Quantcast
subscriber help

the film criticism aspect of cyber | by maryann johanson

if ‘Stardust’ isn’t enough for ya, here are some best and worst fantasy movies

Stardust opens tomorrow, and some who’ve seen the film in advance have been calling it “the next Princess Bride.” Alas, this isn’t quite the case … and I say that as the gal who literally wrote the book on that film. But it’s entertaining enough that it may whet your appetite for other (and somewhat greater) fantasy flicks. Rent these:

The Princess Bride: Of course. Sheer perfection, a delicious truffle of adventure, comedy, and romance, this is one of my go-to comfort movies, the movies I never tire of, the movies that endlessly amuse me. [my book on the film] [buy at Amazon]
Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl: I’d call this the 21st-century incarnation of Bride. Witty, swashbuckling, and sexy, it’s still wildly entertaining even after you’ve memorize all the dialogue and know when all the jokes and kisses are coming. [buy at Amazon]

The Lord of the Rings trilogy: Peter Jackson raised the bar on serious fantasy, so much so that it can be emotionally exhausting — in the best possible way — to sit through these films again. And if you marathon them by watching all three extended versions in a single sitting, plan to take to your bed the next day to recover. [buy at Amazon]

Beauty and the Beast: Disney’s animated musical remains one of the studio’s most enchanting works ever. [buy at Amazon]

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory: Dark and disturbing, like not enough fantasy is anymore, this movie continues to haunt me long since I left childhood behind. [buy at Amazon]

I could go on and on: Babe, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Edward Scissorhands, Beetlejuice, Fantasia, The Wizard of Oz, Ghostbusters, The Nightmare Before Christmas, and Spirited Away. For more suggestions, see IGN choices for the top 25 fantasy films of all time and the IMDB’s list of the top-rated fantasy films.

Picking the worst fantasy films ever is a lot harder — there’s just so many of them. But a few choices from recent years, movies that are so awful that they have to be seen to be boggled at:

The Master of Disguise: Dana Carvey plays the title character in the movie that Satan is now playing 24/7 in hell to torture the eternally damned. We haven’t seen Carvey in a few years, have we? If this killed his career, he deserved it. [buy at Amazon]

Kangaroo Jack: Did you know that Australia is nothing but Men at Work songs, drunken geezers, farting camels, and insane marsupials? It’s true! [buy at Amazon]

Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Phantom of the Opera: This one brings the concept of stupendously camp badness to a level of evil genius that demands to be recognized. [buy at Amazon]

Ella Enchanted: Every single attempt at levity or whimsy not only fails but actually melts down with a rancid nuclear tinge. It’s like The Princess Bride done up Flintstones style. [buy at Amazon]

The Cat in the Hat: Like a forced march through Candyland, featuring Mike Myers as a cat who gets sexually aroused by humans. I’m not kidding. [buy at Amazon]

Also, if you must, check out Dungeons and Dragons, Lady in the Water, SuperBabies: Baby Geniuses 2, Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over, and Pinocchio (the Roberto Benigni nightmare from 2002).

(Technorati tags: , )



Warning: Invalid argument supplied for foreach() in /home/flick/public_html/wptest/wp-content/themes/FlickFilosopher/loop-single.php on line 106
posted in:
dvd buzz
explore:
  • I liked the subtitled version of Benigni’s Pinnochio a lot, actually, and even the dubbed version was much truer to the book in both actual plot and spirit. I think it’s a wrongfully maligned movie – it was a lot better than Life Is Beautiful, for instance, but not as good as The Monster, his feel-good rape comedy.

    As far as bad fantasy movies go, how did Eragon not get on this list?

  • MBI

    I’m surprised you put Lady in the Water on the worst list, seeing as your review was merely “meh” at the time. Glad to see it there, though, that’s one unfathomably bad movie.

    A lot of things on that list I would not really qualify as “fantasy,” like Ghostbusters. I’m thinking fantasy has to have completely separate worlds from the one we know, quasi-medeival settings, magical creatures, no new technology to distinguish it from sci-fi. Spirited Away and Lady in the Water both count because, though major portions (in the latter case, the entirety) of the films take place in the so-called real world, there’s the hint of a completely separate world with fairy creatures or whatever.

    My worst fantasy film is Legend. I can’t explain it, I just hated it. I’m not sure what makes it so much worse than, say, Willow for me, but I found nothing at all to enjoy about it.

  • Kathy A

    I’m glad you mentioned Willy Wonka. It really is a haunting film, filled with both oddity and pure fantasy in all the best ways. It’s definitely a film that would never be made today in the same off-putting yet engaging way. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory did (mostly) go back to the original source (except for the strange Christopher Lee subplot), but Willy Wonka did it better and funnier.

  • MaryAnn

    As far as bad fantasy movies go, how did Eragon not get on this list?

    No. I won’t hear this. *Eragon* is terrible, it’s true, but it is Shakespeare next to the likes of *The Master of Disguise* and *Phantom of the Opera.*

    I’m surprised you put Lady in the Water on the worst list, seeing as your review was merely “meh” at the time.

    It was on my worst-of list for that year.

    A lot of things on that list I would not really qualify as “fantasy,” like Ghostbusters. I’m thinking fantasy has to have completely separate worlds from the one we know, quasi-medeival settings, magical creatures, no new technology to distinguish it from sci-fi. Spirited Away and Lady in the Water both count because, though major portions (in the latter case, the entirety) of the films take place in the so-called real world, there’s the hint of a completely separate world with fairy creatures or whatever.

    If *Lady in the Water* counts as fantasy, then so does *Ghostbusters,* which, it can be argued, also contains hints of a separate world… one of ghosts.

    I agree, though, that defining the genre of fantasy is open to a lot of interpretations.

  • MBI

    *It was on my worst-of list for that year.*

    What? No it wasn’t.

    But yeah, fantasy is hard to define. I usually use it by a very strict definition; I wouldn’t have called “Cat in the Hat” by such a name, although it probably qualifies even by my definition. “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” is easily fantasy though (speaking of worst movies). Usually I like to think the presence of ghosts makes it a horror movie and the presence of technology makes it sci-fi, but I know people will argue that “Ghostbusters” and “Star Wars” are more fantasy than anything else.

    Here’s one that no one’s mentioned yet, Pan’s Labyrinth. I cried like a little girl.

  • MaryAnn

    What? No it wasn’t.

    What? Oh, you’re right. I must have been thinking of another film: I looked through all my annual best- and worst-of lists while putting this together.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This