A great fantasy movie transports viewers to another time and place, whisking their worries away along with Harry Potter on his Firebolt. However, as much as every Millennial hopes for that Hogwarts letter, other fantasy titles often get neglected under the massive fame that the HP universe has enjoyed over the years.
It’s time to give the fantasy movies that are even more magical than Harry Potter some time in the spotlight. Several of these films are even older than the series but might be completely new, fun adventures for lovers of the fantasy genre. Just take a look at these movies for example…
10 The Wizard Of Oz (1939)
Many fantasy books and films can trace their DNA back to Frank L. Baum’s magical world that not only spanned over a dozen works but inspired so many novels, films, and even TV shows over the years. The Wizard of Oz is the most-watched film of all time and for good reason: it has everything a fantasy should have, from magic and creatures to incredible world-building.
The original Wizard of Oz movie is a magical enough place to begin, but everything from Wicked to Return to Oz is also a crowd-pleaser. Oz is its own separate world of wonder and has infinite possibilities.
9 Matilda (1996)
Like Potter, Roald Dahl’s Matilda takes place in a more realistic setting. However, instead of transporting a seemingly ordinary boy into a magical castle full of wizards and ghosts, it does the opposite and delights audiences with a young supernatural girl in a very ordinary, and often bleak, world. Mara Wilson is delightful as the precocious child that so many viewers either wanted to be or be best friends with as children and the Trunchbull gave people nightmares long before Dolores Umbridge did.
Matilda’s use of magic to right the wrongs done to kids in her community appeals to everyone’s need for justice and it’s just fun to see a child teach herself the ways of the supernatural.
8 Ella Enchanted (2004)
While some of the movie is a bit cheesy, it’s full of magical fun, singing, and dancing. Ultimately, it also has a self-empowering message that has since been used as a theme in several fantasy works. It also includes elves, giants, ogres, and other creatures without special effects that still manages to be highly entertaining.
7 The Chronicles Of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe (2005)
The Pevensies in The Chronicles of Narnia don’t have magical powers themselves, but the world in which they escape into the wardrobe is absolutely brimming with it. Any world with a lion voiced by Liam Neeson, especially a world in which said beast is actually god, is bound to be filled with adventure.
All of the cool creatures in Narnia make it one of the best fantasies ever written. Add to that the fact that the “Daughters of Eve and Sons of Adam” have entire lives before getting to return to Spare Oom as children on the same day of their original departure. It makes the Time-Turner look like a busted DeLorean.
6 The Neverending Story (1984)
Quote anything from, “Come for me, Gmork! I am Atreyu!” to “Hey, it really is a racing snail!” and any 80s kid is bound to get excited. The Neverending Story is meant to largely take place in the world of human imagination but it really does encapsulate our fantasies – from horror and wonder to both inner and outer conflict.
The film’s sequels and source material may all present more issues and darkness, but the original film (which the book’s writer, Michael Ende, hated) thrilled kids with luck dragons and The Nothing, long before there were hippogriffs and Dementors.
5 Nanny McPhee (2005)
“The person you need is Nanny McPhee…” British movie nannies have a long history of being magical saviors of bored and/or neglected children, and Emma Thompson’s Nanny McPhee is a prime example. The Brown children run amuck, running off every nanny their widower father hires. However, they soon find their match when Nanny McPhee arrives.
The loveliest thing about the original Nanny McPhee film is that much of the magic isn’t actually supernatural. Sure, the dancing barnyard animals are enchanted, but the children’s selflessness and growth are real and resonate with the audience without a magic stick interference.
4 Alice In Wonderland (2010)
One of the most beloved children’s stories of all time, Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, has been made into dozens of exciting entertainment features. While the Tim Burton version didn’t hit the sweet spot with critics, it is beloved by audiences for its magic and nice twist with Alice as a warrior. The live-action version did make some welcome updates in comparison to the original too.
From Unbirthday parties to the Jabberwocky to potions and creatures of all kinds, Wonderland is much more magical than Hogwarts. Add the books (including Marissa Meyer’s Heartless or Frank Beddor’s Looking Glass Wars) to the experience and a fantasy lover could enjoy this world for years.
3 Peter Pan (2003)
Between Sandy Duncan’s gravity-defying performance on stage to Once Upon a Time’s wicked father who refuses to give up, Peter Pan has been through dozens of incarnations. However, it’s the 2003 film that features the most delightfully magical Pan of all. With the whimsy of Mary Poppins and the most formidable version of Captain Hook in Jason Isaacs, it’s nothing but sheer wonder from start to finish.
The movie is largely true to its source material, contains refreshing feminist twists, and features everything from mermaids and fairies to pirates and flight.
2 The 10th Kingdom (2000)
While The 10th Kingdom is actually a miniseries, viewers can watch it in its entirety in fewer hours than a full Potter binge would require and experience a heaping dose of magic, drama, comedy, and romance. The 2000 production features a young woman and her father who are whisked away from their home in New York through a magic mirror. Here, they find themselves whisked into a fairytale land where people like Snow White and Cinderella exist.
It’s got more political intrigue and imagination than Once Upon a Time, which aired 11 years later. While it may not be quite as stylish, it has so much heart it’s bound to please any magic lover.
1 Stardust (2007)
Based on the book with the same title by Neil Gaiman, Stardust manages to cram even more magic than Harry Potter in a single movie. This kind of world-building takes a deft hand, and Matthew Vaughn rose to the occasion, making the movie one of the most fun adventures ever created. There are witches and unicorns, lightning pirates, and random spells. Most of all, there is that perfect interconnectedness that makes it all fit together in the end.
“What do stars do,” Yvaine asks Tristan before she uses her powers to save them both. They shine, just like this phenomenal movie.
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