Working on your latest Dungeons & Dragons campaign, but struggling for ideas? Then take a break and relax with a fantasy film… or three.
Over the years, the film industry has created a wealth of fantasy movies, from sword and sorcery adventures to sprawling tales of heroism. Some of these pictures boast epic storytelling and imaginative characters, while others simply offer ferocious beasts and terrifying creatures, but all can provide a source of inspiration.
So, if you’re in the mood for something dark and fantasy-filled, you may want to take a look at this list of movies. Amongst the collection of films listed below you are sure to discover lots of escapism, plenty of imaginative worlds, and possibly a few ideas for that aforementioned campaign.
List of Fantasy movies for Dungeons and Dragons fans
The Beastmaster (1982)
First up is action-adventure movie, The Beastmaster – a sword and sorcery tale which has developed quite a cult following over the years. The movie follows the story of Dar (as played by Marc Singer) who is a young hero who can communicate with animals.
The Beastmaster is ‘80s through-and-through, but if you’re after a fun romp with a bronzed barbarian, an evil wizard, and a menagerie of creatures, this could be for you!
Up next is Willow, a fantasy film from director Ron Howard. The movie focuses on farmer and aspiring sorcerer Willow Ufgood, who risks his life to save a young baby from certain death.
Val Kilmer, Joanne Whalley, Billy Barty, and Gavan O’Herlihy provide support, while Jean Marsh steals every scene as the vile Queen Bavmorda.
Tom Cruise does epic dark fantasy in this next movie, which is Legend – an atmospheric picture from director Ridley Scott. The film tells the story of a ‘pure being’ known as Jack, who must stop the Lord of Darkness (Tim Curry) from threatening everyone and everything.
David Bowie takes on the role of Jareth, the Goblin King, while Jennifer Connelly is Sarah, in this next film – a superb fantasy set in a land filled with goblins and creatures. Directed by the legendary Jim Henson, Labyrinth mixes live-action drama with state-of-the-art puppetry, to create a truly wonderful coming-of-age tale not to be missed.
Clash of the Titans (1981)
If you love nothing more than seeing endless monsters on the big screen, then you are sure to love the 1981 fantasy film, Clash of the Titans. The movie follows the story of Greek hero, Perseus as he does battle with a gruesome collection of terrifying creatures, including Medusa, Calibos, and the frightening Kraken!
Another cult favourite from the 1980s, and another brilliantly imaginative piece of fantasy, Krull is a delightfully dark picture about a prince who sets out to rescue his bride from the clutches of the Beast! Along the way he must recruit a band of companions, while evading the clutches of the Slayers.
Conan the Barbarian (1982)
In Conan the Barbarian, action-hero Arnold Schwarzenegger takes to the big screen to embody the classic pulp hero. The movie is filled to the brim with muscles, swords, and various scenes of action, and is a must-see adventure for ‘80s fantasy fans.
Conan the Destroyer (1984)
Arnie returns to the role of Conan for this sequel: Conan the Destroyer. While not as strong as its predecessor, the film continues the story, with Arnie doing battle once more as Robert E. Howard’s legendary character.
Red Sonja (1985)
You want more Arnie? OK, you can have him, but this time in a supporting role via the adventure flick, Red Sonja!
This time around, the Austrian Oak takes a back seat to Brigitte Nielsen, who plays the titular character for this fantasy adventure. Often mistakenly regarded as a spin-off to the Conan movies (it’s not), Red Sonja is a standalone tale, about another epic character from the mind of Robert E. Howard.
Matthew Broderick, Rutger Hauer, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Leo McKern star in Ladyhawke – a medieval fantasy from director Richard Donner. The movie follows the story of a young thief, who finds himself getting mixed up in adventure!
The Dark Crystal (1982)
Another Henson tale, this time a co-picture from Jim Henson and Frank Oz. The focus here is on a quest to restore the balance of power, which is at threat from the creepy-looking beings known as the Skeksis.
Return to Oz (1985)
You might think a (loose) sequel to The Wizard of Oz is an odd choice for this particular list of films, but that simply suggests you’re not familiar with Return to Oz – a very dark tale, which sees Dorothy Gale return to the mysterious fantasy land of Oz. This time around she discovers the Yellow Brick Road in pieces, the Munchkins long gone, and the terrifying Gnome King ruling with a ferocious fist!
The Princess Bride (1987)
A gallant hero, a dangerous quest, and an ‘inconceivable’ battle of wits – it can only be The Princess Bride, another ‘80s favourite which continues to get better with age. The movie plays out like an epic fairy tale, filled with swashbuckling action and adventure.
John Boorman directs this British fantasy, based on the Arthurian romance, Le Morte d’Arthur by Thomas Malory. The movie retells the legend of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, and features a cast that includes Liam Neeson, Patrick Stewart, Gabriel Byrne, Corin Redgrave, and Helen Mirren.
Based on the video game series of the same name, Warcraft is an action fantasy film from director Duncan Jones. The movie follows the story of two sets of heroes who are locked in battle, and who are desperate to secure peace to a troubled land.
The Black Cauldron (1985)
Set in a mythical realm, during the Middle Ages, The Black Cauldron is an animated fantasy about a young boy and his encounter with the Horned King. The film is loosely based on the first two books in The Chronicles of Prydain series by Lloyd Alexander, and features luscious animation.
Hawk the Slayer (1980)
John Terry and Jack Palance take to the screen for this British sword and sorcery adventure movie, about two brothers who gain control of a magical sword. Terry Marcel directs, while Annette Crosbie, Roy Kinnear, and Patrick Magee take supporting roles.
A young wizard goes on the hunt for a dragon in this adventure tale from director Matthew Robbins. Industrial Light and Magic (ILM) provide the special effects, while Peter MacNicol takes on the lead role as Galen Bradwarden.
Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)
Arguably the most iconic fantasy tale of them all kicks off in Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring – the epic first chapter in a live-action adaptation of J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Peter Jackson slides into the director’s chair for this must-see film, while Elijah Wood, Ian McKellen, Sean Astin, and Viggo Mortensen provide fine performances as Tolkien’s legendary literary characters.
Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002)
The Lord of the Rings story continues in The Two Towers – another epic fantasy from Peter Jackson. This film furthers the story, introducing new characters, and new twists and turns, with plenty of fantastical elements along the way.
Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)
Concluding Peter Jackson’s film trilogy, The Return of the King brings The Lord of the Rings story to a close in magnificent style. All of the major characters are back, for a huge and visually stunning send off.
The Flight of Dragons (1982)
John Ritter, Victor Buono, and James Earl Jones provide voices for this animated film from directors Arthur Rankin Jr. and Jules Bass. The movie focuses on a quest to stop an evil wizard from using dark magic to conquer the world.
The Last Unicorn (1982)
After discovering she is the last of her kind, a unicorn sets out on a quest to uncover what happened to the rest of her species. The Last Unicorn is another animated fantasy from directors Rankin/Bass, and is based on the novel of the same name by Peter S. Beagle.
Fire and Ice (1983)
Ralph Bakshi takes on directing duties for Fire and Ice – a dark, animated adventure movie featuring character designs from legendary artist, Frank Frazetta. The movie features a voice cast that includes William Ostrander, Maggie Roswell, and Steve Sandor.
Christopher Lambert stars in this action-adventure film about an age-old battle between immortal warriors. Lambert plays the role of Connor MacLeod, while Clancy Brown takes on his nemesis, The Kurgan.
The Green Knight (2021)
Adapted from the 14th Century poem, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, David Lowery’s medieval fantasy film The Green Knight is a beautifully shot movie, filled with fantasy. The movie stars Dev Patel, Alicia Vikander, and Joel Edgerton, with Ralph Ineson as the eponymous Knight.
Dungeons & Dragons (2000)
Love it or loathe it, the 2000 live-action Dungeons & Dragons movie is a must-see fantasy film for all D&D fans. Why? Because it is the first attempt to officially bring D&D to life on the big screen.
Was this a good thing? That’s for you to decide. Either way, it was directed by Courtney Solomon, and stars Justin Whalin, Marlon Wayans, Thora Birch, and Jeremy Irons.
Masters of the Universe (1987)
He-Man and Skeletor do battle in this fantasy romp which mashes swords and sci-fi together for an adventure across the stars. In the movie, He-Man comes to Earth while trying to escape the clutches of his fearsome foe.
Clash of the Titans (2010)
Another take on the Perseus story, but this one is a more CGI-heavy interpretation than the 1981 version of Clash of the Titans. Sam Worthington takes on the role of Perseus, who once again battles Medusa et al.
Wrath of the Titans (2012)
A sequel to 2010’s Clash of the Titans, with Worthington back playing the lead role. More monsters, more CGI, and more Greek mythology a-plenty!
Heading into the Marvel Cinematic Universe now for Thor – an adventure romp starring Chris Hemsworth. The movie – from director Kenneth Branagh – tells the origin of the titular Asgardian thunder god, who travels over the rainbow bridge and finds himself on Earth.
Doctor Strange (2016)
Sticking with Marvel for another origin story, this time focusing on the MCU’s sorcerer supreme, Doctor Strange. Benedict Cumberbatch plays the title role, as a man who must get to grips with the mystical arts in order to become the world’s greatest protector.
Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters (2013)
Jeremy Renner and Gemma Arterton take on the title roles for this action horror movie, which repositions the fairy tale characters of Hansel and Gretel as witch hunters. Tommy Wirkola writes and directs, while Famke Janssen and Peter Stormare pop up in supporting roles.
The 10th Kingdom (2000)
Bit of a cheat this next one, as The 10th Kingdom is not a movie but a mini-series set in a world of fairy tales. The story follows a young woman and her father who are transported from New York into a magical land filled with trolls and an evil queen.
Split across five feature-length parts, The 10th Kingdom delighted audiences when it was broadcast back in 2000 and it continues to attract fans today.
Reign of Fire (2002)
Set in England, twenty years after a tunnelling project awakened long-dormant dragons, Reign of Fire is a post-apocalyptic sci-fi fantasy about survival in unprecedented times. The movie stars Christian Bale, Matthew McConaughey and Gerard Butler, and deals with the remnants of humanity, who are trying to survive after dragons have taken over.
Directed by Robert Zemeckis, with a screenplay co-written by Neil Gaiman and Roger Avary, Beowulf is an animated fantasy film, based on the epic poem of the same name. The movie – which is set in the year 507 – features a voice cast that includes Ray Winstone, Angelina Jolie, Anthony Hopkins, and John Malkovich.
The NeverEnding Story (1984)
In The NeverEnding Story, a young boy discovers a magical book which tells of an epic adventure set in the land of Fantasia. In the story, a dark force called the Nothing is on the cusp of engulfing Fantasia, if not for a heroic young warrior and plenty of fantastical characters.
Army of Darkness (1992)
Bruce Campbell stars in this cult horror favourite, which is the third entry in the Evil Dead movie series. Army of Darkness takes place in a Medieval setting and is filled with plenty of adventure, as well as the usual slapstick turn from Campbell.
The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad (1958)
A trio of Sinbad tales now, kicking off with 1958’s The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad. The movie features a wealth of eye-popping creatures, including a skeleton warrior, a genie, and a cyclops.
The Golden Voyage of Sinbad (1973)
Sinbad returns for this second helping of high-fantasy action. This time around, Sinbad locks swords with the evil Prince Koura, as played by former Doctor Who star, Tom Baker.
Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger (1977)
Rounding out this collection of Sinbad movies is Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger – another fantasy-filled blockbuster. The cast includes Patrick Wayne, Taryn Power, Jane Seymour, and Patrick Troughton.
The Hobbit (1977)
Moving back to animation and also back to stories by J. R. R. Tolkien for an animated adaptation of The Hobbit. The feature was produced by Rankin/Bass as a television special back in 1977, and was first broadcast in the US via NBC.
The Lord of the Rings (1978)
Another animated offering, this time from Ralph Bakshi. The movie is simply titled The Lord of the Rings, but is an adaptation of The Fellowship of the Ring, as well as a part adaptation of The Two Towers.
Return of the King (1980)
Continuing the theme of animated Lord of the Rings movies with this third offering: The Return of the King – a television film from Rankin/Bass. The movie adapts the third volume in the LoTR trilogy, and counts Casey Kasem, Don Messick and Brother Theodore amongst its cast.
Jason and the Argonauts (1963)
In Jason and the Argonauts, the eponymous heroes set out on quest to find the Golden Fleece. During their journey, Jason and his Argonauts do battle with the Hydra, a skeleton army, and an animated bronze statue called Talos – all brought to life by the late effects wizard, Ray Harryhausen.
Directed by Rob Cohen, DragonHeart is a family adventure movie which tells the story of a dragon slayer who becomes friends with his supposed enemy. The movie stars Dennis Quaid, Sean Connery, David Thewlis, and Pete Postlethwaite.
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012)
Back to the world of Middle-earth once again for the first in a live-action trilogy of Hobbit movies, beginning with An Unexpected Journey. Peter Jackson directs.
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2013)
Continuing The Hobbit movies with part two: The Desolation of Smaug. Peter Jackson returns to direct, with a cast that includes Ian McKellen, Martin Freeman, Benedict Cumberbatch, Evangeline Lilly, and Orlando Bloom.
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (2014)
The live-action Hobbit trilogy concludes with The Battle of the Five Armies – an epic culmination of the film series. A sizeable cast including Christopher Lee, Sylvester McCoy, and Ian Holm join director Peter Jackson for this popular fantasy feature.
Kull the Conqueror (1997)
And finally, another fantasy film inspired by the stories of Robert E. Howard. Kull the Conqueror stars Kevin Sorbo as the titular barbarian, with Tia Carrere taking on the role of Akivasha.
And that’s your lot. 50 movies that are perfect for those looking for fantasy films.
To save you from having to scroll back up, here are all of the movies in one handy list:
- The Beastmaster (1982)
- Willow (1988)
- Legend (1985)
- Labyrinth (1986)
- Clash of the Titans (1981)
- Krull (1983)
- Conan the Barbarian (1982)
- Conan the Destroyer (1984)
- Red Sonja (1985)
- Ladyhawke (1985)
- The Dark Crystal (1982)
- Return to Oz (1985)
- The Princess Bride (1987)
- Excalibur (1981)
- Warcraft (2016)
- The Black Cauldron (1985)
- Hawk the Slayer (1980)
- Dragonslayer (1981)
- Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)
- Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002)
- Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)
- The Flight of Dragons (1982)
- The Last Unicorn (1982)
- Fire and Ice (1983)
- Highlander (1986)
- The Green Knight (2021)
- Dungeons & Dragons (2000)
- Masters of the Universe (1987)
- Clash of the Titans (2010)
- Wrath of the Titans (2012)
- Thor (2011)
- Doctor Strange (2016)
- Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters (2013)
- The 10th Kingdom (2000)
- Reign of Fire (2002)
- Beowulf (2007)
- The NeverEnding Story (1984)
- Army of Darkness (1992)
- The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad (1958)
- The Golden Voyage of Sinbad (1973)
- Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger (1977)
- The Hobbit (1977)
- The Lord of the Rings (1978)
- Return of the King (1980)
- Jason and the Argonauts (1963)
- DragonHeart (1996)
- The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012)
- The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2013)
- The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (2014)
- Kull the Conqueror (1997)
Thank you for taking the time to read this post – I hope it has proved useful. For more useful posts, be sure to check out the recommended reads below.