Fantasy films are the ultimate escape for movie goers. They take you to a world that only your imagination could create. Wizards, dragons and magical lands where the impossible is possible has always been something Hollywood loves to give the audience in many different variations. The question I pose is what films best represent up the fantasy genre. Here are the four films that make us want to escape reality into a world of make believe.
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2013)
There was no way I was going to have ‘The 4: Fantasy Films’ without having The Lord of the Rings/The Hobbit Franchise on this list. Now we can’t put the whole franchise on here so one film must be selected and my choice may surprise you. Return of the King did take home Best Picture and The Two Towers is an amazing film, but my pick is the criminally underrated The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. The reason Smaug gets the snub is because of its subpar predecessor The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. People prejudged Smaug based on that film and didn’t give the follow up a chance, but now many people recognize it’s greatness. There are giant talking spiders, a nature loving large man that turns into a bear, Legolas decaptitaing Orcs and the exciting barrel escape scene. Plus, the highlight is the dragon himself, Smaug brought to life by Benedict Cumberbatch who is without a doubt the best character in the whole series. Throw in the big cliffhanger and you have one of the best fantasy films of all time.
The Neverending Story (1984)
This is my child of the 80s creeping out with this pick. Plus many family films rely on the world of fantasy to tell their story. The Neverending Story blends our world and the fictitious realm of Fantasia that Bastion becomes immersed in while skipping school one day. For a kid’s movie, The Neverending Story is quite dark! Director Wolfgang Peterson gives us a horse drowning in quicksand from sadness, an evil wolf named the Gmork who is hunting our hero Atreyue and a rock giant who thought he had big strong hands. Plus who could forget the Nothing, the evil force that is literally ripping Fantasia to shreds unless Atreyue finds a name for the Empress. The Neverending Story is everything you want in a fantasy film. It also has one of the most satisfying endings in movies, because let’s face it. Who wouldn’t want their own Luck Dragon to get revenge on the people who bullied you.
Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988)
This entry may surprise many of you, but the world of fantasy doesn’t always have to rely on dragons, wizards and elves. Set in 1947, Who Framed Roger Rabbit creates a world where cartoons and humans coexist together. Who Framed Roger Rabbit earns a place on this list not because of it’s fantastic story or groundbreaking live action animated filmmaking. The reason the film makes ‘The 4’ is because the audience buys into this world as if it was real. You see Donald Duck and Daffy Duck engage in dueling pianos. There are cabs that will drive themselves and make a few wisecracks during the fare. Plus don’t forget about Toontown that sits right outside of Hollywood where the toons call home. Besides all the amazing effects, Who Framed Roger Rabbit is a cool mystery of who set up our favorite cartoon rabbit with a crime he didn’t commit. Who Framed Roger Rabbit is unique with the crossover appeal of Disney and Warner Bros. working together so the likes of Bugs Bunny and Mickey Mouse could appear on screen together. It’s a world I wish existed for real.
The Wizard of Oz (1939)
If there is a number one on this list, it’s The Wizard of Oz and second place is not even close to this selection, which I think is the greatest film of all time. Back in 1939 no one had ever seen something like The Wizard of Oz. Tornadoes that flung you to another world, witches both good and bad, flying monkeys and a cast of characters including a lion, tin man and scarecrow. Believe it or not The Wizard of Oz at first was viewed as a financial disappointment not recouping much of the studio investors money. It was nominated for six Academy awards, including Best Picture, but was given a new lease on life with rereleases and the invention of television. The annual broadcast of The Wizard of Oz was something families gathered together once a year to watch before the world of streaming services dominated the media landscape. The Wizard of Oz is a great story with the moral of “There’s no place like home”. Plus, for my money The Wizard of Oz has the greatest song ever from a movie with “Over The Rainbow” and will continued to be passed down for generations to come as the film still holds up seventy six years later.