Directed by Jon Favreau Starring Donald Glover, Seth Rogen, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Alfre Woodard, Billy Eichner, John Kani, John Oliver, Beyoncé Knowles-Carter and James Earl Jones
Touted at the time as Disney’s first original feature film, The Lion King was the fifth film in the Disney Renaissance, and the most successful offering of that period by a substantial margin, as well as playing a substantial role in the spread of major animation studios such as Dreamworks Animation. The film is a coming of age adventure, folowing young lion Simba (Matthew Broderick) as he grows up in exile and returns to face his wicked uncle Scar (Jeremy Irons) and avenge the murder of his father, Mufasa (James Earl Jones). It caught a storm of controversy over similarities to Kimba the White Lion, the English language dub of a Japanese anime film called Jungle Emperor Leo, but remains one of the iconic products of the House of Mouse.
In 2019, The Lion King became the latest movie from the Disney back-catalogue to receive a ‘live-action’ remake, directed by the man who did the same to The Jungle Book. I use sarcastic quotes because, unlike the 2016 The Jungle Book, there is no human presence, and in fact what we have is almost – or perhaps actually – entirely computer animation.
Simba (JD McCrary) is the son of Mufasa (Jones) and Sarabi (Woodard), the King of the Pridelands and the leader of the lionesses who hunt for and defend the pride. While Mufasa and his adviser the hornbill Zazu (Oliver) try to guide Simba towards a positive model of altruistic monarchy, his brooding uncle Scar (Ejiofor) plots to seize power.
Directed by Guy Ritchie Starring Mena Massoud, Will Smith, Naomi Scott, Marwan Kenzari, Navid Negahban, Nasim Pedrad and Billy Magnussen
Come on. Do you guys really need a synopsis of this plot? It’s Aladdin! Ignoring the fact that it’s one of the classics of the Disney Renaissance (now remade in live action as part of their current binge on their back catalogue) it’s also a staple of British pantomime since about…well…forever. You know the story.
“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 Lasse Hallström and Joe Johnston
Starring Keira Knightley, Mackenzie Foy, Jayden Fowora-Knight, Eugenio Derbez, Matthew Macfadyen, Richard E. Grant, Misty Copeland, Helen Mirren and Morgan Freeman
In Victorian London, the Stahlbaum family is struggling. Benjamin Stahlbaum (MacFadyen) is lost without his deceased wife, and trying to hold things together for his children Louise, Fritz and Clara (Foy). Clara was closest to her mother, and spurns her father’s attempts to move on as she seeks to understand her mother’s last gift, an egg-shaped box containing ‘all she will ever need,’ with the help of her godfather Drosselmeyer (Freeman). Also, it’s Christmas.
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 Brad Bird Starring Craig T. Nelson, Holly Hunter, Sarah Vowell, Huckleberry Milner, Samuel L. Jackson, Bob Odenkirk and Catherine Keener
Picking up directly from the end of The Incredibles, Mr Incredible (Nelson) and Elastigirl (Hunter) try to keep their children Violet (Vowell) and Dash (Milner) out of their battle with the Underminer (John Ratzenberger). As a result, the battle runs out of control, and the government scraps the Superhero Relocation Program. In the Parr family’s hour of need, entrepreneur Winston Deavor (Odenkirk) and his sister, creative genius Evelyn (Keener), offer a ray of hope.
Directed by Lee Unkrich Starring Anthony Gonzalez, Gael García Bernal, Benjamin Bratt, Alanna Ubach, Renée Victor, Ana Ofelia Murguía, and Edward James Olmos
Miguel (Gonzalez) is a young Mexican who longs to be a musician, but his family have been dead set against all music since the ancestral patriarch abandoned his wife Imelda (Ubach) and daughter Coco (Murguia) in search of fame. His adopted street dog Dante breaks the family ofrenda on the Day of the Dead, revealing a hidden, partial photo of his great grandfather which suggests that he was Ernesto de la Cruz (Bratt), favourite son of the village and greatest musician in Mexican history. Miguel ‘borrows’ de la Cruz’s guitar from his tomb to take part in a music competition, but becomes cursed for taking from the dead and trapped in the Land of the Dead.
Directed by Kevin Deters and Stevie Wermers Starring Josh Gad, Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel and Jonathan Groff
Olaf (Gad) is thrilled that Anna (Bell) and Elsa (Menzel) have planned a grand holiday surprise party for all of Arendelle (which, based on the information here that the great Jule Bell can be heard across the kingdom, is presumably about the same size as London’s properly Cockney East End, but significantly less densely populated,) only for the populace to leave before the announcement to commence their individual household traditions.
As before, a handsome prince is cursed for being a world-class jerk and transformed into a Beast (Stevens) until and unless he can find and share true love, while his staff are turned into furniture. The time frame is unspecific, but the curse also removes the castle and its inhabitants from the memory of the outside world, in particular of the little town that supports it, to which years later a girl named Belle (Watson) and her father Maurice (Kline) move after the loss of her mother.
Directed by Gary Trousdale and Kirk Wise Starring Paige O’Hara, Robby Benson, Richard White, Rex Everhart, Jesse Corti, Jerry Orbach, Jo Anne Worley, Bradley Michael Pierce, David Ogden Stiers, Angela Lansbury
A spoiled prince disrespects a beggar woman, who reveals herself as a beautiful enchantress pulling shenanigans and turns him into a Beast, so to remain unless he can find and share true love before his twenty-first year. Ten years later, in a nearby provincial town that is entirely ignorant of the existence of said prince, his family and his castle, we meet Belle (O’Hara), a high-minded, intellectual dreamer who isn’t like all the other girls. She is pursued by local bravo Gaston (White), but uninterested in a life in the village, remaining largely to protect her ageing and eccentric father, Maurice (Everhart).