Original fantasy films are sadly in short supply these days. Most of the films that dominate the genre are based on books and other IP. It’s not surprising: Fantasy movies require big budgets, so studios take a gamble when they produce scripts based on existing franchises. It’s sad because original fantasy movies have been some of the best movies of the last decade, e.g Kubo and two strings and The size of the water.
On the bright side, 2023 looks like a better year for fantasy movies than 2022, at least, thanks to upcoming releases like The Little Mermaid, Renfield, and Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves. A good original fantasy film is one of cinema’s purest joys, and IMDb user ratings make it easy to determine the best.
‘Maze’ (1986) – 7.3
The Muppets the creator Jim Hensonis followed Dark crystal With this crazy magical adventure. It’s a star Jennifer Connelly As Sara, a teenager trying to get to the center of a huge maze so she can save her brother (Toby FroudeFrom the Claws of the Villainous Goblin King Jareth (David Bowie).
Labyrinth The release wasn’t a huge success, but it got a second life on home video and eventually developed a cult following. It remains immersive, family-friendly entertainment. Check it out for Bowie’s hilarious over-the-top performance and the impressive puppets created by Henson’s Creature Shop.
‘Agadi’ (2020) – 7.4
This Disney-Pixar film follows two Elvish brothers, Ian (Tom Holland) and barley (Chris Pratt), living in a modern fantasy world that has largely abandoned magic for technology. On Ian’s sixteenth birthday, his mother Laurel (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) gives them a staff, a gem, and a letter describing a visitation spell that could bring their dead father Wilden (Kyle BornheimerBack for a day.
The boys cast the spell, but it goes wrong, only summoning Wilden’s lower half, so they set out on a mission to complete the spell and make their father whole. It is a charming, touching and exciting movie with a unique aesthetic, especially how it portrays magic.
‘The Goonies’ (1985) – 7.7
This ’80s classic follows a gang of kids after they find an old map that supposedly leads to a pirate’s hidden treasure. They go on a quest to find the loot, and along the way encounter booby traps, mobsters, and—of course—pirates. It is a high energy fantasy adventure directed by Richard Donnerwritten by Chris Columbus (Which leads to the first two instructions Harry Potter films), and produced by Steven Spielberg.
qualities unfolds at a breakneck pace and packs an absurd amount of jokes, characters, and action sequences into its mere two-hour runtime. does not reach the height of ET. or Raiders of the Lost ArkBut in terms of pure kid-friendly thrills, it doesn’t disappoint.
‘The Holy Mountain’ (1973) – 7.8
holy mountain Oddball is a film made by a visionary Alejandro Jodorowsky. It follows an alchemist who leads a group of characters up a mountain in search of knowledge. It is a psychedelic film both in story and visuals.
holy mountain It was produced by The Beatles manager Allen Kleinafter John Lennon and George Harrison Jodorowsky became a fan of the 1970s Western El Topo. It’s definitely not for everyone, but the right audience will get a kick out of it. Fans of Jodorowsky, or anyone looking to learn more about him, should check it out Jodorowsky’s DunesOutstanding documentary on a single filmmaker.
‘The Fall’ (2006) – 7.8
Set in a hospital in 1915, this off-kilter fantasy follows Walker (Lee Pace), an injured stuntman who meets Alexandria (Catinca Untaru), a young girl who has broken her arm. To pass the hours quickly, Walker regales him with a story about five heroes on an epic quest. The film brings Walker’s story to life, and the line between reality and fiction begins to blur.
the fall Interesting ideas and compelling imagery overflow, and Pace gives a solid lead performance (it actually prompts Peter Jackson To cast him as the elf Thranduil The Hobbit). However, the film ravaged the box office, but deserves re-evaluation today.
‘Wings of Desire’ (1987) – 8.0
Wings of Desire is a romantic fantasy directed by the German filmmaker Wim Wenders. It takes place in Cold War-era Berlin, where invisible angels observe and comment on the lives of the city’s residents. Pari DeMille (Bruno Ganz) falls in love with a human woman and gives up his immortality to be with her.
Wings of Desire It won the Best Direct Award at Cannes and has since been widely acclaimed Roger Ebert It is included in the list of his greatest films. Starring an American remake Nicolas Cage came out in 1993, but it doesn’t come close to the haunting, black-and-white original.
‘My Neighbor Totoro’ (1988) – 8.1
In post-war Japan, two girls, Satsuki (Noriko Hidaka) and Mei (Chika Sakamoto) has moved to the country to live with his sick mother. There, they take part in a series of adventures with the spirits that live in the nearby forest.
It’s easy to see why audiences have embraced it My Neighbor Totoro Practically from its premiere. Its hand-drawn, watercolor-inspired animation is gorgeous, especially the cute/creepy spirits. It’s also slow-paced and meditative, more about emotion and atmosphere than plot. More than that, it’s a warm-hearted and lively animated adventure with three-dimensional characters and terrific voice-acting. What is not to love?
‘Pan’s Labyrinth’ (2006) – 8.2
Pan’s Labyrinth It’s easy Guillermo del ToroThe scariest movie ever. It takes place in Spain during WWII and follows a young girl living with her cruel stepfather, an officer in the Spanish army. She escapes to the forest near her estate, where she comes across a dark parallel world inhabited by various animal and bird creatures. It’s a beautifully-shot metaphor, anchored by an excellent performance by Ivana Baquero in a leading role.
It is also notable for containing some of the most imaginative movie monsters of the last two decades. Even more impressively, the creature design is mostly practical, relying on makeup and animatronics. Del Toro will work on a large canvas Hellboy and Pacific Rimbut Pan’s Labyrinth His crowning achievement remains visual.
‘Princess Mononoke’ (1997) – 8.4
Prince Ashita ((Yoji Matsuda) Defeats the demon in battle, but not before biting and cursing him. On his journey to find a cure, he meets all kinds of strange characters and finds himself in the middle of a war between a mining colony and the gods of the forest.
Princess Mononoke is a classic Studio Ghibli film directed by Hayao Miyazaki, and possibly his most visual work. It mixes traditional hand-drawn animation with 3D rendering for some effects, such as Ashitaka’s demon hand. It also has more action and a fast-paced plot than many of his other films. It is a true fantasy epic and a sophisticated allegory about humanity’s relationship with nature.
‘Spirit Away’ (2001) – 8.6
ten-year-old chihiro (Rumi Hiragi/Davig Chase) and her family moves to the suburbs, where she stumbles upon a magical world of spirits known as kami. However, it has a dark side: the witch Yubaba (Marie Natsuki / Suzanne Playset) turns Chihiro’s parents into pigs and forces them to work in Yubaba’s bathhouse. Secretly, Chiro begins to plan a way to save his parents and return to the mortal world.
Enthusiast away Miyazaki’s most iconic film is, hands down. builds on the foundation laid by My Neighbor Totoro and Princess Mononoke But it is great in every way. Visually, the film is endlessly imaginative—it offers no shortage of distinctive, memorable magical creatures, from the dragon Haku to the masked ghost No-Face. An authentic feel pervades the entire film, from the imagery to the characters. It’s a mature, emotional story that audiences are sure to return to for decades to come.
Next: The best fantasy franchises of all time