Monday, 29 January 2018

Fantastical family films

In our house, Saturday night is family film night. And recently things have taken a turn for the fantastical.

I know where this started. A while ago my lad and I watched the Fellowship of The Ring, one of my favourite films, and now one of his too. We'd read The Hobbit and attempted to read The Lord of The Rings too, but at 8 years old he got a bit bored of all the walking. But he wanted to watch the films so we started with The Fellowship and he loved it. He's a bit too young for the rest of them at the moment so him and his sister started asking about other films they could watch that were similar.

Warwick and Kenny.

Rachel and I started having a think about other fantasy films that we could watch and it didn't take long to get a list together. Labyrinth was already a firm family favourite, The Dark Crystal hadn't quite stuck ("Boooooring"! as my 6 year old daughter would say. She'll learn). They already both loved The Wizard of Oz and The Princess Bride, and then Joey, a colleague at work, leant me Willow.

Well this went down a storm. It's a Tolkien-lite adventure full of magic, sword fights and the other mainstay of the fantasy genre: dwarves.

I mean, it's wall-to-wall little people. Megan loved it because she likes munchkins and oompa-loompas, and Jacob was astonished to find out that Warwick Davis (Willow himself) also played the Ewok Wicket in Return of The Jedi. Throw in a Kenny Baker cameo as a village musician and this became a family favourite in one viewing.

What else can we watch Dad?!

The game was afoot! Now the kids were demanding more. The good news is that the 1980's were littered with fantasy movies, admittedly not many really good ones. While they're too young for Krull, they may enjoy Ladyhawke. I'm on the fence whether Legend is too scary (meaning it's probably too scary), and Return to Oz may scar them thanks to the headless Queen running down a corridor full of screaming heads. But there are plenty of films to choose from (and they all have dwarves in them to boot).

So we struck upon the idea of watching The Chronicles of Narnia series. Admittedly these aren't fantasy films from the 1980's but they went down a storm. The kids got the plot super quick and couldn't get enough of The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe. I read the books as a child and quite enjoyed them, and I'd only seen the first film and thought that was pretty good. Well, now I've watched Prince Caspian, as well as the Voyage of The Dawn Treader multiple times and they're great to watch with the kids. Once you factor in talking animals (Ray Winstone as a beaver is something I never could have imagined), little people, fantasy creatures galore, massive battles, and travelling between reality and fantasy multiple times these are films that all children could enjoy.

Coming soon to a living room near you...

To continue this theme we decided a couple of weeks ago to show the kids the first 5 minutes of my film choice for the following week. Once the credits had rolled for the Dawn Treader I put on The Time Bandits. The fact that a fully mounted and armoured knight charges out of a wardrobe in the opening scene determined that my kids were fully excited about the next week's film night.

And that's what we watched this weekend (and I'd somehow forgotten that Kenny Baker was in this film as well). The kids ended up really enjoying it. They took a little while to warm up to it as there is a lot of switching locales and characters but they loved the crazy nature of the whole thing. And Randall and chums have quickly become firm favourites in our house. I think I may try them with The Adventures of Baron Munchausen at some point in the not too distant future and see how they get on with that. 

And then maybe Krull. 


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