Amidst court dramas, grotesque horror movies, and sappy romances, fantasy movies have found their place in American cinema. We deal with enough real life on a daily basis, so when a film comes along that lets out of that reality temporarily, many welcome it.
For those looking for a way to enjoy movies with their family, there seems to be a shortage of good ones that don’t involve graphic language, sex, or violence in their storyline. In the past years, however, some excellent fantasy movies have been made that are appropriate for both adults and children. While some of them may hold an adult element here and there, the story and special effects will keep young ones enthralled and take adults back to their own childhood.
Below are my recommendations for fantasy movies that have withstood the test of time. If you’ve seen them before, try them again. If you’ve never seen them, I highly recommend giving one or all of them a look.
1.Labyrinth – Jim Henson did the puppetry for this tale about a teenage girl who wishes her brother be taken away by the fabled Goblin King, only to have it really happen. To save the little boy, she must travel through the Goblin King’s labyrinth, solve puzzles, and make friends with strange creatures to get to the castle. This is a fun movie with catchy songs. The special effects are a good sort of retro, and those who haven’t seen it yet will be surprised by a young Jennifer Connelly and a wild haired David Bowie as the Goblin King.
2.The Neverending Story – This story wrapped in a story reminds the young at heart to never give up on believing in your dreams. A young boy dealing with the loss of his mother and bullying at school steals a book, then locks himself away to immerse himself in the story. As he reads about the young warrior Atreyu and his quest to save the world of Fantasia from the deadly Nothing, he becomes entwined with the story. Full of fantastic creatures and artistic cinematography, this movie is bound to be a family favorite.
3.Willow – Val Kilmer became a household name after starring as “the greatest warrior that ever lived” in this fun and adventurous tale of a dwarf who must go on a quest to save a baby girl from a murderous evil queen. It sounds like your typical fairy tale, and in many ways it is. But throw in some sword fighting, mischievous brownies, and a love story, and it’s a fantasy movie that will appeal to everyone in your household.
4.The Last Unicorn – This classic film may be a cartoon, but adults will enjoy it just as much as kids, picking up on many adult themes throughout the story. The voice talents of Mia Farrow, Jeff Bridges, and Christopher Lee are behind this story of a unicorn wishing to know her own kind, yet believing they’ve all gone. Her journey takes her to a chilling castle where the fiery Red Bull has driven all of her kind into the sea. Besides just being an entertaining film with a memorable soundtrack from the band America, “The Last Unicorn” shows the importance of being true to one’s self when faced with hard choices.
5.What Dreams May Come – Even if you don’t agree with this film’s take on what happens after you die, the vivid images and beautiful scenery make it worth watching. Robin Williams plays a doctor who dies in an accident, leaving behind a wife who was already mourning the death of their children. What he finds in the afterlife is nothing short of breathtaking. When his wife takes her own life and is sent somewhere else, he makes the journey through heaven and hell to save her soul.
6.The Dark Crystal – This is another Jim Henson project. Like its name suggests, this movie is a bit darker and may not be suitable for really young children. Two Gelflings embark on a quest to restore a broken crystal to its whole state before the evil Skeksis take over the land. The puppet creatures range from cute to a bit too scary for some audience members. However, the movie is adventurous and fun for adults and older children.
7.The 10th Kingdom – Originally a made for television mini-series, this movie is quite long, which makes it perfect for a long weekend or installment viewings. Virginia Lewis and her father are transported into the world of the Ten Kingdoms. They travel through this fairy tale land in the company of a half wolf and a prince-turned-dog. Their journey to find the way home through one of the magic mirrors takes them on a great adventure full of twists and turns, leaving you to keep hoping they’ll reach their happy ending.
Try one or more of these fantasy movies on your next family movie night. You won’t be disappointed.