Spark

A royal monkey prince saves the world from a Gaddafi style dictatorship; yes this is apparently the world we now live in.

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After years of believing he’s an orphan, Spark discovers a secret like no other as he sets off on a mission to save his planet from it’s currently fascist reign.

Though not distributed by a particularly well-known film studio, this animated adventure showcases brilliance on a seemingly low budget. From the animation itself, to the character compositions, the film surprises with its originality and plot commitment.

Whilst the film only has the voice-acting name of Jessica Biel to slap on its promotional posters, the lack of critically acclaimed actors and production team adds to it’s surprisingly successful execution.

The film is not in anyway perfect, but it does provide a stable footing on which to sell itself to audiences young and old, even if it doesn’t have the financial backing needed to make it into the box office charts.

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Ballerina

The likelihood of your childhood dream turning into a reality is a very slim possibility for most, but not for Felicie; a little girl with a very determined goal.

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As an orphan, you could say that Felicie didn’t have the best of starts in life. But despite her seemingly unfortunate beginning, she has an unforgiving talent for determination, which often tends to get her in trouble; a simple fact that she has come to accept and relish.  But even with a full tank of determination and enough tenacity to fuel a small army, Felicie must, herself, admit that her ultimate goal of becoming a ballerina for the Royal Opera House in Paris is quite a far-fetched one.

Failure, however, is not a word in Felicie’s vocabulary. With this relentless optimism in mind, Felicie and her best-friend Victor make the executive decision to escape the orphanage and travel across the country to Paris where they hope their dreams will become a reality.

Though this film may not have had the backing of a big animation studio, or had any a-rated actors on the casting list, the overall finished production is surprisingly well-polished. Admittedly, as 3D animations go, it is not in the same league as Pixar, but it is, given the circumstances, nothing short of a miracle that flows with eerie seamlessness.

With this being the first international directorial pursuit for Directors, Erin Warin and Eric Summer, it only goes without saying that we can expect to see nothing but greatness from this directorial duo in the future.

Moana

Moana; a nautical journey that hits every musical bone in the body. 

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Young Moana has only one job; find Maui, the demigod responsible for her islands demise,  and make him restore it to its prime. 

Almost predictively, as is the case with most Disney productions, this quest soon turns out to be a lot harder than first imagined. 

Though this is a film of gargantuan adventure, it is still rammed full of shameless comedic scenes throughout, mainly starring debatably the best character, hei hei the rooster, who, through no fault of his own, is probably the dumbest chicken you ever shall set your eyes upon. 

With this being a musically orientated animation, you were probably quite rightly concerned that you would be subject to Dwayne ‘the rock’ Johnson’s singing voice, but worry not; a lot like the removal of a plaster, it is quick and painless.

The same, however, cannot be said for the inappropriately sized diva crab who, despite being given a relatively small part within the film, is awarded a two minute solo that must be endured in its entirety.

From a crazy coconut army to tattoos that come to life, the creators truly have ensured that their audience remains captivated throughout this feature. And once again, Disney have absolutely nailed the animation aspect film-making, and created a production finish that any professional animator would be proud to call their own; which they have, hence the Disney stamp of approval.

Trolls

Those little tyrants with wacky hair have made a comeback and branched out onto the big screen to fuel a clumsily colourful adventure. 

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Trolls, as you can imagine, is a sickeningly happy film, jam packed full of singing and dancing, a feature that is not even compromised in the face of death. 

Luckily though Justin Timberlake’s character, Branch, is there to inject a much needed dose of scepticism and doom.

Despite the films overall rainbows and unicorns vibe, the film isn’t overly unbearable in its conception. Mainly due to the fact that the undertones of sarcasm and non-stop use of inappropriate puns is enough to diffuse any possibility of seriousness. This of course only adds to the films endearing quality, which I’m sure was the intention of Director, Garth Jennings, who wanted to appeal not only to a younger audience, but their parents as well.

With the witty writing of the script, the lovable warmth of the characters and the instantly catchy soundtrack it would be an insult not to mention the quality of the animation itself, which by the way is phenomenal. 

Aside from the impressive array of colours used throughout the film, it is the textures used to create the animation that truly impresses. The very fact that I, as an audience, am able to ascertain that an animated character is wearing clothes made from a felt-like material is beyond satisfying, because such a level of detail is hard pressed to find even among the most successful of animation studios. 

Kubo and the Two Strings

It’s not exactly the most conventional of family animations, but at least it wins on originality. 

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Dreamworks have always been lagging behind in the animation game, not that you can blame them with rivals as big as Disney. But recently they’ve really upped their game with features such as The Secret Life of Pets. And this film is no exception. 

Though the film itself gives the impression of static animation, the script that forms this epic story is undeniably unique; taking a culture often left to its own and turning it into a wild and emotional story is not only genius but unprecedented in current cinema culture.

Kubo is a young Japanese boy who apart from having one less eye than his peers, has an incredible talent for telling the most engrossing stories, a trait that is hereditary in his family. 

Though young Kubo soon finds out, to his dismay, that what he believed were stories from his over-zealous imagination are actually real life tales, that are endangering both himself and his family. So what better way to fight these unrelenting stories than to team up with a talking monkey and a beetle-human and battle them.

The story of Kubo and the Two Strings is based upon Japanese folklore, and is a true picture of the stories that have been passed down through Japanese families for generations.

Whilst this film can be praised for its originality, its ability to capture a young audience is debatable in parts because its adult tones that probably scare rather than engross most children due to the dark atmospheric basis it is formed from; which to be fair is probably the intention that was derived from the folklore.

Finding Dory

There’s never been a more endearing Disney character then this little blue fish; she’s voiced by Ellen DeGeneres and ready to take on the Ocean.

Now that Nemo is safely back home and reunited with his father, it’s time to begin the next quest; finding Dory’s parents.

But there’s only one problem – she has short term memory lost; not the best ailment to incur when trying to find something.

Luckily for her, Nemo and Marlin are willing to come along to provide much needed moral support.

However, unfortunately for her, it isn’t long until she misplaces them as well.So, just to recap, not only has she lost her parents, but now she’s lost her only friends too. 

But being the lovable fish she is, it’s doesn’t take long until she befriends a somewhat sinister accomplish in the form of a seven tentacled octopus. And so the quest continues.

As always, the cinematography in this film is at its usual outstanding quality, but I would expect nothing less from a Disney Pixar collab.

Finding Dory, did, at first glance, seem like just another excuse for Disney to generate some extra revenue from a preexisting franchise, but it’s heartwarming story and phenomenal animation proved this expectation to be nothing more than a ridiculous rumour.

The Angry Birds Movie

As the title suggests, this is a film about birds; angry birds.

So I’m sure you’re all familiar with the game, right? Good. Because the film is absolutely nothing like it.

The only familiarity is the characters. And obviously the whole birds vs. pig thing they have going on.

The story itself takes a while before you can truly invest in it. But the characters are enough to carry it for the first half of the abysmal storyline. Mainly because the casting of the main character Red (named ‘Red’ because he is always super angry, and for the more obvious reason being that he is actually red) is so exceptional that it the actual storyline itself could never match it anyway. So who did they get to voice this unforgiving angry bird? None other than Mr.Grumpy himself, Josh Gad. Yup, that’s right; the dude who voiced Olaf is now the angriest bird in all the land.

Now, I don’t want to put anyone off, but as aforementioned the film does take a while to take off before you feel fully engrossed. But to make the wait a little more manageable, the writers have also crammed the script full of unapologetic jokes, some of which are of a surprisingly adult nature; so don’t say I didn’t warn you.