“On The Road Of Life, There Are Old Friends, New Friends, And Stories That Change You.”
Directed by Josh Cooley Starring Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Annie Potts, Tony Hale, Keegan-Michael Key, Jordan Peele, Madeleine McGraw, Christina Hendricks, Keanu Reeves, Ally Maki, Jay Hernandez, Lori Alan and Joan Cusack
1995’s Toy Story was a game changer, the first fully CG animated feature and the film that put Pixar on the map. It told the story of Woody (Hanks), a cowboy doll and the leader of a playroom full of animate toys belonging to a boy named Andy, whose position as ‘favourite toy’ was challenged by a newcomer, astronaut toy Buzz Lightyear (Allen). Through a series of adventures after being lost, Woody and Buzz bonded, and across two sequels and a series of trips outside the playroom their friendship grew, until at last they were passed on by the now-teenaged Andy to a young girl called Bonnie (McGraw). Toy Story 3 brought the story to a fairly natural close, so the creation of a fourth movie became a bit of a running joke in the industry, even making it into the opening number of The Muppets Most Wanted.
And then they made it.
The Late Sequel
After a brief flashback to the departure of his former love interest, Bo (Potts), Woody is in a slightly uncomfortable situation, no longer favourite toy, with his Sheriff’s badge often given to his line-mate Jessie (Cusack) and control of the playroom in the hands of Bonnie’s long-time ‘head toy’ Dolly (Bonny Hunt). When he goes against protocol to accompany Bonnie to her first day at kindergarten, he ends up escorting a new toy home: Forky (Hale), a craft project made from a spork, who feels a natural impulse to become trash.
“In a place we hold dear, where wonder once lived… but soon from above, a new story begins.”
Directed by Rob Marshall
Starring Emily Blunt, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Ben Whishaw, Emily Mortimer, Julie Walters, Dick Van Dyke, Angela Lansbury, Colin Firth and Meryl Streep
Faced with rebellious children and a wife more focused on the struggle for votes than on domestic life – and yet, who is not, as I recall, in any way pilloried for her choices, despite the film being made in 1964 – aptly-named banker George Banks struggles to find a nanny to take some of the pressure off a household supported by only two servants. Mary Poppins (Julie Andrews), ‘practically perfect in every way,’ comes out of the sky after all of the other candidates are blown away, and she and jack-of-all-trades Bert (Dick Van Dyke) take the children on adventures while gently nudging events to disrupt Mr Banks’ life and so make him recognise the things that really matter.
The Late Sequel
Twenty years after Mary Poppins first visited the Banks family, Michael (Whishaw) and Jane (Mortimer) are in trouble. He is a widowed artist and she an unmarried labour organiser, leaving them short of money and in danger of losing the family house. Fortunately, Mary Poppins (Blunt) arrives to care for Michael’s children – prematurely grown-up twins John (Nathanael Saleh) and Annabel (Pixie Davies), and their younger brother Georgie (Joel Dawson) – while Michael and Jane search for their father’s share certificate, which could cover the cost of the loan.
Directed by Rich Moore and Phil Johnston Starring John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman, Gal Gadot, Taraji P. Henson, Jack McBrayer, Jane Lynch, Alan Tudyk, Alfred Molina and Ed O’Neill
Six years after the events of the first movie, Ralph (Reilly) is stuck in a cosy little rut with his best bud Vanellope (Silverman). She, however, craves something new. Ralph’s attempt to help ends up wrecking the Sugar Rush machine, and the two set off into the uncharted wilds of the internet in search of a discontinued part, leaving Felix (McBrayer) and Calhoun (Lynch) looking after the bratty, and now homeless, racers.
Directed by Spike Lee Starring John David Washington, Adam Driver, Laura Harrier and Topher Grace
In 1979, the Colorado Springs Police Department recruits its first black police officer, Ron Stallworth (Washington). After a rough start, Stallworth is recruited to work with the undercover narcotics team to infiltrate a rally by former Black Panthers spokesman Kwame Ture (Corey Hawkins), where he meets student activist Patrice Dumas (Harrier). This assignment nets him a permanent move to undercover work, which is where he stumbles on a newspaper ad and makes contact with the local chapter of the KKK.
Directed by Guillermo Del Toro Starring Sally Hawkins, Michael Shannon, Richard Jenkins, Doug Jones, Michael Stuhlbarg and Octavia Spencer
Elisa Esposito (Hawkins) is a mute who works as a cleaner at a government lab in Baltimore. She has little human contact, essentially her only friends being Giles (Jenkins), the closeted gay who lives next door, and fellow cleaner Zelda (Spencer). Her life is turned upside down when military hardman Strickland (Shannon) arrives with his new ‘asset’, an amphibian humanoid (Jones) whose respiratory system may hold the secret to space race victory. Isolated from other humans, Elisa is able to grow close to the asset.
Directed by Ryan Coogler Starring Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, Martin Freeman, Daniel Kaluuya, Letitia Wright, Winston Duke, Angela Bassett, Forest Whitaker, Andy Serkis
The African nation Wakanda is a super-advanced, technological power which masquerades as a Third World nation to avoid international attention, while imbedding spies in other countries. Some establishing scenes explain that four tribes founded the nation, while a fifth – the Jabari – opted out of the rule of the Black Panther, a warrior empowered by a ‘heart-shaped herb’ which, like much in Wakanda, was itself transformed by the arrival on Earth of a meteorite of the alien metal vibranium. We also see the former king, T’Chaka (Atandwa Kani, whose father John Kani plays the older T’Chaka in Captain America: Civil War) coming to America to retrieve his brother N’Jobu, who sold out the country’s secrets to fund some nebulous criminal activity.
Directed by Paul King Starring Hugh Bonneville, Sally Hawkins, Brendan Gleeson, Julie Walters, Jim Broadbent, Peter Capaldi, Hugh Grant and Ben Whishaw (voice)
Paddington (Whishaw), whom I should probably point out is a bear, has settled into life in London with the Brown family (Bonneville, Hawkins, Madelaine Harris and Samuel Joslin) and their elderly relative, Mrs Bird (Walters). Missing his Aunt Lucy (Imelda Staunton, voice), he wants to send her a pop-up book of London he finds in the antiques shop owned by Mr Gruber (Broadbent). Paddington sets out to earn enough money to buy the rare volume, but unwittingly sets caddish actor Phoenix Buchanan (Grant) onto the trail of the book.
As ever on the site, this review contains hella spoilers.
This Star Wars movie has no tagline, apparently. What is the world coming to.
Directed by Rian Johnson Starring Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Andy Serkis, Lupita Nyong’o, Domhnall Gleeson, Anthony Daniels, Gwendoline Christie, Kelly Marie Tran, Laura Dern, Benicio del Toro
Following more or less directly from The Force Awakens, we begin with the Resistance fleeing from the First Order fleet, whose motto is clearly ‘more shooty, bigger shooty’. Hot-shot pilot Poe Dameron (Isaac) sasses pompous First Order not-quite-head honcho General Hux (Gleeson) then blows up a dreadnought ‘fleet killer’ (Star Destroyers are now largely for support, it seems,) but at the cost of many pilots and the Resistance’s entire bombing fleet.
The first thing that this film makes clear about the Resistance that was less apparent in the previous instalment: It’s really small. Like, there are probably fewer ships and personnel than there were on Hoth.
Directed by Denis Villeneuve Starring Ryan Gosling, Harrison Ford, Ana de Armas, Sylvia Hoeks, Robin Wright, Mackenzie Davis, Carla Juri, Lennie James, Dave Bautista, Jared Leto
1984’s Blade Runner was and is one of the seminal works of cinematic science fiction. It secured the place of Ridley Scott in the roster of great directors, whatever missteps he might take in the future, and alongside fellow class of 84 alumnus Neuromancer it shaped the genre that became known as cyberpunk.
The Late Sequel
In 2049, Replicants are made by a new company in an even larger and more opulent pyramidal HQ than that of the Tyrell Corporation. Under the guidance of Niander Wallace (Leto), a new line of obedient Replicants has been produced, including K (Gosling), who works under LAPD Lieutenant Joshi (Wright) as a Blade Runner, retiring the remaining Nexus 8 Replicants who survived an unsuccessful rebellion in 2020.
Directed by Ridley Scott Starring Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer, Sean Young, Edward James Olmos, Daryl Hannah and William Sanderson
In 2019 the world is largely abandoned, an industrial slum inhabited primarily by those who for reasons of genetic health can not emigrate to the offworld colonies, where humans live at ease while their needs are met by sophisticated androids known as ‘Replicants.’ Stronger, faster and tougher than humans, Replicants are banned on Earth, and those seeking to return are hunted down by specialist police officers, Blade Runners, who use an emotional response test called Voight-Kampf to identify Replicants, and then ‘retire’ them.