The best fantasy movies on Netflix MENA

Escape into these fantasy worlds

The best fantasy movies on Netflix MENA

Cinema is often seen as the ultimate form of escapism. If that's the case then fantasy movies are surely the medium's purest and most pertinent forms of transportation, grabbing the viewer and plunging them into distant lands and magical concepts that question our own relationship with the world.

If you’re looking to get away for it all, we’ve rounded up the very best fantasy films available on Netflix MENA.

My Neighbour Totoro (1988)

Director: Hayao Miyazaki
Voices: Chika Sakamoto, Noriko Hidaka, Hitoshi Takagi
Magic moment: All aboard the feline express.
A smash-hit in Japan, Hayao Miyazaki’s family fantasy is hands-down one of the most charming films ever made. It’s the story of two sisters who move with their dad to the sticks to be close to their sick mum, and there meet a big-bummed snuggly monster with a goofy toothpaste grin and a twelve-legged cat bus.

Pan’s Labyrinth (2006)

Director: Guillermo del Toro
Cast: Ivana Baquero, Sergi López, Maribel Verdú, Doug Jones, Ariadna Gil
Magic moment: Does any single image better encapsulate the darker side of fantasy than the hideous Pale Man, with eyes in the palms of his hands?
Writer-director Guillermo del Toro is the most original and uncompromising cinema fantasist of the modern era, and Pan’s Labyrinth is his most striking statement. This gruesome, disquieting coming-of-age story draws on ancient influences – the central thread of a young woman drawn into terrible, otherworldly danger goes right back to Little Red Riding Hood and beyond – and adds an unflinching depiction of the brutality of war.

Princess Mononoke (1997)

Director: Hayao Miyazaki
Voices: Yōji Matsuda, Yuriko Ishida, Yūko Tanaka
Magic moment: The title character is introduced sucking poison out of a wound. This isn’t your traditional princess.
My Neighbor Totoro is beloved of kids around the world, but it was Princess Mononoke more than a decade later that truly brought the films of Hayao Miyazaki to the Western world. An environmentalist epic about giant forest gods, the blind greed of human industry and a warrior princess raised by wolves, this grand fantasy story is animation on a scale unlike anything Disney has ever tried.

Spirited Away (2001)

Directors: Hayao Miyazaki
Voices: Rumi Hiiragi, Miyu Irino, Mari Natsuki
Magic moment: Parents are transformed into animals, and our heroine is truly on her own.
A high point not only of the consistently excellent output of Japan’s Studio Ghibli but of animation as a whole, this magical adventure turns the wanderings of a lonely ten-year-old girl into an updated Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, complete with nods to ancient folklore and modern ecological anxieties. It’s still the highest-grossing movie in Japanese history.

The Dark Crystal (1982)

Jim Henson, Frank Oz
Cast: Stephen Garlick, Lisa Maxwell, Billie Whitelaw, Percy Edwards
Magic moment: When the Mystics and the Skeksis merge.
Haunting and inventive, this showed us the dark side of The Muppets ringmaster Jim Henson, who offered up a gothic world of magic and danger partly inspired by the darkness of the Grimm fairy-tales. It’s a classic quest story: Jen, a Gelfling, must fulfil a prophecy and defeat the ageing, decaying race of Skeksis in favour of the gentler, wiser Mystics. The film’s character design is as remarkable as its faith in the imagination of children.

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)

Director: Peter Jackson
Cast: Elijah Wood, Ian McKellen, Orlando Bloom, Liv Tyler
Magic moment: The trilogy’s greatest showdown, as Gandalf faces the fiery Balrog on the bridge of Khazad-dûm. ‘You! Shall! Not! Pass!’
With his grand, globe-conquering adaptation of J. R. R. Tolkien’s genre-defining trilogy, Peter Jackson dragged fantasy into the digital age, managing beyond all the odds to make it at least semi-cool in the process. It may lack the blood and thunder of later instalments, but for us the first film remains the best: it has the most direct narrative – a road movie, essentially, from the rustic middle-English hush of the Shire to the forbidding shores of the Anduin – and the sweetest character moments, from Bilbo’s sad departure to Boromir’s sacrificial end. And that’s the reason why Jackson’s Rings movies work, and will continue to thrill moviegoers for generations to come: the characters are as important as the special effects. A simple tactic, perhaps, but a blindingly effective one.

The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002)

Director: Peter Jackson
Cast: Elijah Wood, Ian McKellen, Orlando Bloom, Liv Tyler
Magic moment: Gollum and Sméagol have a psychotic conversation and never once do you think about CGI.
A boatload of Oscars would arrive with the next film, The Return of the King, but here’s where Peter Jackson’s trilogy cohered as a triumph of cutting-edge technology and emotional impact. Andy Serkis’s Gollum – a fully fleshed digital creation – stole the show, yet this film also digs deep to depict the rallying redemption of King Théoden, from weeping at the grave of his son to leading the armies of Rohan into battle.

The Princess Bride (1987)

Rob Reiner
Cast: Cary Elwes, Robin Wright, André the Giant
Magic moment: ‘My name is Inigo Montoya, you killed my father, prepare to die!’ Enough said.
Blending fantasy and comedy is a tricky task – just ask David Gordon Green and the guys behind 2011’s woeful stoner spoof Your Highness – but director Rob Reiner and author-screenwriter William Goldman made it look effortless with this feisty, fast-paced and genuinely funny fairy-tale. Their genius is to treat the fantastical elements completely seriously – the costumes are ornate, the special effects never look goofy and the world of the film is totally convincing, allowing the humour to shine through.

The NeverEnding Story (1984)

Director: Wolfgang Petersen
Cast: Noah Hathaway, Barret Oliver, Tami Stronach
Magic moment: The first flight of the luck dragon Falkor is a scene of pure, soaring joy.
One of a number of classic fantasy movies based around the contradictory idea that the purest imaginative worlds can only be found in books, The NeverEnding Story draws on the entire pantheon of fantastical fiction – from Norse and Egyptian folklore to Wagnerian excess to post-Tolkien adventure stories – and creates a uniquely dreamlike world of wonder and wish-fulfilment. The theme tune’s terrific, too.

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