Friday, November 15, 2013

My Ten Favorite Fantasy Movies

I define fantasy as involving magic or something supernatural somehow.  Which is why you'll find Raiders of the Lost Ark here -- it has all that stuff about the Ark of the Covenant melting people's faces off.  So these aren't necessarily all swords-and-sorcerers stuff, but they do all involve non-real, magical things happening.

Sorry it's taken me like two months to do another of these -- I was going to do superhero movies next, then decided to wait until I'd seen Thor:  The Dark World, and now I think I need another viewing before I can decide if that one goes on the list or not, so... silly me, I can do a genre other than superheroes!  Some of the titles link to previous posts about those movies.

1.  The Princess Bride (1987)

After Buttercup's (Robin Wright) true love Westley (Cary Elwes) is murdered by pirates, she agrees to marry Prince Humperdinck (Chris Sarandon), but gets kidnapped before the wedding.  I'll never forget the first time I saw this movie -- it changed my ideas about humor and fantasy forever.

2.  The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)

Nine companions from the four races of Middle Earth begin the journey to destroy the One Ring and thus defeat evil Lord Sauron and his plans to take over the world.  But you knew that already, didn't you.

3.  Willow (1988)

Two companions from the two races of someplace-or-other journey to protect a baby princess and thus defeat the evil Queen Bavmorda and her plans to take over the world.  Basically George Lucas' version of The Lord of the Rings, but Val Kilmer is so awesome it doesn't really matter that it's kind of a rip-off.

4.  The Return of the King (2003)

The final battle for Middle Earth results in the (very spoily) title.  But you knew that already, didn't you.

5.  Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)

Dr. Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford), noted professor of archealogy, spends more time out chasing down antiquities that have mystical powers (or are worth lots of money) than he does teaching classes.  Who can blame him?

6.  Pirates of the Caribbean:  The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003)

Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) resorts to commandeering, raiding, pillaging, plundering, and otherwise pilfering his weasely black guts out, all to regain his beloved ship.  More fun than a barrel of undead monkeys!

7.  The Two Towers (2002)

Eight of those nine companions keep trudging around Middle Earth, trying to destroy the One Ring and defeat Sauron, etc, etc, and so forth.  But you knew that already, didn't you.

8.  The 13th Warrior (1999)

An Arab exile (Antonio Banderas) joins a band of Norse warriors in their bold attempt to defeat the freaky bear-men-things that are attacking a bunch of small villages.  Swords and danger and glory galore!

9.  The Mummy (1999)

A librarian (Rachel Weisz) and her brother (John Hannah) convince an adventurer (Brendan Fraser) to lead them on an archaeological expedition that quickly gets way more exciting than they ever expected.  I like the sequel almost as well.

10.  Jack the Giant Slayer (2013)

Peasant Jack (Nicholas Hoult) and career soldier Elmont (Ewan McGregor) rescue a princess (Eleanor Tomlinson) and defeat a race of giants.  The best of the recent spate of updated fairy tales that I've seen.


  1. All excellent choices! Although I haven't seen the 13th Warrior, but it's always looked interesting to me. Here I come Netflix...

    1. A friend of mine says The 13th Warrior isn't really fantasy, as it doesn't have any magic being used. But it has some old women who have visions and prophesies and stuff, so I say that's supernatural and counts. At any rate, I really like the movie as a whole.

  2. How fun! The Princess Bride and Lord of the Rings are high on my list too. :)

  3. Obviously, all three of the Lord of the Rings films are my top three, hands down. Best book trilogy ever, and one of the best film trilogies ever. Raiders of the Lost would probably rank second to LOTR, and the Last Crusade would be right behind it. The Princess Bride is a good classic. I was rather surprised that the movie was not a "chick flick" considering the name. I ended up enjoying the movie a lot, particularly the "Almost dead, which means he's partially alive scene." :) Curse of the Black Pearl is definitely the best of the Pirates films and one of my favorite fantasy films as well. The Hobbit would rank rather highly on my list. Sure, it was not nearly as good as the LOTR, but the movie brought us back to Middle Earth again. Two more of my favorites are Ghostbusters and How to Train Your Dragon. Princess Mononoke is one that would probably make my list when I finish watching it as well.

    Of the ones on your list, I have not seen Willow, and I am not sure if I have seen The 13th Warrior, but I am thinking that I have a long time ago.

    Fun list! I always love reading and making lists. I really need to post my Top 25 Fantasy films list soon.


    1. I nearly put Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade on here, and really it probably ties for tenth. It's such a fun movie!

      As for The Hobbit... I just don't love it. But I really like it, and am excited for the next one!

      I haven't seen How to Train Your Dragon yet (GASP!), but I hope to some time. I've seen both Ghostbusters and Princess Mononoke, but years ago.

      Willow is grand fun, and I think you'd get a kick out of it. I'll keep an eye out for your list!

  4. You have an interesting (broad) understanding of the genre 'fantasy'. I don't think I would've called Pirates or The Mummy fantasy. I think I would only call movies fantasy if they took place in a totally different world or if the characters traveled to another world from Earth.

    You don't have Narnia in your list? Don't you like them enough or don't you consider them fantasy?

    1. Well, yes -- I did say I was tossing anything involving the supernatural in here. They're not sci-fi, and they don't fit on my list of 10 favorite action movies since I limited that to stories that are only real-world, no superpowers or magic or robots. Superheroes are getting their own list, so all the other otherworldly stuff is going here. And if you just define 'fantasy' as 'otherworldly,' then The Princess Bride doesn't really count either.

      I don't have Narnia here. I do enjoy the movies, but not as much as any of these. I don't own any of the movies, just the books. But I do consider them fantasy.

    2. I think you can add an extra genre to fill the gap (as if there weren't enough genre already, right?): speculative fiction/films. The last issue of the web magazine Femnista, for which I write had speculative fiction as a subject. I didn't really know this term before, so I asked the editor what she exactly meant with speculative fiction. She said: every fiction which does take place in our world and a defined time (so not the future), but where something is different from what it is in reality: vampires live among us (The Vampire Diaries), fairytale characters live among us (Once Upon a Time) etc.

    3. Yeah, I used to be an editor for a speculative fiction ezine called Static Movement, so I know the genre. A lot of my favorite TV shows are basically spec fic: Angel, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Lost, even Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.. I could split that from fantasy, I suppose, but I don't think I love enough spec fic sort of movies to fill up 10, or enough fantasy to fill up 10 without those. Maybe I should change it to say fantastical? Anyway, I'm happy with it the way it is, so not really gonna change the list.

    4. Nah, definitely don't change it on my account!

  5. The only one that I like on your list is Raiders of The Lost Ark. I could not get into any of the Lord of the Rings movies, and the rest of them I have not seen yet.

    This is a great idea, and I will do a post just like this one on my blog.

    1. I look forward to your post, then! Are you just not a fan of fantasy in general? I know my dad just can't get into most fantasy, with the odd exception of Harry Potter. He loves those movies, but won't have anything to do with Lord of the Rings or really any of these movies except Indiana Jones.

  6. I love Willow. My sisters and I quote it all the time. I never thought about it being a rip off of TLotR, but it sort of is.

    1. MC, it's soooooo quotable! But yes, it does have a really similar storyline to LOTR. Though of course they're both just using the classic mythical-quest storyline, so not exactly like Lucas was copying LOTR or anything. Just similar stories.


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