ByMatthew Bailey, writer at
Husband. Father. Gamer. Cinema Lover. Mix it all together, and there I am. I love all things pop-culture and coffee; but coffee is the best.
Matthew Bailey

There's just something about jumping on to the train heading for the trip fantastic. Being taken away to a world full of rainbows, dancing unicorns, talking pink elephants and fluffy bunnies that poop jellybeans. Not that I condone the use of psychedelic drugs or anything along those lines, but there really is something fantastical about letting your mind go off into the world of wonders and just let it absorb your senses.

That seems to be the overall expectation of what we will find when we step into the world of Doctor Strange as it's been toted as a trippy, kaleidoscopic adventure that will bend all of reality, space and time. It will be a roller coaster ride that takes viewers into a sense or surreality and then pushes the limits of our imaginations.

Yet, Doctor Strange isn't the first film to take us into a world that made us feel a touch unsettled, or took us through a characters journey of self understanding. Here are 9 movies that do just that.

9. Pan's Labyrinth

  • Director: Guilermo Del Toro
  • Starring: Ivana Baquero, Sergi Lopez, Doug Jones
  • Released: 2006

This brilliant dark fantasy takes us down the proverbial rabbit hole, as we follow the main character Ofelia on a journey through an ancient labyrinth. Ofelia's journey is more than just physically completing the tasks assigned to her, it's learning what and who she truly is. Her journey of self-understanding takes her deeper into the mythology and mysticism of the labyrinth, eventually coming to a much higher understanding about herself.

8. The Fountain

  • Director: Darren Aronofsky
  • Starring: Hugh Jackman, Rachel Weisz, Sean Patrick Thomas
  • Released: 2006

The Fountain follows a modern-day scientist, Tommy, who struggles with the concept of mortality as he searches for the answers and a medical breakthrough to save his cancer-stricken wife. Tommy's search intertwines with two others as they all quest for life and for love. Past, present and future are all blurred in this movie, and it really takes you on a trip into the world of 'what is really happening?'

7. The Matrix

  • Directors: Lana/Lilly Wachowski (formerly The Wachowski Brothers)
  • Starring: Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Carrie-Anne Moss
  • Released: 1999

We all know the story of Neo, or at least we should know it. Neo was just as we all could potentially be: trapped in the machine. It wasn't until he met Morpheus, Trinity and the crew of their pirate ship that he finally understood the truth that there was so much more to reality outside of the daily grind brought forth by the machines. Neo's journey is as much a story of a hero as it is a quest to become truly self-aware.

6. What Dreams May Come

  • Director: Vincent Ward
  • Starring: Robin Williams, Cuba Gooding Jr., Annabella Sciorra
  • Released: 1998

This tale of life after death is a journey of awareness and hope in the face of despair. In What Dreams May Come, Chris (Robin Williams) has died and is being guided through the afterlife, only to be faced with a decision that could change his entire afterlife: journey into Hell to rescue his wife who committed suicide or stay in the wonderland that is as beautiful as he can imagine it to be.

5. Mr. Nobody

  • Director: Jaco Van Dormeal
  • Starring: Jared Leto, Sarah Polley, Diane Kruger, Linh-Dam Pham
  • Released: 2009

As the oldest person, in the year 2092, Nemo is recounting his life story. His life story which seems to change course in an instant, with each change comes a new path and potential future. These paths eventually converge, with aspects of each bleeding into the rest leaving Nemo and everyone around him wondering if any of these lives are real or if everything is simply a figment of his imagination.

4. Source Code

  • Director: Duncan Jones
  • Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Michelle Monaghan, Vera Farmiga
  • Released: 2011

Eight minutes, that's all Colter Stevens (Gyllenhaal) has to discover who is behind an explosion of a train that he is on. After the train explodes, Colter awakens in a pod and is told that he is in the midst of a science project that allows him to be inserted into another persons consciousness during the last 8 minutes of their life. Colter repeats these 8 minutes over and over, each time learning something new, ultimately discovering what his life truly means and how he can connect with others.

3. Memento

  • Director: Christopher Nolan
  • Starring: Guy Pearce, Carrie-Anne Moss, Joe Pantoliano
  • Released: 2000

Memento is two stories wrapped in one; the first a story of a man who faces each day while trying to cope with his short term memory loss after his wife's murder, the second is the story of a man leading up to the assault on his wife. Are the two men's stories connected? Are they the same? These are the questions that are brought out through the mind-bending film.

2. Donnie Darko

  • Director: Richard Kelly
  • Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Jena Malone, Mary McDonnell
  • Released: 2001

Donnie doesn't get along with anyone: his family, his teachers and his classmates. Yet, he has one friend - a true ally named Frank. Frank is a large bunny whom only Donnie can see, and their relationship causes Donnie to question his entire understanding of reality thanks to a series of disturbing visions given by Frank.

1. Inception

  • Director: Christopher Nolan
  • Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ellen Page
  • Released: 2010

No list on mind-bending, reality twisting movies would be complete without Inception. This movie follows a group that enter the dreamscape of another man in order to gain secrets and to alter his perception of the real world outside of the dream. The twist of inception is that it's believed to be impossible - planting an idea is a dangerous concept, and one which the team must utilize perfect planning and coordination, only to need to throw it all out the window when an enemy comes that only one man can see coming.

Whether you're a Doctor Strange fan or not, you've got to admit that it looks like it is going to be an incredibly trippy adventure, and these movies all follow a similar concept.

Doctor Strange has hit theaters in the United Kingdom already, and is primed for a U.S. release on November 4th. Are you ready to venture into alternate realities with the good doctor?


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