Films aren’t real, nothing’s real, I’ve been writing these for 30 days and I’m regretting everything.
Edward Scissorhands (1990)
Awhhh it’s just a lovely film — a nice, lovely film. Sure, it’s given Hop Topic half its merchandise and its more emo than a cover of Black Parade on ukulele, but it’s just lovely. Tim Burton’s dance into the romantic side of his gothiness, the aesthetic is simple but fun. Johnny Depp’s understated and wonderful, a rare reminiscence of before Captain Jack happened and he did nothing else ever again, and Winona Ryder’s always great — we need more general love for Winona Ryder. Also, Vincent Price — yes. MATE.
The Lord Of The Rings (2001-2003) – Yeah, of course, it is THE fantasy film(s) at the end of the day. You know the story, they go back to the jewellers to return a naff ring, shit hits the fan — orcing about. I won’t bother going into too much detail before Reuben’s gonna blow his load in a couple of lines.
Pan’s Labyrinth (2006) – OOOh ONO, this isn’t a lovely film. With all the whimsey of fairies, spirits and multilation, Del Toro gives us something equally captivating, unique and wildly uncomfortable — makes you want to hit the bottle, or maybe the other way around…
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring/The Two Towers (2001/2002)
Here is where the first two films of The Lord of the Rings trilogy get their due reward. While slightly more dated than the others, The Fellowship of the Ring stands on its own two feet incredibly well as although it’s not quite as grand and hugely battle-centric as the other two, as something to set the scene it’s perfect, and in the scenes towards the start with the Nazgul’s introductions you’ll find some of my favourite moments in film. The Two Towers, on the other hand, is just, absolutely, completely, huge. As the characters split paths we know shizzle’s got real, and it all hits a climax point in Helm’s Deep.
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004) – Harry Potter has held a special place in my heart for ever since I first watched it when I was 10-years-old, and it will probably always be one of my favourite movie series. It’s not quite The Lord of the Rings but for me Prisoner of Azkaban is the best Harry Potter effort, with, at film number three, the perfect mix of the wondrous magic of the first two films and the darker, more mature and action-centric side of the later films; it’s also got a very grounded and interesting plot, which culminates in the brilliant latter stages of the film.
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2014) – Yes, yes, I know it’s not as good as The Lord of the Rings. Yes, yes, it’s got quite a lot of overblown CGI and I know well the flaws of The Hobbit trilogy, which shouldn’t have really been a trilogy. But, in this second film of the trilogy everything seemed to go a lot more right than wrong and it’s a crescendo of awesomeness which I view in a similar light to the original Lord of the Rings trilogy. Mainly because, well, Smaug. He’s just damn good.
The Wizard Of Oz (1939)
The Princess Bride (1987)
The Lord of the Rings (2001-2003)
Although it was the final chapter ‘The Return of the King’ that received all the accolades, in my opinion all three films are worthy of the same awards – it is all one story after all. This epic tale of epic-ness is a joy to watch and the battle sequences have yet to be bettered; but it is the characters of the hobbits, Gandalf and all the rest that are so well translated to screen from the book and I love going on the long journey to Mordor with them – it’s amazing that such films were ever made really.
Tale of Tales (2015) – An obscure European film based on old Spanish fairy tales; this is a really wonderful series of disturbing and strange events that captured my imagination – there’s not enough films like this out there.
The Neverending Story (1984) – This is a film I watched countless times as a child and as such it holds a special place in my heart, I love the use of models, puppets and costumes as well as some lovely matt paintings in the background – a treasure of fantasy and that wolf will forever remain in my nightmares.
The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus (2009) – This is Terry Gilliam let loose on CGI and the result is amazing; a spectacle of dark and crazy things with the devil himself as the antagonist – it’s a true modern classic in my opinion and almost the definition of ‘Fantasy’.
Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)
George Miller came back for another crack at his original vision now cinema has learned some new tricks. There are few big budget remakes of 70’s or 80’s classics that can surpass their original. Charlize Theron redresses the balance the macho old versions could be accused of and Tom Hardy’s Mel Gibson impression is faultless. It will ride forever, shiny and chrome.
The Crow (1994) – In a gothic comic-book world where rain pours down outside loft apartment feature windows, Eric Draven and his beloved Shelley are done a terrible wrong. The gothiness of his upset brings Eric back from the grave spectacularly to wreak vengeance and right wrongs. I loved the books, I loved the movie… Best we don’t talk about the sequels.
Stardust (2007) – A modern fairy-tale which owes debts to His Dark Materials, the fantasy movies of the 80’s (especially The Princess Bride) and to Pratchett and Gilliam in equal measures. Stardust messes with conventions enough to do a Shrek on the romance, turn Bobby De Niro into a cross-dressing pirate captain and gives Ricky Gervais some fantastic cameo time.
Time Bandits (1981) – Kids movies deserve to still be treated as high art. The collective Time Bandits travel from Roman myth to the Titanic to Robin Hood’s Sherwood Forrest and to evil’s lair through the wardrobe of little Kevin’s bedroom. It’s hilarious, visually stunning and covered in dirt at the same time. Gilliam got his hooks in me early with this epic adventure from ‘81.
Thor (2011) – I hold the opinion that we are in a golden age of fantasy cinema. The clunkier 70s and 80s movies always have bits that drag but there’s none of that in Brannagh’s Thor. Yes, it’s a Marvel movie. However, it does enough to stand on its own two feet; you can enjoy Thor in its own right without even being aware of the rest of the MCU or having never read a comic. Why? It’s a classic fantasy tale. A God walks the Earth, meets a girl and fights a monster (or four). MORE!
The Fall (2006)
The Fall is one of the most gorgeous movies put to screen. Stunning visuals aside, its intimate story of a stuntman finding hope in a child’s imagination stands out from the usual fantasy fare. Director Tarsem Singh should receive every commendation for his picturesque presentation of imagined worlds that hide heartache in their purpose.
Stay tuned for more Best Thangs of All Time!