Fantasy seems to be coming back in style recently with big companies like Disney churning them out both in its studios and Marvel’s, Warner Brothers’ Harry Potter and Superhero franchises and the continual love of fantasy animation. Let’s take a look at the top ten fantasy films of the last ten years:
Hellboy II: The Golden Army
Del Toro’s horror fantasy sequel in some ways was far more fun than the original. A more introspective yet bombastic film, the fantasy elements were more like a distorted Lord of the Rings. This is seen in the character designs for royals Nuada and Nuala. 2008 wasn’t the biggest year for fantasy and in many ways was a sad departure from 2007 with only Spiderwick Chronicles and The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian even getting remotely close to Hellboy.
Coralline was one of the more gothic releases of 2009. A dark and sometimes scary stop-motion film from the fantastic Laika studio. The story of a little girl going to a different version of reality is both beautiful and horrific and the animation only emphasizes that. It was a stronger year for fantasy with big hits Avatar, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince and Princess and the Frog all coming out in that year.
Alice in Wonderland
Tim Burton was not far from the fantasy realm with his adaptation/continuation of the famous Alice in Wonderland tale. A CGI marvel, the film contained excellent performances and Tim Burton’s trademark gothic styling. It was lighter than Coralline but still had some of his standard themes and of course his usual band of actors. 2010 churned out another heap of fantasy and a lot of franchise films including Tangled, How To Train Your Dragon, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1, the start of the Percy Jackson saga.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2
Pottermania was in full force when the final instalment of the franchise dropped in cinemas. The film, which showed the battle of Hogwarts was huge, and a fantastic spectacle with amazing performances from the main cast. It was sad to see them go but everyone’s favourite wizards certainly left cinemas in style. Not many other fantasy films attempted to go near the genre, making it quite a quiet year in Fantasy with just Disney’s The Muppets and Zach Snyder’s grown up Sucker Punch being remotely memorable compared to the magical juggernaut.
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Another big year for the franchise machine with Marvel releasing its crossover spectacle, The Avengers. New Line brought out their next big thing a return to Middle Earth. Peter Jackson’s sprawling first film set the tone as a beautiful but slightly rambling return to the place many fans called home, with Martin Freeman taking up the famous hairy feet as Bilbo Baggins.
Disney had a bumper year with the big hit that was Frozen. It smashed both the box office records and the glass ceiling with it being the highest earning female-directed film of its time. The film, based loosely on The Snow Queen, is still loved and a sequel is currently in the works. Disney also released live-action Oz: The Great and Powerful, showing that they also love taking risks as well as catering to fan favourites.
The Lego Movie
Was a bumper year for Fantasy with a huge amount of Superhero offerings, the beginning of the end of Hunger Games, the last part of the Hobbit franchise and Disney offerings Into the Woods and Maleficent. However, Lego completely stole everyone’s attention when they put out the bizarre, unpredictable and fantastic The Lego Movie. A bonkers film about a Lego man called Emmett who discovers he is The Special. This film blew everyone away and completely challenged expectations.
2015 saw sci-fi epic Star Wars come back and thus fantasy pickings were not quite on the same level! Disney’s Tomorrowland, directed by The Incredibles director Brad Bird, wasn’t the smash it should have been but imbued a fantastic sense of childishness and innocence. In a rather inauspicious year for fantasy, it was only really this and The Wachowski’s sci-fi/fantasy epic that really stood out even including Crimson Peak and Cinderella. Sci-fi has truly on this round.
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
But Fantasy was back the next year ready to fight again with a return of Pottermania. The much-hyped prequel to the beloved series didn’t beat Star Wars prequel Rogue One at the box office but it did put up one hell of a fight. The 1920’s set film starred big names such as Eddie Redmayne and was a fantastic start to what is going to be a huge franchise.
Beauty and the Beast
2017 was a show of force for women in fantasy with the two big hitters Warner Bros’s Wonder Woman smashing women’s directing records again and Disney’s Beauty and the Beast showcasing feminism and in the case of the latter, Disney’s first canonical gay character. Beauty and the Beast, however, beat Wonder Woman at the box office** hence its inclusion. With powerful outspoken feminist Emma Watson playing Belle, the film enthralled adults and children alike and promoted positive messages.
The last 10 years have been a bit of a rollercoaster for Fantasy. But it’s clear to see that with it can only get more exciting. Upcoming entries include more from the Fantastic Beast’s franchise, more superheroics, a good helping of Disney magic and hopefully some original works as well!