"Elden Ring" is already the best-selling video game of 2022 (per VGC) and one of the most expansive single-player games released in some time. In collaboration with "A Song of Ice and Fire" scribe George R.R. Martin, the esteemed "Dark Souls" developers FromSoftware have crafted a massive sandbox fantasy game that checks all the boxes. "Elden Ring" has all kinds of players, from "Souls" veterans to newcomers, pouring dozens of hours into this challenging and breathtaking role playing game.
"Elden Ring" wouldn’t exist without the centuries of fantasy novels and decades of movies in the genre that predated video games. The design for the game’s awe-inspiring boss monsters have roots in some of the most influential anime and fantasy movies of the past 50 years. If you love "Elden Ring," these movies will bring to mind various aspects of your journey across The Lands Between. From dragon-slaying high fantasy cult hits to dark contemporary takes on ancient lore, these films are some of the best to watch if you love "Elden Ring."
The Lord of the Rings trilogy
"Lord of the Rings" is such a big influence on fantasy in general, but so many of the best moments in "Elden Ring" make you feel like you’re exploring Middle-Earth. If you love a fantasy world rich with lore and backstory, you need to watch all three "Lord of the Rings" movies. They are all highly entertaining, well-crafted works of fantasy. Peter Jackson brought J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle-Earth to life in this classic trilogy that is beloved by fans and critics alike.
In the land of Middle-Earth, Dark Lord Sauron created the One Ring to rule all other races, each granted their own Rings of Power. Years after Sauron’s fall, he begins to rise again and the One Ring makes its way to the Shire. There, Hobbit Frodo Baggins (Elijah Wood) ends up being tasked with taking the ring to Mount Doom in Sauron’s realm of Mordor and destroying it. The trilogy follows Frodo, his wizard mentor Gandalf (Sir Ian McKellen), and a fellowship of companions on a harrowing journey to destroy the ring and abolish the forces of evil throughout the land.
If all the location and character names are doing something for you in "Elden Ring," you might be a "LOTR" fan. Heavy on both deep world-building and epic battle sequences the likes of which have not yet been topped, the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy is a must-watch if you have any interest in fantasy.
Army of Darkness
Very few films are able to capture the breadth of genres that "Elden Ring" covers in its 100 or more hours of play time. From high and low fantasy to the "Bloodborne"-inspired Gothic and Lovecraftian horror influences, "Elden Ring" encapsulates FromSoftware’s entire catalog of vibes in one huge game. This mashup of fantasy, horror, and even comedy feels like it would be impossible to pull off in a movie, no matter the length. "Army of Darkness” manages it in less than 90 minutes.
The final installment in Sam Raimi’s "Evil Dead" trilogy, "Army of Darkness" picks up right where "Evil Dead II" left off. What begins as a vacation for a group of teens in "Evil Dead" goes terribly wrong in the influential horror classic. After fighting with the forces of the Necronomicon in a cabin in the first two movies, Ash (Bruce Campbell) survives with a chainsaw arm and sawed-off shotgun intact. But at the end of "Evil Dead II" the groovy hero gets teleported to the time of King Arthur. In order to escape the Middle Ages and return to his own time, Ash must seek the Book of the Dead once again.
This chaotic sequel leans into all the wackiest elements of "Evil Dead II," eschewing horror almost completely. It leans into Ash as a quipping action hero, displaced from his own time. The successful juggling act of genres in "Army of Darkness" reminds us of how "Elden Ring" can be thrilling, frightening, and hilarious all at once.
Howl’s Moving Castle
This Hayao Miyazaki animated adventure is a wonderful example of where ideas for the wilder side of "Elden Ring" might have come from. Creatures like the Walking Mausoleums can’t help but remind us of the titular castle brought to life in this 2004 Ghibli classic.
"Howl’s Moving Castle" follows a young girl named Sophie (Emily Mortimer in the excellent English dub) who meets the wizard Howl (Christian Bale) one fateful day. When she is later transformed by an evil witch into a 90-year old woman (voiced now by Jean Simmons), Sophie seeks out help and finds herself in Howl’s home, a wondrous and magical castle. In her quest, she, Howl, and a band of wacky yet deep characters travel across a war torn Kingdom in a flying castle.
The strange anthropomorphized objects you encounter in "Elden Ring," like pot boys and worms made from stone spheres, bring to mind Howl’s Castle and other creations from the mind of Ghibli’s Miyazaki. There is an oddness and eerie humor to "Howl’s Moving Castle" that will charm "Elden Ring" fans.
The Green Knight
The most recent release on this list is 2021’s "The Green Knight." This dark adaptation of Arthurian fantasy is based on the epic poem "Sir Gawain and the Green Knight." Directed by David Lowry, the A24 production is far more than a straight adaptation of an ancient text — it is a gorgeous re-interpretation that never loses focus of its stylish vision.
Like in the poem, Sir Gawain (Dev Patel) takes up a challenge one Christmas presented to the court by the mysterious Green Knight. He says that any knight able to strike him will win his great axe, but in return the champion must travel to the Green Chapel a year hence forth and receive an equal blow in return. Gawain accepts and decapitates the Knight, who proceeds to pick up his head and walk away.
The journey Gawain takes to the Green Chapel delivers him into all sorts of tests of will, strength, and intelligence. Like in the open world of "Elden Ring," the hero travels to different biomes, always finding something a bit unexpected. This medieval drama isn’t all swords and magic. It leans more into the stranger, mystical side of fantasy that blends illusion and reality in the same way as the most surprising moments in "Elden Ring."
Berserk: The Golden Age Arc trilogy
The manga and anime series "Berserk" has always been one of the more apparent influences on Hidetaka Miyazaki, director of the "Souls" series and "Elden Ring." Fans are already pointing out that "Elden Ring" has a ton of references to the anime (via PC Gamer). The character design, emphasis on big swords, and general art direction of the series are all present in the latest FromSoftware offering and all pay homage to Kentaro Miura’s monumental work.
"The Golden Age Arc" is a trilogy of films released between 2012 and 2014 in the US that retold the story of the 1997 anime. This is the second arc from the manga that brought us the sword touting Guts, the hero of the series. After spending a life alone Guts is recruited into the Band of the Hawks, a roaming mercenary group. The first movie, "The Egg of the King" follows the group after they are enlisted by the King of Midland to fight in its war against the Tudors.
These films attempted to re-interpret the manga and adapt the entire thing. Ultimately, only the "Golden Age Arc" — the focus of the anime as well — was produced. These three movies are on Netflix making this trilogy the most accessible and condensed way to experience the "Berserk" saga.
The NeverEnding Story
Okay, we promise this isn’t just on here because "Elden Ring" feels never ending in its 100+ hour run time. No, the reason is that games like "Elden Ring" invoke a child-like sense of wonder and fantasy that reminds us of playing make believe. Wolfgang Petersen’s "The NeverEnding Story" is an exploration of this wonder. In 1984, Petersen adapted a relatively obscure German book into a fantasy classic for all ages. "The NeverEnding Story" follows misunderstood youth Bastian (Barret Oliver) as he escapes into the pages of a fantasy novel that becomes increasingly aware of his presence. He is flung into the wonderful and dangerous world of Fantasia where The Nothing threatens to wipe out all the land’s living creations.
If you were a little Bastian as a kid, reading fantasy novels and flipping through art books, you are the target demographic for "Elden Ring." The film is a magical and melancholy fantasy about the end of a once beautiful world, very much in line with the themes of "Elden Ring" and the "Dark Souls" series at large.
Like "The NeverEnding Story," this acclaimed highlight of Guillermo Del Toro’s filmmaking career is all about seeing the world through a child’s eyes. However, "Pan’s Labyrinth" is unafraid to show the dangers that lurk in the darkness. If your favorite part of "Elden Ring" is exploring creepy caves and trapped dungeons to discover the vile creatures that roam their depths, "Pan’s Labyrinth" is the movie for you.
Set as the dust is settling on the Spanish Civil War, 10-year-old Ofelia (Ivana Baquero) and her ailing mother move in with her new stepfather, a fascist military Captain. When Ofelia discovers a faun, she finds herself falling ever so slowly into a fairy tale. But with those fantastical creatures come frightening ones, and "Pan’s Labyrinth" has top notch terrifying monsters. The film’s most memorable monster would feel right at home in a game like "Dark Souls" or "Elden Ring."
Conan the Barbarian
Conan the Barbarian is a classic comic character that was brought to life by none other than Arnold Schwarzenegger in this 1980s cult classic. "Conan the Barbarian" was a breakthrough role for the young Austrian bodybuilder, one that paved the way to a career in film — and for good reason. Schwarzenegger understood the assignment in this over-the-top R-rated fantasy epic. Young Conan is a blacksmith’s son in a town that soon gets invaded by raiders. Led by Thulsa Doom (James Earl Jones), a group of serpent worshipping cultists kill his family and most of the villagers of the town Conan lives in. After training his body his entire life, Conan finds an ancient sword and begins a journey that takes him face to face with Thulsa Doom himself.
A couple scene here bring "Elden Ring" to mind. One is a scene where Conan runs from a pack of wolves and into a crypt, where a sword-wielding skeleton sits on a throne. The other is Thusla Doom’s transformation into a giant snake before he battles Conan. Both of these moments feel straight out of a FromSoftware games and capture both the game’s dungeon crawling as well as its frequent use of bosses who transform mid-fight.
Another Ghibli classic we would be remiss if we didn’t mention "Princess Mononoke." This epic adventure is regarded as one of Miyazaki’s best movies. Set in the late Muromachi period of Japan, Ashitaka is a young prince who defends his village but pays the ultimate price. Cursed by a demon in this battle, he sets off on a journey to cure himself — and discovers the natural forces that exist beyond the mortal realm.
The biological makeup of the Lands Between and the world San (the titular character, voiced in the dub by Claire Danes) is trying to bring harmony to are strikingly similar. In both, you will find giant wolves and other evolutions of beasts from our world, as well as spirits and powerful phantoms. The strange creatures and costumed warriors of Ghibli movies often seem like a big influence on FromSoftware’s recent games, and "Mononoke" is the closest thing to a traditional fantasy epic the storied studio ever made.
On a deeper level, though, both are stories about restoring life to dying worlds. In each, an afflicted hero goes on a quest that introduces them to other world views, ultimately forcing them to make a decision that will change everything.
You sure do slay a lot of dragons in "Elden Ring." So it only makes sense that a movie called "Dragonslayer" would be a no-brainer for continuing your high fantasy journey. The 1981 film was a collaboration between Paramount and Disney, making for a more mature and violent film than 99% of what you’re used to seeing from Disney.
When a dragon threatens a village, the villagers seek out the help of the last sorcerer, Ulrich of Cragganmore (Ralph Richardson). When Ulrich is killed, his apprentice Galen (Peter MacNicol) is tasked with carrying on the sorcerer’s duties and ultimately ends up protecting the town from the dragon threat.
"Dragonslayer" is a campy ride, but the practical effects on the dragon are worth watching, even if certain scenes are laughable by today’s standards. Based on the messages we’ve seen placed around the Lands Between in the game, it definitely seems like "Elden Ring" players have a sense of humor. If you can’t get enough of the game’s dragons, check out this ’80s cult classic.
Another cult hit from the ’80s that went on to grow a passionate fan base over the decades, "Highlander" shares a lot of themes with "Elden Ring." The Highlander (Christopher Lambert) is an immortal warrior born in the 16th century to eternally battle other immortals. The iconic line "there can be only one" is also the driving force of the plot, the belief that all immortals must fight each other until there is one left to receive the great Prize. It’s a bit hokey, but not any more outlandish than the average 1980s action movie. Like the Tarnished you play in "Elden Ring," the Highlander dies and is reborn eternally. Born into this battle, there is an undercurrent of twisted fate to "Highlander" that is also present in the player characters of "Elden Ring" and the "Souls" games.
In the film, Lambert plays an immortal living in 1986 New York City, where he is challenged by an old rival. After an extended sequence starring Sean Connery as Juan Sánchez-Villalobos Ramírez, a mentor character who explains the character’s origin and the world’s concepts, we get to see a battle between the only immortals left alive. There is great sword and shield action in both period appropriate and contemporary settings in this cult classic.
King Arthur: Legend of the Sword
If your favorite part of "Elden Ring" is running into a field or a castle keep full of enemies, or hopping on your horse and seeing what happens, "King Arthur: Legend of the Sword" is a perfect lazy Sunday watch for you. "Sherlock Holmes" and "Snatch" director Guy Ritchie was behind this bombastic take on a foundational story. Charlie Hunnam plays a young Arthur in this origin story. Starting as a street urchin, we watch as Arthur works his way to local tough guy.
King Arthur: Legend of the Sword" is routine franchise filmmaking for sure, and it didn’t impress audiences enough to get them to come out and see it (via Box Office Mojo). Certainly a set-up for a larger Arthurian universe, the film never inspired a sequel, but is a fun way to spend a couple hours if you dig sword and shield combat.
Fire and Ice
You might see the surface level connection to between the title "Fire and Ice" and George R.R. Martin, who helped build the world of "Elden Ring," but beyond the title, this animated 1983 dark fantasy is an essential pick for anyone currently enraptured in "Elden Ring." You can’t talk about fantasy without mentioning Ralph Bakshi, and "Fire and Ice" is a great place to start.
In "Fire and Ice," young princess Teegra and warrior Larn — who eventually fall in love — are on the run from the forces of evil queen Juliana and her son Nekron. When a giant squid attacks, the two are separated and Teegra is taken prisoner. Larn must now infiltrate the ice fortress of Nekron and rescue his love. It’s a classic damsel in distress story, with a style that reminds us of the best parts of "Elden Ring."
On his quest, Larn meets Darkwolf, a mysterious warrior who dresses and acts like an "Elden Ring" NPC. He is mysterious, but ultimately helpful. For the most part, his true intentions remain unknown. Not only are weird NPCs a core part of the experience, but summoning in random players to help with difficult bosses in "Elden Ring" reinforces the importance of the mysterious stranger archetype in fantasy stories.
The Head Hunter
The 2018 dark fantasy film "The Head Hunter" leans into the crueler side of the genre in ways that are evocative of "Elden Ring." This dreary adventure follows a medieval warrior (Christopher Rygh) on his quest for revenge. This visceral genre piece is oozing with atmosphere and it evokes the isolation that you can feel in the darkest dungeons of "Elden Ring." Plus, the armor on display here is straight out of a FromSoftware game, and the hunter even uses a flask to refill his health.
Set in the Dark Ages, a hunter lives for one solitary purpose: killing monsters. After a beast kills his daughter, he begins collecting the heads of creatures he slays across the land and vows revenge. But it is all in service of finding the biggest bounty of them all — the terrifying monster that took his child from him. "The Head Hunter" is occasionally gruesome, dipping its toes into horror in many of the same ways the scariest areas and creepiest monsters in "Elden Ring" do. The ending is especially memorable and presents a cruel twist to the story that is reminiscent of how of the best quest lines in "Dark Souls" and "Elden Ring" wrap up.
A Writer’s Odyssey
In this striking Chinese fantasy blockbuster, a man in our world searches for his missing daughter. As Guan Ning (Lei Jiayin) becomes involved with a powerful corporation, a young writer’s fantasy novel beings to bleed through into the real world. The novelists creations include the monstrous Redmane, a hybrid of beast and man who reminds us of "Elden Ring" bosses like Godrick the Grafted. "A Writer’s Odyssey" is what its name promises … kind of. It’s more of a visual odyssey and not necessarily a triumph of writing.
Needless to say the character design and art style in "A Writer’s Odyssey" turn an interesting premise into a gorgeous big budget tale of good versus evil. The art style makes an old fashioned tale feel fresh. Moments of this movie evoke areas of "Elden Ring," featuring battlefields full of mounted soldiers defending Redmane. The heroes of the movie must fight through the mob to reach Redmane the same way you would battle through the game’s areas to reach the towering bosses. If you love the repulsive and terrifying enemy designs of "Elden Ring," "A Writer’s Odyssey" will give you a visual feast to satiate your appetite for dark, arresting fantasy imagery.