Seeking some exciting escapism? What could be more satisfying than fabulous fantasy films? This wonderous genre leads viewers down a path into magical realms, where myths and monsters roam, surprises lurk around every corner, and heroes set forth on adventures epic and enthralling.
Whether you’re searching for a movie that’s frightening, family-friendly, mind-bending, heartbreaking, or pulse-pounding, we’ve got you covered with a curated selection of fantasy films from around the world and beyond.
Based on the Neil Gaiman novel of the same name, this jaunty 2007 offering follows a pair of star-crossed lovers, one of whom is a cross star! Charlie Cox and Claire Danes headline this magical tale of boy-meets-girl. He’s a daring young man, venturing for a stellar treasure to woo the prettiest lass in his quaint English village. Meanwhile, she’s a literal celestial body who has been knocked out of the sky by a royal twist of fate. Together, they must traverse a strange land full of cloud-sailing pirates, blood-thirsty princes, and wicked witches. Director Matthew Vaughn brings together an impeccable cast that boasts Robert De Niro, Peter O’Toole, Mark Strong, Rupert Everett, and a scorching hot Michelle Pfeiffer. All this makes for a wild ride full of thrilling action, cheeky humor, and swooning romance.
2. Errementari: The Blacksmith and the Devil
If you love Pan’s Labyrinth, then you’ll enjoy this fantasy period piece, which pitches a plucky young heroine into a world of war-ravaged men and manipulative monsters.
Co-written and directed by Paul Urkijo Alijo, Errementari: The Blacksmith and the Devil begins in 1835, when the First Carlist War plagued Basque Country, Spain. There, a blacksmith makes a deal with a devil, which will have a wicked impact on his village and the life of one brave little girl (Uma Bracaglia) on a quest for answers about her dearly departed mother. Folding folklore and religious horror in with a cheeky sense of humor and dark thread of adventure, this fascinating film takes audiences to hell and back. Literally!
If you ever dreamed of being besties with a fantastical beast, then you’ll relish every step of this buddy adventure from Bong Joon Ho. With Okja, the internationally acclaimed South Korean writer/director spun a story about a big and lovable “super pig” named Okja and the farm girl who’d do anything to save it from slaughter. Along the way, this adorable duo will meet zealous animal-rights activists, an unnervingly energetic TV personality (Jake Gyllenhaal), and an elegant entrepreneur (Tilda Swinton) whose good intentions are as false as her smiles. Racing through fertile jungles, crowded shopping malls, and the bustling metropolis of New York City, Okja is a wild ride that brings fantasy into reality.
4. Night books
From David Yarovesky, the director of Brightburn, comes a spooky tale that’ll thrill on family night.
Based on the horror-fantasy novel of the same name by J. A. White, Nightbooks centers on a Brooklyn bookworm (Winslow Fegley) who is kidnapped by a wicked witch (Krysten Ritter). Held captive in her magical apartment, he’s forced to tell her a new scary story each night in exchange for his survival. Thankfully, he’s not alone. A hard-nosed fellow prisoner (Lidya Jewett) not only helps him avoid the pitfalls of this precarious prison, but also helps him unlock the secrets that could get them both out!
Peppered with PG-level scares and plenty of style (we’d die for Ritter’s witch wardrobe), Nightbooks is a rollicking good time for kiddos (and grown-ups) who appreciate a good bump in the night.
5. Over the Moon
Pining for a fantasy adventure threaded with fantastic songs? Then, you’ll revel in the animated musical Over The Moon.
After decades of working in Disney animation, Glen Keane takes the helm in his directorial debut, which is inspired by the Chinese legend of Chang’e, the goddess of the moon. When a 13-year-old girl (Cathy Ang) decides a DIY rocket will jettison her not only to their celestial deity but also to a better life, she discovers happiness is much closer than she could have dreamed. In addition to pop jams and plenty of charismatic characters — among them a star-bright pangolin — this Netflix Original boasts a star-studded voice cast, including Sandra Oh, Kimiko Glenn, Phillipa Soo, John Cho, Margaret Cho, and Ken Jeong.
6. Vampires vs. the Bronx
Want a movie that’s got excitement, comedy, a scorching message about the evils of gentrification, and is a kid-friendly fantasy romp? Then take a bite out of Vampires vs. the Bronx.
Oz Perkins’s PG-13 horror-comedy centers on Afro-Latino teens, who recognize that a flurry of missing person posters and influx of rich white folks with tote bags means bad news for the neighborhood. Together, they team up Monster Squad-style to take down the bloodsuckers and save their community. With a sharp wit, a warm heart, a rich sense of atmosphere, and an equal appreciation for the Blade movies and ’80s Amblin, Vampires vs. the Bronx is an easy watch (just 85 minutes!) full of rewards.
7. A Monster Calls
Want fantasy that’s wild and heartbreaking? Then, you’ll treasure this tender adaptation of Patrick Ness’s beloved novel.
With the ghost tale The Orphanage and the disaster drama The Impossible, Spanish director J. A. Bayona has carved out a niche for crafting compelling mother-son tales. Here, he chisels out the stirring story of a boy coming to grips with his mother’s terminal illness. In need of a friend and a space to share his pain and rage, the boy bonds with a towering tree beast, who speaks with the comfortingly familiar snarl of Liam Neeson. Photo-real computer graphics ground this eponymous monster in the real world. Then, ferocious fables animated in splashes of watercolor and spilled ink bring an added oomph and sense of wonder. The result is a gorgeous and poignant portrait of grief, which had critics and audiences in awe.
8.The Old Guard
For fantasy with a superhero flare, check out this action-packed thriller from critically cheered director Gina Prince-Bythewood.
Charlize Theron stars as Andy, the leader of a covert band of almost-immortal mercenaries. For centuries, they have fought together to save humanity from ruin. However, as a new member is added to the team (a mesmerizing Kiki Layne), this old guard tangles with a threat that could tear them to shreds for good. Adapted from Greg Rucka’s graphic novel of the same name,
The Old Guard brings a sharp edge and an R-rating to the glossy and bloodless superhero standard. The sprawling and graphic fight scenes hit hard, but the incredible ensemble, which includes Matthias Schoenaerts, Marwan Kenzari, Luca Marinelli, and Chiwetel Ejiofor, hits harder. Together they bring a sophisticated pathos that doesn’t tend to fit with the flashy capes crowd.
Few things are as fantastical and fun as a Manga made live-action. Based on the popular Japanese comic by Tite Kubo, Bleach follows Ichigo Kurosaki, a moody teen who turns into a Soul Reaper through a twist of face and brave sacrifice. By day, he must endure all the drama inherent in high school. By night, he—with the help of his pestering mentor Rukia Kuchiki—must guide good ghosts to their peaceful afterlife and battle back sinister spirits. Director Shinsuke Sato brings an anime-like verve to the film, employing zipping graphics, a lively soundtrack, a bouncy tone, a barrage of frightful foes, and kick-ass martial arts action. Stars Sôta Fukushi and Hana Sugisaki are totally in tune, delivering performances that pop with personality.
10. Last Action Hero
For a blast from the past that kicks plenty of ass, we recommend this PG-13 Arnold Schwarzenegger romp. From Die Hard director John McTiernan comes an adventure made to thrill kids who grew up on ’80s action movies — because it’s our dream come true. Imagine your favorite action hero plucked you from your mundane reality and ushered you into one of their movies. That’s the exhilarating circumstance that down-on-his-luck Danny Madigan (Austin O’Brien) enjoys, and naturally his cigar-chomping, quip-spitting idol is played by none other than the Terminator icon. Together, they play out the buddy-cop fantasy that parodies the era with an absurd premise, zippy dialogue, and action that’s so outlandish it still has us howling with laughter almost 30 years later. Also – keep an eye out for pre-Lord of the Rings Ian McKellen as Death!