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Movies Like 'Harry Potter' to Watch Next

Looking for fantastical adventures with unexpected heroes? After you watch the 'Harry Potter' series, consider these other 10 films.
by Katie Song — 
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Daniel Radcliffe in 'Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone'

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From the first utterance of "You're a wizard, Harry" by none other than the friendly half-giant Hagrid (Robbie Coltrane) himself, audiences around the world were enraptured by the magical world of Harry Potter. Based on the wildly successful book series by British author J.K. Rowling, the Harry Potter film series brought the franchise's wizarding world to life, amounting to eight beloved films so rich and whimsical in its depictions of the characters and places that audiences were left wishing they were wizards themselves.

A few years after the first book was published, the first of the films was released in 2001, titled Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. The film starred the then-11-year-old Daniel Radcliffe as Harry, 10-year-old Emma Watson as Hermione Granger, and 12-year-old Rupert Grint as Ron Weasley, each of whom continued to star in the films for the remaining 10 years. Given its popularity on the bookshelves, the film series also boasted a number of accredited British actors at the time, including Alan Rickman, Maggie Smith, Emma Thompson, Ralph Fiennes, Gary Oldman, Helena Bonham Carter, and Kenneth Branagh, just to name a few. In short summary, the Harry Potter series chronicles the lives and adventures of the young wizard Harry Potter and his good friends, Ron and Hermione, as they navigate classes at their wizarding boarding school Hogwarts and eventually work to fend off the evils of dark magic.

The Harry Potter series was nominated for a total of 12 Academy Awards, 24 BAFTAs (of which it won several), and five Grammy Awards. Despite the original series having concluded in 2011, the franchise continues to grow and appease its adoring fan base, from more movie installments such as the Fantastic Beasts series, the 2016 theater production Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, as well as the amusement park "The Wizarding World of Harry Potter" located at Universal Studios in both California and Florida.

Here is a list of 10 movies like Harry Potter, ranked by Metascore, for those who miss the magical misadventures of the relatably unexpected hero.


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'Pan's Labyrinth'

Courtesy of YouTube

Pan's Labyrinth

Metascore: 98
Best for: Fans of Guillermo del Toro and war films
Where to watch:

, Google Play, iTunes, Vudu
Runtime: 118 minutes

Pan's Labyrinth begins with 11-year-old Ofelia (Ivana Baquero) and her pregnant mother as they travel to move in with her new stepfather, a sadist captain of the Spanish army. The year is 1944, and Ofelia's stepfather and his men are working to defeat the remaining rebels in the aftermath of the Civil War. An avid fairy tale reader, Ofelia yearns to escape her cruel reality and one night finds herself in the midst of real magic, led to an ancient maze by a dark fairy. This fairy tale film is far from happy but remains charming in the strength of Ofelia, who acts as a ray of light in the darkness of a fallen world, not unlike that of our own Harry Potter protagonists.

"Dark, twisted, and beautiful, this entwines fairy-tale fantasy with war-movie horror to startling effect." — Kim Newman, Empire


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Elijah Wood in 'Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring'

Courtesy of YouTube

Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

Metascore: 92
Best for: Lovers of Hobbits and wizards
Where to watch:

, Google Play, , iTunes, Vudu
Runtime: 178 minutes

Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring is the first film of the renowned three-part Lord of the Rings series, critically acclaimed for its epic portrayal of the original book series by J.R.R. Tolkien. Released in 2001, this fantasy adventure film centers on the life of a young Hobbit named Frodo Baggins, played by Elijah Wood, who finds himself to be the new owner of the One Ring, a ring which possesses dark powers to be used by anyone who can bear it. With the help of an elf, a dwarf, a wizard, and few humans and Hobbits to boot, Frodo begins his journey to Mount Doom, where he must destroy the ring before it falls into the wrong hands. Given the similarities between the two magical worlds, Harry Potter fans are sure to appreciate the equally commendable world-building of the Lord of the Rings universe as well as its more mature take on the perils of dark magic.

"I see it as nearly perfect: It's one of the best fantasy pictures ever made." — Stephanie Zacharek, Salon


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Sally Hawkins in 'The Shape of Water'

Courtesy of YouTube

The Shape of Water

Metascore: 87
Best for: Fans of dark fantasy and sea creatures
Where to watch:

, Google Play, , iTunes, Vudu
Runtime: 123 minutes

This 2017 romantic fantasy film from del Toro follows Elisa (Sally Hawkins), a mute and lonely woman who works as a cleaning lady for a high-security government laboratory in 1960s Baltimore. One day, she stumbles upon one of the lab's most well-kept secrets: a scaled and expressive creature that was taken from its home and kept in a water tank. Soon, Elisa develops a relationship with the creature, leaving her the only one standing between her new friend and an evil government agent. The Shape of Water was awarded four awards total at the 2018 Academy Awards, including the Academy Awards for Best Picture and Best Directing. Harry Potter fans would appreciate the elements of friendship and love that permeate the dark and fantastical backdrop of the film. However, some more intimate moments make this film not suitable for the younger Harry Potter fans.

"It's witty, smart, and brilliantly played, plumbing the sub-aqueous depths of our psyches, our histories and desires." — John Bleasdale, Cinevue


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'Kubo and the Two Strings'

Courtesy of YouTube

Kubo and the Two Strings

Metascore: 84
Best for: Fans of Coraline and the hero's journey
Where to watch:

, Google Play, iTunes, Vudu
Runtime: 101 minutes

Brought to audiences by Laika, the same studio that created Coraline and ParaNorman, Kubo and the Two Strings is an action fantasy stop-motion film that tells the story of Kubo (Art Parkinson), a 12-year-old boy with one eye who lives with his mother in a cave near a village. To make money, he plays his shamisen, a stringed instrument, to magically manipulate origami to tell stories to the villagers. One day, Kubo doesn't heed the warnings of his mother and unleashes the ghosts of his family's past, leaving the young fighter to fend for himself. With the help of a monkey and a beetle, Kubo journeys to save his family, amounting to a touching tale of courageous adolescence, not one that is unlike the journeys of a familiar young wizard.

"Kubo is both extraordinarily original and extraordinarily complex." — Michael O'Sullivan, The Washington Post


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

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

Metascore: 75
Best for: Fans of family dramas and Turkish delights
Where to watch:

, , Google Play, iTunes, Vudu
Runtime: 143 minutes

Based on the 1950 novel by C.S. Lewis, the second book of his series The Chronicles of Narnia, this 2005 fantasy film tells the tale of four siblings who are sent to a country house in England during the World War II London bombings, where they will be safe and out of harm's way. One day while the siblings are playing hide and seek, the youngest sibling Lucy (Georgie Henley) stumbles upon a wardrobe that upon exploring reveals a magical world called Narnia. Filled with animals, witches, and magical creatures, Narnia harbors both wonders and secrets that in time may threaten the safety of the children, let alone their ability to get back home. The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is as fantastical as it is heartwarming and would likely pull the same heart strings of those who appreciated the familial side of the Harry Potter world.

"A generation-spanning journey that feels both comfortingly familiar and excitingly original." — Elizabeth Weitzman, Daily News


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Mara Wilson in 'Matilda'

Courtesy of YouTube

Matilda

Metascore: 72
Best for: Fans of Roald Dahl and chocolate cake
Where to watch:

, Google Play, iTunes, Vudu
Runtime: 98 minutes

Based on the popular 1988 novel by the same name, Matilda chronicles the young life of Matilda Wormwood (Mara Wilson), a child genius who is neglected and mistreated by her family. Extremely intelligent and independent, Matilda finds solace in reading fiction novels but is ultimately tormented at home for reading and is bullied by her evil principal at school. One day, Matilda discovers that she has developed telekinetic abilities, allowing her to defend herself and her friends from the unkind adults in their lives. Similar to Harry Potter, the school setting in combination with frustrating adults makes for a story that speaks to the young rebel inside us all.

"A delightfully twisted fairy tale that artfully juggles broad tomfoolery and sly drollery, along with a generous serving of sight gags enhanced by special effects." — Emily Nussbaum, The New Yorker


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Stanley Tucci and Jennifer Lawrence in 'The Hunger Games'

Courtesy of YouTube

The Hunger Games

Metascore: 68
Best for: Fans of Suzanne Collins and dystopian thrillers
Where to watch:

, Google Play, iTunes, Vudu
Runtime: 142 minutes

Based on the popular trilogy series of the same name, The Hunger Games follows Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) who is a resident of District 12, one of the 12 remaining districts of a dystopian North America known as Panem. In this dystopian society, each district is forced to select a boy and a girl each year to compete in a nationally televised event called the Hunger Games where each tribute must fight to the death until one remains. In an unexpected turn of events, Katniss volunteers herself as tribute for this year's games and must rely on her hunting skills and sharp instincts to navigate both the arena and her relationships. Harry Potter fans are likely to appreciate the theme of rebellion that's laced throughout as well as the compelling prospect of a love triangle.

"It is a thrilling, intelligent, deeply-felt movie that does not play by the typical rules of franchise building in modern Hollywood." — Emily Nussbaum, The New Yorker


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Louis Ashbourne Serkis in 'The Kid Who Would Be King'

Courtesy of YouTube

The Kid Who Would Be King

Metascore: 66
Best for: Fans of fantasy action films and medieval lore
Where to watch:

, Google Play, iTunes, Vudu
Runtime: 120 minutes

The Kid Who Would Be King tells the story of Alex (Louis Ashbourne Serkis), a 12-year-old who lives in London with his mom and struggles with bullies at school. One day, Alex comes across a mysterious sword that he is able to pull from the ground, and the events that follow are one out of a modern medieval fairy tale. With the help of the wizard Merlin (Patrick Stewart) who is sometimes disguised as a teenager (Angus Imrie), Alex must stop the wicked sorceress Morgana (Rebecca Ferguson) from terrorizing all of Britain with the help of medieval weapons in combination with modern technology. This film is funny and creative and validates the competence of young heroes, giving a twist to a classic tale any Harry Potter fan is sure to love.

"The characters are a delight, the action sequences thrum with invention, and when it's funny, it's very funny indeed." — Nick de Semlyen, Empire


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From left to right: Johnny Depp and Orlando Bloom in 'Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl'

Courtesy of YouTube

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl

Metascore: 63
Best for: Fans of Keira Knightley and nautical adventure films
Where to watch:

, , Google Play, iTunes, Vudu
Runtime: 143 minutes

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl follows the rogue but charming pirate Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) who arrives in a town called Port Royal without a ship and without a crew. By chance, the very pirate who stole his ship arrives at Port Royal and kidnaps the governor's daughter Elizabeth (Knightley), incentivizing Jack and Elizabeth's childhood friend Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) to join forces and recapture the ship. Not as much of a classic pirate story as it may seem, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of Black Pearl, which is directed by Gore Verbinski, uncovers themes of fantasy and magic in ways Jack and Will can't see coming and in ways that Harry Potter fans will likely thoroughly enjoy.

"Verbinski knows when to break out the stunning action sequences and when to let his characters dominate the film, and he handles both modes expertly." — Keith Phipps, AV Club


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Jim Carrey in 'Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events'

Courtesy of YouTube

Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events

Metascore: 62
Best for: Fans of dark comedy and unfortunate events
Where to watch:

, Google PlayiTunes, , Vudu
Runtime: 108 minutes

Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events chronicles the unfortunate and extraordinary lives of the Baudelaire children: 14-year-old inventor Violet (Emily Browning), 12-year-old bookworm Klaus (Liam Aiken), and teething baby Sunny (Kara Hoffman, Shelby Hoffman). After a mysterious fire destroys their home, the Baudelaires find themselves in a dark world with no nearby family members to turn to, except for their third cousin four times removed named Count Olaf (Jim Carrey). With a large inheritance at stake, it's soon revealed that Olaf's main sights are set on the money, so much so that he's willing to go to extreme measures to get it. Using their charming wit and various skills, the Baudelaires protect each other at all costs, intent on journeying on as a team. The film rejoices in the beauty of teamwork and celebrates differences in strengths, a moral that any Harry Potter fan is well-acquainted with.

"A gem of a movie, all its adversity and wickedness a backdrop for a story about the remarkable resilience of children." — Jennifer Frey, The Washington Post