The 90s was a remarkable era in filmmaking with the emergence of Hollywood blockbusters and the introduction of the fantasy genre as a popular movie theme. The fantasy genre first began to appear in the late 80s, with classic hits like The NeverEnding Story and The Princess Bride. By the 90s, the genre had firmly established itself as one of the most popular genres for audiences around the world.
The 90s was the decade of fantasy movies. From fan-favourites such as The Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone to cult classics like Labyrinth and The Mask, the 90s produced some of the most memorable fantasy films of all time.
In this article, we take a look at some of the most iconic fantasy films released during the 90s, as well as exploring how the genre has evolved over time.
Rise of the Fantasy Genre
The rise of the fantasy genre in the 90s was largely due to the success of films like The Princess Bride (1987) and The Neverending Story (1984). These films proved that fantasy films could be popular, even with mainstream audiences. As a result, Hollywood studios began investing more heavily in the genre, producing bigger budget films with bigger stars.
The success of films like Beetlejuice (1988), Edward Scissorhands (1990) and Hook (1991) paved the way for the biggest fantasy films of the 90s. Films like Jurassic Park (1993), The Matrix (1999) and The Lord of the Rings (2001) were hugely successful, both commercially and critically, and helped to cement the genre as one of the most popular in Hollywood.
However, it was not just the big-budget, special effects-heavy blockbusters that defined the genre in the 90s. Smaller films like The Mask (1994) and Groundhog Day (1993) also achieved success, showcasing the breadth and depth of the fantasy genre and its range of storytelling.
One of the most common themes in 90s fantasy films was the idea of the “hero’s journey”. This narrative device was first popularized by the classic fantasy films of the 80s and was a recurring theme in many of the most successful films of the 90s. Films like The Matrix, The Lord of the Rings and The Mummy all followed this classic story-telling structure, with the main character undertaking a journey that ultimately leads to self-discovery and personal growth.
Another popular theme in 90s fantasy films was the idea of good vs. evil. Films like The Mask and Jurassic Park featured characters that were caught in a battle between good and evil, with the heroes ultimately triumphing over the villains. This theme was also used in many of the fantasy films based on popular books and comics, such as Batman Forever (1995) and Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (2001).
The idea of magic was also a recurrent theme in 90s fantasy films. Films like The Craft (1996) and Practical Magic (1998) explored the themes of the supernatural and the power of magic, giving audiences a glimpse into a world beyond the ordinary.
Impact on Modern Fantasy Films
The success of the fantasy films of the 90s has had a lasting impact on the industry, as filmmakers continue to be influenced by and build upon the ideas and themes explored in these classic films. Many of the most successful fantasy films of the 21st century can trace their roots back to the 90s, from the Harry Potter series to the blockbuster Lord of the Rings trilogy.
The 90s was also the decade in which CGI and digital effects began to come into their own. This technology was heavily used in many of the decade’s biggest fantasy films, such as The Matrix and The Phantom Menace. The use of CGI has been a key factor in the success of modern fantasy films, with filmmakers able to create vivid, imaginative worlds that would have been impossible to create without the use of digital effects.
Overall, the 90s was a golden age for fantasy films, with the genre firmly establishing itself as one of the mainstays of modern cinema. The films of this era continue to be revered and watched by audiences around the world.
The 90s was also an incredibly influential period for fantasy directors. Many of the most iconic directors of the 90s made their mark with their own distinctive visions and styles. Films like Tim Burton’s Edward Scissorhands (1990) and Spielberg’s Hook (1991) were hugely influential in shaping the look and feel of the fantasy genre.
The 90s was also the decade which saw the likes of Peter Jackson, Ridley Scott and Christopher Nolan make their mark on the genre with their own unique visions and styles. Each of these directors left their own indelible mark on the fantasy genre and their influence can still be seen in modern films.
Finally, the 90s was also the decade in which Guillermo Del Toro made his debut as a director with the critically acclaimed Cronos. The film was a stunning slice of Gothic horror which showcased Del Toro’s flair for creating unique and atmospheric worlds. Del Toro has continued to be a major force in the fantasy genre, with his latest film, The Shape of Water (2017), winning multiple Academy Awards.
The Legacy of the 90s Fantasy Films
The 90s was an incredibly influential decade for cinema, and in particular the fantasy genre. From blockbuster hits like The Lord of the Rings to cult classics like The Mask and Edward Scissorhands, the 90s saw a plethora of unforgettable fantasy films that continue to be revered by audiences around the world.
The success of the 90s fantasy films led to a surge in the popularity of the genre, with the likes of the Harry Potter series and The Lord of the Rings trilogy becoming some of the highest-grossing films of all time. The influence of the 90s fantasy films can also be seen in modern films, as filmmakers continue to be influenced by the visions and styles embodied by the directors of the era.
Ultimately, while the 90s may be long gone, its legacy continues to live on in the countless fantasy films that have been released since. The genre has evolved and developed over time, but its roots will always be traced back to the creative visions of the filmmakers of the 90s.
Use of Advanced Technology
The success of fantasy films in the 90s was partly due to the emergence of advanced technologies like CGI and digital effects. These technologies allowed filmmakers to create incredibly detailed and realistic effects that would have been impossible to create without them. The use of CGI was particularly popular in the fantasy genre, as it allowed filmmakers to create entire worlds on screen.
The emergence of advanced technologies also opened up the genre to different storytelling techniques, as special effects and computer-generated imagery allowed filmmakers to branch out and explore new ideas. Films like The Matrix, Jurassic Park and The Lord of the Rings featured stunning visuals that would have been impossible to create without the use of CGI and digital effects.
The use of CGI has been an integral part of the evolution of the fantasy genre over the past two decades. Modern films like the Harry Potter series and the Lord of the Rings trilogy are proof of just how far the genre has come in terms of visuals, with filmmakers now able to create incredibly intricate worlds and scenarios on screen.
New Wave of Filmmakers
The 90s also saw the emergence of a new wave of filmmakers who were eager to explore the genre in new and innovative ways. Directors like Guillermo del Toro and Peter Jackson made their mark on the genre with their own unique visions, while writers like J.K. Rowling and George Lucas contributed to the evolution of the fantasy genre with their stories and characters.
The success of the 90s fantasy films also opened up the industry to new voices, with a surge in independent films exploring the genre. Films like The Blair Witch Project (1999) and Donnie Darko (2001) gave audiences a new perspective on the genre, proving that low-budget films could still achieve success.
The 90s was a crucial period in the evolution of the fantasy genre, and the influence of the filmmakers of the era can still be felt today. From Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings to J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series, the films and filmmakers of the 90s have left a lasting legacy which continues to have an impact on modern films.
The 90s was a golden age for the fantasy genre, with many of the most iconic films of all time being released during this period. The films of this era helped to define the genre and pave the way for the success of the blockbusters that followed. The influence of the films of this era can still be felt today, with modern films taking inspiration from their stories and characters.
The 90s also saw the emergence of advanced technologies like CGI and digital effects, which allowed filmmakers to take the genre to new heights. The success of films like The Lord of the Rings and The Matrix have proven that the genre is here to stay, and the films of the 90s continue to be revered by audiences around the world.