Top 10 Must-Watch Fantasy Epics before ‘Dungeons & Dragons’
For the second instalment in its new NME Screen series, NME is hosting a special advanced screening of Dungeons & Dragons: Honour Among Thieves – a fantasy epic based on the iconic tabletop role-playing game.
The advanced screening of Dungeon & Dragons: Honour Among Thieves – starring Chris Pine, Michelle Rodriguez, Hugh Grant and more – will take place at London’s Finsbury Park Picturehouse on Thursday March 30, a day before the film goes on general release. Exclusive NME and Dungeons & Dragons merch will also be on offer – tickets are free and available now via Dice.
To whet your appetite, here’s a guide to 10 other fantasy epics that will transport you to a whole new world.
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)
Each film in Peter Jackson’s landmark trilogy is a must-see, but the first is his masterpiece. It’s not just a technical marvel that collected four Oscars from a massive 13 nominations, but also a stunning piece of storytelling that really captures the high-stakes machinations of J.R.R Tolkien’s fantasy world. Plus, Ian McKellen supplies lashings of gravitas as the good wizard Gandalf.
A fantasy movie teaming David Bowie with a load of Jim Henson puppets was never not going to be a cult classic. A young Jennifer Connelly stars as Sarah, a 16-year-old girl who enters a dangerous otherwordly maze to rescue her half-brother Toby (Toby Williams) from Bowie’s flamboyant Goblin King. It’s a surreal dark fairytale featuring one of Bowie’s most underrated bangers: ‘Magic Dance’.
The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (2005)
This lavish adaptation of C.S. Lewis’ iconic novel has plenty to recommend it, not least Liam Neeson as the voice of Aslan the lion and Tilda Swinton as a memorably ethereal White Witch. James McAvoy pops up, too, as Mr. Tumnus, the friendly fawn who helps Lucy (Georgie Henley) when she stumbles into a magical fantasy world while hiding in a wardrobe. It’s a classic tale brought to life with fine performances and terrific visuals.
All sword duels and sorcery, this fantasy epic set in the Scottish Highlands spawned a long-running franchise. Christopher Lambert stars as Connor MacLeod, an immortal warrior who embarks on a journey to win “The Prize” – the collective power of all immortals throughout history. Sean Connery co-stars as his mentor Ramírez and Queen wrote several songs for the soundtrack, including the fittingly immortal hit ‘A Kind Of Magic’.
Bowie’s son Duncan Jones directs this mega-budget adaptation of the enduringly popular video game series. Packed with dazzling special effects, it’s a big, bombastic origin story setting up a conflict for the ages between humans and orcs. Toby Kebbell’s seaRingly intense performance as Durotan, a conflicted orc leader, stands out among a stacked ensemble cast that includes Dominic Cooper, Paula Patton and Ben Foster.
My Neighbor Totoro (1988)
This animated classic from the incomparable Studio Ghibli remains almost impossibly charming. Set in rural Japan in the 1950s, it follows sisters Satsuki and Mei as they befriend a wood spirit called Totoro while seeking a distraction from their mother’s chronic illness. It’s an enchanting fantasy that taps into the ineffable melancholy we feel when we look back at our childhoods.
Exec produced by George Lucas, this visually impressive fantasy movie wasn’t a hit when it played in cinemas. But, over time, it built such a loyal following that Disney+ commissioned last year’s sequel series, also called Willow. The original film teams Warwick Davis’s title character, an aspiring magician, with Val Kilmer’s reluctant warrior Madmartigan on a mission to protect a baby from an evil queen. It’s a fun, engrossing ride.
This ’90s favourite stars Robin Williams as a grown man trapped inside a supernatural, jungle-themed board game. Williams’ trademark zany energy is the perfect compliment to a plot that chooses chaos every time – an animal stampede through town in the middle of the film? Why not?! The recent sequels starring Dwayne Johnson and Nick Jonas, 2017’s Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle and 2019’s Jumanji: The Next Level, are also a hoot.
Anchored by a magnetic Angelina Jolie performance, this Disney fantasy movie is a clever, feminist retooling of the old Sleeping Beauty myth. Here, we find out why the title character became the self-styled “Mistress of All Evil”, and see her take steps to right her wrongs. It’s a glossy modern blockbuster that matches its visual thrills with a genuinely compelling character arc.
Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (2010)
Until Warcraft came along, this action-packed fantasy film was the highest-grossing video game adaptation of all time. Heading up a classy cast, Jake Gyllenhaal stars as Dustan, a street urchin-turned-Prince whose mettle is tested when his scheming uncle Nizam (Ben Kingsley) makes a bloody power-grab. It’s a really solid swashbuckler that could easily have spawned a franchise.
Dungeons & Dragons: Honour Among Thieves hits UK, Irish and US cinemas on March 31. Get tickets here.
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