When looking at the slate of nerdy movies in 2016, it’s mostly filled with superhero films, sci-fi movies, and some potentially great animated features. But, what’s noticeable about this is that there seems to be a shift away from fantasy films that aren’t filled with men in tights. Not that we don’t love superhero movies as much as the next guy (we do, in fact), but where is all of the other fantasy?
Luckily, you have us, and we’re here to show you that there are quite a few good-looking upcoming fantasy movies set to come out this year. So whether you’re into dragons, trolls, elves, or magic, there are at least a few movies set to release this year that should tickle your fancy. Here are all of the upcoming fantasy movies of 2016 (and beyond):
**Note: We’re excluding all superhero movies from this list. Sure, superhero movies are fantasy films, but there are already numerous superhero movie lists and infographics out there).**
1. The Curse of Sleeping Beauty
Release Date: May 13th
Fantasy thriller The Curse of Sleeping Beauty will premiere in limited theaters this week, followed by a VOD and iTunes release on May 17th. This dark(er) spin on the classic Brothers Grimm fairy tale stars Ethan Peck (Eden) as Thomas Kaiser, who inherits his ancestral estate only to find out that it also comes with a curse dating back to the Crusades. He is unwittingly thrust into the role of “protector”, whose job it is to fend off the house’s demons; all the while, he works to uncover not only the mystery of the house, but also how to wake Briar Rose, played by India Eisley (Underworld: Awakening).
Briar Rose (Sleeping Beauty) is trapped in a dreamlike state, held prisoner in a netherworld which Thomas has seen previously in his own dreams. Director Pearry Teo told THR, “We’re drawing on varied things like Silent Hill, Pan’s Labyrinth, The Cell and Insidious for inspiration, but we are creating something that will be very unique, both visually and in terms of storytelling.” Check to see if The Curse of Sleeping Beauty is coming to a theater near you, and if not, be sure to check it out on iTunes/VOD.
2. Alice Through the Looking Glass
Release Date: May 27th
Alice Through the Looking Glass is a sequel to the 2010 film Alice in Wonderland, and is based on the book Through the Looking-Glass by Lewis Carroll. Tim Burton and Alice in Wonderland seem like they would be a match made in heaven, however, the first film was a total flop. Burton’s typical gothic style just didn’t work for the story. The sequel, however, brought in The Muppets director James Bobin. Will it be an improvement on the first? That remains to be seen. Visually, at least, it seems to be more suited to the whimsical world of Wonderland; so, it might be worth seeing even if you didn’t like the first (initial reviews are not promising, but who knows?).
The plot is only loosely based on the book, apparently. Alice returns from a voyage on the sea, and decides to travel down the rabbit hole once more when her ex-fiancé threatens to reclaim her ship. Once there, she finds the Mad Hatter in danger and must travel back in time to uncover the truth about his family and hopefully save him. IGN calls it “totally nonsensical — and not in the endearing, episodic way that Carroll’s books are known for.” The movie hits theaters on May 27th, but you may be better off waiting for the DVD.
Release Date: June 10th
Warcraft is undoubtedly the movie that we’re most looking forward to this year. It was initially announced way back in 2006, so it’s been a long time coming; in that time, it’s undergone many changes and delays, so we’re thrilled that it’s finally (almost) here. Also that it looks every bit as epic as you’d expect from a film of this franchise, and one that we’ve been waiting 10 years for. It was most recently pushed back so that its release would not coincide with Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and while we were disappointed at the delay, the choice is understandable; this film deserves to be in the spotlight.
The story takes place in Azeroth, naturally, where humans and orcs are on the brink of war. Orcs are fleeing their dying homeland of Draenor to find a new home; when the Dark Portal opens between the two worlds, both races face destruction. Travis Fimmel stars as the leader of the humans, Anduin Lothar, and Toby Kebbell as Durotan, leader of the Orcs. Although the plot centers around the conflict between humans and orcs, you can expect to see other notable races sprinkled throughout as well. Looper thinks WoW players are destined to hate it, but we disagree. Warcraft premieres on June 10th, and WoW players and fantasy fans alike won’t want to miss it.
4. Swiss Army Man
Release Date: June 24th
In Swiss Army Man, Daniel Radcliffe plays a corpse that possesses magical powers, in addition to the ability to speak (but is not a zombie). Hank, who is played by Paul Dano, is stranded on a desert island and on the verge of suicide, having lost all hope of ever getting home; that is, until this corpse — whom he names Manny — washes up on the beach. They become unlikely friends, and go on an epic adventure to bring Hank back to Sarah (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), the woman of his dreams.
The movie first premiered at the Sundance Film Festival on January 22nd, and then was picked up by A24 for distribution. It seems to be highly polarizing, and has met with mixed reviews, which I suppose is to be expected from a film with such a strange premise (namely, that of a flatulent corpse). I suppose Daniel Radcliffe said it best, however: “Using farts other than comedy, like using them for plot and emotion and making some people super uncomfortable…There is something wonderful about it.” Don’t miss Swiss Army Man when it hits theaters on June 24th, but be warned: it’s not Harry Potter.
5. The BFG
Release Date: July 1st
The beloved children’s book by Roald Dahl, The BFG, is coming to the big screen this summer, directed by Steven Spielberg. BFG, of course, stands for Big Friendly Giant, the role of which will be filled by Mark Rylance. The BFG differs from his fellow residents of Giant County in that he doesn’t eat humans (he prefers Snozzcumber and Frobscottle). He is lonely, and kidnaps a 10-year-old orphan girl named Sophie (Ruby Barnhill). He takes her to Dream Country, from where he sends dreams to children, and they form a friendship. When other giants take notice, the two travel to London to seek aid from Queen Victoria in ridding the world of evil giants.
The movie will open in U.S. theaters on July 1st, which marks what would be Dahl’s 100th birthday. I think a film adaptation of this movie is long overdue (the 1989 animated film notwithstanding), considering the success of the other films based on Dahl’s books. Between Dahl, Spielberg, and Disney, this one is almost certain to live up to our lofty expectations, and is one children and adults alike should make a point of seeing this summer.
6. Pete’s Dragon
Release Date: August 12th
I have to admit, I was rather apprehensive when I first heard about this one. Although I confess to enjoying the original movie as a small child, I recognize now that it is far from a cinematic masterpiece, and the ratings for the 1977 title reflect such. If there’s one Disney movie that needs an update, it’s Pete’s Dragon; not that the story doesn’t have promise, it was just executed poorly the first time. So, they have a rare opportunity to take that premise and do it justice, turning it into something (hopefully) spectacular. At least we think so, but pretty much anything with dragons catches our interest.
The casting, at least, seems solid. Robert Redford will play the role of Mr. Meacham, the old wood carver, and Bryce Dallas Howard his daughter Grace, a forest ranger. She puts little stock in his tales of a dragon living in the forest until she meets Pete (Oakes Fegley), a 10-year-old orphan who claims to live in the woods with a giant green dragon. We have high hopes for this remake, if the trailer is any indication; also, images of Elliot show that he looks infinitely better than the cheesy 1977 cartoon version. Don’t miss Pete’s Dragon when it hits theaters on August 12th.
7. Kubo and the Two Strings
Release Date: August 19th
Rating: Not Yet Rated
Kubo and the Two Strings is another one that we’re super excited for. The upcoming 3D stop motion fantasy action-comedy, produced by Laika for Focus Features, features an all-star cast of voice actors such as Charlize Theron, Matthew McConaughey, Rooney Mara, George Takei, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, and Brenda Vaccaro; it stars Art Parkinson of Game of Thrones fame as Kubo. As you can see from the trailer, it looks positively stunning and magical – made more so, of course, by the epic score composed by Dario Marianelli.
Kubo lives in a small seaside village in ancient Japan, where one day he unwittingly summons a vengeful spirit from the past. Armed with his shamisen (a magical musical instrument), he must battle gods and monsters, including the Moon King (voice by Ralph Fiennes). He sets out on an epic quest to save his family and discover the truth surrounding his late father, a legendary Samurai warrior; in doing so, he must locate a magical suit of armor his father once wore. Follow Kubo on his heroic journey; Kubo and the Two Strings is another summer film that’s absolutely unmissable, and it comes to theaters on August 19th.
See Also: Upcoming Cartoon Movies
8. Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children
Release Date: September 30th
Rating: Not Yet Rated
We have another story that seems ideally suited to Tim Burton’s particular talents in Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children. The film is of course based on the 2011 #1 New York Times bestselling young adult book of the same name, written by Ransom Riggs. It’s just the sort of quirky, gothic story that Burton excels at, and if the trailer is any indication, he has brought it to life spectacularly.
The story follows 16-year-old Jacob Portman (Asa Butterfield), who sets out to find the abandoned orphanage where his late grandfather was reportedly raised. There, he uncovers clues that lead him to an island for orphaned children that possess unusual powers. Once there, he is tasked with protecting the children from creatures known as Wights and Hollowgasts, who would destroy them. One such Wight, Barron, is played by Samuel L. Jackson; the titular character, Miss Peregrine, is played by BAFTA Award-winning Eva Green. Although Alice Through the Looking Glass may not be a hit, it looks as though Tim Burton is in his element here, and this may well be worth seeing when it premieres on Septembe 30th.
9. A Monster Calls
Release Date: October 14th
A Monster Calls is based on the highly acclaimed children’s book by Patrick Ness, and I have to say, it looks absolutely breathtaking. It’s low fantasy, and it follows the tale of a boy who seeks the help of a tree monster to cope with his dying single mother’s illness, his impending orphan status, and the fact that he’s virtually invisible among other children at his school.
The screenplay was written by Ness, and the film is directed by J.A. Bayona (whom will also be behind the cameras for the upcoming Jurassic World sequel). It also has some big names attached to star, including Felicity Jones, Liam Neeson, and Sigourney Weaver. Count us in.
10. Underworld: Blood Wars
Release Date: October 21st
Kate Beckinsale will reprise her role as Selene in the upcoming fifth installment of the Underworld franchise, which is finally officially titled Underworld: Blood Wars (A+ for the name, in our opinion). Theo James, Tobias Menzies, and Lara Pulver will also star in the film.
The upcoming fantasy action film isn’t the final stop for the Underworld series, either, as we already know that a sixth film is also in the works. What’s more, we know that Beckinsale will reprise her role for the sixth film as well.
Release Date: November 4th
It’s no secret that we here at Nerd Much are big fans of animated movies, but even we’re a little it leery of the upcoming Trolls movie. Admittedly, it’s not necessarily like the rest of the upcoming fantasy movies on this list, although it does have fantasy elements. Instead of the big, scary trolls we’re used to, Trolls brings lovable, friendly trolls who love to play around and party. So if you’re looking for lighter fare, Trolls could be a surprise hit worth seeing.
12. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Release Date: November 18th
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is the upcoming fantasy film based on the J.K. Rowling book of the same name, which follows the tale of Newt Scamander after creatures escape from his magical briefcase in the real world, straining the relations between the Wizarding and No-Maj communities. The film will be the first of a trilogy, and it serves as a spin-off prequel set long before Harry Potter ever goes to Hogwartz.
The film will star Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterston, Alison Sudol, Colin Farrell, and Ezra Miller, with other notable names attached. Judging by the first Fantastic Beasts trailer, we’re in for a truly fantastic tale.
Release Date: November 23rd
Disney’s Moana is one of our most anticipated upcoming cartoon movies of 2016, as it sounds like a fun animated adventure film filled with fantasy elements. The story follows Moana Waialiki, who takes on an epic quest to find a fabled island with a legendary demigod, Maui, by her side. Other demigods and spirits from mythology will appear in the film.
The characters will be voiced by Dwayne Johnson, Alan Tudyk, and newcomer Auli’i Cravalho.
Release Date: TBA 2017
The riskiest movie on this list of upcoming fantasy movies has to be the upcoming Jumanji reboot, especially after the recent passing of the original’s star, Robin Williams. The new Jumanji movie will be a re-imagining of the original 1995 film, and it will star Dwayne Johnson, Jack Black, and Kevin Hart.
The Jumanji reboot will be directed by Jacob Kasdan (Sex Tape, Bad Teacher), and we can’t wait to see how the movie turns out without Williams.
See Also: Upcoming Sci-Fi Movies