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The 25 best fantasy movies for when life just gets too much

15. Where the Wild Things Are (2009)

Let's make no mistake about it: this isn't a kids film. Directed with unflinching rawness by Spike Jonze, Where The Wild Things Are is frequently terrifying. How can it not be when it features a character being eaten whole by a forest-dwelling monster? It's also disarmingly intelligent.

 Max is a youngster who feels alienated - and a little bored. He dresses up like a wolf and starts acting out at home, one day wandering off and setting sail aboard a raft he finds at the edge of a pond. This leads him to the land of the 'Wild Things' who immediately hail him King. The movie shows the Wild Things as living in a world that’s similar to ours, with all the rules of a civilised society, while also acting as action-packed entertainment in its own right.

14. Interview With The Vampire (1994)

More than a decade after its release Brad Pitt 'fessed up about his experiences on Neil Jordan's vampire drama, saying he was utterly miserable throughout the shoot. Word is that he tried to buy his way out of production. A good job that didn't happen, his downbeat performance adds to the grim situation his character finds himself in. A former Lord, Louis navigates the world as a blood-sucker for centuries, keeping company with his maker, Tom Cruise's creepy-as-fuck Lestat.

While this is undoubtedly a vampiric fantasy, it's not a twinkly-skinned vamp tale a la Twilight. This is a dark brooding yarn about the aching pit of regret that comes with being immortal. Well, it is based on an Anne Rice novel. 

13. Edward Scissorhands (1990)

Perhaps the best example of the kind of movies Tim Burton used to make so well, Scissorhands contains all of Burton's hallmark ingredients. The troubled outsider, the black-and-white motifs, the kooky characters... they all mesh together into a fairytale fantasy that borrows liberally from across literature. A splash of Pinocchio and a dash of small-town conservatism, and it's easy to see where things are headed. But Scissorhands follows a different path, one where not every wish is granted, nor every dream comes true.

Johnny Depp is most impressive in what is a largely dialogue-free role. His glassy-eyed expressions working together with his physical clunkiness to portray a lone, solemn figure. It probably helped that he had to squeeze into a cumbersome leather bodysuit and, of course, don scissors for hands.

12. Beauty and the Beast (1991)

Jean Cocteau's La Belle Et La Bete gets an animated do-over that relaunched the Mouse House, bringing a fresh take on an old tale. 

Back in 1991 - and desperate for a hit - Disney turned to the 1946 French outing for inspiration, toying with some of the normal stereotypes to create a charming love story that kinda makes you forget the movie is a thing of pure fantasy. The folk tale at its heart is as old as time; a young beauty falls for an ogre, who turns out to be quite a handsome young man beneath it all. What elevates the film is how often it delights in bringing ordinary objects to life, to have them sing songs, and to make anyone fall in love with the idea of falling in love. It earned its stripes good ‘n' proper by landing an Oscar nomination.

11. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004)

Three films in and Potter and co. get a good scrubbing courtesy of director Alfonso Cuaron, who gave the Potter franchise an early, much-needed refresh. Don't get me wrong, Chris Columbus' first two outings were good, but the return to Hogwart's each year was starting to lose its impact. Among the changes made by Cuaron: Hagrid's cottage gets relocated and a fancy elevated walkway is built. 

The director is also unapologetic when it comes to the narrative, streamlining the events of the book for a film that's decisive and insanely involving. It's still the best Potter film (and book), arguably one of the best time travels films ever made, and it set the blueprint for the five films that followed.

Gem is GR+'s west coast entertainment news reporter. She’s a bit obsessed with all things Aliens and Terminator.