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Five Fantasy Films for the Adventurous at Heart

By Justin Meinken, Contributor

#5: “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” (1971)

Director: Mel Stuart

The screenplay of this theatrical version of Roald Dahl’s book, “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” was actually written by Roald himself under the direction of Mel Stuart during the films construction. Complete with impressive set designs and expertly crafted songs, they created this children’s classic as well as Gene Wilder’s most iconic role.

Willy Wonka (played by Gene Wilder) is the famous owner of the world’s largest and most innovative chocolate factory. As Wonka begins to realize his own mortality, he plants five golden tickets in his candy bars to be sold. The five children that find the tickets can earn a chance to become Wonka’s successor and inherit all of his wealth as well as the keys to the factory.

#4: “The Princess Bride” (1987)

Director: Rob Reiner

Similarly to Roald Dahl, William Goldman, the author of the novel of the same name wrote the screenplay. With Goldman’s help, Rob Reiner directs a swash-buckling satire of many classic fairytale stories. This is film is difficult to place into a specific genre because it is both a comedy and a fantasy.

The film begins with a young boy (played by Fred Savage) who becomes sick and has to stay home from school. His Grandfather (played by Peter Falk) stops by to check on the boy and decides to read the story of “The Princess Bride” in an effort cheer him up. With many humorous narrations by Peter Falk, he begins the romantic adventure of Princess Buttercup (played by Robin Wright) and Wesley (played by Cary Elwes).

#3: “The Wizard of Oz” (1939)

Director: Victor Fleming, George Cukor, Mervyn LeRoy, Norman Taurog, and King Vidor

“The Wizard of Oz” is the beloved 1939 classic that many critics list as the greatest film of all time. The world the film creates has spawned countless spinoffs and even inspired the hit Broadway musical “Wicked”.   

“The Wizard of Oz” opens with a small glimpse into Dorothy’s (played by Judy Garland) complicated life in Kansas. When a rogue tornado hits, Dorothy and her dog Toto are sucked in and land in the magical world of Oz. While she is there, she discovers a colorful cast of characters including the Wicked Witch of the West (played by Margaret Hamilton), who Dorothy must now face over the death of the Witch’s sister.

#2: “The Harry Potter Series” (2001-2011)

Directed by Chris Columbus, Alfonso Cuarón, Mike Newell, and David Yates

The faithful adaption of the beloved J.K. Rowling 1998 book series, “The Harry Potter Film Series” is easily the largest film franchise on this list. This seven book and eight film series gained so much popularity over its run time to where it is difficult to find anyone that has not at least heard of the series. It even inspired a recent spinoff series entitled, “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” released in theaters this past November in 2016, and more films are well on the way. This is one of the few series where each film not only builds on the last film, but improves upon each.             

#1: “The Lord of the Rings Trilogy” (2001-2003)

Director: Peter Jackson

Based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s 1954 book classic, “The Lord of the Rings Trilogy” was the first live action adaptation of the beloved trilogy. Though other versions of the series exist, Peter Jackson used the world J.R.R. Tolkien had created to produce one of the greatest film epics ever made. The trilogy won an astonishing seventeen Academy Awards and the final film, “Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” even won the Academy Award for Best Picture.

The series begins with Frodo Baggins (played by Elijah Wood) beginning tasked with destroying The One Ring. As Humanity’s last hope, Frodo and his friends must travel to Mordor in a desperate effort to defeat the dark lord Sauron and his unstoppable armies. Perfect casting, seamlessly blended computer animation, breath-taking action sequences, awe inspiring cinematography and an incredible original score come together to form the greatest fantasy film series of all time.

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