Over the last few weeks, I’ve seen a number of articles in places like Time Magazine about how popular culture is abandoning science fiction for fantasy, usually tying it into either pessimism about technology and the future (“Where’s my flying car!”) or nostalgia in a post-9/11 world. They generally cite the enormous success of Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings as compared to, say, Star Trek: Nemesis.
You want to know why fantasy is doing so well these days? Someone finally made some fantasy films that were good. What did we have before? Dungeons and Dragons. Krull. Sure, there were a few bright spots like The Princess Bride, but if you look at the IMDB’s Top 10 rated fantasy films there’s not one between 1980 and 2000 – and that includes The Empire Strikes Back and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
And somehow all of these articles ignore the box-office success of Spider-Man and Attack of the Clones. Somehow I expect The Matrix Reloaded is going to do just fine, despite the supposed failure of sci-fi.
Dude. Krull was my first sword-and-sorcery film! Do not knock Krull. Okay, nevermind, it is B-grade… but that’s what’s cool about it.
And Legend wasn’t all that bad — the soundtrack was good, and Tim Curry. I mean, Tim Curry. Dungeons and Dragons is something I refuse to put myself through. Just so wrong.
And, really, a lot of the actually good fantasy movies (like City of Lost Children or Princess Mononoke) are slightly obscure and/or foreign, though still making the top 50 listl; other top 50s include Groundhog Day, and the like… HP and LOTR are the first really popular sword-and-sorcery, traditional fantasy movies in a long while. More mundane, close-to-real-life movies are not so noticeably “fantasy,” though they are classified as such on IMDB.