The great thing about fairytales is that they’re ripe for revisiting with a post-modern mindset. When everybody knows the story, the characters and the tropes, it’s easy to remix them with a knowing wink.
With the success of The Lego Movie five years ago, it was only a matter of time before the German company behind rival toy line Playmobil® demanded their own big screen outing. “We want it to be like The Lego Movie,” the bosses might have said, “but without any of that film’s wit, imagination and clever comedy, or the self-aware stop-motion style that embraces the product’s essential toy-ness. Oh, and instead of stars like Chris Pratt, Liam Neeson, Channing Tatum, Jonah Hill, Elizabeth Banks, Alison Brie, Will Ferrell, Morgan Freeman, Will Arnett, Jake Johnson and Cobie Smulders, let’s get… oh, I don’t know… how about Adam Lambert and Meghan Trainor?”
The wonder is it ever got released.
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.
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.
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.