The Little Mermaid (2023) – Part Of Our World

Released: 25th May
Seen: 25th May

When people talk about the Disney Renaissance, they are talking about a very specific period of time from 1989 to 1999 when Disney released hit after hit with stunning regularity. Ten films over a ten-year period that would revive the Disney brand in a way that basically set the stage for its eventual dominance over the industry today. It could be argued that without the Disney Renaissance, we wouldn’t have the MCU that dominates the landscape today.

Even the worst film in the Disney Renaissance is better than most other films from the same time period, it’s truly a remarkable time in cinema history and it all started with a simple film about a mermaid who wanted to be where the people were… and because Disney has decided exploiting it’s back catalog is a substitute for good film making, we now have a remake of The Little Mermaid, the film that started this Renaissance. In somewhat of a miracle, it’s not actually that bad.

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Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves (2023) – Natural 20

Released: 30th March
Seen: 30th March

In 1974, the very first edition of Dungeons & Dragons was published and it pretty quickly became a mainstay of pop culture. Every decade seems to change how people look at it, be it back in the 80s when it was a very large part of the Satanic Panic bullshit or in the 2000s when we were talking about the first film adaptation that carried the name or even the 2010s when Stranger Things reminded people of why they enjoyed playing this game back in the 80s when the adults said it was evil and satanic. Even now it still maintains high popularity with an untold number of web shows and podcasts dedicated to variations on this classic tabletop RPG… I’ve never played it once, so I went into this movie completely blind and had a great time but who knows how a fanboy might react to this.

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Avatar: The Way Of Water (2022) – Aquatic Boogaloo

Released: 15th December
Seen: 16th December

In 2009, Avatar came out and was genuinely revolutionary. It caused a surge in sales of 3D TVs, becoming a benchmark for what 3D could look like and basically creating a brief 3D revival around the early 2010s, it was one of the most visually astounding films ever to be released and quickly became the highest-grossing film of all time, a title that it would hold up until 2019 when Endgame came out. Then it would take back that title with a re-release in 2021. Avatar absolutely dominates the discussion on the box office, proof that you don’t bet against James Cameron… and no one gives a single damn about the story of the film. 

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Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio (2022) – Absolutely Magical

Released: 9th December
Seen: 10th December

Guillermo Del Toro's Pinocchio

It would be fair to say that adaptations of Pinocchio haven’t exactly been spectacular lately. This year alone we had possibly one of the more disappointing entries in the history of Pinocchio adaptations when Disney decided to do another remake of one of their classics and one that had Pauly Shore playing the titular puppet (never reviewed it but it did get memed into oblivion). There was also the strange nightmare one that was released a few years ago that inexplicably was an Oscar contender. 

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Men (2022) – Uggh, Men

Released: 18th August
Seen: 20th November

There’s been a strange trend recently of people pretending that horror films have never been political before roughly 2016. It might seem harsh to say they’re pretending but the alternative is to assume they’re just incredibly media illiterate. Horror as a genre has been political since the start and horror in film is regularly political, even if it’s incredibly subtle about it. 

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Hocus Pocus 2 Promo Image

Hocus Pocus 2 (2022) – Wonderful Witchcraft

Released: 30th September
Seen: 30th September

In 1993 the film Hocus Pocus was released to an audience that really didn’t want anything to do with it. At the time it was critically thrashed and the box office wasn’t exactly glowing which is a little understandable when you consider it was released on the same day as the juggernaut that was Free Willy and not too long after Jurassic Park, so audiences were somewhat distracted. Of course, as time went on, thanks to regular screenings around Halloween and the home video market, Hocus Pocus eventually found its audience and became a massive cult hit and has been subsequently reevaluated by many as a pretty damn good family movie with more than enough charm to delight most audiences, along with possibly the best cover version of I Put A Spell On You to ever be recorded. 

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Three Thousand Years Of Longing (2022) – Longing For More

Released: 1st September
Seen: 4th September

George Miller is one of those directors who came on the scene with a film that changed cinema and has almost constantly delivered truly fascinating work. His film Mad Max is, without hyperbole, one of the most important features to come out during the Australian New Wave period that lasted from the start of the 70s to the end of the 80s. He has the distinction of being one of a handful of directors to handle every entry into a long-running franchise, and then we go outside that to see his work on such legendary films as Witches of Eastwick, Happy Feet and the absolutely perfect Babe 2: Pig In The City. He’s the kind of director who you can completely trust to give you a good time in the cinema… usually. With Three Thousand Years of Longing he delivered something else.

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Samaritan (2022) – Super-meh-ro

Released: 26th August
Seen: 28th August

For a while now we’ve been living in the era of the Superhero. From the moment that Iron Man built a mech suit in a cave with a box of scraps, one of the dominating elements of pop culture has been the superhero story. Everyone has had a go at trying to make their own version of it in order to ride the trend, some have tried to deconstruct it (like Netflix’s Project Power or the horror film Brightburn) but everyone has at least tried to have a go at the concept of a superhero saving the day. 

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