Skip to main content

Best & Worst: Fantasy Films

Best: The Neverending Story (1984)

So good that the mere mention of that title hurls the flick’s cheerful theme tune into your head for the rest of the working day. Cleverly blurring the boundaries between fact and fiction, Neverending Story is dark for a kid’s film (the horse dies!), and features some seriously grown up philosophy (“say my name!”).

Altogether now: “Neverending stoooryyy, ah, ah, ahhhh.”

Worst: In The Name Of The King (2008)

One name: Uwe Boll. Why anybody would work with this man is anybody’s guess. But for some reason, Jason Statham thought it would be a good idea, dragging Ron Perlman and Ray Liotta along for the ride.

Of course, the film now resides alongside all of Boll’s other films as some of the worst ever made. Crafted on a massive budget of $60m, the film went on to gross a piffling $13m worldwide. We rest our case.

Best: Pans Labyrinth (2006)

Guillermo del Toro may not be directing The Hobbit , but he’d already crafted a near-perfect fantasy tale with Pan’s Labyrinth , so we’re not too upset (oh, who are we kidding?).

A dark, twisted fairytale like only del Toro can dream up, Pan’s Labyrinth is equal parts shocking and beguiling, with unforgettable imagery and an ending that’ll have you in tears (is it happy? Sad? You decide).

Worst: Superbabies: Baby Geniuses 2 (2004)

Oh, Jon Voight, whatever has happened to you? The once respectable movie star sinks to new lows with this nappy-filler – not only is it a sequel to a diabolical movie, but it’s a movie about talking toddler superheroes.

And at no point Voight though to a) burn the script or b) fire his agent. Shambles. Utter shambles.

Best: The Princess Bride (1987)

Nigh on a decade ago, we voted this the 38th greatest comedy ever made. And we stand by it (though we’d probably put it a bit higher these days).

Though essentially a popcorn movie, it retains a warm heart and biting wit that the popcorn movies of today could only dream of attaining. That dialogue’s hella quotable, as well.

Worst: Clash Of The Titans (2010)

One of 2010’s biggest turkeys (it’s already graced many of our Best & Worst lists, so what’s one more?), Clash may have caused less of an outcry if it weren’t for its woeful post-production 3D conversion.

Instead, it’s become the pin-up for how not to make 3D movies, especially for a bile-filled James Cameron. That said, the rest of the film feels just as flat, with Sam Worthington trying his hardest as a legendary hero, but saddled with scrappy CGI and a distinct lack of a script.

Best: Legend (1985)

Notable mostly thanks to Ridley Scott’s jaw-dropping imagery, Legend could be accused of the old ‘style over substance’ argument. And while it’s true that its to-die-for visuals are far more impressive than anything the story can throw at us, Legend is not without its charms.

It boasts an on-the-rise Tom Cruise, the perfect boy soldier if ever there was one, while Tim Curry gives an imposing performance as the Lord Of Darkness himself. Not quite legendary stuff, but decent enough.

Worst: Pathfinder (2007)

If you’ve already seen this, you’re no doubt concerned that the upcoming Conan reboot is by Pathfinder’ s director Marcus Nispel. The remake-happy German-American director helms similar barbaric action in this 1000 AD set re-do of the 1987 Norwegian film.

Our official verdict? “Dull and stupid, with some of the worst acting and dire-logue you'll see/hear all year. Pathfinder is a case of cinematic rape and pillage.” We wouldn’t change a word.

Best: The Wizard Of Oz (1939)

Ah, the original and, some might argue, the best fantasy film to come out of Hollywood. Based on L. Frank Baum’s novel, this adap from director Victor Fleming (who was aided by an army of uncredited co-directors) is breezy, terrifying and the definition of a true classic.

Anybody who didn’t spend their childhood dressing up as a flying monkey to scare their siblings clearly missed out.

Worst: Neverending Story III (1994)

Will this story never end? The second Neverending outing was bad enough, but this third hammer in the franchise’s coffin is the last straw. Starring Jason James Richter (yeah, the guy who liked to Free Willy ), it’s a shameless attempt to rinse the original for every penny.

Shoddy effects work doesn’t help (why does the luck dragon now look like Sean Connery?), and happily this film’s lacklustre reception forced Miramax and Warner Bros to close the book forever.