Directed by Jayson Thiessen Starring Uzo Aduba, Ashleigh Ball, Emily Blunt, Kristin Chenoweth, Taye Diggs, Andrea Libman, Michael Peña, Zoe Saldana, Liev Schreiber, Sia, Tabitha St. Germain, Tara Strong, Cathy Weseluck
As Equestria prepares for its first Friendship Festival, under the guiding hoof of Princess Twilight Sparkle (Strong), all are united in Harmony; until the Fire Nation Storm King’s armada attacks unexpectedly, capturing the Princesses Celestia(Nicole Oliver), Luna (St. Germain) and Cadence (Britt McKillip). Twilight and her friends – Applejack and Rainbow Dash (Ball), Pinkie Pie and Fluttershy (Libman), Rarity (St Germain), and Spike the Dragon (Weseluck) – barely escape from Commander Tempest (Blunt), a unicorn with a broken horn, and her hapless goon Grubber (Pena), with only a partial instruction from Celestia to go south and seek the Queen of the Hippos.
Directed by Brian Fee Starring Owen Wilson, Cristela Alonzo, Chris Cooper, Armie Hammer, Larry the Cable Guy, Bonnie Hunt, Nathan Fillion, Lea DeLaria, Kerry Washington
Long-time Piston Cup champion Lightning McQueen (Wilson) is shocked out of his complacent rivalry with his contemporaries by the emergence of a ‘new breed of high-tech racer,’ spearheaded by the gifted, yet arrogant Jackson Storm (Hammer). Pushing his own performance past his limits, he has a serious accident and finds himself out of the rest of the season. Aiming for one last high season and backed by hubcap magnate Sterling (Fillion), he goes to work with hot shot trainer Cruz Ramirez (Alonzo) looking to exceed his previous limits.
Directed by Garth Jennings Starring Matthew McConaughey, Reese Witherspoon, Seth MacFarlane, Scarlett Johansson, John C. Reilly, Taron Egerton, Tori Kelly
Theatrical impresario Buster Moon (McConaughey) attempts to revitalise his failing theatre with a singing competition, accidentally offering a $100,000 prize. While Rosita (Witherspoon), Mike (MacFarlane), Ash (Johanssen), Meena (Kelly) and Johnny (Egerton) are all drawn to the competition for their own reasons, Buster’s best friend Eddie (Reilly) tries to persuade him that perhaps he needs to give up the theatre before it breaks him.
Directed by Chris McKay Starring Will Arnett, Zach Galifianakis, Michael Cera, Rosario Dawson, Ralph Fiennes
In crime-ridden Gotham City, the Joker (Galifianakis) launches a devastating attack in concert with a vast assortment of other villains, only to be soundly (and rhythmically) defeated by Batman (Arnett). When Batman declines to acknowledge his greatest foe (because he doesn’t do ‘ships,) however, Joker concocts a plan of breathtaking audacity to take his nemesis down a peg or two.
Directed by David Lowery Starring Bryce Dallas Howard, Oakes Fegley, Wes Bentley, Karl Urban, Oona Laurence, Robert Redford
Pete’s Dragon is the tale of a young boy and his friendship with a magical dragon named Elliot, whose ability to become invisible makes most people assume he’s imaginary. Pete and Elliot stumble into a quaint little town, where Pete is taken in by the lighthouse keeper and his daughter, while being pursued by the violent redneck family who in some means purchased him and wish to assert their ownership. Meanwhile, Dr Terminus is in town, a quack doctor looking to go ‘legit’ by selling remedies made from slicing up Elliot. At the end, Pete has a family, and so Elliot goes off to help the next child in need, as magical friends in disney movies of the era were wont to do.
Both the child slavery angle and the threatened violent dismemberment of a sentient being are, of course, discussed through the medium of jaunty, upbeat singing. It’s not terrifying like, say, Darby O’Gill and the Littel People is terrifying, but it is weirdly dark given the tone of the songs, or possibly vice versa. In particular the cheery tune of the number ‘We Got a Bill of Sale Right Here’, and the fact that no one seems to question the Gogans’ claim to ‘own’ Pete on any sort of legal grounds, worries me.
70s Disney; it’s its own brand of messed up.
In 1977 a car crash kills a couple and strands their young son, Pete, in the forest. Six years later, Pete (Fegley) is living in the care of a displaced dragon he has named Elliot. As a logging operation moves into his home, he is spotted by Natalie (Laurence), the daughter of the foreman, Jack (Bentley), and soon after found by Jack and his fiancee Grace (Howard), a forest ranger. He is eager to get back to Elliot, but his discovery has already led Jack’s brother Gavin (Urban) to find Elliot.
Directed by Eric Summer, Éric Warin Starring Elle Fanning, Dane DeHaan, Maddie Ziegler, Carly Rae Jepsen
The year is 1887 (or 1888; I’m working from how complete the Eiffel Tower is,) and plucky Bretton orphan Felicie (Fanning) dreams of being a dancer in the Parisian ballet. Running away from the orphanage in the company of fellow orphan, inventor and creepy nice guy Victor (DeHaan), she is promptly separated from her stalker, finds the opera and stumbles into a) helping the academy’s cleaner, Odette (Jepsen), and b) a place in the training class, the latter by stealing the identity of standard issue horrible rich brat Camille (Ziegler).
Directed by Byron Howard, Rich Moore and Jared Bush Starring Giniffer Goodwin, Jason Bateman, Idris Elba, J.K. Simmons, Jenny Slate and Shakira
Country rabbit Judy Hopps (Goodwin) dreams of becoming a cop in Zootropolis, the cosmopolitan capital of a world of anthropomorphic animals far removed from its primal roots. Montaging her way through the academy, she wrestles with the prejudice of her boss (Elba) and the machinations of vulpine hustler Nick Wilde (Bateman) before landing a career-making missing mammal case with the help of Dawn Bellweather (Slate), the put-upon assistant of blowhard Mayor Lionheart (Simmons).
Directed by Peter Sohn Starring Raymond Ochoa, Jack Bright, Sam Elliot, Frances McDormand and Jeffrey Wright
65 million years after a giant asteroid doesn’t hit the Earth, a family of apatosaurus headed by Ida (McDormand) and Henry (Wright) work a small family farmstead with Flintstones-style technology. Their smallest child is Arlo (Ochoa), a runt with out-sized feet, and Henry asks him to protect the grain silo from ‘critters’ to earn a sense of self-esteem. When he takes pity on the critter – a young caveboy (Bright) – Henry is killed in a flood when they pursue the boy.
Directed by Pete Docter Starring Amy Poehler, Phyllis Smith, Bill Hader, Lewis Smith, Mindy Kaling, Richard Kind, Kaitlyn Dias, Diane Lane and Kyle MacLachlan
11 year old Riley (Dias) is uprooted from her home in Minnesota when her Mum (Lane) and Dad (MacLachlan) move with her to San Francisco. The resulting turmoil is managed by Riley’s emotions, the five personifications – absurdly perky Joy (Poehler), neurotic Fear (Hader), splenetic Anger (Lewis Smith), discerning Disgust (Kaling) and morose Sadness (Phyllis Smith) – who live in her head and regulate her inner life.
Directed by Pierre Coffin and Kyle Balda Starring Pierre Coffin, Sandra Bullock and Jon Hamm
After a potted history of the evolution of the Minion species and the tribe’s service to history’s greatest monsters, from T. rex to Napoleon, the Minions find themselves at a loose end, living an idyllic but apathetic life in an icy cave. Only Kevin (Coffin, who voices all of the Minions), the ‘smart’ one, has the notion to seek a new ‘big boss’, taking Stuart, the artist, and Bob, the innocent, with him.