Fantasy. Is. Awesome. This is my favourite genre by far, and I’m so glad I didn’t have to twist Crow’s talons behind his feathers to make him give it to me. Okay, perhaps I did. Just a tad. BUT the point is – I’ve always loved all types of fantasy inspired work and anything to do with ones boundless imagination. The stranger, the better. So in essence, this list was the easiest for me to craft – because most of the films listed aren’t just in my top 10 fantasy flicks, but actually belong in my top movies of all time.
From the forests of middle earth to the yellow brick road in Oz, or Wonka’s chocolate river to a board game coming to life – let’s jump into the rabbit hole and see how deep we can go with the review. I urge you to watch all the movies listed, because they truly do master the art of epic storytelling and transport you to a different world entirely.
[As always, the Unified Rules shall be in play.]
The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring 
In what is (without a doubt) Peter Jackson’s pièce de résistance, we arrive at my pick for top fantasy movie – the first visual instalment of the Tolkien literary saga The Lord of The Rings. At a whopping 3 hours and 48 minutes, this movie is perhaps the only film that has done true justice to the book it was based on. Created with incredible precision, attention to detail and ground breaking VFX from Jackson’s WETA Digital studios – LOTR is one of the most incredible adventure stories I’ve ever seen on celluloid! The characters are all over the spectrum – goblins, elves, dragons, magicians, hobbits, wizards, trolls, orcs, the list goes on – and they’re layered and stitched into the plot seamlessly. An incredible soundtrack and close to perfect editing elevated this film to that of a masterpiece, and ensures that it’ll be watched for generations to come. One ring to rule them all, my precious, indeed.
Willy Wonka and The Chocolate Factory 
If there’s a golden ticket out there, I’d do anything to get one! As would every other kid (or adult with a sweet tooth) that ever watched Willy Wonka and The Chocolate Factory. In this insanely imaginative film we have Gene Wilder giving us an iconic nutty performance – which has lived on and surpassed all the remakes that tried to follow suit, but failed miserably (sneers eyes at Johnny Depp). This film isn’t for the fainthearted – there is dark undertone to the whole thing, and certain scenes, such as the infamous boat in the technicolour tunnel, really scared the poptarts out of me when I was a kid, and to be honest, them damn Oompa Loompas still manage freak me out. And that’s pretty much the point. It was SO well done, from the humorous bits to the emotional grandparent snippets, from wonderment and infinite jars of candy, to being banished to an unknown underground room of bad eggs – this film is a perfect visual tribute to Roald Dahl’s 1964 novel, originally titled Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
And hey – do you know where I can get my claws on a gobstopper?
The Wizard of Oz 
Featuring some of the most beautiful, sentimental songs and characters ever crafted, The Wizard of Oz is a magical journey over the rainbow with Judy Garland and her motley crew of companions (not to forget Toto). We journey through a stunning shiny world full of emeralds and yellow brick roads, to a place where wonder and terror exist symbiotically. Chances are that you’ll be amazed (and kinda freaked out) by the Wicked Witch of the West and her army of flying monkey thing-ies, long after you’ve seen it – especially so if you were a kid at the time, like I was. A true classic, this cinematic piece of art has left impressions on audiences of all sizes, shapes and colours since the 60’s. A must watch in terms of understanding the early styles of fantasy filmmaking and practical / visual effects, while showcasing an alternate kingdom reality when it was considered impossible to even fathom such a thing on celluloid.
Mary Poppins 
If you didn’t grow up watching Mary Poppins and humming along to all the songs (constantly), I strongly urge that you run out your front door and get your get your hands on a copy immediately! Julie Andrews plays an angelic nanny who has magical storytelling powers, and gets hired to take care of 2 naughty ones in beautiful London. What really hits you though, is the element of joy she truly does bring through. This movie is a classic musical full of amazing characters, ranging from Mr Banks to Mr Bert; and the scenes showcasing cartoons integrated with real people was pretty far out and ahead of its time. The songs are catchy, cute and fun – and can be revisited time and time again. I really can’t explain how many wonderful bits of this film have shaped my imagination as it is today – from cartoon chalk drawn portals to tap-dancing penguins, merry go round horses that break free and run forever, to bottomless handbags and self cleaning rooms: it really is an incredible cinematic experience.
Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope 
I was very, very late to catch the Star Wars bug – but when it bit, it bit me good; and luckily it all began with the 4th episode in 1977. Without a doubt, a perfect example of a fantasy sci-fi saga, Star Wars: A New Hope is a supernova explosion of fun and adventure. It combines some of the most loved characters of all time – Han Solo, Chewbacca, Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia and R2D2 – who are all born on celluloid from the depths of George Lucas’ brain, with arguably the most iconic intro sequence of all time. Star Wars set the bar for so many aspects of cinema, especially what we have chosen to do with plots based in outer space. People loved the movie, and it was a box office success and faced early excitement from audiences all over the world, because quite simply, no one had done it so good before. Which is why that till this day, we can go out there and enjoy The Force Awakens, because we’re still connected to Luke, Han, Chewie, Vader and Leia – from the film that started it all. That’s how strong and impactful this story truly is, in every merit.
The Fall 
Perhaps the most romantic and emotional movie on the list – The Fall is the most visually stunning movie I’ve ever seen. Everything about it is unique – from the setting (an old school hospital in LA) to the costumes and make up (classic and sepia toned) to the vast array of characters we encounter in a dream world made up of stories from a dying man. The main characters – a 5 year old little girl called Alexandria and her new friend Roy, a 20 something stunt man from Hollywood – are equally different as they are charming. He tells her stories, in exchange for medicine that she helps bring to him. The entire story is layered with meaning, right from the meta qualities of a story within a story, to the helplessness, naivety and vulnerability of the characters. Their is a constant thread of loss and longing in the movie, which Tarsem Singh masterfully showcases – with a steady dose of wonder ringing through the whole time. Filmed in over 28 countries, there are no CGI shots in this visual orgasmic endeavour that can never be recreated again. Put this on your bucket list.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Parts 1 and 2) [2010-2011]
The pressure was on, and man, Hollywood sure rose to the occasion. Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows Part 1 and 2 were arguably the most hyped end to the infamous Potter series; and for the first time, the movie rendition out shone the books. Not only did Rowling write the final book with the film in mind, she was there every step of the way to oversee production; which is why it potentially all came together so well. If you aren’t a Potter head; in short: Harry Potter is a boy who outlived the most dangerous dark wizard ever – Voldemort – and he finally comes face to face with him in a colossal battle, where he saves the world as we know it and also avenges his parents death. I suppose I’d have to mention that is the only film on my list that you’d probably have to see prior movies for, to really get the impact of the plot. But as a true Potter fan (I’m in Ravenclaw, duh) – I have to admit that this movie was absolutely amazing. Emotional, riveting and gripping – you’ll find wizards and muggles come together to dig this movie, one and the same.
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey 
Is the Raven a Tolkien fan? You bet I am. This story is one of the most iconic stories that revolve around an unlikely hero making an extraordinary journey, a most ordinary and simple character like a hobbit, ultimately having immense power. Something we can all relate to, in moments of acute boredom with our realities. A true testament to the underdog; An Unexpected Journey is a marvellous production which is visually on par with Jackson’s earlier LOTR series, even though the story is an origin tale of a character we barely met in the last series. The music is on point, with chilling dreamy sounds and vocals that come together to form a symphonic ooze of middle earth awesomeness. Bilbo Baggins and the 13 dwarves are an amusing, warm group of comrades that offer comic relief through the movie at vital points. While a lot of critics argue that the film takes time to slowly pick up, I think that adds to the essence of the shift – the character moved his life path from a slow sleepy one to a life of magic and adventure. A must watch.
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang 
This movie was Dick Van Dyke’s jewel, and he sure has quite a few gems in his crown, so thats saying something. Mr Potts, an inventor, transforms a Grand Prix car into a flying (and swimming) marvel machine and eventually saves his family from peril. Released in 1968, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is a fun peek into the history of Hollywood effects used at that time in movies (quite impressive if you think about it now) and also helped bring some catchy fun songs into all our childhoods. I remember singing ‘Toot Sweets’ and constantly wishing my breakfast would assemble itself, much like Mr Potts did. A highly friendly film, this is a great imagination activation tool for children. Hosting a perfect blend of sweets and machinery – it’s just intriguing from the first to the last frame. I personally remember feeling interested in how things work, and connect, after watching this. Highly recommended.
Ever wished you could play a really wild board game? Look no further – Jumanji will satiate your cravings. Robin Williams and company lead us through a mad journey of unpredictable, random, always dangerous manifestations from a fatalistic board game! A great cast (Robin Williams, Bonnie Hunt and a young Kirsten Dunst) with a fun as hell storyline, which is still madly dark, elevates Jumanji from a B grade concept to an A+ movie watching experience. It chills you to the bone, because you’re essentially a 5th player in the game as you watch because your survival to the end of the movie depends on your character! Subtly interactive. Hosting lots of wild animals that attack the foursome during gameplay, this is a great testament to supernatural mutations and animorphs of existing animals around us – like monkeys and bats – which add a massive fear factor due to being super relatable. Watch alone for best impact (with a big bag of popcorn).