One of the most enduring stories of all time is the story of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. It’s the kind of story that has been retold more times than I dare to count and in every form you can imagine. It’s a glorious story about a group of men brought together out of loyalty and friendship who fight to defend their country and the iconic imagery from it is a key element of our culture. The adaptations of this story can focus on anyone in it, from Merlin to Arthur or even one of the knights, it’s a great classic tale and we have another adaptation of it and, to the surprise of almost no one, the story still finds a way to resonate with the audience and capture our imagination.
Released: 17th Janurary Seen: 13th January (Advance Screening)
In 1964, Colin Thiele wrote the book Storm Boy about the relationship between a boy and his pelican. Storm Boy is something of an Australian classic, getting an adaptation in 1976 that netted several awards and was a fairly big box office hit in Australia. According to my quick research, Colin Thiele’s only requirement was that his book couldn’t be turned into a sex comedy. That might be the greatest bit of information I’ve ever found… and it’s also probably the way they should’ve taken this remake because that might’ve been a little bit more interesting.
How to Train Your Dragon is one of the best animated films of the decade. I know, starting on a subtle statement is a great way to open one of these things but it’s accurate. Even with so many years between the original How to Train Your Dragon and the sequel we’ll be talking about today it’s impossible to understate how amazing the original film is. Not only is the original film a visual marvel but it has one of the most touching stories put in a kid’s film, a story about a kid trying to get the respect of his father who believes in killing every dragon while the kid wants to be kind to the creatures. It’s a touching tale even without the part that is just the adventures of a young boy and his dragon (a night fury named Toothless). The film was an instant hit that was absolutely beloved by everyone who saw it, and then the sequel came out and was even better. The story got darker, the animation was some of the most glorious to be put on the screens and it didn’t seem like it was possible to top it. Now, How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World has come out and… OK it’s not better than the second movie, but its close.
In 1964, the world was enchanted when a nanny flew in from high upon her cloud to the door of 17 Cherry Tree Lane and graced us all with her charm and wit. Mary Poppins remains one of the few movies that you can justifiably say “Everyone loves this one”. If you meet someone who doesn’t love Mary Poppins, I suggest running as fast as you can away from them because there is no time to be dealing with such nonsense. Mary Poppins is a movie that the main character herself might describe as “Practically perfect in every way”, which would possibly be the most accurate statement ever made… so, naturally, 54 years later is the perfect time to release a sequel to this beloved classic.
It’s hard to understate just how popular The Nutcracker ballet actually is. It’s one of the most reproduced ballets you could imagine, representing almost half of what American ballet companies make every year. The score is iconic and has transcended beyond anything that Tchaikovsky could’ve imagined. The show, the music, the story of The Nutcracker is legendary and has lived on for well over a century… which means it’s copyright ran out so Disney can come in, claim it, kill it, pillage the corpse for anything it chooses and leave it as hollow, lifeless and empty as a Tin Soldier.
Released: 26 December Seen: 16th December (Advanced Screening)
Six Years ago, Disney unleashed Wreck-It Ralph onto screens and it was a huge hit. Everyone was floored by how bold it was, a raucous combination of video game characters that we hadn’t seen together before, telling a tale of a video game villain and a video game glitch who we would come to love. It was a monster hit for the company who had only just bought Star Wars that same year. It’s weird to remember that but when the first Wreck-It Ralph came out it was days after Disney bought out Star Wars, cementing their ownership of everyone’s childhoods. In the last year Disney did something similar by buying Fox Entertainment and it raised two big questions
Is anyone going to put a check on this obvious corporate monopoly that’s effectively trying to buy all entertainment as we know it?
…so, when are Storm Troopers going to turn up in a Disney movie and have fights with a Disney princess?
I might not be able to answer the first one, but we now have an answer to the second one.
Released: 13th December Seen: 2nd December (Advanced Screening)
This year has been particularly good for superhero movies, possibly the best that we’ve had since Marvel decided they wanted to take over the cinematic landscape. From truly important cultural milestones like Black Panther, to displays of just what the genre is capable of like The Avengers, to silly little parody films that I still can’t even begin to get enough of like Teen Titan’s Go To The Movies, it’s safe to say this year has been an absolute boon time for the Superhero movie… and now we get to throw Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse into that pantheon of truly great superhero movies.
The month of December’s a fabulous thing There’s joy in the air and carols to sing The lights are hung high upon every roof thatch And stores sell their toys in many a batch And down in the cinema, some of the time Sits a pretentious reviewer, thinking in rhyme (Yes, we’re doing this. What did you expect? To give up on this gimmick, that would be neglect)
For most of my life, I’ve been a huge fan of the Harry Potter franchise. I got the first two books from my grandmother for Christmas long ago, just before the third one came out in 1999 (FEEL OLD YET!?) and since then I was that person who had to get the new one on the day it went on sale. I was such a fan that I preordered a copy of the final book and still was in line outside the store before 6am on the day that it went out (Because Australia didn’t do a midnight release) just so that I could get my hands on it. I devoured the last book in 2 days. Every movie I went to see with another one of my grandparent’s, the same one who I mentioned taking to see Christopher Robin a while ago, and we always would go on opening day to see it with a packed theatre and enjoy the absolute glee that came with seeing these books that we loved being brought to life. I was there watching as these major elements of my childhood became reality but when they announced they were doing Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them, I wasn’t interested. By the time that movie came out I was in my late 20s and was cynical about so much, I believed it to be nothing but a cheap cash grab created by Warner Brothers because they were desperate to have a steady income since their superhero movies kept turning out to be giant steaming piles of excrement littering the cinematic pavement. Since I knew I would be reviewing the sequel today, last night I decided to finally watch the original Fantastic Beasts movie and I found it to be genuinely delightful. Sure, I was right about it being a cash grab designed to rake in obscene amounts of money from a reputable brand name but at least it tried to be entertaining. It had a charm to it, a warmth that emanated throughout the film that was infectious. It was basically Pokemon but with wizards in it and I was excited to see where they were going to take this story, maybe it was going to be more than just a cheap excuse to slip a hand into my wallet and extract a few bucks.