It’s a dream that practically everyone has had at some point in their lives — to discover you have extraordinary abilities, and then learn there are others who can help you harness those gifts and find your place in the world. Audiences got to live this dream with the "Boy Who Lived" during the eight Harry Potter films, which followed Harry’s adventures at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
The Harry Potter franchise has since been spun off into the Fantastic Beasts movies, but there are still plenty of other movies that use similar themes and tropes from the original series. Some of these films take place in schools as weird and magical as Hogwarts. Others force their protagonists to undergo a period of self-education in a wondrous and dangerous world. All of them, however, involve stories of self-discovery and personal transformation in fantastic settings.
Let’s take a look at some of the best movies to watch if you like Harry Potter. Odds are, we’ve picked a few cult classics and foreign films that may have escaped your notice — showing that the most magical films can come from some surprising places.
"Sky High" flies you to a school for superheroes
Originally planned to be a new franchise complete with a Disney TV show, "Sky High" (2005) instead became a cult classic for comic book fans who loved the idea that the children of superheroes attend a secret floating high school that trains them in the use of their powers. Unfortunately, bullies and student cliques run rampant, which is bad news for the seemingly powerless Will Stronghold (Michael Angarano), son of the world’s most famous superheroes The Commander (Kurt Russell) and Jetstream (Kelly Preston).
After being relegated to "sidekick" status, Will’s powers unexpectedly kick in, giving him a taste of what it’s like to be one of the cool kids. But a secret plot soon forces the superhero-in-training to decide who his real friends are — and which of his classmates might be future villains.
Like the Harry Potter films, "Sky High" brings audiences into a secret (and dangerous) school where gym classes are equipped with death traps to test the students’ mettle and the principal is played by television’s original Wonder Woman, Lynda Carter. And while the movie failed to jumpstart a franchise, it does showcase an appealing early performance from Danielle Panabaker, who later found fame as Caitlin Snow/Killer Frost on "The Flash" TV show.
"Journey to the West" reinterprets a classic Chinese legend
A popular Chinese novel published in the 16th century, "Journey to the West" tells the story of a Buddhist monk Tang Sanzang who travels to the Western regions of Central Asia to obtain some sacred Buddhist texts. Tasked by Gautama Buddha himself, the monk is aided by the legendary Monkey King (Sun Wukong), the pig-like Zhu Bajie, and sand demon Sha Wujing.
Under the direction of Hong Kong filmmaker Stephen Chow ("Kung Fu Hustle") and Derek Kwok, however, "Journey to the West" became a hilarious 2013 fantasy comedy film that made audiences see the legends in a new light. Taking place before Tang Sanzang (Wen Zhang) got his helpers, the story sees a goofier version of the monk try to reform several monsters by singing nursery rhymes to them. His actions earn him the annoyance of Duan (Shu Qi), a fellow monster hunter, although she later falls in love with his selflessness.
Unfortunately, Sanzang cannot reciprocate due to his monk status and constantly drives Duan away. During an encounter with the funny but vicious Monkey King, however, Sanzang must come to terms with his own feelings with Duan in order to defeat the Monkey King and achieve enlightenment. Alternately hilarious and sad, the movie also challenges the usual notions of students and teachers in the quest for enlightenment.
"Kiki’s Delivery Service" is an anime movie classic
Throughout a legendary career, Japanese filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki has regularly awed audiences with his beautifully animated films, earning accolades for "My Neighbor Totoro" (1988) and "Princess Mononoke" (1997). With "Kiki’s Delivery Service" (1989), Miyazaki offers a charming coming-of-age story told through the eyes of a young witch trying to make her way in the world.
When Kiki (voiced by Minami Takayama in the original Japanese version and Lisa Michelson and Kirsten Dunst in English dubs), reaches the age of thirteen, she obeys a witch tradition that requires her to move to a new town and make a living with her magic. Finding new friends in the kindly baker Osono (Keiko Toda/Alexandra Kentworthy/Tress MacNeille) and aviation obsessed boy Tombo (Kappei Yamaguchi/Eddie Frierson/Matthew Lawrence), Kiki uses her magical flying ability to start a delivery service. But growing up is challenging and Kiki must also deal with loneliness and self-doubt, which threaten to drain her powers.
One of Studio Ghibli’s most popular works, "Kiki’s Delivery Service" is applauded for its gentle story and themes of maturity and independence. You won’t find any action-packed scenes of mid-air battles between warring witches in this film — yet following Kiki’s journey of self-acceptance and vulnerability is gripping in its own right.
"Doraemon: Nobita’s Great Adventure into the Underworld" creates its own magical world
While not well-known in the United States, Doraemon is among Japan’s most popular animated characters. A robot cat from the 22nd century, Doraemon travels back in time to help his owner’s ancestor, a lazy boy named Nobita, become successful so his descendants won’t have to suffer from his bad decisions in the future. Using an endless supply of future gadgets from his fourth-dimensional pocket, Doraemon attempts to help Nobita with his problems, but usually just creates more disasters.
Doraemon’s popularity created an entire franchise of manga comics, Japanese kodomomuke anime, toys, and full-length animated movies. In the 1984 film "Nobita’s Great Adventure into the Underworld," Doraemon (Nobuyo Ōyama) and Nobita (Noriko Tobe) create a parallel world where magic, not science, runs everything, thinking this will make life easier. Unfortunately, since they have no formal magic training, both characters are forced to take remedial lessons — which proves problematic when they’re called on to stop an ancient demonic evil that threatens to destroy the world. Doraemon’s gadgets prove helpful, however, and ultimately science and sorcery save the day.
The film was reimagined in 2007 as "Nobita’s New Great Adventure into the Underworld." More action-packed than the original, the retelling includes a tragic subplot involving Miyoko (Saki Aibu), a magical champion who joins the cast. The film’s mix of comedy and drama made it a huge hit in Japan, and it became the 2nd highest grossing anime movie of 2007.
"Mary and the Witch’s Flower" gives us a treacherous version of Hogwarts
Most kids would jump at the chance to attend a magical school. But as young Mary Smith discovers in this Japanese anime film, enrolling in a witch’s academy can come with a lot of strings. Based on the 1971 book "The Little Broomstick" by Mary Stewart, this Japanese anime film sees English girl Mary (Hana Sugisaki in the Japanese version and Ruby Barnhill in English dubs) discover the "Little Broomstick," a witch’s broom, and a magic flower that gives her great power — but only temporarily.
Whisked to Endor College, a secret school for witches, Mary is initially viewed as a prodigy but when her instructors learn about the magic flower, they kidnap her friend and hold him ransom for the flower. With the Little Broomstick’s help, Mary is able to travel back to Endor and save her friend, while rethinking a lot of her ideas about magic.
The first feature film from Japan’s Studio Ponoc, "Mary and the Witch’s Flower" displays a whimsical style that sets it apart from the Harry Potter franchise while still playing with similar tropes. The studio was founded by former Studio Ghibli lead film producer Yoshiaki Nishimura and offers a greater emphasis on whimsical action and adventure.
"Return to Oz" offers an enchanting dark fantasy
Everybody knows about the classic MGM musical film "The Wizard of Oz" (1939) starring Judy Garland, or "The Wiz" with Michael Jackson and Diana Ross. Many also know about Disney’s recent prequel "Oz: The Great and Powerful" (2013) with James Franco as the young Wizard. But only true Oz fans know about "Return to Oz," a 1985 cult classic that redefined how the Land of Oz could be presented on the big screen.
Basing the production design off of illustrations from original Oz book artist John R. Neill and casting a young Fairuza Balk as Dorothy, the film offers a beautifully somber look at an Oz that’s been conquered by the evil Nome King (Nicol Williamson) who wants to add Dorothy’s Ruby Slippers to his power. To defeat him, Dorothy makes some new friends in the mechanical Tik-Tok, good-hearted Jack Pumpkinhead, talking hen Billina, and the flying Gump, and participates in a dangerous game that could transform them all into unthinking ornaments.
Supported by practical effects created by Jim Henson’s Creature Shop, the film’s dark and frequently creepy atmosphere (based in part from the original Oz books) earned it criticism from reviewers. However, the movie gained a strong cult following and — considering how dark modern fantasy films like Harry Potter can become — helped establish a new precedent for fantasy film content.
"The Worst Witch" launched a long-lasting TV franchise
A year after making her debut feature film appearance as Dorothy Gale in "Return to Oz," Fairuza Balk would return as the misfit witch Mildred Hubble in the made-for-TV musical film "The Worst Witch" (1986). Based on a popular book series by Jill Murphy, the movie takes place at Miss Cackle’s Academy for Witches, where Mildred accidentally causes many mishaps and gets labeled "The Worst Witch." When the headmistress’ evil twin sister tries to take over the Academy, however, Mildred stops her and earns the admiration of the handsome Grand Wizard (a young Tim Curry).
Considered a cult favorite by many fans, "The Worst Witch" was followed by multiple TV series, including the 1998 television show "The Worst Witch" co-starring a young Felicity Jones as Mildred’s rival Ethel Hallow, "Weirdsister College" (a sequel series), and "The New Worst Witch," a 2005 spin-off that follows Mildred’s cousin Hetti (Alice Connor). In 2017, a new version of "The Worst Witch" children’s television series began airing on CBBC, ZDF, and Netflix, showing Mildred Hubble’s adventures are far from over.
"The Craft" resonates with many teenagers
Fairuza Balk has played many different roles in her acting career, but somehow her most iconic characters tend to be associated with magic and witchcraft. That’s certainly the case with "The Craft" (1996) in which Balk plays Nancy, a troubled teenager in a witch’s coven with several other high school outcasts. Initially, the girls’ spells lack power, but when new girl Sarah Bailey (Robin Tunney) joins the group, her unusual abilities grant the witches the magic they need to grant their fondest wishes.
Unfortunately, power corrupts and soon the witches begin using more dangerous spells that disfigure their enemies and brainwash their crushes. Nancy becomes the most power hungry, casting a spell that kills her abusive stepfather and allows her mother to cash in on his insurance policy. She then gets the coven to turn on Sarah, who needs to find the power to stop her former friends.
"The Craft" became a surprise hit and a sequel, "The Craft: Legacy," was released in 2020. Its fan base responded well to the darker themes of teen bullying and racism with Complex writer Kristen Yoonsoo Kim calling the film, "a rite of passage for young women." Much less whimsical than Harry Potter, "The Craft" resonates with audiences who like their fantasy films edgier.
"Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events" shows the extraordinary in the dreary
In many ways, Lemony Snicket’s bestselling "A Series of Unfortunate Events" books are the antithesis of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series. Where Harry and his friends live in a magical world with plenty of allies, Snicket’s Baudelaire orphans live in a cruel world where they can’t rely on anyone other than themselves. This dynamic is perfectly translated into the 2004 film adaptation where we see Violet (Emily Browning), Klaus (Liam Aiken), and baby Sunny (Kara and Shelby Hoffman) use their resourcefulness, book smarts, and teeth to outwit the greedy Count Olaf (Jim Carrey).
While the Baudelaires may live in a non-magical world, it’s anything but ordinary. Every household that takes the orphans in offers its own wacky environment, from Count Olaf’s filthy mansion, to Dr. Montgomery (Billy Connolly)’s reptile room, to Aunt Josephine (Meryl Streep)’s dangerously balanced seaside home. Accompanied by Thomas Newman’s emotional score, the film offers an otherworldly atmosphere reminiscent of Tim Burton movies.
Although the 2004 film only adapts the first three books in Snicket’s series (and underperformed at the box-office, destroying any chance to deliver a sequel), in 2014, Netflix released a rebooted TV series that adapts all the books into live action comedy-dramas over the course of three seasons. Starring Neil Patrick Harris as Count Olaf, the television series retains the offbeat production design and weird atmosphere of both the movie and the books.
"Stardust" captivates both children and adults
Originally written by legendary author Neil Gaiman as a fairy tale for adults, the film version of "Stardust" (2007) is a little-remembered flick that turned out much better than its underwhelming box office would indicate. To some extent, it’s a faithful adaptation of young Tristan Thorn (a pre-Daredevil Charlie Cox)’s quest to retrieve a falling star to prove his love for a spoiled rich girl (Sienna Miller). But when Tristan discovers the star is an actual woman (Claire Danes) being pursued by multiple villains who want her magical heart, he starts rethinking his priorities even as he discovers his strange connection to the star’s magical world.
The film also introduces some new and reinterpreted characters, particularly Captain Shakespeare (Robert DeNiro), the flamboyant pirate captain of a flying ship, who becomes Tristan’s mentor. Many of the changes increase the movie’s comedy, turning the story into something reminiscent of "The Princess Bride" (1987), but this actually makes the film more appealing to audiences hungry for light fantasy with some heavy doses of adventure mixed in.
"Matilda" shows some heroes are self-educated
Some child protagonists on this list get plenty of help in their education. Then there’s Matilda Wormwood (Mara Wilson) who basically self-educates herself from the age of one. Fortunately, Matilda is more than up for the task, as her genius intellect not only lets her teach herself how to read but also play pranks on her abusive and pig-headed parents (Danny DeVito and Rhea Perlman).
Eventually Matilda does receive a kind-hearted teacher in Miss Honey (Embeth Davidtz), but discovers she needs to save her mentor from her school’s cruel principal Agatha Trunchbull (Pam Ferris). Luckily, Matilda discovers her increased brainpower also gifts her with some telekinetic abilities that prove quite useful to the young prankster.
Based on the bestselling book by Roald Dahl, "Matilda" (1996) offers his usual serving of clever kids battling stupid and cruel adults. While Matilda’s ability to move things with her mind might seem relatively tame compared to the flashier magic of Harry Potter, the film’s charm rests in the performances of the wacky characters who guide the story to a very satisfying conclusion.
"The BFG" teaches audiences about giants and dreams
Roald Dahl books adapt incredibly well to films, as this 2016 Steven Spielberg fantasy film shows. Based on the book of the same name, "The BFG" sees young Sophie (Ruby Barnhill) get whisked away to "Giant Country" by the Big Friendly Giant (Mark Rylance), a gentle but lonely being who finds purpose in creating dreams for children. Unfortunately, other giants aren’t as benevolent and spend their time snatching humans out of their beds and eating them.
After receiving a very hands-on education about giant culture (including an instance where she nearly gets eaten), Sophie manages to convince the BFG to use his dream-crafting skills to recruit the Queen of England to his side and stop the other mean giants. Much like the relationship between Harry Potter and the half-giant Hagrid, Sophie and the BFG develop a close bond that gives the orphan girl the family she always wished she had.
"The Witches" pits kids against a new breed of witches
Although the Harry Potter franchise puts a more positive spin on witches and witchcraft, witches are typically depicted as villains in fantasy stories, something this 1990 film, based on another classic book by Roald Dahl, completely embraces. Under Dahl’s creative influence, however, the witches of his story are very different from those in traditional fairy tales. Pushing aside the usual tropes of flying brooms and pointed hats, the film and book re-establish witches as bald, demonic beings who hide their unusual features beneath the guise of gentle, polite ladies.
The first half of the movie educates the audience about "real witches" via the stories a wise grandmother (Mai Zetterling) tells her young grandson Luke (Jason Fisher) as she warns him of the witches’ obsessions with eradicating children. But when Luke stumbles into an annual meeting of England’s witches, he comes face-to-face with the terrifying Grand High Witch (Anjelica Huston) who transforms him into a mouse. Determined not to let others share in his fate, Luke hatches a plot with his grandmother to steal the mouse-making potion and turn the tables on the witches.
Considered a cult classic today, the movie is mostly faithful to the book’s plot, although a final scene does alter the traditional ending. In 2021, audiences got to see a reimagined version, "Roald Dahl’s The Witches" that takes place in the American South, showing that witches really do exist everywhere.
"Bridge to Terabithia" teaches hard lessons about tragedy and trauma
Not all fantasy films need wizards and witches to be magical. The 2007 movie adaptation of Katherine Paterson’s 1977 novel "Bridge to Terabithia" shows this quite well when it introduces audiences to Jesse Aarons (Josh Hutcherson) and Leslie Burke (AnnaSophia Robb), two bullied preteens who manage to build a fantasy world in a secluded spot of the woods using their imaginations.
But while "Terabithia" initially offers Jesse and Leslie a sanctuary to work through their personal issues, it does not spare them from the tragedies of life and when Leslie is lost in an unexpected accident, Josh must work through his personal trauma on his own. The film offers an effective blend of real-life scenes mixed with CGI sequences (although honestly Hutcherson and Robb’s performances alone sell the reality of Terabithia). However, it’s the story’s exploration of loss and the multiple stages of grief that resonate the best with audiences, showing again that the best fantasies focus on the human element.
"Escape to Witch Mountain" is a regularly rebooted classic
A Disney classic, "Escape to Witch Mountain" (1975) is one film that continues to enchant new generations of audiences. Based on the book by Alexander Key, the story finds siblings Tony (Ike Eisenmann) and Tia (Kim Richards) at an orphanage after the death of their adoptive parents. Unable to recall anything about their real family, Tony and Tia know there’s something unusual about their heritage due to their ability to move things with their mind and communicate telepathically.
But when the pair’s psychic abilities catch the attention of a greedy tycoon (Ray Milland), the two go on the run with Jason O’Day (Eddie Albert), a kind-hearted recluse who helps Tony and Tia uncover the strange truth behind their fantastic abilities. While the special effects are primitive compared to today’s CGI, people still love "Escape" thanks to the fun the kids have with their abilities and the atmosphere of danger that surrounds this kid-friendly film.
"Escape to Witch Mountain" proved popular enough to be followed by a sequel, "Return from Witch Mountain" (1978), and two TV movies, "Beyond Witch Mountain" (1982) and "Disney’s Escape to Witch Mountain" (1995). In 2009, Disney released the big-budget theatrical film "Race to Witch Mountain" starring AnnaSophia Robb and Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, indicating Disney’s not done offering Witch Mountain stories.
"Peter Pan" offers something new for every generation
"Peter Pan" is one story that keeps getting retold and reinterpreted in movies, TV shows, stage plays, and books. For this list, we’re concentrating on the 2003 live action movie that follows much of the basic plot of the original play while adding its own flavor to the well-known legend. All the usual beats are here — eternal flying child Peter Pan (Jeremy Sumpter) takes Wendy Darling (Rachel Hurd-Wood) and her brothers to the untamed world of Neverland where they must battle the treacherous Captain Hook (Jason Issacs, who also plays the Death Eater Lucius Malfoy in the Harry Potter films).
But the film also offers a uniquely haunting atmosphere in its depiction of Neverland, from its predatory mermaids to a romantic "fairy dance" sequence where hundreds of pixies perform their version of a grand ball. The movie is also notable for exploring the link between Peter’s emotions and his powers — at one point, Hook is able to overpower his usual unbeatable foe by employing psychological warfare on him and (temporarily) stealing his ability to fly. Peter Pan might continue to inspire reboots, but this is one version that deserves to retain its strong following with future generations.
"Hook" lets children teach adults
Most versions of "Peter Pan" follow a similar pattern, but Steven Spielberg’s "Hook" (1991) deserves special mention for the way it subverts expectations by flipping the usual student-teacher dynamic. It begins with an unthinkable premise — Peter Pan has finally grown up. Now a corporate lawyer, Peter Banning (Robin Williams) has all but forgotten his childhood adventures. But when Captain Hook (Dustin Hoffman) kidnaps his two children, Peter must journey back to Neverland with Tinkerbell (Julia Roberts) and rescue them.
The problem is that children hold all the power in Neverland, and Peter has lost touch with his inner child. This forces him to re-learn many of his forgotten skills by playing pretend with kids and running ridiculous obstacle courses. Yet it’s only when Peter reconciles with the real reason that he left Neverland that he regains his happy thoughts, recovers his powers, and enters a final duel with Hook.
Funny, exciting, and often unexpectedly sad, "Hook" manages to draw in audiences with a story that has dual meanings for children and adults. Williams proves very effective at portraying both an uptight father and a wild adventurer (something of a callback to the original "Peter Pan" play, where the actor who plays Wendy’s stuffy father Mr. Darling also plays Captain Hook). Hogwarts might be a wild school, but even it could learn a few things from the crazy lessons taught by the Lost Boys.
"The NeverEnding Story" shows the magic that lives in books
Some fantasy worlds contain a lot of magical books. Then there’s Fantasia, the wondrous realm from "The NeverEnding Story" (1984) which resides in a magic book read by Bastian Bux (Barret Oliver). Bullied at school, Bastian decides to skip his classes and spend the day reading — but quickly learns Fantasia has a way of blurring the lines between reality and fantasy.
Soon, Bastian gets caught up in the tale of boy warrior Atreyu (Noah Hathaway)’s quest to journey to the borders of Fantasia and find a new name for the Childlike Empress (Tami Stronach). As Fantasia begins to crumble due to the Empress’ illness, Bastian learns he has an unexpected role to play in the fantasy world’s survival.
Although the film was followed by two sequels, a TV series, and even an animated show, no other adaptation of Michael Ende’s classic book has come close to capturing the magic of the original. The scene where Atreyu’s horse Artax succumbs to the Swamp of Sadness still makes audiences cry today, while the practical effects that bring creatures like Falkor the Luck Dragon to life hold up remarkably well. Add in Limahl’s iconic song, "Never Ending Story," and you’ve got a timeless film with a never-ending fandom.
"X-Men: First Class" reveals the origin of the mutant academy
While any of the films in the X-Men franchise could fit on this list, "X-Men: First Class" (2011) occupies a special place in the series since it reveals how the mutant academy was founded. Starring James McAvoy as telepathic mutant Charles Xavier and Michael Fassbender as the Nazi-traumatized Erik Lehnsherr (aka Magneto), the film re-establishes how these iconic characters first met and formed their school to battle corrupt megalomaniac Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon) and his plan to start a nuclear war.
A prequel to the greater X-Men franchise, "First Class" contains numerous inconsistencies to the prior films. But that hardly matters to audiences who get caught up in the James Bond-style adventure that sees a powerful group of misfits come together for a world-changing mission. While some of the other films in the X-Men series vary in quality, you really can’t go wrong with "X-Men: First Class" — or its immediate sequel "X-Men: Days of Future Past."
"Doctor Strange" is mind-bending fun
Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry might be the desired magical school for many children, but older fans might be more interested in finding Kamar-Taj, a secret school in Kathmandu that trains entire generations of sorcerers. Classes here can teach you to perform wondrous feats, although the teaching methods are somewhat more brutal than at Hogwarts, as Doctor Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) discovers when he journeys to the school to heal his nerve-damaged hands.
Instead of providing him with an instant cure, the school’s grandmaster the Ancient One (Tilda Swinton) puts Strange through a grueling period of training where he learns to create mystic portals, astral project, and channel magical energy. Eventually, Strange learns his new skills are meant to help save the world from extradimensional threats, forcing him to decide what path he wants to take with his life.
A unique and mind-bending entry into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, "Doctor Strange" (2016) redefines what it means to be a sorcerer-in-training. Rather than sit in class all day, the sorcerers of Kamar-Taj take a very hands-on approach to magic, stranding students at the top of Mount Everest to give them the proper motivation to create mystic portals and combining spellcasting with martial arts, making their "Defense Against the Dark Arts" classes deadlier than Harry Potter’s more insulated classes.
"Hellboy" follows a graduating class of monsters
"Hellboy" (2004) answers the question, "What happens to monsters when they grow up?" If they were raised in the secret government facility, the Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense, they become secret agents for a world constantly plagued by demons. Found by the Allies during World War II, the demonic child "Hellboy" (Ron Perlman) grows into a powerful but laidback hero who helps the government combat demonic creatures alongside the amphibious humanoid Abe Sapien (Doug Jones) and his pyrokinetic love interest Liz (Selma Blair).
Perlman’s deadpan humor works brilliantly through his elaborate prosthetic makeup and the movie is filled with highly original action sequences and set designs, thanks largely to the creative vision of director/writer Guillermo del Toro. The film was followed by the equally impressive "Hellboy II: The Golden Army" (2019) before being rebooted in 2019. While the films follow a group of heroic monsters after they’re all grown up, it’s nice to see the government is keeping them gainfully employed.
"The Secret of Kells" offers a mystic origin for a famous book
Beautifully animated but unfortunately lesser known than the other movies on this list, "The Secret of Kells" (2009) is a fantasy film about the making of the Book of Kells, a famous illuminated manuscript Gospel book from the 9th century. The real-life book contains aspects of Celtic mythology, such as the pre-Christian Irish deity Crom Cruach and the Aislings poetic genre which shows up in the film.
Brendan (Evan McGuire) is an orphan living in the Abbey of Kells who becomes an apprentice to the artist Brother Aidan (Mick Lally) who needs his help to complete his Book of Kells. When he sends Brendan into the woods to find the berries needed for the book’s ink, Brendan meets Aisling (Christen Mooney), a fairy who appears as both a young girl and a wolf. Aisling befriends Brendan and helps him complete the Book of Kells, but when Brendan goes in search of a magnifying lens that turns out to be the eye of the dangerous deity Crom Cruach, completing the book may cost the two their lives.
Since the movie is based on the creation of a real-life book, the line between reality and fantasy often gets a bit blurry. The film makes full use of this, with certain sequences animated to appear as though the audience is physically in the book or offering a dream-like vision where Brendan obtains the (possibly mystic) eye of Crom Cruach.
"Monsters University" makes top marks
Wizards, superheroes, and mutants have their own exclusive schools, so why not monsters? This 2013 prequel to Pixar’s 2001 hit "Monsters Inc." reveals how loveable monsters Sulley (John Goodman) and Mike Wazowski (Billy Crystal) first met at Monsters University. Intent on becoming a first-class "scarer," Mike finds himself constantly overshadowed by Sulley’s natural talent and more formidable appearance. The two become rivals and get thrown out of the scare program, forcing Mike and Sulley to join the underdog fraternity "Oozma Kappa" and try to win the university’s "Scare Games" to get reinstated.
Naturally, nothing goes according to plan and the two end up causing more chaos. This is bad for them but great for the audience, who get to enjoy almost two hours of madcap fun as they explore a monster version of college film tropes — from a 50-foot tentacled librarian who literally throws out loud patrons, to final exams that test the monsters’ ability to scare children. Hogwarts may produce the world’s finest wizards, but other schools are just as serious when it comes to how their unusual curriculums turn students into masters of their trade — and we’ll get to see the results when the animated series "Monsters at Work" hits Disney+.