By Jason McClain (@JTorreyMcClain)
When we decided to do a list of the Top Ten Fantasy Movies for each of the borg.com authors, the definition of “fantasy” became very simple – it had to have magic in it. I thought, no problem. That’s easy – and I was right. I had more than enough movies to make the list work without including super-hero movies or science fiction. (Though, there is one movie that could be seen as a super-hero movie. Technically.) Then, I came to a realization.
Of all of the movies that I found, there are an overwhelming number of romantic comedies. When I think fantasy, I think Game of Thrones, the Dragonriders of Pern, Xanth, Tasslehoff Burrfoot and many other series. It surprised me that love, true love, also has a fantasy aspect to it. Maybe it’s because finding your true love has turned out to be one of those ultimate myths like unicorns or white wizards. Maybe it’s because in order to find true love, you need a little supernatural push. Maybe I’m just being overly analytical and love itself is a kind of magic. (At this point, I’m sure you could be singing “Magic” by The Cars, “Power of Love” by Huey Lewis and the News or any number of pop love songs and convince yourself that love is magic because the bards say so.) No matter what the reason, there are more love stories than adventures in my list. If I read the other author’s lists and see more adventures, well, then I will assume that I’m a hopeless romantic. If they have romances as well, I’ll breathe a sigh of relief and think that my brain is not love sick, just good at finding magic in the everyday where relationships, not dragons, need to be shot out of the sky with large weapons. Wait…oh, never mind, on to the list.
10. Hawk the Slayer
This one is pure nostalgia. I could have put other, better movies that this one on my list like Big Fish, Stardust, Spirited Away, The Prestige, Stranger than Fiction, Ella Enchanted, Last Action Hero, The Fall, Kung Fu Hustle,* Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure or Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium on this list**, but I still remember staying up late and watching this movie a few different times with friends while I was in grade school. I look at the trailer (part of a site which may make a sequel!) and nostalgia makes me want to watch it again, but my mind tells me that I’d rather keep it unsullied in the memories of 10-year-old me. My favorite moment occurred outside the movie because my friend Russell and I would “play” Hawk the Slayer and fight over who got to be the elf.
*This is the movie that I think blurs the line between “fantasy” and “super-hero” but because it isn’t technically in my top ten list, I’m ok with it.
**Consider that the rough draft of my 11-21 movies, though not necessarily in that order. Bill and Ted is the nostalgic one in that list. Mr. Magorium could just be oxygen infused airline viewing and Natalie Portman that made it wonderful.
9. Monty Python and the Holy Grail
See #10, except this listing is for junior high/high school nostalgia and I still watch it occasionally, especially for the opening credits. Llamas will never cease to be funny for me. My favorite moment in the movie is always the anticipation of the first “wik” in the credits. If you’re looking for a fantasy moment, the whole scene with Tim is pretty darn great.
8. Midnight in Paris
My favorite movie of 2011, as I’ve posted before, and I think it belongs on this list. I still remember smiling and filled with such happiness when I walked out of that theater. My favorite moment happened when Owen Wilson waited for the car to pick him up a second time. He had found magic and he got lucky. The fear of that being a one-time shot made that moment exquisite in anticipation.
7. L.A. Story
Before I moved to L.A., I really liked this movie a lot. (I seem to place it, Last Action Hero, Hudson Hawk and Quick Change into the same place in my mind, probably due to release dates and also because I seemed to like them much more than anyone else.) The presence of this movie on my list made me look at the rest of the movies and that’s how I came up with my introduction. My favorite moment is the scene where the showers can change to slow motion.
6. Shallow Hal
Yes, the message hits you over the head like a +5 mace of creaming. Still, from both sides of a romance, don’t you want the person you date, you marry, to be able to see all the things that make you who you are, that make you beautiful? It’s a great concept, taking the parts of us in our heads and hearts and making it visible to everyone as abs or perky breasts or a full head of great hair or legs that go all the way to the ground. My favorite moment is the first time Hal (Jack Black) goes dancing in a club with his new sight and is just so happy.
Yes, this has a lot of funny parts and there is a sweet kind of romance to this one, but I always have considered it to be one of the saddest movies I have ever seen. Not because of arc of the Elizabeth Perkins character, but because of Josh Banks not being able to live purely as a child again once he has become big. There’s no way to make his innocence magically return. He’ll forever be an adult. My favorite moment, “I get to be on top.”
4. Groundhog Day
Andie MacDowell is gorgeous and I think I could see how a man would spend eternity trying to woo her on her looks alone. Bill Murray is not as pretty and definitely not that cool in his role as weatherman Phil Connors. By the end of the movie though, Murray is definitely the one that is so obviously a catch as he seems to have so much more depth. However, this could just be my Murray Man Crush*** speaking. My favorite moment, out of many, is “Don’t drive angry.”
***I think it is a definite diagnosis for men from 20-50 that have seen Caddyshack, Meatballs, Ghostbusters, Lost in Translation, etc.
This cements the fact that I have a Bill Murray crush. If Frank Cross made my favorite character list, then his movie should be a part of my favorite fantasy movies, right? My favorite moment is my guaranteed Niagara Falls, “You forgot God bless us everyone.” But, a close second is, “Did you try staples?”
2. Fellowship of the Ring
Here is the truest of true fantasy adventures. A call to arms and heroes emerge to pursue the quests that need their help. (Just writing that last sentence makes me want to read some Joseph Campbell. The awkward construction was part of my plan to make the reader think of Joseph Campbell. Failing that, I’m just going to ram the name Joseph Campbell down your eye sockets.) I think this may be the best adaptation of a book that I have ever seen. Great visuals, great casting, great writing. My favorite moments in the movie involve the Nazgul. I love the dream glimpses of their human forms. I love the chase of Frodo and Arwen. Such awesome imagery actually might have beaten the visions I had in my mind from the books.
1. The Princess Bride
One of my favorite movies of all time, as soon as C.J. mentioned the list, I knew this would be at the top of it, the tough part being how the rest of it would look. I have two favorite moments amidst a movie filled with quotable moments and great scenes. “I do not think it means what you think it means,” and the moment Peter Falk turns back toward Fred Savage and says, “As you wish.” Ok, that settles it. I am a hopeless romantic.