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The best fantasy movies on Netflix

Fantasy used to just be a section in the book shop where you were likely to find thick tomes of mostly swords and sorcery novels — often delivered in trilogies like J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings or otherwise epic series. In the 21st century however, with Peter Jackson’s adaptations doing much to legitimize a genre that shouldn’t have needed legitimization, fantasy is everywhere: in all popular mediums, and with more variety than ever. Netflix has a lot of great fantasy films culled from both before and after the post-Jackson boom, and we’ve gone through all the fantasy movies they’re offering to find you the very best fantasy movies on Netflix.

We’ve also rounded up the best fantasy movies on Amazon Prime and the best fantasy movies on Hulu if Netflix doesn’t have what you’re looking for.

Krysten Ritter as the witch in Nightbooks.

Nightbooks (2021)

Don’t fancy yourself a storyteller? Well, as the saying goes, necessity can very well be the mother of invention as the young Alex (Winslow Fegley) learns in Netflix’s new dark fantasy film Nightbooks. Based on the 2018 novel by J.A. White, Nightbooks stars Krysten Ritter as a terrifying witch who imprisons Alex. In order to escape certain death at her hands, Alex must tell her a scary story every night to entertain her. Knowing his death is inevitable otherwise, Alex befriends the witch’s servant, Yazmin (Lidya Jewett), and together they try to outwit the evil sorceress to escape her mystical home. Scheduled to start streaming in the middle of September, Nightbooks promises to be both scary and family-friendly while giving Ritter a wonderful chance to play against type.

Rotten Tomatoes: N/A
Stars: Krysten Ritter, Winslow Fegley, Lidya Jewett
Director: David Yarovesky
Rating: NR
Runtime: 100 minutes

Available on Netflix September 15

David Bowie, Jennifer Connelly, and two masked characters in Labyrinth.

Labyrinth (1986)

While he’s known best for creating the iconic Muppets, the late Jim Henson also directed some classic fantasy films including 1986’s iconic musical fantasy Labyrinth. Frustrated with having to care for her half-brother Toby, teenager Sarah (Jennifer Connelly) wishes that goblins would come to take him away. Unfortunately, the goblins are listening, including Jareth, the Goblin King (David Bowie). In order to rescue Toby from the evil but alluring Goblin King, Sarah needs to brave the dangers of the Goblin King’s labyrinths, meeting unforgettable creatures along the way.

Rotten Tomatoes: 73%
Stars: David Bowie, Jennifer Connelly, Toby Froud
Director: Jim Henson
Rating: PG
Runtime: 101 minutes

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Robin Williams in What Dreams May Come.

What Dreams May Come (1998)

In the adaptation of Richard Matheson’s What Dreams May Come, Dr. Christopher James “Chris” Nielsen (Robin Williams) discovers that the afterlife is real … but only after he dies in a tragic car accident. With his old friend Albert Lewis (Cuba Gooding Jr.) as his guide, Chris finds that his ideal heaven is inspired by a painting made by his wife, Annie Collins-Nielsen (Annabella Sciorra). Unfortunately, Chris’ attempts to reach his wife only fuel her depression in the mortal world, and she takes her own life. When Chris learns that Annie’s suicide has doomed her to a hell of her own creation, he vows to descend to the underworld and save her.

Rotten Tomatoes: 53%
Stars: Robin Williams, Cuba Gooding Jr., Annabella Sciorra, Max von Sydow
Director: Vincent Ward
Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 113 minutes

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Angelina Jolie as Grendel's Mother in Beowulf.

Beowulf (2007)

The computer-animated adaptation of the Old English epic Beowulf gives new life to the classic tale by uniting both halves of the story in a very clever way. The warrior known as Beowulf (Ray Winstone) arrives in Denmark and offers to slay the creature called Grendel (Crispin Glover) for King Hrothgar (Anthony Hopkins). Beowulf also has an undisguised attraction to the king’s wife, Queen Wealtheow (Robin Wright). While Beowulf proves to be Grendel’s match in battle, he fails to realize the true threat of Grendel’s Mother (Angelina Jolie). Beowulf’s encounter with her will change his life and haunt him for the rest of his days.

Rotten Tomatoes: 71%
Stars: Ray Winstone, Anthony Hopkins, John Malkovich, Robin Wright Penn, Brendan Gleeson
Director: Robert Zemeckis
Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 114 minutes

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Zendaya in Zapped.

Zapped (2014)

What’s this? A Disney Channel original movie on Netflix? Don’t get too used to that. Zapped was one of the early films of rising star Zendaya. Within the film, she plays Zoey Stevens, a high school student who struggles to adjust to her new stepfather, Ted Thompson (Aleks Paunovic), as well as her three stepbrothers. However, Zoey’s fortunes at home and at school improve when she discovers that her new dog training app can control all men and boys. Unfortunately for Zoey, that control comes at a cost. Zoey soon realizes her mistake, but not before her rival, Taylor (Emilia McCarthy), gets control of the app for herself.

Rotten Tomatoes: N/A
Stars: Zendaya, Chanelle Peloso, Spencer Boldman, Emilia McCarthy, Adam DiMarco
Director: Peter DeLuise
Rating: TV-Y
Runtime: 102 minutes

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Howie Mandel and Fred Savage in Little Monsters.

Little Monsters (1989)

Critics hated Little Monsters, and it came and went quickly from theaters. However, it has a lot in common with the premise of Pixar’s Monsters Inc., and it was written by Pirates of the Caribbean‘s Terry Rossio and Ted Elliott. Within the film, Fred Savage plays Brian Stevenson, a young boy who discovers that the monsters under his bed are real. Brian also makes friends with his personal monster, Maurice (Howie Mandel). Together, they go to the monster world and play pranks on other children. However, there’s a price for Brian’s “fun,” and he won’t like it when he discovers the truth behind the monster world.

Rotten Tomatoes: 44%
Stars: Fred Savage, Daniel Stern, Margaret Whitton, Frank Whaley, Rick Ducommun
Director: Richard Alan Greenberg
Rating: PG
Runtime: 101 minutes

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Kate Beckinsale raising a firearm in Underworld.

Underworld (2003)

In the mood for some R-rated vampire-on-werewolf warfare? Well, buckle up, because the entire Underworld franchise is on Netflix. Vampires and Lycans, a clan of violent werewolves that can transform between human and creature at will, have been at war for centuries under the cover of night. At the center of that war is Selene (Kate Beckinsale), an elite vampire assassin who catches wind of a Lycan plot to capture human doctor Michael Corvin (Scott Speedman). Beating them to the punch, Selene takes Corvin, saving him from the savagery of Lucian (Michael Sheen), a Lycan leader who believes Corvin’s research holds the key to ending the vampire bloodline permanently.

Rotten Tomatoes: 31%
Stars: Kate Beckinsale, Scott Speedman, Michael Sheen
Director: Len Wiseman
Rating: R
Runtime: 121 minutes

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A family gather around from a scene in Zathura.

Zathura: A Space Adventure (2005)

Embark on a space adventure with the entire family in this kid-friendly sci-fi/fantasy film. When their father (Tim Robbins) is called into work one day, Walter (Josh Hutcherson) and Danny (Jonah Bobo) are told to stay inside and listen to their teenage sister (Kristen Stewart). Anticipating a boring day, Walter and Danny begin playing Zathura, a space-themed board game, only to soon find that the game has mystical powers that shoots their home into space. Now, with the help of an astronaut (Dax Shepard), the boys and their sister must bond together to find their way back home.

Rotten Tomatoes: 76%
Stars: Josh Hutcherson, Jonah Bobo, Kirsten Stewart, Dax Shepard, Tim Robbins
Director: Jon Favreau
Rating: PG
Runtime: 101 minutes

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Ne Zha

Ne Zha (2019)

What if you believed you were born to be a vessel for evil? The titular hero of Ne Zha is convinced he has a dark destiny waiting for him until he decides to throw every ounce of his strength against his prophesied fate. Ne Zha was a genuine phenomenon when it was released in China, quickly becoming the highest-grossing animated film in the history of Chinese cinema, as well as the highest-grossing non-U.S. animated film of all time. And it isn’t tough to see why. Beautifully animated and filled with humor, exciting martial arts scenes, and explosive mystical battles, Ne Zha delivers two hours of spectacle you shouldn’t miss.

Rotten Tomatoes: 88%
Stars: Yanting Lü, Joseph, Mo Han
Director: Yu Yang
Rating: Not Rated
Runtime: 110 minutes

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Errementari

Errementari: The Blacksmith and the Devil (2018)

Some of the best fantasy stories are the oldest. Case in point — Errementari: The Black Smith and the Devil, based on a Basque reimagining of the fairy tale The Smith and the Devil. In 19th-century Spain, the supposed government investigator Alfredo Ortiz (Ramón Agirre) arrives in a small village looking for lost treasure. His search leads him to a forge in the nearby woods where the blacksmith Paxti (Kandido Uranga) lives in solitude. When Ortiz hires men to help him raid the forge, a young girl named Usue (Uma Bracaglia) sneaks in to recover a lost doll — and makes a terrifying discovery. Errementari is a wonderful fusion of fantasy and bone-chilling horror that still captures the sense of fascination children have for fairy tales and folklore.

Rotten Tomatoes: 80%
Stars: Kandido Uranga, Uma Bracaglia, Eneko Sagardoy
Director: Paul Urkijo Alijo
Rating: TV-MA
Runtime: 98 minutes

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Super Me

Super Me (2019)

Sang Yu (Darren Wang) isn’t doing very well. Struggling to make it as a screenwriter, he becomes plagued by nightmares in which he’s pursued by a demon. He becomes disturbed enough by his dreams that he does everything he can to avoid sleep, but decades of Freddy Krueger movies have taught us how well that’s going to work out. After one of his frightful dreams, he discovers something that changes his life — he has the ability to bring objects out of his dreams and into the real world. Sang uses his newfound power to go from rags to riches practically overnight, but when a ruthless gangster discovers the secret of his success, things get even more complicated.

Rotten Tomatoes: N/A
Stars: Darren Wang, Song Jia, Cao Bingkun
Director: Zhang Chong
Rating: TV-14
Runtime: 102 minutes

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I'm Thinking of Ending Things

I’m Thinking of Ending Things (2020)

This is a Charlie Kaufman fantasy, which is to say there are no mystical creatures, only humans caught up in their own baffling imaginations. One of the more polarizing films of 2020, I’m Thinking of Ending Things is aggressively weird, coming across like a Beckett play at times. Yet, it’s also oddly beautiful in its strange meanderings and tangents. Jessie Buckley plays a young woman who, full of misgivings and about ready to end her relationship with her new boyfriend, still accompanies him to his parents’ secluded farm — far, far from the city — for dinner.

Rotten Tomatoes: 82%
Stars: Jessie Buckley, Jesse Plemons, Toni Collette, David Thewlis
Director: Charlie Kaufman
Rating: R
Runtime: 105 minutes

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Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle

Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle (2018)

Oddly enough, two major takes on The Jungle Book were released within two years of one another. The first, Disney’s The Jungle Book, got better reviews, but Netflix’s Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle has more stunning special effects and a far more faithful retelling of Rudyard Kipling’s classic tales. Director Andy Serkis — a master of VFX — goes above and beyond in this jungle fantasy that is genuinely terrifying at times. Mowgli tells the classic tale of a human child raised by a wolf pack in the jungles of India under the tutelage of the panther Bagheera and bear Baloo. But what Disney’s version overlooks is the sheer sadism and megalomania of the tiger Shere Khan. This version doesn’t.

Rotten Tomatoes: 52%
Stars: Rohan Chand, Christian Bale, Cate Blanchett, Benedict Cumberbatch, Naomie Harris
Director: Andy Serkis
Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 105 minutes

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The BFG

The BFG (2016)

Decades before either the manga Attack on Titan or the media adapted from it, Roald Dahl was writing about the dangers of giants who preferred a menu of people in his 1982 novel The BFG — short for “Big Friendly Giant.” An animated adaptation was released in 1989, but in 2016 Steven Spielberg brought the late Dahl’s story to live-action. Ruby Barnhill plays the young, orphaned Sophie, who befriends the eponymous BFG, voiced by Mark Rylance, who also performs the motion capture for his Godzilla-sized character. Together, Sophie and the BFG set off on a family-friendly quest not quite as dark as the source material, to stop the cannibal giants who threaten humanity.

Rotten Tomatoes: 74%
Stars: Mark Rylance, Ruby Barnhill, Penelope Wilton
Director: Steven Spielberg
Rating: PG
Runtime: 117 minutes

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Tenacious D in the Pick of Destiny

Tenacious D in the Pick of Destiny (2006)

If you’re familiar with the hilarious comedy rock duo Tenacious D, made up of Jack Black and Kyle Gass, then you know you could probably make up an album just of the songs telling different versions of their band’s origin. Well, in the 2006 musical fantasy comedy Tenacious D in the Pick of Destiny, you get one more version of their genesis. The still-young duo learns that all the greatest rock stars had a secret weapon on their journey to fame and fortune — the mystical guitar pick known as the Pick of Destiny. JB and KG go on a quest to get their hands on the legendary artifact, but they’ll have to face some weird challenges along the way, including a duel with Satan himself. Goofy and filled with what seems like a million cameos — including appearances by rockers Meat Loaf, Dave Grohl, and the late Ronnie James Dio — Tenacious D in the Pick of Destiny is an unquestionably awesome way to spend an hour and a half.

Rotten Tomatoes: 52%
Stars: Jack Black, Kyle Gass, JR Reed
Director: Liam Lynch
Rating: R
Runtime: 93 minutes

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The Yin-Yang Master: Dream of Eternity

The Yin-Yang Master: Dream of Eternity (2021)

Based on the Onmyōjinovel series by Japanese writer Baku Yumemakura, The Yin-Yang Master: Dream of Eternity is one of Netflix’s most recent international acquisitions. In a fascinating world where impossible creatures like demons and dragons co-exist with humans, four of the Yin-Yang masters are summoned to the capital to battle with a mammoth serpent god who brings calamity to the world every century. Visually breathtaking, The Yin-Yang Master: Dream of Eternity is a thrilling cinematic treat.

Rotten Tomatoes: 29%
Stars: Mark Chao, Allen Deng, Jessie Li
Director: Jingming Guo
Rating: TV-14
Runtime: 132 minutes

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A Monster Calls, the best fantasy movies on Netflix

A Monster Calls (2016)

Conor’s mother (Felicity Jones) is dying. Coping with the heavy load of maintaining the household during his mother’s illness, the bullying he suffers at school, and the horrible nightmares he endures are all getting to be too much. Comfort comes from the most unexpected of sources — a giant humanoid tree monster (voiced by Liam Neeson) who promises the young Conor (Lewis MacDougall) nothing more than three stories. Surprisingly honest about the trials of childhood, A Monster Calls is a powerful exploration of grief, and a uniquely extraordinary example of how fantasy can serve as much more than pure escapism.

Rotten Tomatoes: 86%
Stars: Lewis MacDougall, Sigourney Weaver, Felicity Jones
Director: J.A. Bayona
Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 108 minutes

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Monster House

Monster House (2006)

Ever seen a house you were worried was haunted? Did you think there were ghosts inside? Monsters? Maybe just some creepy psycho? Well, what if the house itself was the monster? That’s the kind of danger D.J. (Mitchel Musso) and his friends face in Monster House. After D.J.’s elderly neighbor Mr. Nebbercracker (Steve Buscemi) is brought to the hospital, the house starts inexplicably eating people. With D.J.’s parents gone for the weekend and the house next door making meals out of everyone from police officers to the babysitter’s drunk boyfriend, it’s up to D.J. and his friends Chowder and Jenny to embark on a scary adventure in this funny, scary, and family-friendly romp.

Rotten Tomatoes: 75%
Stars: Steve Buscemi, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Mitchel Musso
Director: Gil Kenan
Rating: PG
Runtime: 91 minutes

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Monty Python and the Holy Grail

Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975)

What is the airspeed of an unladen swallow? How do you tell if someone is a witch? And if you come across a rabbit at the entrance of a cave, how fast do you run and why aren’t you running already? All of these questions and more can be at least partially answered only with the 1975 comedy classic Monty Python and the Holy Grail. The second feature film made by the legendary cast of Monty Python’s Flying CircusHoly Grail is absolutely mandatory for any fan of swords and sorcery fantasy, comedy, or any kind of movie that keeps you laughing so hard from start to finish that you’ll never stop to consider whether or not it makes any sense (SPOILER: it does not).

Rotten Tomatoes: 97%
Stars: Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Eric Idle, Terry Gilliam, Terry Jones, Michael Palin
Director: Terry Gilliam, Terry Jones
Rating: PG
Runtime: 91 minutes

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I Lost my Body, on Netflix

I Lost My Body (2019)

Winner of the 2020 César Award for Best Animated Film, I Lost My Body is a genre-bending fever dream, propelled by gorgeous art and an appropriately bizarre premise. The star of the film? A severed hand. When the hand gains consciousness in a dissection lab, it has one primary purpose: To return to its body. The hand must scramble through Paris to find its way back to the pizza delivery man who is missing him, all the while remembering the glory days when it was still attached. That is, until they met Gabrielle.

Rotten Tomatoes: 96%
Stars: Victoire Du Bois, Patrick d’Assumçao
Director: Jérémy Clapin
Rating: PG
Runtime: 81 minutes

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Pan's Labyrinth on Netflix

Pan’s Labyrinth (2006)

Set in the years following the Spanish Civil War, Pan’s Labyrinth follows a young girl named Ophelia (Ivana Baquero), who moves in with her mother and new stepfather, Vidal (Sergi López), an evil Civil War commander. The first night in her new home, a fairy leads Ophelia into the garden, where she meets a faun (Doug Jones) that believes she is the reincarnation of Princess Moanna, a princess of the underworld — his home. To attain immortality, Ophelia must accomplish three tasks the faun gives her. Pan’s Labyrinth is a stunning movie that deals with complex issues through the lens of childlike wonder and despair.

Rotten Tomatoes: 95%
Stars: Ivana Baquero, Sergi López, Maribel Verdú
Director: Guillermo del Toro
Rating: R
Runtime: 115 minutes

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A Ghost Story on Netflix

A Ghost Story (2017)

What if we told you that one of the most beautiful drama-fantasy films involved leading man Casey Affleck wearing a sheet over his body for nearly the entire runtime? You might call us crazy, and that’s okay, but we still urge you to dive into David Lowery’s quiet little masterpiece, A Ghost Story.

When C (Affleck) dies in a car crash, he awakens in his new phantasmagoric form. Returning to the suburban, single-story ranch he shared with romantic partner M (Rooney Mara), the wraith spends the rest of his eternity “haunting” the house. Featuring some of the most meditative and emotional performances from the two leads, Andrew Palermo’s lush cinematography, and a heart-wrenching score by Daniel Hart, A Ghost Story may not be for everyone. But those that can appreciate a slow burn of fantastical proportions will leave the film feeling handsomely rewarded. Oh, and we almost forgot to mention that there’s a five-minute, single-take scene involving M, crying, and a pie. Yes, like the pie you eat.

Rotten Tomatoes: 91%
Stars: Casey Affleck, Rooney Mara, Will Oldham
Director: David Lowery
Rating: R
Runtime: 87 minutes

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Image of Bright (2017), now on Netflix

Bright (2017)

Bright wasn’t well-received when it arrived on Netflix, but since its premiere in 2017, it has become one of the most-streamed films on the platform. That’s because, while the movie is flawed, it does have a unique world, impressive practical effects, and a timely story about crime and discrimination.

In Bright, humans coexist with a variety of fantasy races. The film follows Ward (Will Smith) and his partner Jakoby (Joel Edgerton), the first orc police officer. The two have a strained relationship because Ward was previously injured by an orc robber, and it is believed that Jakoby let the robber go on purpose. The film tries to juggle complex issues of race, identity, and loyalty while also telling a larger-than-life fantasy story. It doesn’t always juggle those topics particularly well, but it remains one of the most ambitious fantasy films of the last several years.

Rotten Tomatoes: 28%
Stars: Will Smith, Joel Edgerton, Noomi Rapace
Director: David Ayer
Rating: TV-MA
Runtime: 117 minutes

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Image of The Spiderwick Chronicles (2008)

The Spiderwick Chronicles (2008)

Based on Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi’s popular book series, The Spiderwick Chronicles continues the trend of quality, emotionally-complex fantasy films aimed at children. It was received well by audiences and critics alike and features impressive performances to boot. The film follows Jason (Freddie Highmore), his twin brother Simon, and their sister Mallory (Sarah Bolger). After moving into their great-great-uncle’s estate following a divorce, Jason discovers Arthur Spiderwick’s study and a book detailing his observations and knowledge of faeries. As the film progresses, all three children are pulled into a struggle between the faeries and the ogre Mulgarath, who wants to use the information in the book for evil. The film is well-paced and exciting, and it is the perfect entry point for young fantasy lovers.

Rotten Tomatoes: 80%
Stars: Freddie Highmore, Mary-Louise Parker, Nick Nolte
Director: Mark Waters
Rating: PG
Runtime: 97 minutes

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Image of Fullmetal Alchemist (2017)

Fullmetal Alchemist (2017)

Fullmetal Alchemist is a live-action film based on the popular manga and anime of the same name. The film, like the subsequent versions, follows brothers Edric and Alphonse. The brothers live with their ill mother in the countryside, where they study alchemy. After their mother dies, however, they try to bring her back to life with a forbidden Human Transmutation. The alchemy fails and has severe consequences: Edric loses his arm and leg, while Alphonse loses his entire body and his spirit possesses an empty suit of armor.

The two brothers grow up to become state alchemists while continuing to hide their taboo act and pursue a stone that has the power to restore their bodies. The film received mixed reviews, but it does feature some pretty advanced film techniques and high production value, rendering it worth the watch, especially for fans of the show and manga.

Rotten Tomatoes: 28%
Stars: Ryôsuke Yamada, Tsubasa Honda, Dean Fujioka
Director: Fumihiko Sori
Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 135 minutes

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Image of Stardust (2007)

Stardust (2007)

Based on Neil Gaiman’s 1999 novel, Stardust follows Tristan (Charlie Cox) on his quest to retrieve an enchanted star from the magical realm of Stormhold. Meant to be a gift for his bride-to-be Victoria (Sienna Miller), the star turns out to be the disguised form of a woman named Yvaine (Claire Danes). Tristan decides to bring Yvaine back to his lover but must contend with the wretched forces of the magic realm. Along this colorful, flight-of-fancy pilgrimage, we’re treated to great performances by all, but particularly Robert De Niro as the swashbuckling Captain Shakespeare. Frankly, it’s nice to see the acting maestro lay his Tommy gun down and engage energies outside his typical wheelhouse of roles.

Rotten Tomatoes: 96%
Stars: Claire Danes, Charlie Cox, Robert De Niro, Michelle Pfeiffer
Director: Matthew Vaughn
Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 127 minutes

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Screenshot of Okja (2017)

Okja (2017)

From Oscar-winning writer-director Bong Joon Ho, Okja is a brilliant mesh of animal rights versus big business, both operating in the body of a beautifully crazy film. The story follows Mija (Seo-hyun Ahn), a South Korean farm girl and owner of a genetically modified super-pig named Okja. Developed by the multinational Mirando Corporation, several prototypes of these genetically modified pigs were sent out into the world. After 10 years of growing to maturity, the company announces that Okja has been awarded the honor of “best super-pig.” It’s all a ruse, though, and the company wants to move Okja from Mija’s farm to New York for (unbeknownst to the world) experimentation and eventual slaughter. Mirando’s CEO Lucy Mirando (Tilda Swinton) arranges for Mija to travel to New York to be with Okja. However, the plot thickens when the ALF (Animal Liberation Front) kidnaps Okja to expose Mirando, sending the film down a path of much greater moral weight.

Rotten Tomatoes: 87%
Stars: Tilda Swinton, Paul Dano, Seo-hyun Ahn
Director: Bong Joon Ho
Rating: TV-MA
Runtime: 120 minutes

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Image from Hugo (2011)

Hugo (2011)

Hugo sees mob maestro Martin Scorsese stepping away from the mafia and into a coming-of-age tale of whimsy. The film takes place in early 1930s Paris and follows Hugo Cabret (Asa Butterfield), the nephew of the Gare Montparnasse’s clock-keeper. When Hugo steals parts for an automaton he is trying to salvage (his father’s work), the shopkeep, named Georges (Ben Kingsley), agrees to let Hugo pay off his crime by having him work in the shop. Much to Hugo’s surprise, Georges’ granddaughter, Isabella (Chloë Grace-Moretz), wears a necklace with a heart-shaped key, the exact key Hugo needs to power his father’s automaton. Hugo was shot completely in 3D and is packed to the brim with beautiful imagery and heartfelt storytelling. What’s better is screenwriter John Logan’s choice to write Georges as real-life film pioneer Georges Méliès. Extensive use of Méliès’ catalog will be a big treat for cinephiles, especially for fans of his 1902 silent film, A Trip to the Moon.

Rotten Tomatoes: 93%
Stars: Ben Kingsley, Sacha Baron Cohen, Asa Butterfield, Chloë Grace-Moretz
Director: Martin Scorsese
Rating: PG
Runtime: 126 minutes

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Children of the Sea (2019)

Children of the Sea (2019)

Based on Daisuke Igarashi’s manga of the same name, Children of the Sea follows teenage girl Ruka. Estranged from both her mother and school friends, Ruka’s summer is looking like it’s going to be a bummer. That is until she starts spending more time at the aquarium where her dad works. While there, Ruka meets Umi and Sora, mysterious teenage brothers who were raised underwater by dugongs. The siblings are being studied by marine biologists to better understand their aquatic origins, while at the same time, a series of strange events begin unfolding. Oceanic oddities are occurring, like comets crashing into the sea and marine life mysteriously migrating to Japan’s waters and remaining there. As the story unfolds, it becomes evident that Ruka, Umi, and Sora share some kind of mysterious connection, which could be the cause of the marine phenomena.

Ayumu Watanabe’s animated adaptation of Igarashi’s manga is a feast for the eyes. Oceanic depths are deeply layered, vibrant, and filled with life — not to mention the rich character work. Mana Ashida does a particularly amazing job as Ruka. As the plot thickens, so does Ruka’s drive and curiosity — and we’re right there with her.

Rotten Tomatoes: 61%
Stars: Mana Ashida, Hiiro Ishibashi, Seishû Uragami
Director: Ayumu Watanabe
Rating: TV-PG
Runtime: 111 minutes

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Image of A Whisker Away (2020)

A Whisker Away (2020)

Have you ever wanted to be a cat? A Whisker Away explores this wish come true and the consequences the transformation presents. Our story is led by Miyo Sasaki, a teenager living in Tokoname, dealing with her adolescence and pining for her school crush, Kento Hinode. Much to Miyo’s dismay, Kento is always turning down her advances. But love conquers all, especially when Miyo receives a magic Noh mask that turns her into a cat named Tarō. As a feline, Miyo begins making visits to Kento’s residence, where he immediately takes to his new whiskered visitor.

Over the course of the film, we learn more about Miyo and Kento’s families, livelihoods, fears, and secrets. As Miyo wears the mask more and more, she risks never being able to return to human form again and must decide if life as a cat is worth losing her humanity for. Directed by Junichi Sato and Tomotaka Shibayama, from a script by Mari Okada, A Whisker Away is an electrifying panorama of emotion like no other.

Rotten Tomatoes: 93%
Stars: Mirai Shida, Natsuki Hanae, Johnny Yong Bosch
Director: Junichi SatôTomotaka Shibayama
Rating: TV-PG
Runtime: 104 minutes

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