# Posted: 20 Sep 2004 01:33
In the wake of The Lord of the Rings' phenomenal cinematic success, the fantasy genre has been elevated to a new respectability. The Tolkien saga, which was known to million of fans around the world for several generations through the classic books, has now received the big budget treatment it deserved. Each of the three films has made a ton of money at the box office----each one actually making more than the previous one!----and are arguably already considered the greatest movie trilogy of all-time, surpassing the Star Wars classic trilogy in epic grandeur and quality.
So, with The Lord of the Rings soaring high in the hearts and imaginations of millions of moviegoers, I thought I'd take the time to write a brief enumeration of three other good fantasy films that I've seen many times which I recommend.
I also invite peeps to name their favorite fantasy movies. (and I want to emphasize that this thread is solely about fantasy movies, not books.
1. Willow (1988)----------This is a movie that I watched several times as a teenager. Produced by George Lucas and directed by Ron Howard, this movie contains all the elements of a great Swords and Sorcery tale. It's the story of a young dwarf (Warwick Davis, famous for his portrayal of Wicket the Ewok in ROTJ), who must embark on a quest to take a baby princess (who is foretold to someday reign on the land and bring an era of peace and prosperity to the people) to safety.
But of course, an evil queen (who also happens to be a sorceress, as is often the case in this kind of story *L*) kinda objects to this and sends her army of evil warriors in search of the infant to kill her, led by a general with a cool skull-like mask.
On his quest, Willow the Dwarf meets a valiant swordsman (Val Kilmer) and a couple of "brownies" (tiny little men a few inches tall), that like to cause trouble and are merely there for comic relief.
The movie features some pretty good special effects for the time (1988), including trolls that turn into dragons when you "kill" them. All in all, a very entertaining fantasy movie that I highly recommend for viewers of all ages.
Conan the Barbarian(1981)------------I've seen this movie more times than I can count, starting with the first time being when I was about 9 or 10 (when I was actually sent to bed about a third into the movie because of the relentless violence and sex which my parents understandably considered inappropriate for my young eyes. *LOL*) This movie is considered by many to be the greatest fantasy adventure of all time (even more so than LOTR, if you can believe that! ). You need only read the 100+ reviews from viewers of the movie at IMDb.com to see what I mean. Those that grew up with this film almost all have a special place in their heart for it.
It almost undoubtedly was at the very least the greatest fantasy film of the 1980s-----and actually was a watershed for the genre, mainly due to the fact that it took the subject matter seriously, unlike most of its predecessors, and was aimed more at adults than kids.
I must warn anyone that wants to see it for the first time that it is not for the faint of heart. It is violent and definitely not PC.
The movie takes place in the fictional "Hyborean age" and tells the story of a child who sees his parents and his entire village murdered by a small army of warriors on horseback, led by the fearsome Thulsa Doom (James Earl Jones, in a gripping performance). The young Conan, along with the other children of the village (sole survivors of the attack) are sold into slavery.
It is under the harshest of conditions that he grows up into an adult (Arnold Schwarzenegger, in arguably his greatest role ever, apart from the Terminator).
The now-adult Conan eventually becomes a gladiator for the amusement of rowdy spectators and becomes a champion, adored by the crowds. This wins him his freedom and he thus embarks on a quest to avenge the murder of his parents and his people.
This is truly an awesome movie, but is somehow a lot more popular with men and boys than it is with women and girls, interestingly enough. Some women like it, but many just don't get it, and are turned off by its relentless machismo and (arguably) objectification of women. And though this is true to a certain extent, it does feature a very cool and brave female warrior who fights at Conan's side and falls in love with him, the beautiful Valeria (Sandhal Bergman).
People watching Conan the Barbarian for the first time should leave their political correctness at the door and watch it for what it is, an exciting Swords and Sorcery adventure that takes place in a rugged (fictional) time when lawlessness prevailed, and barbarians and thieves were heroes. And all this takes place with beautiful Spanish scenery in the background. (it was shot entirely in Spain )
Excalibur(1981)-----------------Another wonderful fantasy film! This one tells the legend of King Arthur, from his birth to his death. It includes scenes that are now forever ingrained in pop culture consciousness, mainly because of Disney's versions. I'm talking of course about "the sword in the stone", where the young peasant Arthur gains his kingdom by being the only one able to remove the enchanted sword.
This movie is literally a visual feast, filmed in beautiful locales and with awesome cinematography. It has a sweeping epic feel, and features everything from King Arthur (Nigel Terry)'s quest for the holy grail, to the betrayal by his queen Guinevere and his best friend Lancelot, to his illegitimate child Mordred (born from his evil sorceress sister, who had deceived Arthur into sleeping with her)'s mission of revenge against his father. This movie tells the whole story, and thus far still remains the unchallenged champion in the telling of this centuries-old tale. And throughout the film, Arthur is counseled in his actions by none other than Merlin the magician himself, in an awesome performance by Nicol Williamson. (Please note that Patrick Stewart------Captain Picard in ST: TNG and Professor X in X-Men------appears in the film as a knight. You'll have to pay close attention to recognize him, since he looks rather different, with his beard and hair (Yes, I said hair!!-----not that much of it, mind you *L* )
So anyway, these are three awesome, often overlooked fantasy films that I recommend. I could name many more, but that would make this post extremely long. I would very much enjoy hearing the opinions of those who HAVE seen these films; and also to hear about other great fantasy films that you may have seen, other than LOTR.
Also, I want to emphasize that Conan the Barbarian, in particular (and Excalibur, to some extent), is intended for viewers that are at least 16 years of age. If you are younger than that, wait until you're older, please. I don't want to be attacked by a mob of angry moms! *LOL*