Whether you’re looking for knights, magic, and dragons or simply an imaginative plot, the best fantasy movies of all time are sure to deliver in spades. The best part of these movies is their ability to whisk you away to amazing locations, meet interesting characters, and get lost in a story that you’ll never forget. Whether you’re a big kid at heart or someone who just enjoys a good flick, you’re bound to find something to enjoy some of the best fantasy movies in the genre.
It’s no secret that many fantasy movies are based on novels. If you want to compare your favorite movies to the books, our list of the best fantasy novels might steer you in the right direction. These dense novels have been enjoyed by millions of people around the globe and have been linked to positive cognitive and mental benefits.
Fantasy movies allow us to get lost in our imagination, which is something you may not do as often as an adult. Using your imagination goes farther than just being fun. A recent study concludes that using your imagination to visualize a threat can help an individual conquer a fear. Diving into the fantastical worlds found in movies can also provide you with an escape from some of your fears and maybe give you some practice in getting over them.
Time to don the knight’s helm and put on the magical cape, here is our list of the best fantasy movies of all time. StudyFinds set out to do the research for you, visiting 10 expert websites that review movies. We put together this list of the best fantasy movies of all time by seeking out the movies that were most recommended across these sites. If you’ve got your own suggestions, please leave them in the comments below!
The List: Best Fantasy Movies of All Time, According To Experts
1. “The Lord of the Rings” Trilogy
You don’t have to look far to find the one fantasy movie to rule them all! This epic triad is adapted from one of the best fantasy novel series of all time and is full of all the fantasy staples you want in this type of movie.
The folks at Rotten Tomatoes note that the second film, “The Two Towers,” “balances spectacular action with emotional storytelling, leaving audiences both wholly satisfied and eager for the final chapter.”
It’s apparent that experts feel that this is the benchmark for the genre. As Collider says, “The Lord of the Rings is by far one of the most popular fantasy series and has become a global phenomenon and staple for what fantasy could be.”
The writers at IndieWire gushed about how the director, Peter Jackson, made the series so relatable to audiences everywhere. “Jackson’s approach to ‘The Lord of the Rings’ is so unforgettable: He takes fantasy and grounds it on such a human level and from such a human perspective that, suddenly, magical creatures and beasts feel tangible to the viewer.”
‘The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King’ was released on this day 19 years ago and won 11 Oscars!
One of the greatest movies of all time? pic.twitter.com/P3Cl3th31c
— Fellowship of Fans (@FellowshipFans) December 17, 2022
2. “Pan’s Labyrinth”
Directed by the movie-monster connoisseur, Guillermo del Toro, this mystical tale centers around an eleven-year-old’s journey into a magical world of mythical creatures. With its slightly historical backdrop of the 1940s and the Second World War, this movie is highly regarded by experts all over the globe.
One of the biggest draws to the film are the effects and costumes used throughout the magical labyrinth as Stacker notes, “Drawing upon Guillermo del Toro’s greatest strengths, it pairs iconic special effects with rich characterizations to generate palpable gravitas.”
Entertainment Weekly adds, “Like any great myth, Pan’s Labyrinth encodes its messages through displays of magic. And like any good fairy tale, it is also embroidered with threads of death and loss.”
Popular Mechanics talks about del Toro’s impact on the film: “Guillermo del Toro understands that our real, physical reality is paired with a lively world of imagination, and in times of great stress—under Franco in Spain, say, or during the Cold War—the seams start to show.”
Rippin shots to Pan's Labrynth lol welcome to my weird world pic.twitter.com/3c7I5EkA8A
— Jack Straw (@TTheosis) January 18, 2021
3. “The Wizard of Oz”
A classic tale almost as old as time. “The Wizard of Oz” is a magical tale of witches, wizards, and talking lions, and don’t forget about those glittering red shoes! Any list talking about the fantasy genre can’t forget about this film.
This timeless movie has high praise that comes along with it as IndieWire claims, “Good luck finding another American movie as influential as The Wizard of Oz.”
Men’s Health seemingly agrees with the previous experts as the website states that “The Wizard of OZ is, “One of the most iconic films in history.”
Sitting at the top of FilmsRanked’s list, “The Wizard of Oz is the greatest fantasy film of all time, not only because of Judy Garland’s amazing voice, the lush Technicolor magic, and the captivating story. The film is also a crucial piece of cinema culture, but also an iconic, irreplaceable part of American heritage.”
4. “Spirited Away”
Hailing from the beautiful imagination of Japanese director, Hayao Miyazaki, this animated movie follows ten-year-old Chihiro as she finds herself in a magical and confusing world trying to save her parents.
The folks at TimeOut talk about its prowess and writes: “A high point not only of the consistently excellent output of Japan’s Studio Ghibli but of animation as a whole, this magical adventure turns the wanderings of a lonely ten-year-old girl into an updated ‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland’, complete with nods to ancient folklore and modern ecological anxieties.”
It’s also an interesting way for people to learn about Japan. Collider says, “The film is well-loved and is a great way to learn about Japanese culture and folklore. Additionally, the art style that Studio Ghibli produces is absolutely stunning and always worth watching.”
After talking about story and animation, Rolling Stone talks about its important narrative. “It’s all held together by a thrilling and poignant story, about a kid on the cusp of adulthood, discovering how complicated it can be to live in a world that’s constantly changing.”
5. “The Princess Bride”
This is another classic dreamy tale that is full of comedy, while still being philosophical and dramatic. You don’t have to go far to find someone who’s seen Rob Reiner’s tale about the Kingdom of Florin.
The film is satirical in nature, as Esquire puts it, “The 1987 American film is an intelligent, comedic fairy tale adventure. Celebrating and subverting the genre at once.”
The movie is very quotable, and you’ve likely heard the lines from the movie referenced many times. Men’s Health says, “Your wish is this movie’s command. Following the story of a young Wesley who tries to save his true love Buttercup, there’s a reason why the memorable quips, all-star cast and magnificent sets pushed this film to become a cult classic.”
FilmsRanked talks about its longevity on their list when they say, “The film has enchanted generations of new viewers during the 30+ years since it was released … The quirky, fun adventure-romance was the ultimate achievement in 80s fantasy.”
- Rotten Tomatoes
- Entertainment Weekly
- Popular Mechanics
- Men’s Health
- Rolling Stone
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