Spirited Away (2001)

Spirited Away is not my favourite of Hayao Miyazaki’s films – that title goes to My Neighbour Totoro, now and forever – but it is perhaps his best. The story told here is deeply steeped in Japanese mythology yet imbued with resonant universality. As a child, who hasn’t fretted at being abandoned by their parents,…

Luke Evans in Dracula Untold

Dracula Untold (2014)

Where have all the superhero origin stories gone? Turns out they’ve transformed – in this case into a cloud of bats titled Dracula Untold. Like Noah, Maleficent and Hercules before him, Count Dracula gets the origin story treatment, hewing closer than ever to the ever-popular superhero genre. The armour worn by Vlad (Luke Evans) –…

Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt in Edge of Tomorrow

Edge of Tomorrow (2014)

The notion of films adopting a “videogame aesthetic” is – or was – a common critical observation, wielded as pejorative or praise depending, seemingly, on the critic’s personal opinion of videogames. Since at least The Matrix – a film visually and conceptually indebted to contemporary videogames while inspiring the design of games to come – and even Tron before…

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…