambunctious that it’s impossible not to adore it, despite the fact that it steals brazenly from the works of J.R.R. Tolkien and George Lucas’ original Star Wars trilogy. The story is a tried-and-tested favorite: an evil witch versus the decent, kind-hearted everyman. In this case, it is Willow Ulfgood, a farmer played by Warwick Davis, who takes in a baby discovered floating down a river.
While Willow is the film’s protagonist, Val Kilmer’s rotten-toothed Madmartigan is largely responsible for the film’s engaging swagger. He is an anti-hero who is equally powerful and inept. And the ideal contrast to Jean Marsh as the truly terrifying Queen Bavmorda (who you might recognise as the truly terrifying Princess Mombi in Return to Oz).
20. Pleasantville (1998)
The premise of Pleasantville is pure fantasy: Reese Witherspoon and Tobey Maguire portray contemporary siblings sucked into a black-and-white 1950s sitcom. Sounds cool on its own, but the true treat lies in the transformations their very existence brings to the small town of Pleasantville. Slowly, their presence transforms the world into jarring Technicolor.
The conservative citizens of the town view this development as entirely taboo, prompting the film to explore conformity versus being true to oneself. It is gorgeously realized throughout the film, but the most heartbreaking instance is when Maguire assists his screen mother (a superb Joan Allen) in applying her black-and-white makeup. Excellent quality.
19. 1964’s Mary Poppins
This sugary musical, released at the height of Disney’s cinematic prowess, benefits from Julie Andrews’ enchanting performance as the title character. It is a wondrous combination of live-action and animation that uses Technicolor whenever possible. As Mary teaches the Banks children how to work hard but still have fun, she restores a loving family that has forgotten how to be united. Cinematic brilliance or failsafe method to excite a generation of children about vacuuming?
18. Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971)
It is “Scrumptious!”” proclaimed the film’s original poster, and I couldn’t concur more. By replacing Charlie with Wonka in the title, we’re forewarned that this film is more about the eccentric factory owner than the young boy who idolizes him.
Yes, Gene Wilder’s superb portrayal of Wonka with twinkling eyes commands your attention throughout. A confectioner with a passion for embracing one’s inner childlike awe, it is impossible not to fall in love with his vividly colored world. However, this does not imply that everything is rosy and bright. Similar to Willy Wonka’s chocolate, this is dark, sometimes bitter, and always delectable.
17. The Witches (1990)
Only Roald Dahl could conceive of something so deceptively straightforward, and only Nicolas Roeg could bring Dahl’s vision to the screen without diluting it down. This is a darkly ecstatic fantasy.
Okay, so he fixed the depressing denouement, which reeks of studio interference that Dahl himself disapproved of. Despite these modifications, the audacity of Anjelica Huston’s transformation is unquestionable. She portrays Eva Ernst, a noblewoman who is secretly the Grand High Witch. Her unmasking – she literally peels off her visage – encapsulates Roeg’s otherwise unrestrained approach to the source material.
16. The Never ending Story (1984)
The Neverending Story’s dated effects and patchy puppets lend a rickety appeal to the film adaptation of the book, which is somewhat creaky with age when viewed today. The title is somewhat deceptive, as there is in fact an ending.
Still, The Neverending Story withstands repeated viewings and is filled with a surprising amount of warmth, given that the central “villain” is a depression epidemic dubbed The Nothing. Bastion, a juvenile boy, informs us that the Nothing threatens to destroy all that is good and creative in the Fantasia universe. Bastion finds solace in a storybook about the ostensibly fictitious land, but things take a strange turn when it becomes evident that he may be an integral part of the plot and vital to the survival of Fantasia.
15. Where the Wild Things Are (2009)
Let’s be clear: this is not a film for children. Where the Wild Things Are, directed by Spike Jonze with unflinching brutality, is frequently horrifying. How could it not be when a character is being devoured by a forest-dwelling monster? It is also intelligent in a disarming way.
Max is a young man who experiences feelings of isolation and boredom. He dresses as a wolf and begins acting out at home, eventually straying off and setting sail on a raft he discovers at the pond’s edge. This brings him to the land of the “Wild Things,” who promptly proclaim him their king. The film depicts the Wild Things as inhabiting a similar world to ours, complete with all the laws of a civilized society, while also providing its own action-packed entertainment.
14. Interview With the Vampire (1994)
Brad Pitt admitted more than a decade after the film’s release that he was despondent while filming Neil Jordan’s vampire drama, stating that he was miserable the entire time. He allegedly attempted to purchase his way out of production. His dejected performance contributes to the bleak situation in which his character finds himself. Louis, a former lord, navigates the world as a vampire for centuries, accompanied by Tom Cruise’s creepy-as-hell Lestat.
Despite the fact that this is undeniably a vampiric fantasy, it is not a Twilight-style vampire fable. This is a dark somber yarn about the aching pit of regret that comes with being immortal. The film is based on a novel by Anne Rice.
13. Edward Scissorhands (1990)
Scissorhands is perhaps the best example of the type of films that Tim Burton used to create so well; it contains all of Burton’s signature elements. The tormented outsider, black-and-white themes, eccentric characters… They all blend together to create a mythological fantasy that draws heavily from various works of literature. With a dash of Pinocchio and a pinch of small-town conservatism, it’s simple to predict the future. But Scissorhands pursues a different path, one in which not all wishes are granted and not all dreams come true.
Johnny Depp is most remarkable in a role with minimal dialogue. His glassy-eyed facial expressions and clumsy physique portrayed a solitary, solemn figure. Having to squeeze into a cumbersome leather bodysuit and, of course, adopt scissors for hands probably helped.
12. Beauty and the Beast (1991)
La Belle Et La Bete by Jean Cocteau is animated and relaunched by the Mouse House, introducing a new perspective to an old story.
Back in 1991, when Disney was desperate for a hit, it drew inspiration from the 1946 French film, playing with some of the usual stereotypes to create a charming love tale that almost makes you forget the film is a work of pure fantasy. At its core is an age-old folktale: a young beauty falls in love with an ogre, who is actually a very attractive young man. What elevates the film is the frequency with which it relishes in bringing ordinary objects to life, having them sing songs, and making anyone fall in love with the concept of falling in love. It has earned its credentials by receiving an Oscar nomination.
11. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004)
Alfonso Cuarón gave the Potter franchise an early and much-needed facelift with the release of the third film, which featured Potter and his companions. Don’t get me wrong, Chris Columbus’s first two excursions were excellent, but the yearly return to Hogwarts was losing its impact. Among the modifications made by Cuaron are the relocation of Hagrid’s cottage and the construction of an elegant elevated promenade.
The director is also unapologetic regarding the plot, condensing the events of the novel to create a film that is decisive and intensely engaging. It is still the best Potter film (and book), arguably one of the best time travel films ever produced, and it established the template for the five sequels.
10. How to Train Your Dragon (2010)
Shrek, Madagascar, and Kung Fu Panda were all produced by DreamWorks Animation, but How To Train Your Dragon obliterated them all. A film about coming of age that is effortlessly endearing; it is charming and full of quips. This small story on a large canvas combines elements of a medieval world frequently encountered in fantasy with the ascent of the underdog.
The entire film is a delight, but the ending is especially energizing because it is entirely devoid of sentimentality. Nonetheless, it will still induce tears. It’s also a rare example of genuinely thrilling 3D, as that extra dimension guarantees the flying scenes make your heart leap into your throat.
9. Groundhog Day (1992 )
Groundhog Day could easily function as a horror film. Bill Murray’s bone-dry news correspondent Phil Connors is displeased to be assigned to cover the annual Groundhog Day celebration. During his final broadcast before being compelled to relive the same day over and over, he tells his viewers, “This is one instance where television fails to capture the true excitement of a large squirrel predicting the weather.” So that he can learn something about himself, if you will. Murray is at his peak performance. Yes, Venkman is wonderful, but Connors is where his sardonic wit truly shines. In contrast to Phil, who detests experiencing the same 24 hours over and over again, this film improves with each viewing.
8. Spirited Away (2001)
Studio Ghibli had been creating magnificent entertainment for over 15 years prior to the release of Spirited Away. But it was this film’s nimble blend of no-holds-barred imagery and incredibly inventive storytelling that put Ghibli on the map. Miyazaki’s 2001 film is the only one in his body of work that combines the imaginative world of children with a deeper, more complex lesson.
The narrative is perplexing, a thrilling mindfuck that follows Chihiro as she traverses a spirit world. It exists parallel to ours – a little like Stranger Things. It is up to Chihiro to work out how to escape this twisted reality, in which her parents have been transformed into swine. You have never witnessed anything as magnificent as this.
7. The Labyrinth of Pan (2006)
A very mature fairy tale conceived by Guillermo del Toro. Though its lead character is a little girl (Ivana Baquero, whose wide-eyed wonder is completely relatable), Pan’s Labyrinth is unafraid to go to some really dark places. The Man with No Face. Uneerie creatures. A man whose snout is brutally broken by a very human antagonist.
Then there is Pan himself, a towering faun who would eat Mr. Tumnus for breakfast. The most remarkable aspect of del Toro’s films, however, is the seamless blending of fantasy and reality. Young Ofelia may venture into a gloomy, monster-infested subterranean reality, but her reality is…. essentially identical, actually.
6. The Princess Bride (1987)
Whenever a new live-action comedy fantasy is released, it’s almost certain that it will try to market itself as the next Princess Bride. Many have attempted (welcome Your Majesty), and many have failed.
The Princess Bride is simply one of the greatest fantasies available; it is a postmodern take on traditional fairytales. It unfolds in a fantastic wraparound segment starring a young Fred Savage as a child who begs his grandfather to read him the story before bed. While his grandfather reads him the story, the film begins, updating damsel-in-distress clichés with thrilling action and a hint of romance. This is arguably the most successful meta-fantasy of all time, as the young boy’s own reflections on the narrative are woven throughout.
5. Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975)
The Python’s first original feature film (And Now For Something Completely Different was based on a previous sketch) recently celebrated its fortieth birthday, but it remains as gloriously absurd as ever. Holy Grail, easily the funniest Python film, revels in surrealism. Its humor relies heavily on slapstick, breaching the fourth wall, innuendo, and a dry, bone-dry delivery. This is not simply a collection of chain mail jokes.
Nonetheless, its deceptively straightforward premise – King Arthur attempting to recruit Knights for his Round Table – is merely a guise for a truly clever comedy.
4. Ghostbusters (1984)
Typically, the horror genre is the only one to feature eerie occurrences and nighttime noises. The original supernatural comedy by Ivan Reitman wades into numerous murky waters. How can you say that a group of four men wearing ratty overalls and firing at spirits is not a fantasy?
Reitman and screenwriters Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis excel in this area. Consider names and titles such as Zuul, the Gatekeeper, and the Keymaster, which owe a great deal to traditional mythic storytelling. What’s ingenious and hilarious about Ghostbusters is how these elements are combined with what is essentially an extermination startup to create a fantastical horror film. Alternatively, 55 Central Park West. Regardless of your preference.
3. Labyrinth. (1986 )
Jennifer Connelly’s rebellious adolescent. Jim Henson’s puppetry is flawless. Labyrinth, er, the music of David Bowie, enjoys turning traditional fairytales on their heads, whether in the guise of finger-biting fairies, unhelpful guides (“Hoggle is Hoggle’s friend!”), or mind-bending word games (“One of us always lies, one of us always tells the truth”).
It has maintained its status as a classic for a reason. Several, in fact. There is no other film that can compete with the awe-inspiring world and witty inhabitants created by Jim Henson, which is complemented by David Bowie’s vocals. The labyrinth contains a hidden message about companionship, though it can be a little spooky at times (the bog lady? hello insomnia). Aww.
2. The Lord of the Rings (2001 )
When the reels arrived, you can assume that a few projectionists muttered, “We’re going to need a bigger screen” Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh’s Tolkien adaptation’s first chapter broke every norm. It also eclipsed box office records, grossing a staggering $871 million worldwide. It is difficult to believe that was a surprise at the time, given that the wager was so costly. However, this was well over a decade before the likes of Game of Thrones mainstreamed fantasy.
The narrative of a young Hobbit’s quest to find a ring, however, captured the imaginations of an entire generation. The casting, the stunning set designs, the visual effects, and the writing were all flawless. Despite this, it’s not quite the greatest fantasy film of all time…
1. The Wizard of Oz (1939)
A children’s movie that is too frightening for children. A novel adaptation that completely surpasses the original. And a musical that you are not ashamed to whistle along with.
Not only is it the grandest fantasy story ever filmed on celluloid, but Victor Fleming’s dazzling adaptation also embraced the technology of the time with gusto. With the release of Oz in Technicolor, this hue was a huge deal; so big, in fact, that Dorothy’s original silver slippers were transformed into ruby ones to make them stand out. We feel as if we’re right there with young Miss Gale, trotting down the yellow brick road and making friends with the Tin Man, Cowardly Lion, and Scarecrow, all thanks to the exquisite details.
If you are at a stalemate and searching for a film that can positively influence you, we strongly suggest perusing the following list. This list is comprised of films that have dealt with the subject of life in various forms. The finest aspect is that the included films are from all over the world, thus appealing to a wide audience. This list will help you view life through a different lens. These are films that provoke thought, and some of them may even alter your existence.