For over 10 years, Harry Potter has had fans lining up at bookstores and movie theaters to learn just how the intrepid boy wizard’s triumph over the villainous Lord Voldemort would play out. Now that the final battle has been fought in J.K. Rowling’s iconic book series and in the Warner Bros-produced film franchise, fans of fantasy are on the lookout for other heroic stories to fill the magical void – at least until Rowling’s new website Pottermore.com launches.
Harry Potter has spawned or coincided with dozens of similar franchises attempting to recreate the success (The Spiderwick Chronicles, Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events and The Golden Compass, to name a few), but only a handful have made the transition from book to film with much success. Check out these book and movies that contain similar heroes, plots, fantasy worlds and, of course, magic.
It’s got women as wise as Hermione, an aging Dumbledore-esque wizard mentor, magical creatures (including a gigantic spider), world-ending wars and a boyish hero given a task as impossible as Harry’s. While J.R.R. Tolkien’s LOTR 60-year-old books might be a bit of a hefty text for lightweight fantasy fans, the films tell a similar epic tale with sets and performances just as stellar as those in the Potter series.
Although not as sweeping and heroic as Potter or LOTR, there’s no denying that Stephenie Meyer’s bloody, vampire-filled teen romances have created a furor similar to Potter-mania. Twilight fans still have plenty of anticipation to come as the saga’s fourth and fifth films have yet to be released. While the series provides a perfect transition for Rowling’s teen readers, it’s not the best option for younger HP fans.
Over 20 years before Harry attended Hogwarts, British children’s author Jill Murphy penned the tale of another magical student named Mildred Hubble – who proved to be the worst pupil attending Miss Cackle’s Academy for Witches. There was even a TV show based on the successful series for middle-grade readers in the late 1990s, and a fantastically cheesy film starring the phenomenal Tim Curry as a singing wizard. Though the series has none of the epic drama of Potter, the books and shows are a great alternative for younger fans.
Although the George Lucas-scripted, Ron Howard-directed film isn’t based on a book (and technically has more in common with the LOTR story than Potter’s saga) there’s still plenty of magic, heroism and drama. Plus the film has magic wands and a hapless hero who has to grow into his powers in order to defeat the vicious villainess Bavmorda. Plus the 1988 film stars Val Kilmer – you know, back in his younger, slimmer prime.
Before Harry battled through the magical maze in The Goblet of Fire, a young Jennifer Connelly traversed another fantastical labyrinth (crafted by the legendary Jim Henson of Muppet fame) to rescue her kidnapped baby brother from the Goblin King – the monarch played by none other than David Bowie. Labyrinth may not be based on a book, but this fantasy film manages to balance a kid-friendly feel with a darker edge to appeal to teen viewers.
Books to look for
This sexy saga’s got a perky cheerleader and a brooding love interest whose dark dreams bring Edgar Allen Poe’s danger-filled tales to life. Isobel and Varen’s goth-laced romance will delight both Harry Potter and Twilight fans – and perhaps inspire them to read the classic literature that inspired the story. Jump on the bandwagon early – the second book in the series by new author Kelly Creagh is slated for release in 2012.
Ben, Tom and Lindy Potter traverse the dangers of a magical land on the behest of a brilliant professor in a tale that pits power and greed against imagination. Aside from the same last name, the connecting threads between this book and Harry’s story are a bit thin, but we love it because we’re fascinated by the fact that the British-born, uber-talented singer and actress Julie Andrews has written a fantasy novel for kids.
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