Amazon’s Lord of The Rings TV series is slowly closing in, and we are sure you must have already done several rewatches of the Lord of The Rings movie series. The Lord of The Rings trilogy rocked the box office and the Oscars in the early 2000s, breaking several records and creating new ones. Peter Jackson’s adaptation of both The Hobbit and The Lord of The Rings trilogies, written by J. R. R. Tolkien, are some of the most successful fantasy movies to date, and very few movies have come close to creating the kind of impact that Tolkien’s trilogies did.
With the much-awaited TV series nearly a year away, we can understand the anticipation of fantasy fans all over the world who are waiting eagerly to visit Middle-earth once again. So, here at Collider, we’ve brought together a collection of 15 fantasy films that’ll take you away to a mystical land, much like Tolkien’s Middle-earth, and cater to your tastes while you wait for Amazon’s Lord of The Rings series to be finally here.
The Chronicles of Narnia Series
The Chronicles of Narnia is one of the best-known fantasy movie series of all time. Based on C. S. Lewis’ series of novels of the same name, the franchise adapted three of his books into live-action features, namely – The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (2005), Prince Caspian (2008), and The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (2010). The Chronicles of Narnia movie series is similar to Lord of The Rings/The Hobbit in a lot of ways: young, seemingly harmless adventurers (in this case four little kids) venture off into Narnia, a magical world filled with mythical beasts, talking animals, and legendary weapons. Though the series took a darker turn later on, the first movie The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe reminds you of Frodo and Sam’s adventure from The Lord of The Rings: The Fellowship of The Ring, when the Pevensie children tumble into the mystical world of Narnia through a wooden wardrobe, and quite unknowingly, set out on a dangerous journey that pits them against a great evil.
King Arthur: Legend of the Sword
Of course, when we are talking about fantasy movies, how can we forget about the age-old mythical tale of the legendary king of England. So many characters of modern movies and stories have been inspired by King Arthur’s saga, and the movie in focus is the most recent film adaptation of his tale. Starring Charlie Hunnam in the titular role, King Arthur: Legend of the Sword shows King Arthur’s rise to the throne of England. This film shares a lot of similarities with Lord of The Rings: The Return of The King, as both feature a legendary sword, the rightful heir to the throne, and a wise, white-haired powerful wizard. The tale of King Arthur might have been a source of inspiration for J. R. R. Tolkien when he was writing the novels, as we can clearly see a connection between Aragorn and Arthur.
The Monkey King Series
The Monkey King is a legendary mythical figure with a historical background that’s on par with the likes of King Arthur. Based on the fantasy novel Journey to the West, a 16th-century Chinese literary classic written in the Ming Dynasty by Wu Cheng’en, the film tells the story of a legendary monkey God, named Sun Wukong (Donnie Yen). Wukong, after falling down to earth from heaven, has to learn about his purpose in life, and hence starts on an epic journey of his own, like The Fellowship of The Ring, that takes him to heaven and hell (quite literally). Sun Wukong might sound very familiar to you, as he is also the inspiration behind Son Goku, the famous protagonist of the Dragon Ball anime series.
Harry Potter Series
The Harry Potter movies are perhaps the greatest sorcery-based film series of all time. The 8-part adaptation is based on J. K. Rowling’s fantasy novels of the same name and achieved enormous success globally. The fantastical tale of Harry Potter takes the fans into the magical world of Hogwarts, which is very similar to Tolkien’s Middle-earth. Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) and his friends learn various magical spells, meet mythical creatures and fight great evil during the course of eight movies, and have a huge fan following even though the last film was released a decade ago.
The NeverEnding Story Series
Based on the 1979 novel of the same name by Michael Ende, The NeverEnding Story was a 3-part series, of which the first and second adaptations were from the same book, while the third one was an original story. Much like the Lord of The Rings movies, The NeverEnding Story tells the tale of a young and humble protagonist who accidentally finds himself pulled into an adventure via an old fantasy book. It serves as a portal to a colorful and magical world, and the hero is tasked with saving the imaginary world.
Willow is a 1988 American dark fantasy drama film produced by George Lucas and written by Bob Dolman. Lucas originally came up with the idea in 1972, but could only begin working on it in 1985. The film tells the story of a farmer and aspiring sorcerer, Willow, who sets out on a dangerous journey to protect a young princess against the forces of an evil witch, who has sent her army to hunt the baby down. Willow plays the role of both Gandalf and Frodo in the film, and the ending reminds you of the concluding scene in Return of The King, when the hobbits return to their village.
Pan’s Labyrinth is considered one of the best works by Guillermo del Toro. The dark fantasy is set in Spain during the summer of 1944, five years after the Spanish Civil War. The main character, Ofelia (Ivana Baquero), owing to her family issues, drifts off into an imaginary world consisting of terrifying mythical creatures, who lead her through the trials of an old labyrinth garden. The film won numerous international accolades, including three Academy Awards and three BAFTA Awards.
Journey to the West: Conquering the Demons
A comedic adaptation of a 16th-century Chinese literary classic of the same name written by Wu Cheng’en, Journey to the West: Conquering the Demons tells the tale of the origins of a humble Buddhist monk, Tang Sanzang (Wen Zhang). Having no skills and special powers, he sets out on a journey to hunt demons and find his destiny, which often leads him into hilarious and life-threatening problems. Much like Frodo, he is innocent and pure-hearted and is accompanied by a friend who changes his life forever.
Kingdom of Heaven
Kingdom of Heaven is a fictionalized tale of Balian of Ibelin, who was a blacksmith-turned-knight during the time of the Crusades. Directed and produced by Ridley Scott, the 2005 movie centers around Balian (Orlando Bloom), a French village blacksmith who is unintentionally pulled into war after he leaves his village when his wife dies. He aids the Kingdom of Jerusalem in its defense against the Ayyubid Muslim Sultan, Saladin, who is fighting to claim back the city from the Christians which leads to the Battle of Hattin. The film beautifully replicates the level of detail and grandiosity of the Lord of The Rings movies, especially when it comes to breathtaking visuals and awe-inspiring battle scenes, and is a must-watch for fantasy lovers.
Bridge to Terabithia
Bridge to Terabithia is a 2007 fantasy drama based on the novel of the same name by Katherine Paterson. The film revolves around the tragic story of two 11-year-old kids, who manifest their real-life problems in an imaginary world they create in an abandoned treehouse. It provides a deeper perspective of a child’s psychology, and how they come up with their own monsters to tackle them. The children escape to the world of Terabithia, battling the monsters outside as well as the ones inside their minds, much like how Frodo fights the will of the Ring in the Lord of The Rings Films.
Orcs made up the majority of Sauron’s army in The Lord of the Rings movies, and they can be seen in plenty in the world of Warcraft. A film based on the video game series of the same name, it tells the story of the magical realm of Azeroth, as it stands on the brink of war. Its civilization faces a fearsome race of invaders: Orc warriors fleeing their dying home to colonize another. As a portal opens to connect the two worlds, one army faces destruction, and the other faces extinction. From opposing sides, two heroes are set on a collision course that will decide the fate of their family, their people, and their home. Fans will definitely enjoy this movie, as humans join forces with orcs, something that never happened in Lord of The Rings.
The Seventh Seal
The Seventh Seal is a classic historical fantasy film and is considered one of the greatest movies of all time. Written and directed by Ingmar Bergman, the story of the film proceeds like The Lord of The Rings, but on a chessboard, and the antagonist is none other than the personification of death. It tells of the journey of a medieval knight who lived during the black death, and is forced to play a game of chess with death who has come to take his life. Much of the film’s imagery is derived from medieval art, and hence there are glimpses of existential crisis throughout the story of the film, something that resonates with Lord of the Rings characters like Aragorn and Frodo.
The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec is a fantasy adventure film loosely based on the comic book series The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec by Jacques Tardi. Adele’s fantastic journey resembles a peculiar and enjoyable mix of The Lord of the Rings and Indiana Jones movies, as it incorporates various elements of sci-fi and mythical fantasy genre. Set in the early 1900s, Adele is a journalist and travel writer, and her world consists of mummies, pterosaurs, and pyramids (in one of her adventures, she actually rides a pterosaur, much like Gandalf and company ride the eagles). It received a largely positive response from the critics and audience for being a faithful adaptation of the source material.
Solomon Kane is a 2009 action-adventure film based on the pulp magazine character of the same name created in 1928 by Robert E. Howard. The story of Solomon Kane is somewhat of a what-if story, that is, what if Aragorn had decided to go solo on his quest in Lord of The Rings? The plot follows a redemption story for Kane, from the end of his life as a privateer, through the salvation of his soul by rescuing a Puritan girl and the beginning of his life as the Puritan avenger of the source material. Along the way, he battles countless demons, witches, evil sorcerers, ghouls, and various other supernatural beings in his quest to redeem his soul from the clutches of hell. He also seems to possess an elongated lifespan, just like Aragorn, and decides to spend the rest of it fighting the forces of evil at the end of the movie.
Of course! The list couldn’t be complete without the film that comes closest to the Lord of The Rings in terms of storyline, battle sequences and overall theme, the prequel The Hobbit itself! The Hobbit trilogy was released a decade after The Lord of the Rings movie series and serves as its prequel. The films are based on the 1937 novel The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien and show the adventures of Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman), Frodo’s uncle, set 60 years before the events of the Lord of The Rings. The story shows why Bilbo is such a respected figure in the community, how the One Ring came into his possession, and why Gandalf trusts Bilbo so much. The Hobbit series is missing some of the key characters from the Lord of The Rings trilogy, provided it is a prequel, but it is amazing in its own right. The news suggests that Amazon’s Lord of the Rings series will be a prequel as well, so it’ll be interesting to see if there’ll be any familiar faces in the show.
KEEP READING: ‘Lord of the Rings’ Amazon Series: Release Date, Cast, Season 2 & Everything We Know So Far
The film begins shooting in December in – where else? – Boston.
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