Wizards and Magicians

March 11th, 2013 by Ben

When writing about wizards and magicians in film and TV, the first thing that comes to mind is of course Harry Potter. But frankly, how much more can we write about the boy-wizard? Don’t other wizards deserve a break too?

So in honor of two new wizardry films released this month, here is our non-Harry-Potter list of great magicians titles.

The Prestige (2006)
Christopher Nolan‘s mystery thriller deals with an uninhibited rivalry between two former colleague magicians. As often occurs with Nolan, the movie is filled with twists and turns, with a particularly mind bending surprise ending.

Jonathan Creek (1997-2004)
With quite an original premise, this British crime drama focuses on a journalist who partners with a magician in order to solve crimes. In the best tradition of British TV, this show is also clever with a bit of dry humor. It aired regularly until 2004 and thanks to its success and many demanding fans, occasional specials are still being produced and aired from time to time, the latest of them scheduled to be broadcast this Easter.

Howl’s Moving Castle (2004)
In my eyes this is one of the most underrated Miyazaki films. Based on a beloved book by Diana Wynne Jones, it depicts a young girl who is bewitched into an old woman by an evil witch. She then joins an eccentric wizard named Howl in search of a cure.

Merlin (2008 – 2013)
The Arthurian legends are one of the most popular source materials in films and TV. The different angle about this popular TV show is that it focuses on the days of the wizard Merlin as a young teenager, rather than the old, wise man we usually see.

The Illusionist (2010)
A charming hand-drawn animation by the talented director Sylvain Chomet. A young girl in a remote Scottish village joins a traveling magician, believing his powers are real and not mere illusions. A bittersweet coming of age tale ensues when she learns the truth…

The Dresden Files (2007)
Private detective by day, wizard by night – when the police has no clue, Harry Dresden is the one to turn to. Based on a series of popular novels, this TV show is much like Jonathan Creek in terms of plot, but takes a turn to more suspenseful, rough territories mood-wise.

Next (2007)
Despite mediocre reviews, I find Next to be an affective action/sci-fi flick. Nicolas Cage plays a man with the ability to see the future, who hides it under the pretense of a petty Las Vegas magician. Exciting and stylized, this film is extremely entertaining, even if it is not a masterpiece.

The Mists of Avalon (2001)
Another take on the Arthurian myth, this mini series focuses on the female point of view of the story, especially the one of Morgaine, Arthur’s Half-sister who plays a vital role in his rise and eventual fall. In this series, the scheming women have as much influence over the kingdom as the men and their swords.

The Incredible Burt Wonderstone (2013)
Just looking at the cast list of this upcoming wizardry comedy is enough to make me laugh – Steve Carell and Steve Buscemi are partner magicians who witness the arrival of a new act in town, led by Jim Carrey. The trailer is hilarious, and so much comic talent in one film is bound to have some interesting results.

Oz: The Great and Powerful (2013)
And the other wizards and magicians title to be released this month is this imaginary family adventure, sort of prequel to The Wizard of Oz. A stellar cast including James Franco, Rachel Weisz, Mila Kunis and Michelle Williams, alongside amazing visual environments, promise this film to be intriguing, in the least.

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