10 Historical Fantasy Movies To Watch If You Like Fantastic Beasts
With the release of Fantastic Beasts: Dumbledore’s Secretsfans once again seem split on whether this lives up to the standard set by the classic Harry Potter movies. But for those who appreciate them, the fantastic beasts is a fun adventure through one of the most fascinating times in the wizarding world, showing how wizards would react to an impending war.
While fantastic beasts may be a famous historical fantasy film, it’s simply the latest in a long line of unique visions of what the past would look like with a little sprinkled (or poured) magic. For fans of Newt Scamander’s adventures, these films offer a fun journey where the past is truly another world.
Bedknobs and Brooms (1971)
Stream on Disney+
As the fantastic beasts movies, Bed knobs and brooms deals with World War II themes, albeit more directly and with a much lighter tone. It also feels like it might have provided some inspiration, with its setup involving a trio of orphans taken in by Miss Price (Angela Lansbury), who leads the fight against the Nazis with great help from sorcery.
A fun family film in the vein of Mary Poppins, Bed knobs and brooms is highly imaginative, combining live action and animation to bring the island of Naboombu, populated by anthropomorphic animals, to life. He also knows that everyone loves to see the Nazis get their fair share of desserts, and seeing a horde of their troops being defeated by animated armor is satisfying indeed.
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008)
Stream on Amazon Prime, Paramount+, Hoopla, and the Roku Channel
Director David Fincher has an excellent track record in a wide variety of genres, but The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is arguably where he went the most against type. A decades-long romantic drama about a man who ages backwards, it’s a generally low-key and intimate film, focusing on how Benjamin’s condition leaves him isolated from those he loves despite his best efforts. to make things work.
As you would expect from a piece from the Fincher period, the historical details are impeccable, recreating moments in time down to the smallest detail. From the naval battles of World War II to the architecture of New Orleans in the early 20th century, the film manages to pull the viewer into Benjamin’s world, no matter the time or place.
Crimson Peak (2015)
Stream on Netflix
A gothic romance disguised as a horror film, Crimson Peak was a new direction for Guillermo del Toro while staying true to many of his favorite macabre themes. Being a ghost story, the film has its share of spooky imagery, but it also has campy, engaging melodrama, filled with enough murder and incest to make even dedicated soap opera fans blush.
Crimson Peak is also notable for being del Toro’s first period play in a non-Spanish setting, with the action set primarily in rural Edwardian England in a stately country mansion. It’s the perfect haunted house setting, showing the kind of visuals Guillermo could have brought to the wizarding world had he been lucky enough to lead a Harry Potter film.
Stream on Amazon Prime, Peacock, Vudu and Tubi
mountaineer may be partly set in the present (then), but the saga of the immortal Connor MacLeod begins in 16th century Scotland, an ideal setting for romantic swashbuckling action. Flashbacks to Connor’s backstory are among the film’s highlights, establishing his motivation to take on the Kurgan by showing how the ravages of time have left him with nothing but a thirst for revenge.
While mountaineer received mixed reviews at the time, but quickly developed a cult following for its action sequences, unique mythology, and amusing performances from Christopher Lambert, Sean Connery, and Clancy Brown. Connery in particular is wonderful as Connor’s mentor, Ramírez, a noble and charming old man who might remind fans of a certain magical headmaster.
Time Bandits (1981)
Stream on HBO Max and the Criterion Channel
bandits of time tells the story of Kevin, an 11-year-old boy who travels through time with a group of treasure-hunting dwarves. A ridiculous premise on the face of it, but the film is a lot of fun, with director Terry Gilliam the perfect fit for a time travel comedy that plays by its own rules, fueled by pure imagination rather than hard science.
One of Gilliam’s first non-Monty Python films, bandits of time might still work as a more narrative version of one of their famous parodies, especially with its hilarious parodies of Napoleon, Robin Hood, and Agamemnon, and special appearances from Python alums John Cleese and Michael Palin. But the film knows when to go dark, with its cosmic battle between the forces of good and evil giving it added dramatic weight.
Sleepy Hollow (1999)
Rent on Vudu
A murder mystery based on the short story by Washington Irving, sleepy hollow was Tim Burton’s first foray into horror territory, ramping up the blood and gore while retaining the sense of fantastical wonder the author is famous for. It may not be one of Burton’s most famous films, but it deserves plenty of credit, gorgeous visuals, and a Hammer Horror-inspired atmosphere.
The film is also a great choice for viewers who miss Johnny Depp’s take on Grindelwald but want to see him fight evil rather than embrace it. His performance as Ichabod Crane is the vintage brilliance of Burton-Depp, an eccentric yet capable hero who uses his skills as a constable to unmask a supernatural serial killer.
Wolf Walkers (2020)
Stream to Apple TV+
While all of Cartoon Saloon’s unofficial Irish folk trilogies are fantastic, wolf walkers is probably the one that would most directly appeal to fans of fantastic beasts. Although very different in style and tone, their stories have some interesting parallels, such as a main character with a magical connection to animals, and a villain bent on dominating a race/species different from his own.
One of the best aspects of wolf walkers is its focus on a mythology and part of the story rarely seen in mainstream movies. Irish folklore and the hardships they faced under the reign of Oliver Cromwell may seem like a niche topic, but the film makes it accessible to international audiences with universal themes of freedom struggle and true to one’s self. -same.
Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003)
Stream on Disney+
While Pirates of the Caribbean may be a multi-billion dollar franchise, the first movie still stands out above the rest as one of the best pirate movies. A theme park attraction might seem like an odd source material for a movie, but Black Pearl defied doubters, grossing over $650 million worldwide and catapulting Johnny Depp to mega-stardom.
Like all great fantasy adventures, Black Pearl is filled to the brim with great action set pieces and memorable characters, with Captains Jack Sparrow and Hector Barbossa being icons in their own right. It’s also interesting to see a pirate story that dives into their most fantastical elements, with the cursed crew of Aztec gold and undead setting it apart from its (slightly) more factual brethren.
The Seventh Seal (1957)
Stream on HBO Max, Kanopy and The Criterion Channel
Arguably Ingmar Bergman’s most famous work, The seventh seal is a classic that set a new standard for portraying the Middle Ages in film. The story of the return of crusader Antonius Block playing a game of chess with death in order to prevent the inevitable, the film perfectly captures the sense of impending doom the Black Death brought to medieval Europe.
Coming from a director like Bergman, who helped codify many of the most common avant-garde tropes in cinema, The seventh seal is surprisingly approachable, dealing with relatable (albeit depressing) themes and a cast of very likable characters. Whether it’s the dark humor of squire Jons de Block or the sweet family dynamics of Jof and Mia, each has a lively personality that makes the viewer want to escape their fate.
Indiana Jones (Original Trilogy) (1981-1989)
Stream on Paramount+
As a world-renowned trilogy where all three films are iconic in their own right, IndianaJones needs no introduction. The adventures of Harrison Ford’s tough, smart, and ruggedly charming archaeologist have entertained critics and audiences alike for decades, with memorable characters, innovative action sequences, and a library of endlessly quotable lines.
Although the IndianaJones the films fall squarely into the action-adventure category, all are heavily infused with the most fantastical elements of real-world religions, with the Ark of the Covenant, the Stones of Shankara and the Holy Grail giving the films a feel of another world.
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