Top 5: 80s Fantasy Films

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I submit that it doesn’t get any better than 80s fantasy movies. I’m thrilled that we have adaptations of The Lord of the Rings and The Chronicles of Narnia. They’re beautiful and breathtaking. But that 80s fantasy is something I always go back to. I grew up on it and love each one unconditionally. Now I have the unenviable task of ranking my favorites. Here we go!

5. Legend. This film is gorgeous, like a fairy tale come to life. Ridley Scott managed to capture the essence of magic unlike anything I’ve ever seen. I know the arguments about practical effects versus CG have gotten downright obnoxious by this point, but Legend illustrates perfectly the reason practical effects fans are so passionate. Tim Curry as Darkness is inspired. The only reason it isn’t higher on the list is the story is fairy-tale-simple, and the movie is more visually compelling than anything else. I still highly recommend it.

4. The Neverending Story. A childhood classic. If you’re a book lover, a bit of a loner, enjoy immersion in your stories, you’ll relate heavily with Bastian. He’s the every-kid who would rather be locked away with a book than face his problems. Then the story turns around, stares him right in the eye, and makes him deal with himself. It’s beautifully done, as well, with a vast, unique landscape to traverse. It fires the imagination. After seeing this, who didn’t want their own luck dragon? The reason it’s number four is because it’s more of a children’s movie. It does have crossover appeal, but I do think this has the best impact if you watch it when you’re young.

3. The Dark Crystal. This is another of those movies that proves you don’t need CG if you have ingenuity. The cast of characters consists entirely of puppets, and because it’s Jim Henson, they are fantastic puppets. One of the most interesting things about this movie that sets it apart for me is the lack of humans. I love the idea of a fantasy world where we’re simply not included. Jen the Gelfling, our main hero, does work as an audience surrogate, but he’s not human. I think audiences deserve to have their imaginations stretched as far as this movie takes us.

2. Labyrinth. Here’s Jim Henson again, with another deeply unique fantasy tale. Like The Neverending Story, if you’re the outsider who loves LARPing in the park, Sarah is the girl for you. She’s growing from a girl into a young woman, and the process is painful, frustrating, downright maddening. Like a child, she throws a tantrum that summons the Goblin King Jareth, and to face him, she must overcome her immaturity. It’s the perfect movie for women anywhere and everywhere in their walk in life, and not just because David Bowie as Jareth is gorgeously inspired.

1. The Princess Bride. I think Peter Falk as the storytelling grandfather put it best when he listed every conceivable thing that could be in a good story in regards to The Princess Bride. It’s adventurous, exciting, tense, hilarious, sad, romantic, and beautiful. There is simply no competing with a story that has everything. It’s perfect. If you’re like me and grew up with it, you probably have it memorized and quote it daily. If you haven’t seen it yet, what are you doing? Go watch it! And have fun storming the castle!

Thank you for reading. I hope that if there are any of these you haven’t seen, you’ve just been convinced. And as always, happy geeking!

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Top 5: Nicktoons

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Here’s something new I’m trying. Random Top Fives! This could be fun, methinks.

Starting us off, let’s talk about Nicktoons. Like most modern people, I grew up with these. I watched them well into my teens and early twenties. Don’t judge. And some Nicktoons clearly outclass others. I know we view most things like this through nostalgia goggles, but there are some Nicktoons I watched that I didn’t enjoy, and I kept watching them. I don’t even know why I did that other than when you’re young, you’ll watch just about anything. But here are the ones that stuck with me. That, in my opinion, have stood the test of time.

5. Ren and Stimpy. Okay, this might still be those nostalgia goggles I was disparaging up there, because I haven’t actually had a ton of luck rewatching this one. It appealed so perfectly to me as a kid. I adored it. I had a Happy Happy Joy Joy poster on my wall. I watched every, single episode. In hindsight, this show was incredibly twisted and disgusting and bizarre, and it probably shaped who I am today with it’s nastiness. I probably shouldn’t have even been watching it, which makes it even more magical in a way. This one made the list for the undeniable impact it had on me.

4. Spongebob Squarepants. Not exactly covering new ground here. Everyone holds a place in their heart for Spongebob. The question is more “why so low?” Because the show has outlived its creative drive entirely. The original showrunner is off the project, and it shows. But there was a beautiful time when this was one of the funniest, most entertaining cartoons on TV. Still, another reason it’s so low is I’ve watched those episodes to the point of memorization. I have no desire to watch it again, because I’ve exhausted it. I know every joke. That also means it had to make the list, because anything that unforgettable is worth mentioning.

3. Angry Beavers. This one came out at a time when the new Nickelodeon cartoons were becoming hit or miss for me. It seemed like these shows all wanted to be Doug or something like it, and I was never that much of a fan of Doug in the first place. Then Angry Beavers arrived. It was fast-paced humor with two incredible voice actors that knew how to manipulate already funny material into gut-busting material. I’ll put it this way. My mother had very little tolerance for Nicktoons, but she loved this one. It had some kind of universal appeal, like lightning in a bottle. I’m sad this show didn’t become more of an “it” property for Nick.

2. Invader Zim. Another show that was too short-lived for how utterly brilliant it was. And brilliant is the word. Not just funny and cute and entertaining for a few minutes, but genuinely a work of genius. The jokes were deeper and wider than their audience. The stories and characters, too. Ren and Stimpy was a dark comedy, which was strange enough for a kid’s show, but this one took those same bricks that had been laid down before it and built higher. There’s a reason we still talk about it, still watch it, still walk around in Gir shirts.

1. Rocko’s Modern Life. But this might just be the perfect Nicktoon. It bridges the gap between Ren and Stimpy and Invader Zim, with an adult sensibility but a more subtle and mature sense of humor. It has the day-in-the-life of a show like Doug, but with a much more compelling cast of characters. It’s absurd, but not to the point of total, inane randomness. It never talked down to its audience. It can still be watched at any age and carry the same amount of enjoyment and laughs. If you don’t believe me, rewatch it. It’s still so smart and so good.

What were your favorites? Talk to me in the comments. And as always, happy geeking!

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