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Escape reality with the 10 best fantasy movies on Netflix

“Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.” – Albus Dumbledore

We have been going through some of the darkest times in the history of humanity that has led the laughter and light within our souls to dissipate. We are scared, disillusioned and gloomy as we slouch in front of our computer screens, trying to cope with the drudgery of everyday life. However, as Dumbledore says, it is perhaps really simple to try and seek out the switch to our personal Deluminators to help switch on the light. 

Sometimes, all we need is a little bit of magic and fantasy to escape the gloom of reality. While we sincerely wish we had a closet that led us to Narnia or a magic train to take us to the oh-so-wonderful and mysterious Hogwarts, we are unfortunately living the classic nine-to-five lives with almost no time to spare. However, films can be the perfect escape route for us to forget the drudgery of our mundane lives for some time and focus on the good things instead. From cotton candies to unicorns, celestial beings to magical horses and other creatures, via films, we might get to live in this world of fantasy for a while, recharging our dying batteries. 

Netflix has a lot to offer under the Fantasy genre, most of which include animated features as well. If you feel burned out and unproductive, we suggest you rejuvenate yourself by escaping the shackles of reality and journeying into the world of fantasy by watching these 10 best fantasy films that are streaming on Netflix: 

10 best fantasy movies on Netflix:

10. The Little Mermaid (Blake Harris, Chris Bouchard, 2018)

The Little Mermaid (Blake Harris, Chris Bouchard, 2018)Starring William Moseley, Poppy Drayton and Shirley MacLaine, among others, the film sees how a sceptic reporter named Cam Harrison is left astonished after he is pursued by his niece to go, visit a mermaid that has been held captive in a circus.  

“It is an independent movie, so it’s completely separate from the Disney version. It sort of loosely follows the Hans Christian Anderson version, so it’s a little bit darker and kind of a bit more whimsical and fantastical”, said Drayton in an interview discussing the film alongside Moseley. 

9. Up Among the Stars (Zoe Berriatua, 2018)

Washed up filmmaker Victor is grieving from the tragic loss of his wife and struggling to form a connection with his son Ingmar. Slowly, Victor resorts to fantasy stories to create a beautiful bond with Ingmar and goes on to make his magnum opus.

The film is a perfect escape route for the ones who want to submerge themselves in the distant world of magic and fantasy. The role of a grieving husband who overcomes the tragedy to weave a world of beauty and enigma for his son is heart-rending. The cathartic journey from alcoholism and melancholy to love and endearment steeped in fantastical elements is what makes this film a sheer visual delight.

8. Stardust (Matthew Vaughn, 2007)

The scene is set as Tristan ventures into the fantasy realm of Stormhold to prove his love for the village beauty. The fallen star turns out to be a maiden named Yvaine, who is pursued relentlessly by other adversaries with sinister motives.

The adaptation from the book is enchanting and amusing with a brilliant cast, including Charlie Cox, Claire Danes, Ben Barnes, Henry Cavill and Michelle Pfeiffer, among others. Danes said, “It was really thrilling to discover, and it’s really smart in addition to being fantastical and kind of broad, and I got to play a celestial being … it doesnt get better than that!”

7. Beautiful Creatures (Richard LaGravenese, 2013)

Based on a book of the same name, starring Alice Englert, Viola Davis, Alden Ehrenreich, Jeremy Irons and Emma Thompson, Ethan Wate, a high schooler, falls in love with a mysterious girl named Lena who is assigned to be a witch. While they desperately try to keep their romance at bay from evil forces, various adversities make Lena choose between being a part of the forces of light or darkness. 

In an interview promoting the film, Ehrenreich said, “What’s great about the book is that it allows for this very idiosyncratic, humorous characters who are a little offbeat and what we did and what Richard opened up to us was creating a film where we could bring our own version of idiosyncrasy and humour and offbeat quality to it. Hopefully, in that way, it captures the same spirit in the book, which I think it does.” 

6. Rise of the Guardians (Peter Ramsey, 2012)

The children of the world believe in the goodness of Santa Claus, Tooth Fairy, Easter Bunny and more, and that protects them from despair and darkness. However, when Pitch Black wreaks havoc by eliminating their beliefs, it is on Jack Frost to try and save the Guardians before it is too late.  

Voiced by a talented ensemble cast comprising Chris Pine, Hugh Jackman, Alec Baldwin, Isla Fisher, Jude Law and more, the film offers a beautiful message of hope, belief as well as the importance of self-confidence.  Jackman said that the film is “probably one of the greatest things kids will ever get to see because it’s all their [kind of] favourite characters [coming] to life in one movie”.  

5. The Little Prince (Mark Osborne, 2015)

The film weaves a delightful tale around our childhood favourite and sees a little girl forming an unlikely friendship with an aged aviator and trying to desperately balance her innocence and the pressure of becoming an adult. It is then that she is fascinated by the story of the Little Prince and bestowed with the duty of seeking out the adult Mr Prince who apparently cannot recollect his fantastic childhood.

Stunning visuals uphold the spirit of innocence while incorporating fantasy elements to comment on the dying spirit of humanity. The eventual disillusionment of adulthood is well juxtaposed to the magic of childhood, and Rachel McAdams, Jeff Bridges, Riley Osborne, Paul Rudd, and Mackenzie Foy do a brilliant job in their respective choice roles. 

4. Double World (Teddy Chan, 2020)

Set in a fictional world, amidst ten nations, when one grows increasingly powerful, a concerned warlord organises a competition to discover the most valiant warriors. Determined to prove himself, brave young Dong Yilong decides to partake in the challenging task despite his village’s relentless doubts. 

With great CGI and fighting sequences, the film is a fascinating watch. In an interview, lead actor Henry Lau described his role as Dong to be “very complicated … and has an obvious growth. In the beginning, he is pre and naughty. After that, since he sees many different things in the world, he becomes a man full of responsibility. Finally, he changes to a totally different person. So you can see the dramatic change of the role.” 

3. A Whisker Away (Jun’ichi Sato, Tomotaka Shibayama, 2020)

A junior at high school, Miyo Sasaki, harbours a hapless crush on her classmate Kento Hinode. In a desperate attempt to win Kento’s attention, she uses magic to transform into a cat and get closer to him, which bears severe consequences. 

It is a light-hearted and feel-good anime feature brimming with adorable pangs of young love and a journey to revel in the magic and fantasy of adolescence. The fantasy elements are well-adjusted with the musical score, and the film is a perfect blend of magic and romance. 

2. The Water Horse (Jay Russell, 2007)

A young and curious boy stumbles upon a unique egg and protects it only to find out a Water Horse hatching from it that is considered to be a dangerous beast according to the Scottish legends. They forge a beautiful relationship that is challenged by various odds. The film stars Alex Etel, David Morrissey, Ben Chaplin, Emily Watson in lead roles, among other cast members.

Fantasy and magic galore, it is a beautiful saga of friendship. Chaplin said, “You definitely see the movie and go Woah”, and we definitely agree with him given how adorable and endearing the film is. Etel mentioned how challenging his role was, especially for the underwater scenes, as he had to learn to swim as well as scuba dive!

1. Spirited Away (Hayao Miyazaki, 2001)

Inarguably one of Studio Ghibli’s most brilliant productions, the film is surreal and spectacular. Ten-year-old Chihiro embarks on an eventful quest to save her parents, who have been punished for their gluttony, seeking help from her guide Haku.

With an emphasis on innocence, unwavering faith and love, steeped in rich, fantastical elements, the film has certain intentional gaps that humanise the characters and allow them space to breathe. Roger Ebert once asked Miyazaki about the abundance of “gratuitous motion” in his films, to which the latter responded, “We have a word for that in Japanese …. It’s called ‘ma’. Emptiness. It’s there intentionally.”