Let’s be honest, the Harry Potter series stands alone when it comes to fantasy films. And, one could argue that without Harry Potter none of the movies on this list would exist. This declarative statement is 100% true for “Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them,” but I’m pretty sure Guillermo Del Torro would disagree. Still, Harry Potter was a groundbreaking experience for fans all over the world. First, we’re introduced to the addictive Harry Potter book series by J.K. Rowling. Then, it was adapted into films that further blew our minds and sparked endless discussion. The phenomenon of our love for Harry Potter is so astounding that movie studios try repeatedly to recreate it and psychologists study it.
It’s been eight years since Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 was released. The film masterfully concluded Harry Potter’s story arc, and fans cried tears of both joy and heartbreak. Our relationship with Harry Potter on the big screen was over. There’s something to be said for storytellers that conclude a series at its height rather thank milking it until audiences are begging for it to be put out of its misery. Still, the feeling is unsettling. As a fan, you feel sort of out to sea and waiting to wash up to the shore of your next obsession.
While these films won’t fill the void of Harry Potter, they will calm your weary heart until someone can convince J.K. Rowling to bring the gang back together for a fresh Harry Potter sequel.
1. “Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them”
“Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them” is the film most like Harry Potter because it’s literally part of the same universe. The 2016 film is the spin-off and prequel to the Harry Potter series and it follows Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) on his fantastical adventures. Whereas Harry Potter primarily existed in a world apart from muggles, Fantastic Beasts is set in 1920s New York where wizards quietly live among muggles.
Fantastic Beasts explores the world of wizardry from a more mature perspective than the Harry Potter series. Instead of a prepubescent student of Hogwarts, Newt is a magizoologist and an employee at the Ministry of Magic. He is an adult wizard with adult problems. We observe Newt navigate cultural differences between American and British wizards. We watch him repeatedly defy the bureaucracy. And, when we’re not with Newt, it’s because we’re observing uprisings of political factions and anti-establishment movements.
Although there are major narrative differences between Fantastic Beasts and Harry Potter the film is still feels incredibly familiar. Fantastic Beasts is written and produced by J.K. Rowling and that’s why it feels so authentic to the franchise. The film repeatedly makes references to Dumbledore and characters we’ve come to know and love over the years. The references feel intentional as if to remind the audience that while the film has it’s own identity it is inextricably connected in every way.
If you’re suffering from Harry Potter withdrawal you should dive into the Fantastic Beast’s series asap.
2. “Percy Jackson & The Olympians : The Lightning Thief”
“Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief” is a 2010 young adult fantasy film based on the Percy Jackson & The Olympians book series. The film stars Logan Lerman, Brandon T. Jackson, and Alexandra Daddario.
Harry Potter fans will find that the Percy Jackson series shares a lot of plot point similarities to Harry Potter. Like early Harry Potter films, we’re introduced to Percy Jackson, a young man unaware of his extraordinary bloodline. Also like Harry Potter, series focuses on Percy’s self-exploration but it also features a charming ensemble cast that serves as his friends, protectors and often voices of conscience.
While there are loads of similarities between the two films, there are enough differences to keep the audience sufficiently engaged. Rather than wizards and spells, we escape to a world based on Greek Mythology. Percy is no wizard but a Demi-God and son of Poseidon, God of the sea.
The “Percy Jackson” film series is magical and action-packed and it’s sure to satisfy any Harry Potter fan, especially those that enjoy greek mythology.
3. “Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children”
“Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children” is a 2016 fantasy film directed by Tim Burton and adapted from a novel of the same name by Ransom Riggs. The film follows Jake Portman, played by Asa Butterfield” who unbeknownst to him is a “peculiar.” While in Harry Potter the two main species are wizards and muggles, in Miss Peregrines we have “Peculiars” and “Non-Peculiars.”
In this universe, the politically correct term for “peculiars” is “Ymbyrnes” and they possess a variety of magical abilities from shape-shifting to time manipulation. Like Hogwarts, Miss Peregrine’s home serves as a safe-haven for Ymbryne children to grow up, explore their gifts unrestricted, and learn how to protect themselves. Many of these gifts are quite useful, but some are simply bizarre. Anyone know when exactly having an extra mouth in the back of your mouth would come in handy?
Harry Potter fans will appreciate Miss Anna Peregrine (Eva Green), the headmistress of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. She’s a familiar character because like Dumbledore she’s revered, stoic, strong, and mysterious and keeps a watchful eye over the children.
“Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children” is a spectacular tale told against a dazzling production that is Tim Burton’s signature style. Harry Potter fans would find much to appreciate in this film and should totally add it to their watch list.
4. “The Golden Compass”
“The Golden Compass” is a 2007 fantasy adventure film adapted from the book “Northern Lights” from Phillip Pullman’s “His Dark Materials” trilogy.
“The Golden Compass” stars Dakota Blue Richards as Lyra Belacqua an orphan and niece to a well-known explorer Lord Asriel played by Daniel Craig. Starring opposite Dakota Blue Richards is Nicole Kidman as Mrs. Coulter an enthralling upper class and powerful woman who seeks to take Lyra under her wing.
The Golden Compass’s storyline is steeped in religious symbolism and we’re introduced to it right away. Early into the film, the audience is whisked into a world defined by spirits and daemon and where a powerful church called the Magisterium polices this magical society. In fact, beneath the glamorous magical world of “The Golden Compass” is a deep and consistent discussion of religion and politics. Much like “Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them,” the Golden Compass is a fantasy film built to intrigue audiences of all ages but for different reasons.
Harry Potter fans will enjoy “The Golden Compass” and all the magic it has to offer. In addition to a star-studded cast, the audience gets talking animals, witches, magical dust, adorable children, and extravagant CGI that includes a massive dining hall that Harry Potter fans will certainly find familiar.
5. “Pan’s Labyrinth”
Guillermo Del Torro’s Pan’s Labyrinth is a 2006 dark ground-breaking Spanish fantasy drama film starring Ivana Baquero, Sergi López, Maribel Verdú, Doug Jones, and Ariadna Gil.
“Pan’s Labyrinth” takes place in Spain after the conclusion of the Spanish Civil War. The timing is an important historical plot point as the storyline weaves the fresh wounds of political fallout into a fairy tale for an extremely unique experience for the audience. The plot follows Ofelia, played by Ivana Baquero as she bravely ventures out to resurrect Princess Moanna.
Fans of Harry Potter will surely enjoy “Pan’s Labyrinth” as the production feels similar to the latter half of the Harry Potter series. Pan’s Labyrinth is dark is brooding but also romantic, which is indicative of Del Torro’s signature film style. “Pan’s Labyrinth” is a critically-acclaimed film chock full of deeper meaning and beautiful imagery and one that deserves to be on your must-watch list.
“Inkheart” is a 2008 American-Germ fantasy film starring Brendan Fraiser, Paul Bettany, Helen Mirren, Jim Broadbent, Andy Serkis, and Eliza Bennet.
The plot tells of a story of what can go wrong when you tell or rather read a story. Mortimer “Mo” Folchart, reads a book called Inkheart to his daughter Meggie, played by Eliza Bennett. What Mo didn’t know was that by reading the book he could read characters out into the real world or back into the book. Sure, a book character popping up on your street is odd, but things can really go south when you inadvertently read out the book’s villain.
Harry Potter fans would enjoy “Inkheart” as a light-hearted film and an escape into a dream-like fantasy film that combines magical elements, reality jumping with special effects.
7. “The Spiderwick Chronicles”
“The Spiderwick Chronicles is a 2008 fantasy film based on a best-selling book series. The film was produced by Nickelodeon and stars Freddie Highmore, Sarah Bolger, Mary-Louise Parker, Martin Short, Nick Nolte, and Seth Rogen.
Like the Harry Potter series, “The Spiderwick Chronicles” is set in New England. The film tells the story of a precocious Jared Grace, played by Freddie Highmore as he discovers a world of magical creatures on his family’s estate. Jared quickly finds himself in over his head as a more powerful being is after the very map that made Jared aware of their existence.
Harry Potter fans will likely find that “The Spiderwick Chronicles” is a charming film and an entertaining-fun ride.
“Stardust” is a 2007 fantasy film starring Claire Danes, Charlie Cox, Robert De Niro, and Michelle Pfeiffer. The film follows Tristan, played by Charlie Cox, who is an intensely romantic protagonist. After attempting to win his crush’s affection, Tristan inadvertently stumbles into Yvaine, a fallen star and an adventure ensues.
In "Stardust," we get a spirited world of star magic, witches, pirates and unicorns. However, unlike “The Golden Compass” and “The Spiderwick Chronicles,” “Stardust” isn’t a children’s fantasy, still, there’s enough magic and effects to keep any age audience enthralled.
Harry Potter fans will likely appreciate this spirited whimsical, funny and romantic film as a modern day “The Princess Bride.”