25 fantasy films that lock horns, swords, and wands with Harry Potter

Breaking the spell: Harry Potter’s story comes to an end — but will readers, or reading, ever be the same? By Joyce Millman"The last Potter: The end is never easy, is it?" By Sharon Steel.
Wizards and teenage angst in the form of broken wands is no new spell. The Harry Potter series, with its centaurs, giants, and invisible cloaks, is a neat little package ― but it’s just that. J.K. Rowling didn’t invent the genre, after all, and, when it comes to movies, a whole lot of fantasy films exceed the Potter pap in brains, humor, quests, spells, and imagination. On the eve of Rowling’s last book in the Potter series, we offer a list of those movies. Through dangers untold and hardships unnumbered, we unearthed 25 fantasy films that lock horn, swords, and wands with Potter. No reading required.


The Dark Crystal, with its three suns and misshapen Muppets, is not kiddie fantasy. The vulture-like Skeksis of planet Thra do more for sci-fi than real aliens. And, compared to SkekUng — the evil Skeksis Emperor — Voldemort looks like a regular Muggle.


Tom Cruise walks the woods of stolen dreams and stolen horns as Jack O’The Green in this fantasy film about, well, good and evil. Search the Internet Movie Database far and wide: there is no Harry Potter quote as good as this: “She was so sweet, I could eat her brains like jam!” Thank you, Blunder (Kiran Shah). Shah has since been reduced to a mere stuntman by the Harry Potter franchise. Though, he does currently hold the Guinness World Record for “Shortest Professional Stuntman Currently Working in Film.”


Before Red Bull was a shitty-tasting energy drink, it was a fiery, white-eyed apparition with frothing fangs. The Last Unicorn, with Butterfly, Skull, Mommy Fortuna, and Red Bull, is a classic tale of enchanted forests and extinction. The Unicorn is on display in Mommy Fortuna’s Midnight Carnival and with it in its cage are all of our imaginations. So beguiling is a cartoon of tides, white with the immortal unicorn.


Unable to secure the rights to The Hobbit, George Lucas wrote Willow, a 1988 J.R.R. Tolkien knock-off starring dwarfs and Val Kilmer as who-can-forget Madmartigan. Queens, rogues, sorcerers, and possums — this cult wonder has it almost together. And, it was the first film to use morphing special effects, which was a really good idea at the time.


Imagine yourself a rodent in a room full of wiggy, high-heeled witches. Such is Luke’s foreboding lot — as boy turned mouse — in the movie based on Roald Dahl’s oft-censored children’s book The Witches. Anjelica Huston’s purple-eyed Grand High Witch, with her greasy gnarled humpback is the stuff kid’s nightmares are made of. And nightmares, like banquets of bald-headed hags, should never be subject to censorship.


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