Seeking some sensational escapism? What could possibly satisfy more than fabulous fantasy films? This wonderous genre leads viewers down a path into magical realms, where myths and monsters roam, surprises lie around every corner, and heroes set forth on adventures epic, outrageous, and exciting. Whether you’re searching for something silly, scary, or surreal, pulse-pounding, heart-warming or heart-breaking, we’ve got you covered with a wide selection of the fantasy favorites.
Here’s the ten best fantasy films now available on Netflix.
1. Pan’s Labyrinth
Mexican filmmaker Guillermo del Toro awed audiences around the world with his distinctive and dark tale about a brave young girl on an unforgettable adventure. In the rural outskirts of 1944 Francoist Spain, ten-year-old Ofelia (Ivana Baquero) yearns for freedom from the tyranny of her sadistic stepfather (Sergi López). So, when a cryptic faun (Doug Jones) offers a perilous quest, she eagerly delves into a world of monsters, magic, and malevolence. Visionary director del Toro ties together the real-world horrors of war with the fantastical terror oft found in fairy tales, creating a film fascinating and frightening. Jaw-dropping visuals, eye-popping creature designs, and a heart-tugging story earned this stunner critical acclaim as well as three Academy Awards, three BAFTAs, and a whopping eight Goya Awards (Spain’s answer to the Oscars).
How to watch: Pan’s Labyrinth is streaming on Netflix.
Based on the Neil Gaiman novel of the same name, this jaunty 2007 offering follows a pair of star-crossed lovers, one of whom is a cross star! Charlie Cox and Claire Danes headline this magical tale of boy-meets-girl. He’s a daring young man, venturing for a stellar treasure to woo the prettiest lass in his quaint English village. Meanwhile, she’s a literal celestial body who has been knocked out of the sky by a royal twist of fate. Together, they must traverse a strange land full of cloud-sailing pirates, blood-thirsty princes, and wicked witches. Director Matthew Vaughn brings together an impeccable cast that boasts Robert De Niro, Peter O’Toole, Mark Strong, Rupert Everett, and a scorching hot Michelle Pfeiffer. All this makes for a wild ride full of thrilling action, cheeky humor, and swooning romance.
How to watch: Stardust is streaming on Netflix.
Credit: Merrick Morton / Columbia / Kobal / Shutterstock
If you love Jumanji, you’ll relish its out-of-this-world sister flick. Likewise adapted from a Chris Van Allsburg book, Zathura also features a board game bleeding into the real world, but rockets the premise all the way to outer space. When two squabbling brothers (Josh Hutcherson and Jonah Bobo) roll the dice on a mysterious game, their humble house is lauched among the stars, leaving them open to outrageous attacks from meteor showers, a rampaging robot, and a vicious alien race of man-eating lizards. To survive the game, these brothers must band together with their surly older sister (Kristen Stewart) and an enigmatic astronaut (Dax Shepard) for a rocky road of thrills and adventure. In his follow-up to the widely adored Elf, director Jon Favreau offers an adaptation sparkling with family-friendly fun and enthralling action, making Zathura a perfect play for good times.
How to watch: Zathura is streaming on Netflix.
4. Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World
What if the baggage you brought into a relationship played out like a video game? That’s the premise of the Bryan Lee O’Malley graphic novel, which inspired this wacky romantic-comedy. Michael Cera stars as 22-year-old Torontonian, Scott Pilgrim, who explodes into cartoonish swoon over his new relationship with the impossibly cool Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead). That is until he learns about her Seven Evil Exes, each of whom he must defeat in brutal battle. Edgar Wright brings the manic mayhem of video games, the graphic panache of comic books, and a rocking soundtrack together with an ensemble littered with the likes of Anna Kendrick, Chris Evans, Brie Larson, Aubrey Plaza, Brandon Routh, and Jason Schwartzman. All this star power and style couldn’t make Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World a hit at the box office. Nonetheless, critics cheered, and a fierce fan following has made this a kooky cult classic.
How to watch: Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World is streaming on Netflix.
5. Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events
Credit: Francois Duhamel / Paramount/Kobal / Shutterstock
Based on the titular children’s book series, this darkly comedic movie follows a trio of brilliant orphans as they outwit a greedy villain. Tossed from one foster home to the next, the Baudelaire children must combat not only their grief but also calamity, conspiracy, and the sinister mechanizations of Count Olaf (a gleefully game Jim Carrey). Thankfully, each of the children has a special skill to aid in their survival and the film’s audacious whimsy. Director Brad Silberling brings Snicket’s gothic adventure to vivid life with a rollicking pace, a lush production design, and a dazzling supporting cast that includes Jude Law, Billy Connolly, Catherine O’Hara, Cedric the Entertainer, and THE Meryl Streep. Plus, if you can’t get enough of these outlandish yarns, Netflix has a rebooted TV series too.
How to watch: Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events is streaming on Netflix.
6. About Time
Time travel is often the stuff of science-fiction. However, in the hands of Love Actually writer/director Richard Curtis, this timey-wimey device is more about romantic fantasy than anything else. Just imagine you had a second chance to make the right first impression, to redo a fumbled flirtation, to win over your crush? That is the enviable position in which a nebbish Englishman (Domhnall Gleeson) finds himself, realizing he’s inherited the power to travel up and down his own timeline. At first, this makes for the kind of frolicking fun you’d expect from a romantic comedy. However, Curtis soon explores the double-edged sword of slipping into the past. Driving home the movie’s most emotional moments is the impeccable ensemble of Rachel McAdams, Bill Nighy, Lindsay Duncan, and Tom Hollander. Be warned: this one is a tearjerker. So have a tissue or two at the ready.
How to watch: About Time is streaming on Netflix.
7. A Monster Calls
Want fantasy that’s wild and heartbreaking? Then, you’ll treasure this tender adaptation of Patrick Ness’s beloved novel. With the ghost tale The Orphanage and the disaster drama The Impossible, Spanish director J. A. Bayona has carved out a niche for crafting compelling mother-son tales. Here, he chisels out the stirring story of a boy coming to grips with his mother’s terminal illness. In need of a friend and a space to share his pain and rage, the boy bonds with a towering tree beast, who speaks with the comfortingly familiar snarl of Liam Neeson. Photo-real computer graphics ground this eponymous monster in the real world. Then, ferocious fables animated in splashes of watercolor and spilled ink bring an added oomph and sense of wonder. The result is a gorgeous and poignant portrait of grief, which had critics and audiences in awe.
How to watch: A Monster Calls is streaming on Netflix.
8. The Old Guard
Credit: AIMEE SPINKS / NETFLIX
For fantasy with a superhero flare, check out this action-packed thriller from critically cheered director Gina Prince-Bythewood. Charlize Theron stars as Andy, the leader of a covert band of almost-immortal mercenaries. For centuries, they have fought together to save humanity from ruin. However, as a new member is added to the team (a mesmerizing Kiki Layne), this old guard tangles with a threat that could tear them to shreds for good. Adapted from Greg Rucka’s graphic novel of the same name, The Old Guard brings a sharp edge and an R-rating to the glossy and bloodless superhero standard. The sprawling and graphic fight scenes hit hard, but the incredible ensemble, which includes Matthias Schoenaerts, Marwan Kenzari, Luca Marinelli, and Chiwetel Ejiofor, hits harder. Together they bring a sophisticated pathos that doesn’t tend to fit with the flashy capes crowd.
How to watch: The Old Guard is streaming on Netflix.
Few things are as fantastical and fun as a Manga made live-action. Based on the popular Japanese comic by Tite Kubo, Bleach follows Ichigo Kurosaki, a moody teen who turns into a Soul Reaper through a twist of face and brave sacrifice. By day, he must endure all the drama inherent in high school. By night, he—with the help of his pestering mentor Rukia Kuchiki—must guide good ghosts to their peaceful afterlife and battle back sinister spirits. Director Shinsuke Sato brings an anime-like verve to the film, employing zipping graphics, a lively soundtrack, a bouncy tone, a barrage of frightful foes, and kick-ass martial arts action. Stars Sôta Fukushi and Hana Sugisaki are totally in tune, delivering performances that pop with personality. Best of all, if you want more, Netflix is also streaming five seasons of the animated adaptation.
How to watch: Bleach is streaming on Netflix.
10. Little Monsters
Long before there was Monsters, Inc., this live-action comedy explored the wacky friendship between a kid and the monster under his bed. Wonder Years-era Fred Savage stars as a suburban boy giddy to dive into the subterranean world of night-crawling critters. Howie Mandel slathers on blue face-paint and horns to play a manic monster bud. Together, they party in a raucous realm without parents, homework, or rules, offering audiences the vicarious thrill of what it means to be the thing that goes bump in the night! Sure, Little Monsters was a bomb at the box office and was snarked at by critics. Nonetheless, this 1989 fantasy hits a sweet spot for nostalgia. Director Richard Alan Greenberg employs practical effects, slapstick, and a proudly juvenile sense of humor to create a gleefully goofy guilty pleasure.
How to watch: Little Monsters is streaming on Netflix.