Playmobil: The Movie (2019) – Everything Is Awful

Released: 12th December
Seen: 23rd December

I don’t think we spend enough time really grappling with how surprisingly good Lego Movie and Lego Movie 2 were. Not only were both of them hilarious and wonderfully animated, but they both also had memorable soundtracks and a well thought out and touching tale about family and bringing them together. Sure they were also giant advertisements for the toy that’s caused more foot pain than ingrown toenails, bunions and athletes’ foot combined but it was a sweet and clever advertisement for that toy. Sure, Lego Ninjago wasn’t that great but Lego Batman made up for it. Movies about the tiny plastic figures going on adventures seems to actually work… when you’re a popular brand like Lego. When you’re Playmobil, also known as “What you buy for your kids when they’ve sold out of Lego”, turns out it doesn’t quite work out as well.

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Frozen 2 (2019) – Do You Wanna Make A Sequel?

Released: 28th November
Seen: 29th November

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.

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Arctic Justice (2019) – There Is No Justice

No Turning Back (2019) – No, Turn Back!

Released: 7th November
Seen: 27th November

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 Park all in the same year but it feels like there just aren’t really that many great kids films this year. Sure, Toy Story 4 was 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.

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The Addams Family (2019) – *Snap Snap*

Released: 5th December
Seen: 23rd November (Advance Screening)

In 1938 Charles Addams created a cartoon about a strange family for the New Yorker. It was a satirical take on the modern family that ran for 150 single-panel cartoons and gained a following. Enough of a following that in 1964 a TV series was greenlit and that series, though it only lasted for two seasons, would be responsible for giving every member of this family their names and set the tone that people would come to expect from these characters. The series would continue to be adapted into many forms from cartoons to new live-action series to the two 90s Addams Family movies everyone loves (Don’t deny it) and even a stage musical. Now it’s a big bold animated movie, another in the recent trend of “Franchises that refuse to die” and like a lot of films in that trend, you don’t need to see this one.

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Cats (2019) – No, not that one.

Released: 24th October
Seen: 28th October

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.

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Violence Voyager (2019) – Say, Its Only A Paper Movie

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.

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UglyDolls (2019) – It’s Not Much Of A Life

Released: 19th September
Seen: 30th September

In 1986, the British TV station ITV began airing a cartoon called The Raggy Dolls. For 9 seasons, children were shown the adventures of Sad Sack, Dotty, Hi-Fi, Lucy, Back-To-Front, Claude, and Princess. For almost a decade people would tune in to watch as the gaggle of rejected toys with various malfunctions went on adventures together and taught the audience to treat those who are different with kindness. It also had the absolute best theme tune of any 80s cartoon (I WILL fight you on this) that was sung by Neil Innes (of the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band) and is a glorious ode to treating people well no matter their differences. It’s legitimately one of the sweetest little cartoons that I remember watching as a kid and a must watch for anyone who wants to get their kids to learn the lesson that people who look different are just as valuable as everyone else… it’s certainly better than this movie was, because I remember the music from Raggy Dolls but good luck with remembering anything from Uglydolls… which I will now force myself to remember in order to explain why it’s forgettable.

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Abominable (2019) – I Want To Peti The Yeti

Released: 19th September
Seen: 29th September

One of the most enduring pieces of folklore is that of the Yeti, an ape like creature said to live in the Himalayan mountains. It’s a creature that goes by many names, like Abominable Snowman or Meh-Teh, and stories about it have been around for hundreds of years. Many people claim to have proof of its existence, mostly strange large footprints or even scalps that are allegedly from the creature. To this day there is no actual confirmation that the Yeti exists, but if one did I highly doubt it’d be as adorable as the Yeti presented in this film.

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Here Comes The Grump (2019) – I’m Grumpy

Released: 1st August
Seen: 7th August

On September 6th of 1969, the first episode of the new Friz Freleng series aired on NBC, a series called Here Comes the Grump. Running for 17 episodes, the series followed a grumpy little wizard named Grump who wanted to make the entire kingdom sad all the time. The princess of the kingdom and her friend Terry would search for the magical key that would undo everything and, this would form the basis of the episodes that lead to a large number of assorted slapstick gags… I assume, I never even knew this series existed until I began some research to find out just why this movie existed and now I’m in actual romantic love with the cheesy theme tune for this series that I will be binging right after I spend a thousand or so words complaining about a bad adaptation of a TV series that everyone forgot.

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The Lion King (2019) – The King Is Dead

Released: 17th July
Seen: 17th July

The first film that I have any memory of seeing in a cinema is the 1994 animated classic The Lion King. While my memory is a little sketchy (because I was 6) I still remember how enthralling it was, this glorious creation that was chock full of drama and laughs and bright glorious colours that just seemed to leap off the screen. I remember the legendary stampede and my mother crying at Mufasa’s death. Truly it was the film that started me on a journey to loving cinema and of all the movies that I could’ve seen as my first theatrical experience, I’m glad it was that one. Now, here we are, 25 years later and I’m angry and bitter and hate everything and have to watch as the first film I remember seeing is slowly sucked dry right before my eyes and all I’m left with is a withered husk of a film… I’m not going to be happy during this review, just so we’re clear.

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