15 Visually Stunning Fantasy Movies

Who doesn’t love an escape into dreamy worlds built out of magic and wonder? Fantasy movies have been creating some of the most visually stunning realms for decades, transporting us to places we never thought possible. While the story is of the essence, it is the visuals that really bring them to life, giving us beautiful landscapes and surreal characters. And from the moment a sword slices through the air or magic twinkles off the wand, our imaginations run wild.

From mythical kingdoms and hidden valleys to epic battles and spectacular creatures, fantasy movies often create visuals that stay with us long after the story fades from memory. Just speaking of the titles of some of the greatest fantasy movies instantly calls to mind iconic images of flying wizards on broomsticks or stern blue faces existing deep beneath the water. Before a movie even begins, the settings have already sparked our interest.

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No doubt, there are plenty more dazzling fantasy worlds just waiting to be discovered. But for now, let’s feast our eyes on some of the most visually stunning fantasy movies that have graced the silver screen and taken us to some of the most beautiful imaginative worlds ever created.



15 Where The Wild Things Are (2009)

Warner Bros

Based on the children’s picture book of the same name, Where The Wild Things Are is a classic tale of fantasy and friendship Max, a lonely young boy, escapes to an island that turns out to be an imaginative dreamland where he meets a band of furry creatures known as the Wild Things. Upon encountering Max, they declare him their King. The Wild Things may seem scary in appearance, what with their claws and fangs, but beneath the massive exterior, they are just as lonely as Max, and all they long for is a wild rumpus. The forest on the island of this fantastical world springs to life in the most beautiful ways – the puppetry, the animation, the costumes, and the huge Wild Things towering over Max. From colors to lush landscapes, everything shines through.

14 The Fall (2006)

The Fall
Roadside Attractions

Telling a story within a story is probably among cinema’s strongest suits. The Fall, directed by Tarsem Singh, is a low-budget fantasy film that broke out because of its visuals and storytelling. The movie follows Alexandria, a little girl recovering from a broken arm, and Roy Walker, an injured stuntman. The two meet in the hospital, and Walker tells the girl about five great heroes on a mission to kill the evil and formidable Odious. Set in 1920s Los Angeles, the story gradually blurs reality and springs to life, transporting the viewer to an early 20th-century Wonderland-like land seen through the eyes of the child. There are visuals like lush greens and earthy tones that surround delicately structured characters. From costumes and makeup to set designs and miniature models, the movie creates a fascinating new world.

13 The NeverEnding Story (1984)

Warner Bros.

Bastain is a lonely boy who spends his time hiding in the school attic or in an old bookstore. When he finds a rare and mysterious book called The NeverEnding Story, he is drawn to its mystical story and soon finds himself being transported into the fantastical land of Fantasia – a world on the verge of being destroyed. There he meets Atreyu, a warrior who, along with a dragon named Falcon, must save this dying world. The NeverEnding Story bursts with epic visions of a disintegrating land filled with floating rock formations, winged creatures, and the luck dragon. The film paints an unforgettable picture of a realm that comes alive and so do the wishes of all who reside there.

12 Hellboy II : The Golden Army (2008)

hellboy 2 the golden army
Universal Pictures

The visually stunning sequel directed by Guillermo del Toro made for a phenomenal entry in the superhero genre. Hellboy II: The Golden Army follows Hellboy and his team as they get into an intriguing face-off against an elf prince who plans to unleash an unstoppable army of mechanical soldiers that were once banished from existence eons ago. Prince Nuada is as formidable as he is wicked, and with del Toro at the helm, the movie was sure to garner intrigue and world-building.

The world of imaginary creatures comes to life with incredible special effects and towering set designs. From goblins to feuding agents, each magical being had precise detail and richness of color. Moreover, as hellish monsters and heroes clash in an epic battle, the scenery is nothing short of dazzling.

11 Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows, Part 2 (2011)

Voldemort attacks Harry
Warner Bros. Pictures

To be honest, all the movies in the Harry Potter franchise are a visual feast. Bringing to life the world of Hogwarts and spinning sprawling tales around it, and serving it to the audience has made for an epic journey. But the finale of the Harry Potter saga, which sees the trio of wizards clash with Voldemort, who now has the Elder Wand, in an all-out battle between good and evil, was truly something else.

Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows, Part 2 ties up every loose end from the earlier movies and features the great Battle of Hogwarts. The visually stunning series comes to a spectacular close as the longtime home of magic and wonder becomes the backdrop for a fierce magic duel and a desperate fight for survival. From the fire and destruction consuming the castle’s halls to the bright flashes of spellwork pushing past evil, the movie is still fresh in our memories.

Related: Harry Potter: The Pros and Cons of Rebooting the Series

10 Stardust (2007)

Charlie Cox and Claire Danes in Stardust
Paramount Pictures

With an all-star cast of Claire Danes, Charlie Cox, Ben Barnes, Henry Cavill, and Michelle Pfieffer, and Sienna Miller, Stardust is an epic romance fantasy that takes you on a journey beyond the Wall. The movie follows a young man (Cox) from a sleepy English village who embarks on an adventure into a magical realm in the sky known as the kingdom of Stormhold to fetch a fallen star and win the heart of his beloved. Neil Gaiman’s novel of the same name materializes into this beautiful land made of widespread grasslands and colorful visuals. From the flying ship to the land of witches, every frame bursts with imagination as pirates battle to claim the star. The story sails across the skies of Victorian England and leaves the audience mesmerized.

9 Alice in Wonderland (2010)

Alice in Wonderland
Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Tim Burton’s visually stunning retelling of the classic Lewis Carroll story follows a now 19-year-old Alice as she returns to the magical world she once visited as a child. As promised by the story, Wonderland explodes onto the screen with a myriad of colors, unusually beloved characters, and awesome set designs. The giant mushrooms and flowering trees create the backdrop as the story continues to build magic and wonder. Alice in Wonderland also brings back fantastical characters like the White Rabbit, Cheshire Cat, Tweedles, and Mad Hatter through impressive makeup, costumes, and CGI. As Alice journeys further down the rabbit hole and discovers her true purpose, Butron turns Wonderland into a sparkling reality.

8 The Lord of the Rings: The Return Of The King (2003)

Miranda Otto in Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
New Line Cinema

After two glorious movies, The Lord of the Rings: The Return Of The King comes as a stunning conclusion to the fan-favorite franchise. With Aragorn coming out as the heir to the ancient kings, the fellowship marches on to defeat Sauron and save Gondor. Meanwhile, Sam and Frodo get closer to Mount Doom, determined to destroy the One Ring. The movie features dramatic visual effects, sets, and matte paintings, bringing Middle Earth to life. From the crumbling streets of Minas Tirith filled with a raging fire to the dark land of Mordor and its towering volcano of Mount Doom, Peter Jackson incorporates rich detail to create an immersive landscape.

7 Avatar (2009)

20th Century Studios

Released back in 2009, Avatar still remains one of the most visually entertaining fantasies of all time. Using groundbreaking motion capture and 3D visual effects, James Cameron transports viewers to the fantastical moon of Pandora, a lush alien world inhabited by the native Na’vi race and threatened by human exploitation. The growing flora and bioluminescent rainforests around are brought to the screen in vivid colors, making viewers stare in wonder at this alien landscape.

But it’s not just the visuals that make Avatar so compelling. The story of torn loyalties and found families and self-discovery are portrayed with poignant emotions, from the blue creatures themselves expressing it all with dialogue and action. Overall, the movie broke new ground and ushered in an era of wonder for the fantasy genre.

6 Big Fish (2003)

Big Fish daffodils
Columbia Pictures

Based on the fantasy novel by Daniel Wallace, Big Fish follows the story of an ordinary man whose life story becomes intertwined with legend and mystery. Edward Bloom was an eccentric man who believed in towering tales of fantasy with passion. However, his son William could never understand the workings of the old man’s mind. When he passes away, William retraces his father’s steps and goes on an adventure. The film uses surrealism as a tool to heighten the audience’s imagination. There are some really vibrant scenarios consisting of Southern settings, colorful costumes, and imaginative CGI creatures. Every frame of Big Fish drips with the unusual wonder and charm of Tim Burton’s mind, with its essence lying in the broken father/son relationship dynamic.

Related: Best Fantasy Movies That Weren’t Based on Books

5 The Princess Bride (1987)

Cary Elwes as Wesley in The Princess Bride
20th Century Fox

The Princess Bride is a classic fairy tale that centers around a beautiful princess named Buttercup who is reunited years later with her one true love – Westley, a farm boy who gets attacked by a pirate. The breathtakingly vast visuals turn this adventure story into a comic fairy tale full of magic, mystery, and danger. From the rocky terrain of the Fire Swamps where R.O.U.S. lurk to the clifftop castle of the evil Prince Humperdinck, the various settings invite viewers into a truly fantastical world full of clashing swords, revenge, and pirate lore. Plus, there are some colorful and memorable characters like the giant Fezzik, the swordsman Inigo Montoya and the eccentric Miracle Max that do everything to bring this magical realm to life through unique costume design, witty dialogue, and the art of storytelling itself.

4 Pete’s Dragon (2016)

Pete's Dragon Trailer #2 Fully Reveals Elliott the Dragon
Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Pete Healy is an orphaned boy who was raised by a giant green dragon named Elliot. On the one hand, old wood carver Mr. Meacham keeps the local kids entertained with the story of a mysterious dragon, firing up the curiosity of his ranger daughter Grace, and on the other, Elliot seems to have been lost, and Pete would do anything to find him. Now he must rely on Grace to help him find the dragon. Dressed as a whimsical and wonderful remake of a 1977 Disney musical, Pete’s Dragon features mossy forests where Pete and Elliot play, as well as ordinary days in the life of townsfolk with sheer beauty and care. Together, Pete and Elliot’s touching story of love, along with that insightful prologue, adds just the right dose of magic to life the spirits.

3 The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (2005)

The-Chronicles-of-Narnia-The Lion-The-Witch-and-The-Wardrobe (1)
Buena Vista Pictures

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe was inspired by C.S. Lewis’ novel of the same name. The story follows four siblings, Lucy, Edmund, Susan, and Peter, as they step through a wardrobe into the fantasy land of Narnia – a world of talking animals, mythical creatures, and epic battles of good versus evil. What once was a sprawling and peaceful realm has been turned into a place tolerating an eternal winter due to the curse of the evil White Witch. Director Andrew Adamson fashions everything spectacularly, from the snowy hills and icy castle of the White Witch to the breathtaking landscapes and giant, talking beasts using animation, while practical effects create a classic winter wonderland.

2 Avatar: The Way of Water (2022)

Avatar The Way of the Water
20th Century Studios

Set over a decade after the original, this visually stunning sequel takes viewers into the wondrous world of Pandora like never before. Jake Sully and Ney’tiri are finally living a peaceful life with their kids, leaving chaos and heartbreak behind them. But it seems like history has a way of catching up to people because, in their attempts to stay together, the Sully family must leave home and traverse Pandora once again.

James Cameron brings back the glorious underwater setting and creatures into the frame using an emotional storyline about family, loss, and the tragedies endured. The actors give groundbreaking performances as the never-before-seen alien sea life continues to evolve amidst new worders and threats. With Avatar: The Way of Water, cinema pushes the boundaries of everything that can be achieved with fantasy.

1 Pan’s Labyrinth (2006)

The faun in Pan's Labyrinth
Warner Bros.

Perhaps the most visually stunning movie ever made, Pan’s Labyrinth follows a young girl named Ofelia who escapes into an awe-inspiring wartime fantasy world to cope with the difficult realities of post-Civil War Spain. Guillermo del Toro does an incredible job at painting the movie in two contrasting realms – one is the troubled real world of fascist Franco-era Spain, and the other is the mystical fantasy world conjured by Ofelia’s imagination. For the former, the movie uses industry browns and faded grays, while the latter is full of color. The highlight of the movie, however, is the Pale Man with his vicious insect eyes and mouth of razor-sharp teeth who dwells in the labyrinth and gives a chilling energy. Through its captivating visions of darkness, Pan’s Labyrinth is ultimately a tale of courage and sacrifice.

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