Animal Crackers Header Image

Animal Crackers (2020) – Moderately Adequate

Released: 24th July
Seen: 29th July

Animal Crackers Info

In 1930 the Marx Brothers released Animal Crackers, probably one of their best films. It contains several of Groucho’s best lines, the song Hooray for Captain Spaulding is one of the classics from the group and it was based on one of their highly popular stage plays. I bring this up because I was genuinely stunned, one might even say I was perplexed when I saw that there was going to be an animated film based on the Animal Crackers property… and then I watched it, realised that it had nothing whatsoever to do with the Marx Brothers and then wrote this paragraph because the movie doesn’t exactly give me a lot to work with for a good opening.

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Red Shoes and the Seven Dwarfs (2020) – Fairy Fail

Released: 2nd July
Seen: 8th July

In 1937, Disney released what many regard as the definitive version of the German fairy tale Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs. It’s certainly the version that most of us think of when we talk about that legendary fable, to the point where the question “What are the names of the seven dwarfs” is answered with “Doc, Grumpy, Sleepy, Happy, Sneezy, Dopey and Bashful” instead of the names used in the original Grimm’s fairy tale. Do you even know what the dwarfs were named in the original Grimm’s fairy tale? Trick question, they didn’t have names and were referred to either as a collective or by “The first one, the second one, etc”. With Disney’s version looming large over the history of the story, every version since then has had to try and do something to make it stand apart from the most well-known iteration of this story. Red Shoes and the Seven Dwarfs decided to be confusingly boring, which is fun.

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Da 5 Bloods (2020) – Bloody Good

Released: 12th June
Seen: 27th June

Da 5 Bloods Info

Throughout the year, I keep a document listing every film I see. I do this mostly as a refresher for when I make my end of year lists and the Oscar predictions, since some films may have been amazing but because my memory is so iffy sometimes I may not think about it right off the bat. I also keep a second list, a ‘potential best and worst’ list so if something stands out as particularly good or particularly bad then I won’t forget it when the time comes to make those lists. By June of last year, I had a top 10 best list I could’ve posted and still had to make some really painful cuts. This year? I barely have a top 5 I feel that confident about, that’s how empty this year has felt. You can undoubtedly blame most of this on the current plague we’re experiencing that has pushed so many films back over a year and only left us with streaming films. Add to that the general rule that the prestige films tend to wait until around the time the Oscar nominations are being sorted out and it’s been a slow year and someone needed to throw something out to fill the void… enter Spike Lee.

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Artemis Fowl (2020) – Artless and Foul

Released: 12th June
Seen: 16th June

In 2001, Eoin Colfer released Artemis Fowl which was the first in a series of eight novels surrounding the adventures of the titular Artemis as he fights fairies, tries to save his father and… uh… do his taxes? I’ll be honest, I never read the Artemis Fowl book series as around that time I was just getting into the Harry Potter series (Yes, I’m aware that I bet on the wrong horse there. Sure Harry Potter had a good run of movies but… well, now I have to deal with liking the work of a transphobe so the Artemis Fowl fans won this in the long run) and didn’t have time for another book series about a 12-year-old in a battle with fantastical creatures stories, When I heard there was going to be a film of Artemis Fowl released this year I was mostly just happy to see Disney making a film that wasn’t just a remake of their earlier work. Then the apocalypse happened and Disney seemed almost eager to move this film to their streaming service… and having seen it, I can see why because oh god this one isn’t good.

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The Willoughbys (2020) – Home Alone: Extreme Edition


Released: 
22nd April
Seen: 24th April

So, I know right now we’re all a little frazzled thanks to the mild apocalypse we’ve got going on. The people who are probably most in need of a respite from the insanity are the parents of young kids who are just running about without anything to watch since they’ve probably sat through Trolls: World Tour and Onward about 17 times each. Well, let me offer something that might delight them… and might make them work out ways to murder their parents, but they will be quiet for an hour and a half so you can decide if that trade-off is worthwhile.

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The Black Gate (2017) – It’s a very pretty gate

Released: 9th July 2019
Seen: 8th April

The Black Gate Info

I know that I’ve been a little harsh on some lower budget features and I swear it’s not intentional. Lower budget features and first-time films tend to come with some serious drawbacks in terms of just what is actually available for the filmmakers to use. Your first film isn’t going to be some grand epic where you have access to the world’s best lighting and sound equipment or an editing bay with high tech CGI to correct issues you didn’t spot on the day. Let’s be honest, your first film will probably be made with mates, shot on a weekend and edited using a pirated copy of Premiere that you’ve had since you downloaded CS2 back in the early 2000s. Sometimes your first film will not look that good and the sad truth is that it’s a little hard to look past sometimes. I promise you, my problems with these films are never about the things that can be explained away by budget because we’ve all been there. Any film student who had to put together a 5 minute short film on a budget of nothing knows how it feels to try and make that work, I’m judging these films based on things that are fixable at any budget level… which brings me to today’s offering, The Black Gate.

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Onward (2020) – Spellbinding

Released: 26th March
Seen: 21st March (Advance Screening Weekend)

Onward might go down as one of the unluckiest movies in recent Disney history since its release just happened to fall when the coronavirus pandemic basically shut down everything, including most theatres. Normally a Pixar film is basically guaranteed to make 100 million in the first week, get its budget covered in the second week and be on the way to one of the highest grossing films of the year. That’s now not happening, thanks to corona. If you want to be in genuine shock at just how suddenly this hit, go look at the box office of Onward. Onward is still technically the top grossing film in America and yet it’s barely cracking a thousand bucks a theatre. I bring this up because it explains why they made a pivot and released this one straight to VOD in the states and why it’ll be on Disney+ soon. So now the question becomes “Is this film worth a slightly higher than normal rental price to stream at home” and honestly? Yeah, because it’s a pretty great film.

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The Big Trip (2020) – Fall Over, Play Dead

Released: 5th March
Seen: 8th March

The Big Trip Info

So there seems to be this weird new trend going on at my local cinema and I don’t like it at all. For some reason over the last year, every few months an animated film is put on a big screen that clearly was meant to go direct to DVD. I’ve now seen so many awful animated films in a cinema that I thought I was numb to them. We’re not talking your generally bad animated films either, nothing that’s just bland or boring. No, we’re talking crap like Arctic Justice, Cats (not that one), Here Comes The Grump and Flying the Nest. Films that look like they were made in a month for the express purpose of being sold in bulk to video retailers to help them have filler on their shelves. These movies are not meant to turn up in actual cinemas, they’re not built to be presented there… but they keep on coming, and today we have the first animated abortion of 2020 and oh my god, I hope this is the worst one of this year because I can’t handle any more of this.

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Miss Fisher and the Crypt of Tears

Miss Fisher & the Crypt of Tears (2020) – Sadly Not Great

Released: 27th February
Seen: 3rd March

Miss Fisher & the Crypt of Tears Poster Info

Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries was an Australian drama series based on the novels by author Kerry Greenwood. It ran for 3 years, airing 32 episodes on the ABC and getting a spin-off, Ms. Fisher’s Modern Murder Mysteries, in 2019. The show itself was a decent hit by Australian standards and got average reviews throughout its run. The series fans did what a lot of fans do when a series they love ends, begged for them to go again one more time and thus we have been blessed with Miss Fisher & the Crypt of Tears, a film that knows it needs to be more impressive than the TV series was but somehow fails to find its footing.

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The Call Of The Wild Promo Image

The Call of the Wild (2020) – I Hear You Calling

Released: 20th February
Seen: 2nd March

The Call Of The Wild Info

When it comes to movies featuring animals, you could say that I haven’t exactly had the best luck. In fact you could say that any time I see a dog on the poster of a film I break out in a rash and start rocking in place because I’m fairly confident that whatever I’m about to see is going to either bore, infuriate or confuse me. There was the eternally hated A Dog’s Purpose, a film I will never stop complaining about because it’s bad and deserves nothing but ridicule, along with its sequel A Dog’s Journey. There was the spinoff to those two movies that was so boring that I can’t be bothered to type the title even though typing the title would take up less space than this comedic riff about how I won’t type the title, Show Dogs literally had a scene that resembled child grooming pulled out while it was in cinemas, Dolittle was a trash fire of epic proportions. The only film of the last few years that prominently featured a member of the canine family that didn’t want to make me start setting fires was Pick of the Litter, that adorable documentary about how they train guide dogs. It’s now become a rule around here, if a film is fictional and heavily features a CGI dog then it’s going to be awful… and just as soon as I make that rule, something comes along to prove it wrong because that’s how my life works.

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