‘The City of Lost Children’ – a fairy tale for adults on Amazon Prime

The fantastic visions of Belgian filmmakers Marc Caro and Jean-Pierre Jeunet culminated in The City of Lost Children (France, 1995), fairy tale for adults. Evoking utopias and dystopias from Brazil to Peter Pan, Caro and Jeunet create a vivid but menacing fantasy city in a perpetually twilight world. In this rough port town lives circus […]

Henry Thomas and friend in Steven Spielberg's beloved science fiction fantasy

‘E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial’ on Peacock

E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982), Steven Spielberg’s suburban fairy tale for kids who think they are too hip to believe in fairies, is as glorious as ever decades after its debut. Henry Thomas is Elliot, an emotionally bruised kid suffering under his parents’ separation who finds another lonely, lost soul, a benevolent alien left behind when […]

Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett , and Taraji P. Henson star in the film by David Fincher

‘The Curious Case of Benjamin Button’ on HBO Max and HBO Now

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008) – F. Scott Fitzgerald’s short story is expanded into a sweeping survey of 20th century history and culture as seen through the eyes of a man who is born old and grows younger through the century. Brad Pitt completely commits to the part of the old/young man who […]

Peter Jackson directs the first film in J.R.R. Tolkein's trilogy

‘The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring’ on HBO Max

With The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001), New Zealand genre film maverick Peter Jackson does the impossible: he makes a faithful, magical, thrilling, and—most importantly—compelling film version of J.R.R. Tolkein’s great cult fantasy epic. Streamlining the complex story and wealth of detail from the novel, Jackson manages to introduce a […]

Daniel Radcliffe and Emma Watson in the third "Harry Potter" feature

‘Harry Potter’ – the complete saga on VOD and Blu-ray/DVD

Looking back on the original Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (2001), directed by Chris Columbus, we see a painstakingly literal translations of J.K Rowling’s first novel, a near-perfect replica created with a kind of funhouse spectacle of the wonders of the magical world come to life. Sorcerer’s Stone (2001) is a lush, lavishly produced […]

‘Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius’ on Netflix

Little Jimmy Neutron is an Einstein in short pants with the vision of a junior Jules Verne. He races with Air Force pilots and launches satellites before breakfast, invents shrink rays for show-and-tell, and has even created a mechanical dog, Goddard, who is infinitely loyal, endearingly playful, and sports more gadgets than a Swiss Army […]

Emily Browning, Abbie Cornish, Jena Malone, Vanessa Hudgens, Jamie Chung, Carla Gugino, and Oscar Isaac star in Zach Snyder's incoherent fantasy

‘Sucker Punch’ – Zack Snyder’s film maudit on Netflix and Hulu

Incoherent, absurd, confused, and strangely fascinating, there is no doubt that Zack Snyder’s Sucker Punch (2011), the director’s first original script, is a mess of movie. Even the term “original” is a questionable description, as the wide range of influences define the film as much as his own pop sensibilities. Yet Sucker Punch was so critically […]

‘Son of Rambow’ – a homemade odyssey on Amazon Prime Video

Meek Will Proudfoot (Bill Milner), a wide-eyed naïf in a repressive religious sect, and “devil child” Lee Carter (Will Poulter), a belligerent school troublemaker, becomes unlikely partners in Garth Jennings’ fanciful, funny Son of Rambow (2008). They’re odd couple buddies born of convenience (on Lee’s part) and naiveté (that would be Will) but forged in […]

Judy Garland is Dorothy Gale in the beloved screen adaptation of Frank L. Baum's fantasy

‘The Wizard of Oz’ – Over the rainbow on HBO Max

When gingham-clad farm girl Dorothy Gale rode the tornado out of the somber, sepia-tinged black and white of her Kansas dustbowl farm and into the sparkling Technicolor fantasy land somewhere over the rainbow, she changed the lives of her audiences (both then and now) as assuredly as she changed her own. The Wizard of Oz […]

‘Where the Wild Things Are’ – Maurice Sendak gets a dreamy adaptation on Amazon Prime

Maurice Sendak’s masterpiece of a picture book comes to the screen in Where the Wild Things Are (2009), a film as unique and heartfelt as the book itself. Director Spike Jonze (whose vision received the blessing of Sendak) and co-scripter Dave Eggars expand and reimagine the story of the defiant Max, a young boy in […]