watchworthy presents

The Best Live Action Kids Fantasy Movies 

Ranker Film
Updated November 26, 2019 7.2k votes 629 voters 14.1k views 28 items

There's something especially magical about fantasy movies for kids. They spark young viewers' imaginations and encourage them to follow their hearts. The best kids live action movies feature young actors and actresses heading out into a world of adventure. This is a list of the greatest children's live action fantasy movies including everything from The Chronicles of Narnia to The NeverEnding Story to Hook.

What films will you find on this list of the best kids fantasy movies? In the 1971 musical Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, Gene Wilder steals every scene he's in as the whimsical candy-maker. Johnny Depp put his own spin on the classic Roald Dahl story in 2005's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. The Goonies features a misfit gang of kids going up against some villainous characters. Other great films featured here include Flight of the Navigator, Where the Wild Things Are, and Casper.

It's up to you to decide which movie deserves the top spot on the list. Give your favorites a thumbs up and please add any good live action fantasy movies for kids that are missing.

Data-driven recommendations based on voting from over 40 million monthly visits to Ranker. Try the free app
list ordered by
1
Charlie and the Chocolat... is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Live Action Kids Fantasy Movies
Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Christopher Lee

Released: 2005

Directed by: Tim Burton

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is a 2005 musical adventure film directed by Tim Burton. It is the second film adaptation of the 1964 British book of the same name by Roald Dahl and stars ...more

More Charlie and the Chocolate Factory 

#465 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies #168 of 454 The Best Duos of All Time #178 of 373 The Best Musical Movies of All Time

2
The Dark Crystal is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Live Action Kids Fantasy Movies
MichaelJLambie added Jim Henson, Frank Oz, Lisa Maxwell

Released: 1982

Directed by: Frank Oz, Jim Henson

The Dark Crystal is a 1982 American–British fantasy film directed by Jim Henson and Frank Oz. The plot revolves around Jen, an elflike 'Gelfling' on a quest to restore balance to his alien world ...more

More The Dark Crystal 

Behind The Scenes Stories Of ‘The Dark Crystal’ #137 of 336 'Old' Movies Every Young Person Needs To Watch In Their Lifetime #143 of 571 The Greatest Movies Of The 1980s, Ranked

3
The Goonies is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Live Action Kids Fantasy Movies
Corey Feldman, Josh Brolin, Sean Astin

Released: 1985

Directed by: Richard Donner

The Goonies is a 1985 American adventure comedy film directed by Richard Donner. The screenplay was written by Chris Columbus from a story by executive producer Steven Spielberg. The film's ...more

More The Goonies 

Things You Have To Ignore In Order To Enjoy Watching 'The Goonies' #19 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies #3 of 571 The Greatest Movies Of The 1980s, Ranked

4
Where the Wild Things Ar... is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Live Action Kids Fantasy Movies
Mark Ruffalo, Forest Whitaker, James Gandolfini

Released: 2009

Directed by: Spike Jonze

Where the Wild Things Are is a 2009 fantasy drama film directed by Spike Jonze. Written by Jonze and Dave Eggers, it is adapted from Maurice Sendak's 1963 children's book of the same name. It ...more

More Where the Wild Things Are 

#161 of 363 The Best Movies Based On Books #338 of 581 The Greatest Film Scores of All Time #202 of 302 The Greatest Soundtracks of All Time

5
Matilda is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Live Action Kids Fantasy Movies
Danny DeVito, Mara Wilson, Paul Reubens

Released: 1996

Directed by: Danny DeVito

Matilda is a 1996 American fantasy comedy children's film directed and narrated by Danny DeVito. The screenplay by Nicholas Kazan and Robin Swicord is based on Roald Dahl's novel of the same ...more

More Matilda 

#294 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies #90 of 493 The Funniest '90s Movies

6
Casper is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Live Action Kids Fantasy Movies
Christina Ricci, Bill Pullman, Cathy Moriarty

Released: 1995

Directed by: Brad Silberling, Phil Nibbelink

Casper is a 1995 American family comedy fantasy film starring Christina Ricci, Bill Pullman, Cathy Moriarty, Eric Idle, and Amy Brenneman, based on the Casper the Friendly Ghost comic books and ...more

More Casper 

The Movie ‘Casper’ Is Deeply Bizarre In More Ways Than We Can Count #544 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies #69 of 318 The Best Movies for Kids

7
E.T. the Extra-Terrestri... is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Live Action Kids Fantasy Movies
Drew Barrymore, Erika Eleniak, Debra Winger

Released: 1982

Directed by: Steven Spielberg

E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial is a 1982 American science fiction-family film co-produced and directed by Steven Spielberg and written by Melissa Mathison, featuring special effects by Carlo ...more

More E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial 

The Dark Story Behind The Canceled Sequel To 'E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial' #41 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movieslisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

8
The Chronicles of Narnia... is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Live Action Kids Fantasy Movies
Liam Neeson, Tilda Swinton, James McAvoy

Released: 2005

Directed by: Andrew Adamson

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is a 2005 fantasy adventure film directed by Andrew Adamson and based on The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, the first published ...more

More The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe 

The Best Characters in the Chronicles of Narnia, Ranked #31 of 599 The Greatest Epic Movies Ever Madelisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

9
Flight of the Navigator ... is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Live Action Kids Fantasy Movies
Sarah Jessica Parker, Paul Reubens, Veronica Cartwright

Released: 1986

Directed by: Randal Kleiser

Flight of the Navigator is a 1986 comic science fiction film directed by Randal Kleiser and written by Mark H. Baker and Michael Burton, about David Freeman, a 12-year-old boy who is taken by an ...more

More Flight of the Navigator 

#85 of 190 The Best Alien Movies Ever Made #142 of 571 The Greatest Movies Of The 1980s, Ranked #226 of 318 The Best Movies for Kids

10
Short Circuit is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Live Action Kids Fantasy Movies
MichaelJLambie added Steve Guttenberg, Ally Sheedy, Austin Pendleton

Released: 1986

Directed by: John Badham

Short Circuit is a 1986 American comic science fiction film directed by John Badham, and written by S. S. Wilson and Brent Maddock. The film's plot centers upon an experimental military robot ...more

More Short Circuit 

#344 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies #97 of 336 'Old' Movies Every Young Person Needs To Watch In Their Lifetime #92 of 571 The Greatest Movies Of The 1980s, Ranked

11
Beasts of the Southern W... is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Live Action Kids Fantasy Movies
Quvenzhané Wallis, Jay Oliver, Henry D. Coleman

Released: 2012

Directed by: Benh Zeitlin

Beasts of the Southern Wild is a 2012 American fantasy drama film directed by Benh Zeitlin and adapted by Zeitlin and Lucy Alibar from Alibar's one-act play Juicy and Delicious. After playing at ...more
12
Dumbo is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Live Action Kids Fantasy Movies
Colin Farrell, Michael Keaton, Danny DeVito

Released: 2019

Directed by: Tim Burton

Dumbo is a 2019 American fantasy adventure film directed by Tim Burton, based on the story by Helen Aberson. Holt Farrier (Colin Farrell), a one-armed war veteran and former circus star, is ...more
13
Cinderella is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Live Action Kids Fantasy Movies
Cate Blanchett, Helena Bonham Carter, Hayley Atwell

Released: 2015

Directed by: Kenneth Branagh

Cinderella is a 2015 American romantic fantasy film directed by Kenneth Branagh, from a screenplay written by Chris Weitz. Produced by David Barron, Simon Kinberg and Allison Shearmur for Walt ...more

More Cinderella 

#1,500 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies #287 of 373 The Best Musical Movies of All Time #65 of 103 The Greatest Movie Remakes of All Time

14
Jumanji is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Live Action Kids Fantasy Movies
Kirsten Dunst, Robin Williams, Patricia Clarkson

Released: 1995

Directed by: Joe Johnston

Jumanji is a 1995 American fantasy adventure film directed by Joe Johnston. It is an adaptation of the 1981 children's book of the same name by Chris Van Allsburg. The film was directed by Joe ...more

More Jumanji 

#47 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies #216 of 599 The Greatest Epic Movies Ever Made #98 of 363 The Best Movies Based On Books

15
Willy Wonka & the Ch... is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Live Action Kids Fantasy Movies
Gene Wilder, Jack Albertson, Tim Brooke-Taylor

Released: 1971

Directed by: Mel Stuart

Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory is a 1971 musical fantasy film directed by Mel Stuart, and starring Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka. The film, a film adaptation of the 1964 novel Charlie and ...more

More Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory 

There's A Theory That 'Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory' Is Actually About A Tormented Killer #115 of 599 The Greatest Epic Movies Ever Made #15 of 410 The Best Rainy Day Movies

16
The Indian in the Cupboa... is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Live Action Kids Fantasy Movies
Steve Coogan, Richard Jenkins, Vincent Kartheiser

Released: 1995

Directed by: Frank Oz

The Indian in the Cupboard is a 1995 American fantasy-adventure film directed by Frank Oz. It was based on the children's book of the same name by Lynne Reid Banks. The story is about a boy who ...more
17
The NeverEnding Story is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Live Action Kids Fantasy Movies
Gerald McRaney, Limahl, Moses Gunn

Released: 1984

Directed by: Wolfgang Petersen

The NeverEnding Story is a 1984 West German epic fantasy film based on the novel of the same name by Michael Ende, about a boy who reads a magical library book that tells a story of a young ...more

More The NeverEnding Story 

#39 of 571 The Greatest Movies Of The 1980s, Ranked #231 of 599 The Greatest Epic Movies Ever Made

18
Harry Potter and the Dea... is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Live Action Kids Fantasy Movies
Emma Watson, Daniel Radcliffe, Gary Oldman

Released: 2011

Directed by: David Yates

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 is a 2011 fantasy film directed by David Yates, based on the novel by J. K. Rowling and the final film in the series. Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), Ron ...more

More Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 

#72 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies #84 of 599 The Greatest Epic Movies Ever Made

19
Hocus Pocus is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Live Action Kids Fantasy Movies
Sarah Jessica Parker, Bette Midler, Thora Birch

Released: 1993

Directed by: Kenny Ortega

Hocus Pocus is a 1993 American comedy fantasy film directed by Kenny Ortega and starring Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Kathy Najimy as a trio of witches, the Sanderson Sisters, who are ...more

More Hocus Pocus 

What Happened To The Cast Of Hocus Pocus? #123 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies #41 of 493 The Funniest '90s Movies

20
Hook is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Live Action Kids Fantasy Movies
Gwyneth Paltrow, Julia Roberts, Robin Williams

Released: 1991

Directed by: Steven Spielberg

Hook is a 1991 American fantasy adventure film directed by Steven Spielberg, based on Peter and Wendy by J. M. Barrie. When Captain Hook (Dustin Hoffman) kidnaps his children, an adult Peter Pan ...more

More Hook 

What Happened To All The Kids From 'Hook'? #190 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies #84 of 493 The Funniest '90s Movies

21
Labyrinth is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Live Action Kids Fantasy Movies
Jennifer Connelly, David Bowie, Frank Oz

Released: 1986

Directed by: Jim Henson

Labyrinth is a 1986 British-American musical adventure fantasy film directed by Jim Henson, executive produced by George Lucas and based upon conceptual designs by Brian Froud. The film stars ...more

More Labyrinth 

Get Lost In The Best Quotes From 'Labyrinth' #82 of 571 The Greatest Movies Of The 1980s, Ranked #265 of 599 The Greatest Epic Movies Ever Made

22
Hugo is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Live Action Kids Fantasy Movies
Jude Law, Chloë Grace Moretz, Christopher Lee

Released: 2011

Directed by: Martin Scorsese

Hugo is a 2011 American 3D historical adventure drama film directed and co-produced by Martin Scorsese and adapted for the screen by John Logan. Based on Brian Selznick's novel The Invention of ...more

More Hugo 

#160 of 363 The Best Movies Based On Books #195 of 710 The Best Movies Roger Ebert Gave Four Stars

23
The Spiderwick Chronicle... is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Live Action Kids Fantasy Movies
Nick Nolte, Seth Rogen, Mary-Louise Parker

Released: 2008

Directed by: Mark Waters

The Spiderwick Chronicles is a 2008 American fantasy adventure film. It is the film adaptation of Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi's bestselling series of the same name. Set in the Spiderwick ...more

More The Spiderwick Chronicles 

All the Spiderwick Chronicles Books, Ranked Best to Worst #279 of 318 The Best Movies for Kids #29 of 79 The Greatest Supernatural & Paranormal Teen Films

24
Bridge to Terabithia is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Live Action Kids Fantasy Movies
Zooey Deschanel, Josh Hutchersonm, AnnaSophia Robb

Released: 2007

Directed by: Gábor Csupó

Bridge to Terabithia is a 2007 American-New Zealand fantasy adventure family drama film directed by Gábor Csupó and adapted for film by David L. Paterson and Jeff Stockwell. The ...more

More Bridge to Terabithia 

'Bridge To Terabithia' Is Based On A True Story, And It's Even Sadder Than The Book #536 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies #164 of 804 The Greatest Chick Flicks Ever Made

25
Charlotte's Web is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Live Action Kids Fantasy Movies
Julia Roberts, Oprah Winfrey, Dakota Fanning

Released: 2006

Directed by: Gary Winick

Charlotte's Web is a 2006 American live-action/computer-animated feature film based on the popular book of the same name by E. B. White. It is directed by Gary Winick and produced by Paramount ...more

More Charlotte's Web 

Every Song in Charlotte's Web, Ranked by Singability #58 of 82 The Best Live Action Animal Movies for Kids