SPOILER WARNING: In order to explain some of the major problems with this movie, I have to spoil a major moment that happens in the first scene. When I start talking about spoilers, I’ll open that paragraph with another warning but this is going to happen, you’ve been warned right up top.
In 2013, Frozen came out and destroyed the lives of parents everywhere. While a charming movie, it had the power to make every child under the age of five unable to listen to anything other than the song Let It Go, an earworm so powerful that even typing that simple phrase has popped that song right back into the heads of anyone who saw the movie. It was also one of Disney’s best films, a simple story about two sisters that won the hearts of everyone who saw it. With charming songs sung by Broadway legends and some of the best animation ever seen it was a smashing success, grossing over 400 million at the box office and becoming the third highest-grossing film of the year. Naturally, they were going to end up making a sequel eventually and here we are, 6 years later finally getting a sequel to one of the greatest films of the 2010s. With such a high bar to reach it shouldn’t be a shock that it doesn’t quite make it, but it’s still pretty great.
So, this year has been kind of bad for animated films, at least in my experience it has. Maybe I’m unique because I’m the idiot who went to see Flying the Nest, Cats, Here Comes The Grump and Wonder Parkall in the same year but it feels like there just aren’t really that many great kids films this year. Sure, Toy Story 4was really good, Missing Link was amazing (though seriously slept on by most audiences) and there were some bright spots but most of the animated films I’ve seen this year have been on the bad side. It’s almost a respite from the badness that Arctic Justice (AKA Arctic Dogs, AKA Polar Squad AKA “Look, if we keep changing the name then eventually people might think we’re actually worthy of getting their ticket money”) is just stupid and boring instead of just outright hateful towards its audience.
In 1976 the world was introduced to three female private detectives who worked for a mysterious man who they would never actually meet. That man was Charlie and they were his angels, the show Charlie’s Angels would become an instant smash hit, spending the first two seasons in the top 10 most-watched shows of the year and it became iconic almost instantly. 20 million viewers tuned in to watch a trio of strong women kick ass, it was a monster hit that even achieved the rare feat of creating an influential hairstyle trend. It lasted for 5 years and there were multiple attempts to revive the brand, eventually culminating in a pair of films in the early 2000s that did amazing business but badly with critics. Well, time for them to revive the brand again because we are never permitted to allow a brand to die even when no one wants it anymore (and judging by the box office… oh damn this brand should’ve died long ago)
In 2017 a low budget horror film called 47 Meters Down hit cinemas. With a budget of only $5 Million, it ended up bringing in over $60 million worldwide. It wasn’t exactly Jaws but it was a fun little horror film with a simple premise, a pair of main characters who were intelligent and likable and a simple set of stakes that made it easy to get sucked in and enjoy the mostly mindless fun. While not a classic, it was enjoyable and would easily do the job on any scary movie night if you needed something to add to a mini-marathon… and then someone decided to do a sequel, but with all the good ideas taken out and replaced with dumb ones, because that always works well.
Later on this year, we’re all going to get to experience the
wonder and majesty that is Cats. Cats,
the Andrew Lloyd Weber monstrosity, is turning into a live-action film where
everyone looks like they were born directly in the centre of the uncanny valley
and everything about it both horrifies and delights me. Like, we’re all aware
that Cats is basically a suicide
musical right? It’s literally a musical about which cat gets to kill themselves
in order to come back as another cat and someone gave Tom Hooper millions of
dollars and several major celebrities in order to make the film version of the
suicidal cat musical. It’s going to be nuts, I can’t wait… I apparently
couldn’t wait so much that the second my local cinema said it was showing a
movie called Cats I had to see it, I
need to be the person who saw two different Cats
movies in cinemas… because I’m a sad person, please give me pity.
In 2014, Disney (the dark overlord of entertainment that will one day consume us all) released Maleficent. Maleficent was their version of a “What If” story that featured one of their most iconic villains of all time and asked the question “What if the Mistress of all evil was good?” Asking that question netted them over $750 million worldwide and an Oscar nomination, though it received mixed critical praise. This was a film I saw long before I started reviewing so here is a short version of my thoughts of the original film… I hate it with every fibre of my being and cast it into the fiery pits of hell where it belongs.
A space movie is always hard to get just right. The idea of someone floating around in the vastness of space? It’s a cool effect that’s hard to recreate on earth, and that’s before you worry about things like sound in the vacuum of space or just how potentially dangerous it is. The hardest part about big space movies is trying to find a good story using the location. When the location is the vast emptiness of space, that can really work well as a metaphor or just to create some danger. Gravity, as an example, is basically a film about someone lost at sea and could’ve told the exact same story on earth but they wanted to make it a space movie because it’s more visually interesting. That movie was also praised as the most realistic space movie of all time – and now a new contender has come to try and claim that crown. I don’t think it’s the most realistic ever, but it’s certainly got some of the best performances.
Released: 21st October (Advance Copy provided by Tricoast Worldwide) Seen: 7th October
Every film, on some level, has a gimmick attached to it. Joker’s gimmick is that it’s a Scorsese film wearing a Supervillain costume, Searching’s gimmick was that it took place entirely on a computer screen and I Spit On Your Grave: Deja Vu’s gimmick is that it’s the first film actually made by a piece of shit. Hell, even sound and colour were originally considered merely gimmicks back when film was first beginning. Finding strange new ways to make a film can lead to some genuinely fascinating pieces of art that might not be mainstream but are certainly interesting experiences to go through. So, let’s talk about a horror film made entirely out of paper cut-outs because that’s a thing that actually exists in this reality and I kind of love it, despite its flaws.
There’s this weird phenomenon in media where someone will take a known intellectual property and remake it with baby versions of the characters. This is a huge thing in animation with major shows like Muppet Babies, The Flintstone Kids and Tom And Jerry Kids all showing the infant or pre-school versions of the famous property. Well, now we’re seeing this idea slowly moving from the world of animation to live action. We’ve had the TV series Young Sheldon, before that we had things like Young Indiana Jones and Young Sherlock Holmes. Calling things Young *Marketable Brand Name* is seemingly good business. Hell, there is even (I swear this is real) a version of the John Waters movie Pink Flamingos that was rewritten and performed with children called Kiddie Flamingos. Versions of famous properties with children in the leads is apparently a thing we’re doing now. So, it was only a matter of time before someone said “What if we remade Superbad, but with 12 year olds?” and now that we have it, it’s kind of impressive how well it works.