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Top Fantasy Films of the Last 30 Years

Updated on December 26, 2012

At the time of this writing it is cold and nasty outside and if you do not have to go out, animal instinct is probably directing you to hunker down and enjoy the comfort of your shelter. It is a good time to peruse the DVD collection for some old favorites.

If you happen to be reading this in warmer weather, there is never a bad time to kick back with a top fantasy film.

The Dark Crystal

First up is the Dark Crystal. This gem was created by Jim Henson, co-directed with Frank Oz. For those of you not familiar with Muppet lore these are the guys who originated Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy respectively.

Henson loved his Muppets but also wanted to do more serious work, hence The Dark Crystal. It is an impressively made film, even by today's standards, especially when you consider that these guys didn't have the CGI technology currently available.

The story is about two mythical creatures called gelflings who try to save their dying world by fixing a damaged crystal. The film is rife with symbolism and is well worth the time you will spend watching it.

A word to the wise: If you think that because this film is made by the creator of the Muppets that it will be suitable for your children, think again. You might allow older children to see it, but there are some scenes that are not suitable for younger viewers.

Legend

I'm sure that Tom Cruise would prefer to forget that this is a part of his early days, but to be fair, the film was directed by Ridley Scott. Yes, that's right, the guy who brought you Aliens and Blade Runner also directed this film. And it does have a cult following, so feel free to enjoy it guilt free knowing that there is a society for geeks like you.

In this film, our hero must stop the Lord of Darkness-- played by none other than Tim Curry-- from ending daylight as we know it and marrying his woman (Mia Sara). This is a wild romp filled with all of your favorite mythical creatures.

The Neverending Story

This is a classic eighties film with everything you could ask for: rock biters, a nothing, a young warrior, a child-like empress and of course a luck dragon.

When the Nothing threatens to destroy Fantasia, the ailing Child-like Empress calls on warrior Atreyu to go on a quest to find a way to stop the Nothing.

This film is rated PG.

Labyrinth

You couldn't have a list of top fantasy films without adding Labyrinth to the pile. Designed to look like a young girls dream world, this film has such a rich visual appeal, why wouldn't you want to visit? This film by Jim Henson offered sets based on the work of M.C. Escher and characters designed by Brian Froud.

Sarah (a very young Jennifer Connelly) must solve the labyrinth to reach the goblin city where her baby brother is being held captive by the goblin king, Jareth (David Bowie).

This film is rated PG.

The City of Lost Children

I'm not going to lie: this film is trippy. It is dark and weird. It is also in french, but don't let that bother you. The DVD comes complete with options for English subtitles and English dubbing.

A simple minded strong man (Ron Perlman) must find his little brother (Joseph Lucien) who has been stolen by a scientist who kidnaps children in order to steal their dreams. He is aided on his quest by a young street urchin ( Judith Vittet).

The visuals on this one were highly praised. They are kind of a surreal cross between Dickens and Jules Verne.

The City of Ember

Based on a series of young adult books, this one is a lot of fun.

The city of Ember was built as a sort of bunker to preserve the human race after a great catastrophe occurs. The story picks up 200 years later when the inhabitants are no longer aware of their history and the city is dying. Two young people, Lena and Dune, discover the corruption that runs rampant in the city government. Will they be stopped before they discover the secret to escaping Ember?

Tune in to find out.

Willow

This is one of my favorite films of all time. It totally makes the list. Directed by Ron Howard and Produced by George Lucas, how could you go wrong?

Willow (Warwick Davis) is a simple farmer with dreams of becoming a great sorcerer. He is tasked with returning a Diakini (giant) baby to her people. But this is no ordinary baby. She is destined to set right the wrongs of her world. Along the way he meets up with a rouge swordsman (Val Kilmer), fairies, pixies, brownies, trolls and the whole nine.

Great action adventure, perfect for the whole family.

A little-remembered but great film. Set in the middle ages, this film stars Matthew Broderick, Michelle Pfeiffer and Rutger Hauer.

Two lovers are seperated by a cruel curse. During the day the woman is a hawk. At night the man turns into a wolf. In order to break the spell they must seek out the Bishop of Aquila. They are aided in their quest by a pious thief called Mouse.

I give it four out of four stars or two thumbs up.

The Princess Bride

The following video is not a trailer but a cast reunion from Good Morning America.

Why?

Because the only trailer I could find was not a very good trailer. As one of the actors in this video states, the powers that be simply did not know how to market it. I could have chose a clip but this was so funny and it had several clips as well as giving you a sense of what the film really is, I just thought this was better.

This film crosses genres to create something really unique. Yes, it's fantasy but it is also swashbuckling adventure, romance, comedy, buddy film-- all things rolled into one. I don't know anyone who does not love this film. I highly recommend it.

Enjoy.

The Princess Bride

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