10 Great (Non-Franchise) Fantasy Movies From 1975 to 2016

Hey there! It’s time to jump into the fantastical world of make believe! But first, let me clear something up. There are a few series that reign above all of the others: Lord of the Rings, Pirates of the Caribbean, Chronicles of Narnia, and Harry Potter. Because everyone has seen these and everyone knows of their greatness, we won’t go over them today.

Also, remember guys, we’re going to focus on fantasy movies rather than sci-fi movies. There is a difference, just as there’s a difference in historical fiction. Fiction can happen, but did not. Fantasy can’t happen (or at least that’s what we tell our friends we believe). Movies like Back to the Future, Star Wars, and Avatar are on the sci-fi side of things. Movies like A Knight’s Tale, Gladiator, and Braveheart fall under historical fiction. Now that that’s all cleared up, time to get started.

Pan’s Labyrinth (2006)

With near perfect ratings, Pan’s Labyrinth definitively deserves a spot at the top. This eerie Spanish fantasy film was a shocker when it was released in the US. It follows a traumatized girl who turns her dark reality into a somehow more ingestible dark fantasy.

Big Fish (2003)

Can you really trust the tales of a senile old man on his death bed? Perhaps not, but he sure does have the most amazing stories. This Tim Burton film is a world apart from his other films and is one of the only ones that just may make you weep.

Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975)

This movie may not deserve the entirely of its cult following, but it does deserve much of it. Monty Python and the Holy Grail is the silliest, most quotable movie of its time. The best part is, the jokes in the movie are timeless. Most movies have era-relevant humor, but the Holy Grail will keep you laughing for as long as movies exist.

The Princess Bride (1987)

Another rather silly classic, The Princess Bride adds just enough seriousness to keep you captivated. Likely “the most quoted” movie of the 80s, The Princess Bride is one you can watch over and over again because it’s just so light. I’ve yet to meet someone who doesn’t love this masterpiece.

Bridge to Terabithia (2007)

Cue the sad violin, Bridge to Terabithia is one of the sweetest, most heartbreaking fantasy movies you’ll ever watch. Filmed when Josh Hutcherson and AnnaSophia Robb were in their prime, this teen flick is one that adults will be more than happy to set through.

A Monster Calls (2016)

Some call this the Bridge to Terabithia of the 2010s and rightfully so. It has every bit of action as well as emotion that Terabithia had. In fact, the storyline is even more solid than the previous movie. The movie follows a young boy whose mother is terminally ill. How does he deal with this illness? Well, you’ll just have to watch the movie to find out.

Willow (1988)

Directed by Ron Howard and produced by Lucasfilm, this 1980s classic keeps a warm spot in the hearts of many. People of the 80s will forever stand by this film, it’s sad to think that so many 90s and 00s kids have never heard of it. The movie had everything: action, romance, magic, and so much more.

Dragonheart (1996)

The Dragonheart movies are quite special as they are one of the first to introduce dragons as allies. It introduced the theory in a quite amazing way, linking the heart of one human to one dragon. When compared to many modern-day dragon movies, this series may not measure up. But the classic on its own was groundbreaking and is to this day, a tale that we will ache for over and over again.

Solomon Kane (2009)

This journey for redemption is one that most people skipped back in 2009. But that is one decision that they may regret. Solomon Kane is one intense, violent story about a man who spends the rest of his days making up for past sins, even if that means facing off against a brutally evil sorcerer.

Stardust (2007)

As strange as it may be, Stardust is a refreshing take on medieval fantasy. It has a whirlwind romance, a comical adventure, and a storyline that makes it unique. On a journey to prove his love to his girlfriend, the main character meets a woman who steals his heart. What’s he supposed to do about that?

Honorable Mention: Everything By Hayao Miyazaki

Hayao Miyazaki (the Japanese Walt Disney) is one of the best fantasy writers of all time. With over 20 movies to this day, and every single one a masterpiece, Miyazaki should never be forgotten. From Howl’s Moving Castle to Spirited Away, Ghibli films will always be in the best fantasy movies of all time.