Moana (2016)

Moana wraps a Polynesian folk tale around a charming children’s film, populated with animal sidekicks and musical numbers. When these two threads are woven together well, the film sings like Disney’s best.

The Huntsman: Winter’s War (2016)

The Huntsman: Winter’s War traffics pretty well exclusively in clichés. Oh, you can point to Frozen – Emily Blunt’s ice queen, the ‘power of love’ – or Lord of the Rings – there’s a golden circle emblazoned with Elvish runes that drives people to murder and dwarven comic relief (Nick Frost, Sheridan Smith, Rob Brydon)…

Charlie Brown & Snoopy: The Peanuts Movie (2015)

I suppose Peanuts, the comic strip, has dimmed in the public consciousness since Schulz’s death in 2000. As a kid’s IP, the ageing Peanuts brand has a lot to do in a world with Minions and Frozen. I left the theatre mostly satisfied; this is the Peanuts you remember – sweet, nostalgic and populated by…

Chris Pine in Into the Woods (2014)

Into the Woods (2014)

Musicals and I have never really been on the same wavelength. As a child I can vividly recall watching Disney classics like Sleeping Beauty or Snow White and the Seven Dwarves and sinking in my seat when the inevitable musical numbers began. That antipathy remains, decades later. The first film I was assigned to review…

Angelina Jolie and Elle Fanning in Maleficent (2014)

Maleficent (2014)

Maleficent is studio-mandated fan fiction, a Sleeping Beauty remix with sumptuous visuals that never really provides a good reason for existing. I’ll grant that it’s the first competent execution of the post-300 “artificial live-action” aesthetic, but the narrative adjustments to the classic tale – a sympathetic villain, an excoriation of dictatorial hierarchies and a hefty…