Now that I addressed the question of what is fantasy, I can do more fun posts like my 3 favorite fantasy creatures. And continuing this month’s fantasy theme with Wyrd and Wonder, So today I present some of my favorite (fantasy) things.
Where to start. So many awesome fantasy movies. But for my favorite faves, I have to go back to my childhood faves. And I couldn’t pick just one.
First up Labyrinth, a magical collaboration between Jim Henson, George Lucas, and Brian Froud.
For those who haven’t seen it (and yes, I’m judging you for that), the story centers on 16-year-old Sarah, an imaginative teen who loves theatre and played by Jennifer Connelly.
Sarah gets stuck babysitting her baby half-brother Toby, who gets stolen by the Goblin King, played by the one and only David Bowie. Sarah then has to navigate a labyrinth full of dangers and temptations to get to the Goblin King’s castle and save Toby.
Along the way, Sarah is joined by some interesting companions. Interesting because other than Connelly and Bowie, the main cast are all puppets from Jim Henson’s creature shop. I have long been a huge fan of Jim Henson. The puppets are so creative and real, they make the movie so brilliant and amazing. And the imaginative story captivated 10-year-old me and I have loved it ever since.
Next up, The Princess Bride. (Again, I might be judging you if you haven’t seen it.)
Based on the book by William Goldman, who also wrote the screenplay, the story follows the adventures of the poor farm boy Westley in his quest to capture the heart of hist true love, the Princess Buttercup.
Fencing, fighting, torture, revenge, giants,monsters, chases, escapes, True Love, miracles….The Grandfather, The Princess Bride
The casting was perfect with Cary Elwes, Robin Wright, Mandy Patinkin, Chris Sarandon, Wallace Shawn, André the Giant, and Christopher Guest. And while I didn’t see the original theatrical release, my mom gave me the VHS and I watched it every day for an entire summer. I’ve watched it (and read it) a million more times since then. And then I got to see it in the theatre. It was a limited release celebrating the 30th anniversary. (I even
played hooky took off from work to go see it.)
The story is timeless and magical. And when rumors started swirling last year about a remake, I added my voice in protest. You simply can’t remake something this magical. A remake would ruin the magic. (Take note Disney.)
And finally, Willow, a dark adventure fantasy complete with a prophecy, an evil sorceress, an unlikely hero, and a mercenary swordsman. It doesn’t get better than that! The collaboration between George Lucas, who wrote the story and provided the effects through his company ILM, and Ron Howard, produced a captivating fantasy story.
The movie, released in 1988, holds a special memory for me because my mom took me to see it in the theater (a special treat back then) and she bought me the sticker book and cards. Sadly I no longer have the sticker book. And Funko has yet to do any Willow movie Pops. (Hint, hint Funko!)
Even today I still love to watch it despite the fact the special effects are primitive in comparison to today’s movies. But at the time, watching the change from one animal to another to another to the tiger and then finally into the good sorceress was simply magic.
With three movies as fantastical as these, see how hard it is to choose just one fave?
Power. I have it, they don’t. This bothers them.Buffy, from “Checkpoint” (season 5)
Another tough category to pick one fave, but despite all the shows I could name, I think I have to go with Buffy the Vampire Slayer created by Joss Whedon.
Who doesn’t love the inversion of the typical monster story? Instead of the little blonde cheerleader getting killed by the monster, monsters fear the little blonde cheerleader because she is a TOTAL BADASS. Add some fun sidekicks (the Scoobies), a stuffy British guy, a variety of beasts and monsters and hilarity ensues.
But seriously, it’s a brilliant show with a fantastic cast. I loved the themes and narratives. Plus such great lines and dialogue.
I did grow up in the 80s during the explosion of video games. My first system was an Atari 2600 and I currently have a PS4 (anxiously awaiting to see what the next iteration of PlayStation will be). And although I don’t play as much as I use to, I still enjoy to escape into another world.
Compared to games that came out even a few as ten years ago, the games today have incredible graphics. My favorites are open-world RPGs (role playing games). My recent favorites include Fallout 4, Skyrim, and Horizon Zero Dawn.
But despite the great graphics and incredible stories (Horizon Zero Dawn, I’m looking at you), my favorite game is still Final Fantasy VII, originally released in 1997 on the original PlayStation.
While the graphics pale in comparison to today’s, the game had tremendous technology, playability, and narrative. It’s won multiple awards, including game of the year, and it continues to top many of the best game lists. The game has been so popular, Square Enix released an updated remake this year. But I haven’t played it yet because remakes are never as good.
When I think of tabletop fantasy games, D & D immediately pops to mind. (For you non-gamers, that’s Dungeons and Dragons.) As the original tabletop fantasy game (first published in 1974), D & D has a long tradition setting the standard for tabletop fantasy gaming. And although I haven’t played in a long time, D & D will always be a fave.
But for this post, I pick Tak, which in itself has no fantasy elements. But what makes it uniquely special is it’s a game played by the main character in the world of the Kingkiller Chronicles by Pat Rothfuss.
Tak is a two-player game with the objective to be the first player connect any two opposite edges of the board with your pieces, called “stones”, creating a road. What makes its fantasy is that the game is entirely fictional. Pat Rothfuss created the game in The Wise Man’s Fear because it’s an important part in the development of Kvothe as a character.
Throughout the novel, Tak is described as “simple in its rules, complex in its strategy” and is analogized to “a dance” where a “well-played game of tak reveals the moving of a mind.” The goal of Tak is not necessarily to “win” but to play “a beautiful game.” And even though the novel does not describe the specifics or rules of the game, game designer James Ernest did a magnificent job designing the game. Originally launched through Kickstarter, the game ended up with over 12,000 backers pledging $1.3 million.
For me, I just love when something from one of my favorite fantasy books becomes a reality. And Tak is one of the coolest things to ever come out of a fantasy book.
And these are a few of my favorite (fantasy) things
There are so many awesome fantasy movies, tv shows, games and more. It’s hard to name just a few, but I took a stab at it. And while I bet you expected me to name my favorite fantasy book(s), I hate to disappoint. But because the fantasy genre is so broad, I can’t name just one fave. So I’m saving that conversation for a separate post. Stay tuned.
What are some of your fantasy faves? Share some of your faves in the comments below.