This animated Spider-Man adventure seems designed to please anyone who is tired of seeing Spider-Man movies. It acknowledges the saturated market place of comic book movies in an opening that pokes fun at recent Spider-Man movies starring Andrew Garfield, Tobey Maguire and Tom Holland. It’s the kind of self-awareness and pop-cultural savvy that made the early Pixar films so great.
If any cinematic universe was in need of having its pants pulled down, its sense of self-importance called out and ridiculed, it’s the DC one. The Marvel movies have always managed not to take themselves too seriously, but when they do – even to great effect, as in Logan or Avengers: Infinity War – there’ll be a Deadpool movie along any minute to deflate their balloons. That happens literally in the opening scene of Teen Titans Go! To The Movies, as the teenage superheroes from the hit TV series Teen Titans Go! – itself an update of the Cartoon Network Teen Titans series from 2003 – take on a giant inflatable bank robber and burst his balloon butt-first, making a hilarious and humiliating fart noise that has the team dissolving in fits of giggles. The Justice League they ain’t.
When a computer-animated film doesn’t emerge from one of the traditional giants of the medium – Pixar, Disney, DreamWorks, Blue Sky or Illumination – it’s easy to relegate it to the status of an also-ran, something to catch on DVD, Netflix or Amazon Prime on a rainy afternoon. Every once in a while, however, an independently-made CG animation comes along that makes you sit up and take notice, as in the case of Fun Academy’s Sgt. Stubby: An Unlikely Hero. Continue reading “Sgt. Stubby: An Unlikely Hero”
Even hotel owners need a holiday. At least, that’s the idea for Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation, the third – and, sadly, the weakest – in the hit series starring the vocal talents of Adam Sandler as Dracula. Stepping away from the monsters-only hotel that he runs, the infamous vampire is given a surprise treat by his daughter Mavis (voiced by Selena Gomez): a family holiday on a cruise ship that tours such fables sights as the Bermuda Triangle and the lost city of Atlantis.
If you’re reading this website, you’re almost certainly going to see this film – and rightly so. Director Brad Bird’s original Incredibles movie is a classic, and his belated sequel once again combines family drama with superheroics to winning effect. There’s an expanded role for mum Helen Parr / Elastigirl (Holly Hunter), more fun powers for toddler Jack-Jack and a villain that could encourage even teens to step away from their phones for a moment after the lights come up. It’s charming.
Back in 2011, Gnomeo & Juliet was a pleasant surprise: a skilfully animated, warm and witty kids’ movie that was also entertaining for grown-ups. Seven years later, the sequel may feel somewhat generic, but the characters are still engaging, and the action set-pieces are amusing. The sophisticated animation also provides plenty of distraction from the deliberately convoluted plot.
There was dismay among fans of animation when Japan’s adored Studio Ghibli stopped production in 2014 when founder Hayao Miyazaki retired (though both are set to make a comeback). Regardless, its spirit lives on, and former Ghibli director Hiromasa Yonebayashi demonstrates that from his new home, Studio Ponoc. Yonebayashi became Ghibli’s youngest director with The Secret World of Arrietty, based on classic children’s book The Borrowers. Now he takes another British kids’ classic – Mary Stewart’s The Little Broomstick – and transforms it into a colourful, creative adventure.
Kids on Amazon Prime
Yes, the wonderful Paddington 2’s available to rent, and Moana is a must-see, but aren’t the Easter holidays expensive enough without shelling out just because you and the kids are stuck inside on a rainy day? Besides, if you’re already paying your Amazon Prime subscription, there are plenty of first-rate flicks to choose from. I’m the father of three boys (aged 3, 8 and 10) and uncle to three nieces (twins princesses aged 9 and their 12-yearold tomboy sis) so often have to play the near-impossible game of picking a movie that will please everyone. Not all of the 15 I’ve picked fit the bill, but some of them come darn close – and that’s a parenting movie-win in my book.
In Wes Anderson’s Isle Of Dogs, the fictional Japanese city of Megasaki is suffering from a dog flu epidemic. Despite research into a cure being well underway, the new mayor, Kobayashi, orders that the city’s entire canine population be deported to the nearby Trash Island, starting with his ward’s own dog Spots. But the mayor’s ward, Atari, isn’t having any of it, and launches a daring solo mission to the island to rescue his beloved companion. There, he meets a pack of dogs – Chief, Rex, King, Duke and Boss – who help him traverse Trash Island, while back in Megasaki, an unthinkable solution to the crisis is debated.
When an animated movie is a humungous hit, you have a number of options for sequels and spin-offs. You can rush into production one of those sequels that’s too cheap to bring back the cast of the original film (I’m looking at you, Muppets Most Wanted)… you can wait 13 years before bringing everyone back (e.g. Finding Dory, The Incredibles 2)… you can create a spin-off TV series, like Home: Adventures with Tip & Oh or Dawn of the Croods, that change the voice cast and the animation style, but try hard to capture the spirit of the original… or you could bring back the original cast and the original CG animation style, make it 20-something minutes long, and drop it on DVD and iTunes for a fiver. That’s what Pixar did with films like Toy Story of Terror, and it’s the path DreamWorks Animation has chosen for Trolls Holiday, the surprise, short form sequel to their 2016 hit Trolls – and it’s terrific.