About The Princess Bride
The Princess Bride has become a perennial classic since its release in 1987. Rob Reiner directs William Goldman’s script based on his book. Featuring a swashbuckling Cary Elwes who must rescue his true love Buttercup (Robin Wright) from the villainous Prince Humperdinck (Chris Sarandon).
It has a framing device with Peter Falk reading the story to a bedridden Fred Savage, promising ‘fencing, fighting, torture, revenge, giants, monsters, chases, escapes, true love, miracles…’ The film works as both a fairytale adventure while also gently ribbing and commenting on the tropes along the way (‘is this a kissing book?’).
1. The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (1988)
Terry Gilliam’s elaborate fantasy also has a story within a story, with a theatrical troupe performing the Baron’s fanciful tales only to be interrupted by the elderly Baron, who recounts his various adventures while embarking on a new one that takes him and a young Sarah Polley to the moon and into the belly of a great whale. A touch more adult-oriented, The Adventures of Baron Munchausen is a tribute to the power of storytelling and imagination.
2. Labyrinth (1986)
Jim Henson and George Lucas’ classic fairytale takes a young Jennifer Connelly on a dreamlike journey into the titular Labyrinth to rescue her infant brother from the clutches of David Bowie’s Goblin King. A smorgasbord of Henson’s amazing creatures, songs (Dance Magic dance) and fun, The Princess Bride takes place near the top of the fantasy film list.
3. Stardust (2007)
This adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s novel has a similar light-hearted approach to the fantasy formula, with a young Daredevil Charlie Cox venturing into the magical kingdom of Stormhold to retrieve a fallen star. He comes across sky pirates (led by Robert De Niro) and Michelle Pfeiffer’s witch who wants the star (as personified by Clare Danes) for herself. Stardust is a delightful romp with plenty of laughs.
4. The Neverending Story (1984)
Another classic ‘80s fantasy with the framing device of a world within a book coming to life. The world of Fantasia is being destroyed by the Nothing. Only the heroic child warrior Atreyu and Bastian, the boy reading the book, can save the realm. A dark-hued fantasy with plenty of wonder, kids from that era fell in love with Falkor the Luck Dragon and were terrified by the giant wolf Gorm. The incredibly ‘80s sounding title song was recently immortalized in the third season of Stranger Things.
5. Willow (1988)
Having put Star Wars to bed in 1983, George Lucas delved into fantasy, first with Labyrinth and then with this fantasy adventure that introduced the world to Warwick Davis, Joanne Whalley and confirmed Val Kilmer’s star status as the arrogant warrior Madmartigan. Though derivative of Lord of the Rings, there is much fun to be had in Willow and the ILM special effects still hold up.
6. A Knight’s Tale (2001)
The late Heath Ledger proved his leading man status in Brian Helgeland’s anachronistic medieval tale. Like Princess Bride, there are secret identities, courtships, sneering princes and a light tone. The use of mostly 1970’s songs by Queen, AC/DC, and David Bowie added a modern punch to the fun.
7. Big Trouble In Little China (1986)
John Carpenter’s cult classic (aren’t all his films?) takes a similarly irreverent approach to its tale of Chinese magic and monsters in San Francisco. Eternally mulleted Kurt Russell gave us one of his most iconic roles as bumbling trucker Jack Burton who, with a lot of help from his friends, battles the evil wizard Lo Pan.
8. Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988)
This groundbreaking mix of live-action and animation has an adult noir tone mixed with raucous comedy in Robert Zemeckis’ classic. Bob Hoskins plays the straight man as a detective reluctantly paired up with the anarchic Roger Rabbit as they go on a Chinatown-esque investigation through 1930s Hollywood and Toon Town. A frightening Christopher Lloyd scared kids with his crazy eyes and torturing of a cute animated shoe.
9. Galaxy Quest (2000)
Tim Allen’s finest role (sorry, Buzz) is nestled amongst a stellar cast (Sigourney Weaver, Alan Rickman and a scene stealing Sam Rockwell) as the cast of a long cancelled Star Trek-esque show who are whisked into a real intergalactic conflict by confused aliens, believing the show to be real. The bickering actors have to rise to the challenge, and cosmic hilarity ensues. It hits the tropes so well that many fans have included it in their list of favorite Star Trek films.
10. Lemony Snicket’s A series of Unfortunate Events (2004)
This book adaptation and franchise non-starter was the best Tim Burton film he never made, with Jim Carrey eating up the fantastic scenery as terrible actor and villain Count Olaf. The mix of whimsy and darkness will delight children and adults alike. Netflix rebooted Lemony Snicket into a Neil Patrick Harris starring series that managed to finish the story of the Baudelaire orphans in style.
11. Edward Scissorhands (1990)
Tim Burton appears here with this classic satirical fairytale, with Johnny Depp’s ‘unfinished’ Edward brought into the pastel-coloured and conservative suburbs. A brief romance with Winona Ryder (Wino Forever?) and a Beauty and the Beast-like denouement is offset with some great fish-out-of-water comedy.
12. Hook (1992)
Even the mighty Steven Spielberg couldn’t wrestle this updated Peter Pan story to the screen, with Robin Williams as the grown-up Pan battling a hammy Dustin Hoffman as the titular Hook. Also featuring Julia Roberts as Tinkerbell and the extremely early ‘90s skater Lost Boys.
13. Inkheart (2008)
Another ‘book coming to life’ film with Brendan Fraser (towards the end of his heyday) as a man with the ability to bring characters out of books into the real world. Another of the many attempts by studios in the aughts to replicate the success of Harry Potter. And like the rest of them, a series never eventuated.
14. Mirror Mirror (2012)
This lighthearted romp takes the Snow White legend and adds humor and style courtesy of director Tarsem Singh. Julia Roberts plays the evil Queen, while Lily Collins, daughter of Phil, plays Snow White and a pre-cancelled Armie Hammer mugs it up as the Prince Charming of the piece.
15. Ella Enchanted (2004)
Anne Hathaway top-lines another humour-filled update of the Cinderella tale that aims for that Princess Bride feel and even includes Cary Elwes in the mix but isn’t remembered as fondly.
16. The City of Lost Children (1995)
French fabulists Jeunet & Caro crafted this dark, surreal fantasy where a mad scientist who can’t dream kidnaps orphans to steal theirs. Visually stunning, it stars Ron Perlman as a circus strongman and Dominic Pinon as a group of clones. Worth seeking out if you haven’t seen it.
17. Zathura (2005)
This intergalactic spin on Jumanji, from the same author, sends a group of kids (including Kristen Stewart) into space. While not setting the world on fire at the time of release, modern-day kids who are fans of the newer Rock-led Jumanji films should give director Jon Favreau’s film (prior to Iron Man) a look.
18. The Mummy (1999)
Brendan Fraser proved he was a man of action and comedy in this less horrific, more swashbuckling reboot of the Universal monster movie classic and kicking off a trilogy. Rachel Weisz also proved her star status as the feisty Evelyn and Arnold Vosloo summons the Egyptian sands as the resurrected Mummy Imhotep.
19. Enchanted (2007)
The popular mid 2000’s musical fantasy mixes live action and animation in tribute to then Disney film son yore. Amy Adams shines as Giselle, the princess looking for true love in modern day New York. A new sequel, Disenchanted, is also worth a look.
20. The Spiderwick Chronicles (2008)
Yet another post-Harry Potter family fantasy and also based on a book series, Spiderwick stars Freddie Highmore as twin brothers who discover a guide to fairies and encounter a whole host of forest dwelling creatures.
21. Pan’s Labyrinth (2006)
One for the grownups. Guillermo Del Toro’s films often tread the fine line between darkness and light, and it was Pan’s Labyrinth where he perfected that mix. A young girl in Francoist Spain in 1944 must deal with the harsh realities of the war-torn countryside and the bizarre creatures of the Labyrinth. A vivid and heartbreaking fairytale with some shocking violence – so don’t show it to the kiddies just yet.
How do these films compare to The Princess Bride?
What did you think of these films? Are any of these your favorites?
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