Wizards and teenage angst in the form of broken wands is no new spell. The Harry Potter series, with its centaurs, giants, and invisible cloaks, is a neat little package ― but it’s just that. J.K. Rowling didn’t invent the genre, after all, and, when it comes to movies, a whole lot of fantasy films exceed the Potter pap in brains, humor, quests, spells, and imagination. On the eve of Rowling’s last book in the Potter series, we offer a list of those movies. Through dangers untold and hardships unnumbered, we unearthed 25 fantasy films that lock horn, swords, and wands with Potter. No reading required.
The Dark Crystal, with its three suns and misshapen Muppets, is not kiddie fantasy. The vulture-like Skeksis of planet Thra do more for sci-fi than real aliens. And, compared to SkekUng — the evil Skeksis Emperor — Voldemort looks like a regular Muggle.
THE DARK CRYSTAL
LEGEND Tom Cruise walks the woods of stolen dreams and stolen horns as Jack O’The Green in this fantasy film about, well, good and evil. Search the Internet Movie Database far and wide: there is no Harry Potter quote as good as this: “She was so sweet, I could eat her brains like jam!” Thank you, Blunder (Kiran Shah). Shah has since been reduced to a mere stuntman by the Harry Potter franchise. Though, he does currently hold the Guinness World Record for “Shortest Professional Stuntman Currently Working in Film.”
THE LAST UNICORN
Before Red Bull was a shitty-tasting energy drink, it was a fiery, white-eyed apparition with frothing fangs. The Last Unicorn, with Butterfly, Skull, Mommy Fortuna, and Red Bull, is a classic tale of enchanted forests and extinction. The Unicorn is on display in Mommy Fortuna’s Midnight Carnival and with it in its cage are all of our imaginations. So beguiling is a cartoon of tides, white with the immortal unicorn.
WILLOWUnable to secure the rights to The Hobbit, George Lucas wrote Willow, a 1988 J.R.R. Tolkien knock-off starring dwarfs and Val Kilmer as who-can-forget Madmartigan. Queens, rogues, sorcerers, and possums — this cult wonder has it almost together. And, it was the first film to use morphing special effects, which was a really good idea at the time.
THE WITCHESImagine yourself a rodent in a room full of wiggy, high-heeled witches. Such is Luke’s foreboding lot — as boy turned mouse — in the movie based on Roald Dahl’s oft-censored children’s book The Witches. Anjelica Huston’s purple-eyed Grand High Witch, with her greasy gnarled humpback is the stuff kid’s nightmares are made of. And nightmares, like banquets of bald-headed hags, should never be subject to censorship.
SWORD IN THE STONE
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- The last Potter
The end is never easy, is it?
- Review: Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant
You’ve seen it all before: a boy with a special destiny tangles with the occult and gets sucked out of his normal life and into the twilight realm of the supernatural, in the process setting the stage for paranormal war between good and evil.
- Wizards and masterpieces
At “Harry Potter: The Exhibition” at the Museum of Science, when a robed attendant places the sorting hat on a visitor’s head and soon after a door whooshes open to reveal the Hogwarts Express, you find yourself filled with the kind of giddy expectation you feel when getting your hands on a Potter book the day it’s released.
- Movies on the Midcoast
Yet again, this year’s festival tackles an admirable hodgepodge of subjects — online gaming junkies, Harry Potter fanatics, and even Cockney gangsters in London’s East End.
- Can't escape Snape at LeakyCon
Sure, Figawi Race Weekend is a blast, but how many times in my life would I have the opportunity to mingle with more than 750 J.K. Rowling devotees? So, this past Memorial Day weekend, I decided to skip Nantucket and join the all-ages, international assembly of Potter-heads at Boston's Park Plaza Hotel for LeakyCon 2009.
- How big is Harry Potter
Considering all the hype surrounding the seventh and final book in the Harry Potter series, you would think that the July 21 release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is one of the most anticipated events in human history.
- Peter principle
In fact, it was really the generous bulge in his trousers. Should I be honest and tell him this?
- Dance Monkey: Lizz Winstead
It will be called Harry Pott-him .
- Hairy Potter
Whatever else it may be, the Harry Potter Edda is surely the most popular narrative about the dawning of pubertal awareness ever created.
- Comics for Christ
Young Laurel Templeton spends her summer vacation “kidnapped by five cyborg flies and shrunk down to insect size so [she can] travel back in time with them to save the world from an evil spider.” You know, typical stuff.
- Breaking the spell
How did a “children’s story” become the literary epic of our time?
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