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The Harry Potter movies are perhaps the greatest sorcery-based film series of all time. The eight-part adaptation is based on J. K. Rowling’s fantasy novels of the same name and achieved enormous success globally, turning Harry Potter into a pop culture icon. The Harry Potter franchise still maintains a massive fandom to this day, more than a decade after the final film was released.
The fantastical tale of Harry Potter took fans into the magical world of Hogwarts, where you could fly on broomsticks, play Quidditch, perform magic spells, concoct potions, meet amazing mythical creatures, make new friends and of course, fight off evil wizards. From a meek and introverted orphan in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (2001) to leading an army against the Dark Lord Voldemort in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (2010 and 2011), Harry’s story motivates the audience to fight against their inner demons and stand up for what’s right. The famous trio of Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), Hermione (Emma Watson), and Ron (Rupert Grint) remind you how a great company of friends can make all the difference. Harry Potter is all about friendship, magic, and love.
So, if you’re missing the wizarding world of Hogwarts, here’s a list of 15 movies that’ll give you the same feeling as J. K. Rowling’s famed fantasy series. Each movie has its own magical universe while sharing the aspects of sorcery and unbreakable friendship that make Harry Potter an enduring franchise.
The Sorcerer’s Apprentice (2010)
The Sorcerer’s Apprentice is a cool mix of mythology and fantastical sorcery. It has its roots deep in Arthurian lore, more specifically the legend of the great sorcerer Merlin, played by James A. Stephens. The story begins with Merlin’s brightest student Morgana Le Fay (Alice Krige) going rogue, and killing all the wizards and witches who opposed her (ring a bell?). Merlin defeats Morgana with the help of two of his young talented students, Balthazar (Nicolas Cage) and Veronica (Monica Bellucci). Fearing Morgana’s return, he tasks Balthazar to find his descendant, who will become The Prime Merlinean and inherit his powers. After centuries of searching, Balthazar finally finds Merlin’s descendant in Dave Stutler (Jay Baruchel), an incident that changes young Dave’s life forever. Both Harry and Dave were destined for greatness, and they embrace their responsibilities with courage and firmness despite all odds, overcoming their fears. The Sorcerer’s Apprentice is definitely a must-watch for Harry Potter fans.
Seventh Son (2014)
Another novel-based saga of the battle between forces of good and evil, Seventh Son takes its inspiration from various American and European folklore. Loosely derived from Joseph Delaney’s 2004 novel The Spook’s Apprentice, the story revolves around Thomas Ward (Ben Barnes), a teen born with special powers due to being the seventh son of a seventh son. He is found by Master Gregory (Jeff Bridges), who works as a ‘Spook’ (a witch hunter) and has to train him within a week to fight against a powerful evil witch known as Mother Malkin (Julianne Moore). Thomas struggles to keep his emotions in check, while also helping his master battle against the foreboding evil, similar to Harry in the Harry Potter series.
The Percy Jackson Movies
The movie adaptations of Rick Riordan’s popular novel series Percy Jackson has amassed quite a fan following over the years. The series consists of two movies: Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief (2010), and its sequel Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters (2013). The story centers on a teenage boy named Percy Jackson (Logan Lerman), who has no idea that he is a demigod. He’s revealed to be the son of Poseidon in the first movie, and his adventures take him through various magical landscapes and encounter several mythical monsters, all from Greek legends over the course of the two movies. He’s joined by other demigod children who aid him in his quests, namely Grover (Brandon T. Jackson) and Annabeth (Alexandra Daddario). The trio also learns more about their powers along with other demigods honing their skills at a secret island, just like the hidden magical world of Hogwarts. In addition to that, the first film was directed by Chris Columbus, who also directed the first two Harry Potter movies, providing the viewers with an enhanced magical experience akin to everyone’s favorite sorcery-based movie series.
Doctor Strange (2016)
Perhaps the most popular movie on this list, Marvel Studios’ Doctor Strange follows a lead character who’s like an adult, much smarter version of Harry Potter. It shares several aspects with our favorite sorcery movies, like a secret location to train wizards, a talented student going rogue, an all-powerful teacher losing their life while saving their student, and of course, the lead character making great friends who support him on his quest to save the world. Doctor Strange, played by Benedict Cumberbatch, continues his challenge against Harry Potter as the world’s favorite sorcerer with last year’s Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children (2016)
If you’re looking for a non-traditional fantasy movie that still has a touch of magic, director Tim Burton’s Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is a good go-to. The story follows a group of special individuals born with magical abilities, both children and adults, who live at a secret place and hunt monsters. However, the secret place is hidden in a time loop, and hence protected from the outside world — although it also prevents the residents. The protagonist, Jake Portman, played by Asa Butterfield, learns to hone his skills under Miss Peregrine (Eva Green), who is a strict but kind-hearted head of the children’s home. Potterheads will fall in love with the story, as it reproduces Dumbledore’s love for his students, while providing the viewers with one hell of a magical ride.
Upside-Down Magic (2020)
A magic-based drama for children that beautifully interweaves the importance of good company through fantasy, the Disney Channel Original Movie Upside-Down Magic is a lot of fun. It tells the tale of two best friends, Nory (Izabela Rose) and Reina (Siena Agudong), still in their teens, who discover that they have magical powers. They enroll at the Sage Academy, which is a prestigious wizardry school akin to Hogwarts. There they are separated into classes based on their individual skills, and follow their path to forge their own destiny. The main antagonist of the movie is a spell-book filled with information about a kind of dark sorcery, known as Shadow Magic. It has the same effect as Horcruxes in the Harry Potter universe. It will be interesting to see how the story unfolds, if they make any sequels, and if there’s a You-Know-Who waiting for the audience at the end of the tale.
Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium (2007)
What if you could buy all the magical items you want from a shop just across the street? Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium is a classic light-hearted magic-based movie with the underlying concept that you can be whatever you wish to be. The movie revolves around a sentient supernatural toy shop that is filled with various antique-looking toys from the wizarding world. All seems to be well until one day Mr. Magorium (Dustin Hoffman), a 243-year-old wizard and also the owner of the toy shop, decides to leave. He names his protégé, a young pianist named Molly Mahoney (Natalie Portman), as his successor. Through various hilarious mishaps throughout her journey, Molly learns to believe in herself and finally accepts her role as the owner of the magical toy shop. Maybe Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium is a stowaway shop from Diagon Alley, one can only imagine!
What if Harry had failed to defeat Voldemort at the end of Deathly Hallows: Part 2? What would have happened to the world if the Dark Lord’s forces had taken over? The theory is partly tested in the Russian feature film Abigail. Set in a grim apocalyptic scenario, where forces of the dark have prevailed and rule the world, Abigail (Tinatin Dalakishvili) struggles to survive while keeping her identity hidden. The dark wizards have eliminated all the Magi, or magic users, other than their followers, and rule the muggles with an iron hand. Abigail discovers she has magical powers, and is wanted by the evil government who seek to remove any threat whatsoever to their absolute reign. A must-watch for Potter fans who wish to explore “what if” scenarios in the wizarding universe.
The House with a Clock in Its Walls (2018)
The House with a Clock in Its Walls is a fantasy comedy film that closely resembles Harry Potter in terms of the protagonist’s origin. After his parents are killed in a car crash in 1955, 10-year-old Lewis Barnavelt (Owen Vaccaro) moves to live with his uncle Jonathan (Jack Black) in Michigan. Jonathan is secretly a warlock, and along with his friend, Florence (Cate Blanchett), who is a witch, is trying to prevent a world-ending scenario by trying to find a clock that has been mysteriously hidden inside the house by an evil warlock, who was also the previous owner of the house. After he discovers the truth, young Lewis teaches himself magic and aids his uncle to fight against the forces of the dark, which he accidentally resurrects while trying to impress his friends on Halloween. No wonder Hogwarts had a strict no-magic-out-of-school policy!
The Kid Who Would Be King (2019)
Another fantasy pulled straight from Arthurian legend, The Kid Who Would Be King brings the classic struggle between the fabled wizard Merlin and witch Morgana to the silver screen. However, the story is set in modern times, and the role of Arthur is played by a 12-year-old boy, Alex (Louis Ashbourne Serkis), who accidentally finds the mythical sword Excalibur. Merlin de-ages himself to enlist Alex’s help to fight off Morgana, who he fears might one day rise from her grave to imprison and rule all of England. Throughout his journey, Alex tries to do the right thing while also discovering mysteries about his past. Alex defeats Morgana and her forces at the end of the movie with help of all of his classmates, much like Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows Part 1 and 2. However, what makes the movie special is the fact, unlike Harry Potter, Alex is not destined for greatness, he earns it by merit, the only way one can own Excalibur.
A movie adaptation of Roald Dahl’s 1988 novel of the same name, Matilda was praised for its faithfulness to the source material. Directed and co-produced by Danny DeVito, the film tells the story of a young girl named Matilda (Mara Wilson), who is very smart and intelligent for her age and is regularly mistreated by her family. Matters take a turn for the worse when she’s admitted to an elementary school whose principal is the complete opposite of Harry Potter’s Dumbledore. Luckily she finds a teacher, Miss Honey (Embeth Davidtz), who, like Professor McGonagall has a soft spot for her. Matilda soon discovers she has latent psychokinetic powers that don’t always activate upon her will. She gains better control of her new skills over time, and helps reform her family by the film’s conclusion.
The Craft (1996)
The Craft teaches you why toying with dark magic for personal gain is always a bad idea. Four high-school teenage girls who are labeled as outcasts and looked down upon as “witches” actually form their own coven and perform rituals that grant them unbelievable powers. They use these powers for personal gains and succeed, when eventually the lust to have it all takes over them one by one. Thankfully, one of the wisest of the group, Sarah, played by Robin Tunney, realizes they’ve gone too far, and puts an end to her friends’ notorious activities for good. The Craft has gained a cult following over the years, and eventually led to a faintly connected sequel, The Craft: Legacy, in 2020. The original film is a very good example of why wizards and witches need to go to a specialized school like Hogwarts instead of a regular one.
Bedknobs and Broomsticks (1971)
A musical fantasy by nature, Bedknobs and Broomsticks combines various elements of classic children’s stories with wartime struggles. During the Blitz of 1940, three children named Charlie (Ian Weighill), Carrie (Cindy O’Callaghan), and Paul (Roy Snart) are rescued from London to Pepperinge Eye under the care of a reluctant Miss Eglantine Price (Angela Lansbury). Miss Price has a secret, she is learning magic from a correspondence school in order to help British forces in the war against Nazis. The children find out what she’s up to, and join her in an adventure that takes them to the magical land of Naboombu. In one scene, Miss Pepperinge is seen trying to ride a broomstick. Maybe she’s trying to enlist for a Quidditch team? Harry Potter fans with a love for classic movies will definitely enjoy this one.
Teen Witch (1989)
A classic teenage fantasy movie that once again deals with the dangers of access to unlimited powers. Louise Miller, played by Robyn Lively, is a 15-year-old schoolgirl who discovers she is a reincarnation of a powerful witch. She finds an amulet that gives her all the magical powers of the witch, and she uses them to make her dreams come true. She becomes the most popular girl in her school, casts a love charm over the hottest guy in school, and exacts revenge on those who have wronged her in the past in hilarious ways. However, she quickly realizes how dangerous her powers are when her popularity spell goes out of control, and she loses her best friend. Louise relinquishes her powers and creates her own happy life. This is similar to how Harry throws away the Elder Wand, and his chance to be the world’s most powerful wizard after defeating Voldemort in Deathly Hallows 2.
Escape to Witch Mountain (1975)
Escape to Witch Mountain is one of those movies that appear to be magic-based at first, but an unexpected twist changes the game. Two orphaned siblings, Tia (Kim Richards) and Tony (Ike Eisenmann), possess mysterious powers they hide from others while living in an orphanage. Tony can psychokinetically move and control inanimate objects using his harmonica. His younger sister, Tia, can communicate telepathically to Tony, commune empathically with animals, and experience premonitions. They are chased by a greedy millionaire named Aristotle Bolt (Ray Milland), who’s obsessed with the duo’s powers. They escape his clutches and with the help of a kind-hearted widower, Jason O’Day (Eddie Albert), find out about their extraterrestrial origins. If you are bored with regular run-of-the-mill witchcraft stories, Escape to Witch Mountain should definitely be on your list. It gives you a perspective as to why the Ministry of Magic in Harry Potter movies had to build a separate place for wizards and witches, as well as for the magical creatures of the world.
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