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

10. How to Train Your Dragon (2010)

DreamWorks Animation gave us Shrek, Madagascar, and Kung Fu Panda, but How To Train Your Dragon blasted them all into ash. An effortlessly endearing coming-of-age movie; it's cute and full of quips. This small tale on a huge canvas, teams parts of a medieval world often frequented in fantasy with the rise of the underdog journey. 

The whole film is an absolute joy, but it's the ending that's so refreshing; it's completely free of sentimentality. Nevertheless, it'll still make you tear up. It's also a rare example of truly thrilling 3D, as that extra dimension ensures the flying scenes make your heart leap into your throat.

9. Groundhog Day (1992)

Groundhog Day could easily be a horror movie. Tasked with covering the annual Groundhog Day event, Bill Murray's dry-as-a-bone news reporter Phil Connors is none too happy with his predicament. "This is one occasion where television really fails to capture the true excitement of a large squirrel predicting the weather," he intones to his viewers during his last broadcast before he's forced to relive the same day over and over. You know, so he can learn something about himself. Murray is at his career-best. Yeah, Venkman's great and all, but as Connors his sardonic wit really shines. Unlike Phil, who despises living the same 24 hours over and over, for us, this movie just gets better with every repeat viewing.

8. Spirited Away (2001)

Studio Ghibli had been crafting breathtaking entertainment for over 15 years, before Spirited Away pitched onto western shores. But it was this film's spry concoction of no-holds-barred imagery and remarkably creative storytelling that really put Ghibli on the map. There's simply no other movie in its back catalogue that unites the imaginative world of youngsters with a deeper, complex lesson quite like Miyazaki's 2001 outing. 

The plot's a head-scratcher, an exhilarating mindfuck that follows Chihiro as she journeys through a spirit world. It exists parallel to ours - a little like Stranger Things. It's a place where her parents have been turned into pigs and it's up to Chihiro to figure out how to escape this twisted reality. You've never seen anything as glorious as this. 

7. Pan's Labyrinth (2006)

A very grown-up fairytale from the mind of Guillermo del Toro. Though its lead character is a little girl (Ivana Baquero, whose wide-eyed wonder is totally relatable), Pan's Labyrinth is unafraid to go to some really dark places. The Faceless Man. Creepy fairies. A man whose nose is graphically busted in by a very human villain. 

Then there's Pan himself, a towering faun who'd make a meal out of Mr Tumnus. But what's most impressive with del Toro's movies is how the fantasy and reality worlds are never quite separated. Young Ofelia may venture into a grim, subterranean reality plagued with monsters, but her reality is.... well, quite similar actually.

6. The Princess Bride (1987)

Whenever a new live-action comedy fantasy gets released, you can pretty much guarantee it'll attempt to sell itself as the new Princess Bride. Many have tried (hello, Your Highness); many have failed.

Quite simply one of the funniest fantasies out there, Princess Bride is a post-modern spin on traditional fairytales. It unravels through a great wraparound segment featuring a young Fred Savage as a boy who begs his granddad to read him the story before bed. While his pop-pop reads him the tale, the movie begins, freshening up damsel in distress cliches with awesome action and just a touch of romance. The young lad's own thoughts on the story cut through at times, making this perhaps the most successful meta fantasy of all time. 

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