20 Fantasy Films You Must See Before You Die

Somewhere over the rainbow...

The most inherently interesting aspect of the fantasy genre comes in its ability to take us to other worlds; far off places we've only glimpsed in our dreams, where the rules of our own land are dropped in favour of the magical and the mystical. So when most people think of fantasy, they tend to think of wizards, orcs, goblins, ghosts, long-haired heroes wielding swords, and unlikely protagonists setting out to stop the end of the world as we know it. The fantasy genre also happens to be one of the toughest genres to nail on the big screen - though it has long flourished in book form, fantasy tends to be either brilliant or downright terrible in film form, given its complex nature and the associated world-building; if you don't set up the world just right, chances are your movie won't work. Thankfully, there are many talented filmmakers who have succeeded in transporting us to far off realms... Fantasy movies, of course, doesn't necessarily have to find themselves set in a parallel universe; some of the best and greatest films of the genre take place right here on planet Earth, as the lines separating reality and fantasy are blurred and the best of both dimensions are utilised to a filmmaker's advantage. Join us, then, as we countdown those essential picks from somewhere over the rainbow: the 20 Fantasy Film You Must See Before You Die (please note that we haven't considered any comic book or animated flicks whilst compiling this list).

20. Bridge To Terabithia (2007)

Based on the young adult novel of the same name, Bridge to Terabithia is a fantasy movie of surprising weight and power, despite the fact that the trailers looked to depict it as something along the lines of The Last Mimsy, which is absolutely a movie you never need to view in your whole life (seriously: stay away from The Last Mimsy). Bridge to Terabithia, on the other hand, is absolutely worth your time - a haunting and emotional fantasy adventure that isn't afraid to explore lots of important themes - like friendship, family, death and loss - at once. The story is deceivingly simple: Jess Aarons (Josh Hutcherson) is a loner who has difficultly making friends, something that is soon remedied when he meets the awesomely cool and creative Leslie Burke (AnnaSophia Robb). Using their collective imaginations, they conjure up a strange fantasy world in the woods behind Jess' house, where they can live out their creative tendencies and escape their troubles. To say anymore is to ruin the brave and mature plot, but don't be fooled by the cutesy trailers on this one: Bridge to Terabithia is magic stuff.

Sam Hill is an ardent cinephile and has been writing about film professionally since 2008. He harbours a particular fondness for western and sci-fi movies.