Aladdin (2019) – Friend Like Meh

Released: 23rd May
Seen:23rd May

When we think of the Disney Renaissance we think of this brief period between 1989 and 1999 when Disney was putting out hit after hit, some of the best films that appear in their catalogue. Right in the front end of that list, dropping in 1992 is the film Aladdin. Based on the Arabic folktale, Aladdin remains one of Disney’s most beloved films. It’s a simple love story, enchanting tunes and, of course, its legendary performance by the late Robin Williams has cemented it into cinema history. Even today the original film holds up with great comedy and award-winning songs that everyone knows. A Whole New World, Friend Like Me, Prince Ali, these are some of the best songs ever put on film. The movie was such a hit it led to two direct-to-video sequels (one of them is actually good) and a TV series that everyone who was a child in the 90s watched. There’s even an adaptation of the show on Broadway but one thing that there will never be is a live-action film remake… at least, that’s what I thought until we inexplicably let Disney think that it would be acceptable to plunder their vaults and turn their classic animated films into subpar live action drivel, but apparently we’re allowing that now so guess what I have to do right now? That’s right, weep and cry because I had to watch this bland lifeless thing that alleges to be a movie.

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Pokémon: Detective Pikachu (2019) – Gotta Watch ‘Em All!

Released: 9th May
Seen: 9th May

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When I was growing up, the biggest games in the world were Pokémon Red and Blue. Every single person I knew had one of them; some people had both of them. I was always a Pokémon Red kind of guy who would happily pick Bulbasaur first because he would make it easier to get through the first two gyms (I know Charmander is cooler, but he’s also weak against the first two gyms and I played that game to win. Come at me). I also have vivid memories of when Pokémon Yellow came out and completing that game within a single sitting, only pausing to remove the batteries from my oversized clear Gameboy and clearing the gyms and elite four. It’s fair to say that a large chunk of my childhood included a monster that could be located in a pocket and then I did a very stupid thing… I grew up. I had less and less time to pull out a Gameboy and play whatever new Pokémon game was available; I didn’t keep up with the anime. I just kind of stopped caring about trying to Catch ‘Em All because I hit this time in life when it felt appropriate to put away childish things. I did recently pick up Pokémon Go because it’d be on the phone and a time waster but I kind of figured my love of Pokémon was dead. Then the trailer for Detective Pikachu dropped and a tiny little voice deep inside me screamed “I’m not quite dead… I’m getting better”

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Missing Link (2019) – Proof Of Happiness

Released: 11th April
Seen: 13th April

Missing Link

Stop Motion animation is probably the most difficult kind of animation there is. Building scale models and animating them in the physical world, moving just a tiny portion of the models for every single frame and slowly creating movement by hand, something where a small accident could ruin days of work. If a model dries up then that could destroy a film. For the longest time the big name in the field of stop motion animation was Aardman Animation, the people who made Chicken Run (which I just found out is getting a sequel, which is awesome), and now the new people claiming the throne of stop motion animation is Laika who has been fairly consistent in releasing great films, and their latest film is no exception.

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Wonder Park (2019) – Wonder Meh

Released: 4th April
Seen: 31st March (Advance Screening)

Wonder Park Info

So, I’m not exactly a theme park enthusiast. I’ve tried to go to them before and never really enjoyed them. Maybe it’s the people, maybe it’s the food, maybe it’s the weight restrictions that basically tether my feet to the ground that I don’t want to walk on for four hours for three rides, I’ve just never been big on them. However, films about theme park rides? I… don’t care for those either, but only because they’ve never actually been good. With the notable exception of the Pirates of the Caribbean movie, a film based on a theme park never seems to work and only seems to irritate the audience that goes to see it. When a film was announced to be about a girl who builds a magical theme park, I was ready to be annoyed and irritated by it. I was prepared for it to be Emoji Movie level trash. I was ready to sit down and write almost 2000 words about why it was an abhorrent piece of cinematic sludge that will poison your children’s minds and render them mute with its awfulness… but that implies that what I saw had something in it that was interesting enough to elicit that reaction from me and the only reaction I really have is “Oh, that exists”.

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Dumbo (2019) – Dumb

Released: 28th March
Seen: 29th March

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In 1941 Disney released its fourth animated theatrical film. Dumbo holds a special place in Disney history. Clocking in at 64 minutes, the film was made to try and cover the losses brought on by Fantasia (Which at the time hadn’t turned a profit because WW2 cut off a large part of the market) and during its production, there was a five-week strike at Disney’s studio. On a budget of under a million dollars with a mandate to keep everything as simple as possible, Disney somehow did the impossible and created one of the most beautiful animated films of all time. The film still works today, with the notable exception of the crow sequence (one of the crows is called Jim… that should probably clue you into the problem), and it’s proof of just what Disney is capable of doing and is so truly beloved that it even earned a spot in the US National Film Registry in the Library of Congress, meaning it will be preserved forever as something culturally significant… and then Tim Burton said “WAIT! I HAVEN’T RUINED ENOUGH CLASSIC MOVIES YET!” and decided to remake it.

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The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part (2019) – Everything Is Almost Awesome

Released: 28th February
Seen: 10th March

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In 2014, the movie The Lego Movie came out and shocked everyone. Sure, Lego had released parody movies before straight to DVD and had little joke sketches made but a full-length original feature-length film that was just generally about Lego? That sounded like it was destined for disaster. And yet, stunningly, it wasn’t. The Lego Movie fast became a monster hit, the 5th highest grossing film of 2014, it got an Oscar nomination for the deliriously catchy song “Everything Is Awesome”, a song so catchy that me typing that sentence has forced that song back into the heads of everyone who heard it. It also managed to surprise everyone with an emotional story about someone’s imagination being restrained by the attitude of their distant father. It’s genuinely one of the greatest animated films of the last decade and I will gleefully die upon this hill… so, when they announced that there was a sequel coming out, I was incredibly nervous because there aren’t exactly many sequels to great animated films that are as good as the original. Lucky me then that The Lego Movie series just enjoys surprising me with how good it actually is.

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Flying The Nest (2019) – Free Bird

Released: 28th February
Seen: 7th March

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So this film has gone under many names, for some reason. Originally from Iceland, the film was released under the title “Lói: Þú Flýgur Aldrei Einn“. In several English speaking countries, the film was released under the title “Ploey: You Never Fly Alone“, which is a little bit wordy but it works. In the USA, Spain and Germany it just got the title “Ploey“, which is a perfect single word title… I saw it under the title Flying the Nest which is a horrible title thought up by bad people who don’t understand how you work with words. Even I, noted bad word user, thought that title was a garbage title and was not looking forward to this movie based upon that title. Then I walked into the cinema and out of over 160 seats, I was the only person there. Bad title, no audience, and then the film started and I realised that I had made a terrible mistake by going to see this movie. I will be referring to this movie by the title I saw it under for the remainder of the review because I want you to have that stupid title drilled into your skull.

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