Your home theater offers a chance at escape. While the mundane world drones on around us, there are exciting fictional avenues that give the imagination new places to go, new adventures to experience — a whole universe of the mystical and magical. Whether that’s a faun meeting you at a lamp post to introduce you to witches and a talking lion, or a young boy with a wand that can change the world, diving into these dreamscapes can enliven and recharge our minds.
Here are eight of the top fantasy television shows and movies — escapes into new lands of enchantment and wonder.
Based on the best-selling novels by writer George R. R. Martin, the eight seasons of this TV series present a panorama of political conflicts and power grabs in the time of knights and kings. The show earned record viewership and garnered 59 Emmy Awards, which is the most for any dramatic series to date. Shot in the U.K., Croatia, Iceland, Spain and other foreign locales, Game of Thrones famously even involves characters raising fire-breathing dragons as pets for their own use in brutal warfare. This epic adventure is as immersive as any you’ll ever hope to find. Find out where to stream it here.
The prequel to Game of Thrones, this 2022 drama is set some 200 years before its predecessor. So far, just 10 episodes have been produced, but only five days after its launch this summer, House of the Dragon was renewed for a second season. Like the original, this is a tale of knights, dragons and political infighting, but it also traces the roots of some of the most important GoT family lineages. Dragon is also not for the faint of heart, as it incorporates quite a bit of dark cinematography, not to mention murders and bloodshed. Find out where to stream it here.
What if there was one object that could destroy all life as we know it? That’s the question that begins the story of Frodo Baggins in The Lord of the Rings. These three films, all directed by Peter Jackson, offer some of the most eyebrow-raising special effects ever created — everything from giant tusked elephants to the trickster Gollum, who is addicted to the power that comes from the titular ring. Rich with wizards, orcs, goblins, archers and warriors, these movies set the standard for fantasy in the 21st century. Find out where to stream them here.
The eight films in this series (to date) are based on the celebrated novels of writer J. K. Rowling. Like the books, the movies track Harry’s life and his journey as he navigates maturity and his preordained relationship to magic. Colorful friends Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley stand by Potter’s side through the burgeoning wizard’s trials and tribulations as he battles the likes of the evil Voldemort. There are also prequel films, which began with the 2016 movie Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Find out where to stream them here.
In this, the first of a series of adaptations of C. S. Lewis’s series of novels entitled The Chronicles of Narnia, a group of four children leave London for the country. There, bored, searching their new home for adventure, they find a large wardrobe, which itself is a portal to a new land filled with mythical creatures, dark magic and mystery. Met by a curious, conflicted faun, seduced by an ice queen, and saved by a loving, talking lion, the children learn what matters most in the world: goodness. Find out where to stream it here.
Ever wonder what it would be like to have your very own luck dragon? This movie answers that question, as a young boy named Bastian Bux skips class and takes a book to an attic where he reads about “the nothing” taking over the world of Fantasia. What is the solution? It’s unclear. Until … a-ha! The way to end the nothing is to engage the imagination of a young child through Falkor, the luck dragon, along with vivid characters like racing snails and potion makers. Find out where to stream it here.
Directed by Jim Henson, executive produced by George Lucas and starring David Bowie, this film follows Sarah (played by a 16-year-old Jennifer Connelly) who is in search of her baby brother, taken by The Goblin King (Bowie). Sarah must traverse a mysterious land and a giant maze with the help of friends like the diminutive Hoggle and giant furry Ludo, who can summon rocks with a growl. Like Alice going into Wonderland, the journey is both jarring and beautiful, filled with memorable, strange characters. Find out where to stream it here.
This movie is an all-time classic and the theatrical gold standard when it comes to fantasy. There’s no place like home, there’s no place like home. That’s the lesson young Dorothy learns after a tornado takes her from her residence in Kansas to the magical, fearsome world of Oz. There, she meets the Scarecrow (in need of a brain), Tin Man (who needs a heart) and the Cowardly Lion (who needs courage), all of whom help her to locate the Wizard in the Emerald City. Together, the foursome battle the Wicked Witch of the West to prove they have what it takes to earn the Wizard’s assistance. Will he be able to get Dorothy back home to her family? Only time (and a little chanting) will tell. Find out where to stream it here.
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