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Out of this World – Film's Top Fantasy Worlds

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Sep 10, 2013 | 6:00am EDT
The Lord of the RingsNew Line Cinema

When it comes down to it, movies are nothing more than a means for escape. What better way to flee from reality than to visit some of the most stunning worlds, places so beautiful that it’s often hard to comprehend that someone had imagined it. These movies have offered moviegoers some of the most memorable fantasy worlds anyone has seen. Whether they were adapted from one of the most beloved fantasy series in literature, or spawned from the minds of visionary directors, these worlds mesmerised and enthralled generations of moviegoers.

Middle Earth, Lord of the Rings Trilogy



Realizing the different realms of Middle Earth is no simple task, but Peter Jackson and the talented folks at Weta Workshop were up to the challenge. The verdant fields of the Shire, the dark halls of Moria, and the idyllic vale of Rivendell are just a few of the tantalizing settings that wowed the audiences in The Lord of the Rings Trilogy and The Hobbit.

Fantasia, The Neverending Story



A child’s imagination know no boundaries. The fantastical 1984 movie The Neverending Story tells the story of what would happen if the technological marvels of the modern world stifle children’s imagination. The result is a crumbling fantasy world filled with giant talking turtles, a relentless fanged wolf, and a young warrior and his loyal horse.

Pandora, Avatar



James Cameron’s Avatar was beautiful as it was dangerous, as large predators prowled the ground and soared through the skies. Glow-in-the-dark trees illuminated the night, while giant colorful flowers painted the dense forests of the floating Hallelujah Mountains. But what was perhaps the most stunning image was the gigantic gas giant planet illuminating Pandora’s nighttime sky.

The world of Legend



Light and darkness were important themes in the 1985 fantasy movie Legend. Starring Tom Cruise, the picturesque wilderness turns into a world of darkness after a unicorn is captured by one of the most memorable fantasy villains in film, the Lord of Darkness (Tim Curry).

Yubaba's Bathhouse, Spirited Away



Hayao Miyazaki has crafted several fantastical animated movies for Studio Ghibli, but none as memorable Academy Award-winning Spirited Away. Set in a bathhouse run by the giant-headed witch Yubaba, Spirited Away tells the coming of age story of 10-year old girl Chihiro who comes across some of the wildest characters ever imagined in film.

The Labyrinth



Before computer animation dominated the industry, Jim Henson’s company made its name bringing to life some of the strangest creatures seen in film. He made full use of his talented crew when he directed Labyrinth, starring a very young Jennifer Connelly and David Bowie as the Goblin King. Aside from the the numerous animatronics used to bring to life the countless creatures in the film, the movie featured very elaborate sets including the M.C. Escher-inspired stair room seen at the film’s climax.

The Star Wars Universe



Tatooine, the ice planet Hoth, and Endor are just a few of the many recognizable worlds within George Lucas’s Star Wars Universe.  If the vast desert expanses or the volatile and explosive world of Mustafar isn’t enough to display Lucas’s ability to fabricate alien worlds, then the various creature features seen in each planet should leave little doubt about man’s impressive imagination.

Oz, The Wizard of Oz



With movies nowadays heavily leaning on CGI effects, it becomes even more impressive that a movie like The Wizard of Oz was made in 1939. Bringing the Land of Oz back then was nothing short of movie magic, and must have dropped the jaws of any moviegoer who watched it in the theaters. It left a very long lasting legacy, which is why the American Film Institute named it the top fantasy movie of all time.

More:
Top Hayao Miyazaki Films

10 Greatest Sci-Fi Dystopias
Sci-Fi Movies that Brood


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