Matthew Minnie 7 of the Best

Matthew Minnie’s 7 of the Best

Written by Matthew Minnie

The Elric Saga by, Michael Moorcock
One of the greatest fantasy series of all time. It tells the story of Elric, the last emperor of the once great empire of Melnibone. He has been born an albino, and is reliant on drugs or his demonic rune sword Stormbringer to maintain his health and vitality. The series is renowned for breaking all the stereotypes of the sword-and-sorcery genre. I highly recommend this series.

The Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R Tolkien
The films by Peter Jackson are pretty much dead-on in their adaptation of the books. The story is set 60 years after the events of The Hobbit and finds Bilbo Baggins on his 111th birthday bequeathing his magic
ring to his nephew Frodo who has been informed by the wizard Gandalf the Grey that it is indeed the master ring forged by Sauron. Frodo Baggins, Samwise Gamgee, Meriadoc (Merry) Brandybuck and Peregrin (Pippin) Took, set out on their journey to Rivendale, to find a way of defeating Sauron once and for all. I cannot recommend the books/ films enough.

A fantasy film by Korean director Cho Dong-Oh. Following an epic battle with the minions of a sinister Dark Lord, a fierce warrior finds himself in a mystical realm filled with restless spirits. Guided by the spirits of a noble teacher and the warriors lost love, he soon finds out that his destiny is to defend Heaven, Earth and The Middle World against the ruthless armies of Darkness. As a practitioner of Tae Kwon Do and Tang Soo Do (both Korean martial arts) I truly appreciate the martial arts choreography displayed in this film. And as a fan of fantasy films this one delivers 100%. I also loved the romantic angle that is depicted between the hero and his long lost love when they meet in the afterlife and the lengths that the hero goes to for her. If you are a lover of sword-and-sorcery / martial arts / romance films, I highly recommend this film.

Peter Jackson‘s remake of the classic 1933 film of the same name is truly one of the greatest fantasy films ever made. It tells the story of a steamer ship that has been chartered by Jack Driscoll, a film maker looking for the next big thing. And boy does he ever find it when the crew ends up on Skull Island and discovers that this truly is a land that time has forgotten. The inhabitants have built a titanic wall to keep out not only the various predatory dinosaurs but also their very own Deity/protector, Kong, a 25’ tall silver back gorilla who the inhabitants have sacrificed some of the young female tribe members to in hopes of appeasing him. The tribe kidnaps Ann Darrow and offers her up to Kong who is immediately smitten by her. Watching this film, seeing the way Jackson (and cast) presents the story is phenomenal.

To Reign in Hell, by Steven Brust
One of the most original tellings of one of the oldest wars of all: The Revolt of the Angels. In it we find out the magical land of Heaven is on the verge of being destroyed by the cosmic chaos from which it was created. To save themselves, the 7 firstborn of Heaven (Yaweh, Satan, Michael, Lucifer, Raphael, Leviathen, and Beliel) along with the 2nd born of Heaven (Asmodeus, Lilith, Bealzabub, and Mephistopheles) must try to convince the remaining angelic host to construct a Sphere (the Earth) in the midst of the chaos to ensure their continued existence. The trouble starts when Satan, whose job it is to ensure that all the lesser angels are doing their parts in the construction, begins to question what right do he and the other 6 first born to coerce/demand the angelic host to risk their lives amidst the cosmic chaos to construct the future safe haven. What I love about this story is the deep friendship between Yaweh and Satan and how easily it is tossed aside due to the pride of both. Yaweh gives into Abdiel’s (one of the lesser 2nd born) bootlicking and conniving ways. Yahweh establishes himself as the supreme all glorious creator/deity. Satan refuses to accept it. Read this story if you can because any critique on my part cannot come close.

A truly classic film adaption of Le Morte d’Arthur by Sir Thomas Mallory. Excalibur is the best film concerning the myths and legends of Arthurian England and Camelot. There is none better. I have always loved the stories of King Arthur and the knights of the round table. The high ideals of chivalry and honorable combat as told in the stories and depicted in this film are truly great. That even though Arthur espouses these ideals, he himself falters from time to time i.e. his fight against Lancelot and when faced with Lancelot’s superior fighting skill Arthur calls upon Excalibur’s great and destructive power to gain the upper hand against his worthwhile adversary to defeat him only to realize that he acted out of his own foolish pride to achieve victory. Or ultimately when Arthur is confronted by his nephew/son Mordred, the result of his (Arthur’s) and his sister’s (Morgan Le Fay {played by the ever-beautiful and talented Helen Mirren}) incestuous relationship. Even though Arthur, along with many of his most loyal knights, fight valiantly against Mordred and his evil forces, the victory comes at great cost to Arthur and the fall of Camelot and what it stood for and how these ideals and people would go on to stand as shining examples of all that is good and virtuous in all people.

Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, by Frank Miller
I know that this is a comic book but, my God! this is one of the best damn stories I have ever read (I have always been a fan of Batman and comics long before either was considered cool like they are today.) This story shows us a Gotham City along with the rest of the world that is surely falling onto chaos and an aging Bruce Wayne who for the past 10 years has not donned the cape and cowl of the Batman. But, due to this increasing anarchy finds himself once again taking on the mantle of the Batman. It made the Batman what he truly has always been, A legend. My reasons for loving (not liking, LOVING!) this story is, as I mentioned being a fan of the Batman and comics in general, is that, even though time and the weight of age has caught up to Bruce Wayne, there still burns within him the flames of desire to do what is right and just in a cruel and heartless world, a world that realizes a little too late that it needs heroes like the Batman (and hell let’s be honest, Superman as well) to help out when the world is losing control. Add to that the fact that Superman, arguably the most powerful being in existence, has become a government lackey to the ineffectual leader of the United States. Superman is sent by the government to bring Batman down (not rein him in but, eliminate him) due to the fact that Batman has become a political liability because of his willingness to do what the authorities cannot and/or will not do (kick some tail in order to keep the peace.) And in true Batman fashion, he puts Superman in his place (along with opening Superman’s eyes to all the wrongs in the world) and stages his own death, all the better for him (Batman) to operate from the shadows more successfully.

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