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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Toy Story 4 (2019) – Gave Me A Buzz

Released: 20th June
Seen: 20th June

The world of animation in 1995 was a very different place. Hand drawn animation ruled the land, the Disney Renaissance was in full swing and the only CGI you ever saw was used to enhance 2D work. This was mostly because CGI was still early in its development and no one really knew what to do with this toy. Sure there were little short films popping up, but no one really tried to make a feature-length film with this brand new tool until a little company called Pixar told the story of a pull-string cowboy who had to deal with an astronaut coming into his space and propelling him on an adventure. Toy Story set a standard that every CGI animated film would have to try to compete with for years to come, it became the highest grossing film of 95 and spawned two sequels. The second film would be the third highest grossing of 1999 and then in 2010 the third film would come out and be top of the box office. Every film in the franchise has received overwhelming critical acclaim, part three even taking home the Oscar for Best Animated Feature. Of every franchise that Pixar has done, this is the one they’ve gotten right every time and the ending of part three felt like a nice end to the series. The toys were given to a girl named Bonnie in a sequence that was designed to make everyone watching cry like a baby and we were sure that we’d only see Woody and Buzz in the occasional cameo or TV special… and then the company realised that they really liked money so they went and made the fourth film because they wanted to make more money. Luckily, they actually put in the hard work to make sure that they would actually deserve the money they were going to be earning.

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The Secret Life Of Pets 2 (2019) – Woof

Released: 20th June (Advance Screening)
Seen: 8th June

The animation company Illumination has something of an interesting reputation when it comes to critical acclaim. Their Despicable Me series, for example, was a breath of fresh air that everyone seemed to love… until they unleashed Minions on the world and people began contemplating an open revolt against the company. Their film Sing also scored a lot of praise, but then they would unleash a couple of Dr Seuss adaptations that were pretty abysmal (one of them so bad that it made me go through a period of uncontrollable rhyming). They’re very hit and miss so going into The Secret Life of Pets 2, I had some trepidation While I hadn’t seen the original I have heard enough about it to know that it was a hit and if we follow Illuminations pattern, this one had a good chance of being a miss… but turns out, it was closer to a light tap of the bat. Still technically a hit, but nothing to write home about.

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

Released: 9th May
Seen: 9th May

Detective Pikachu Info.png

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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