Onward (2020, dir. Dan Scanlon)

Mismatched teen brothers in a post-magic fantasy land embark on a quest to communicate with their long-dead father. Straightforward relationship comedy/road movie with plenty of fun detail and some great animation, even if there aren’t any real surprises along the way.

Here’s the trailer.

Cars (2006, dir. John Lasseter [and Joe Ranft])

An arrogant Nascar racer is stranded in a small town off Route 66 where he/it learns some life lessons. Conceptually-weird riff on Doc Hollywood (the vehicular universe makes little sense) though with some good gags, voice performances, and design elements. Two direct sequels followed.

Here’s the trailer.

A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon (2019, dir. Richard Phelan & Will Becher)

A stranded alien causes havoc at Mossy Bottom Farm. Aardman does ET, basically. And pretty well, too. This second Shaun movie is gorgeous-looking, as English as tuppence, has a high gag-to-minute ratio, and enough genre shout-outs to please the most demanding of SF faithful. The best flick of its type since, oh, Paddington 2.

The Secret Life of Pets 2 (2019, dir. Chris Renaud & Jonathan del Val)

Dog Max’s family gains a child; elsewhere, there’s a zoo tiger to rescue. Episodic and somewhat contrived sequel that delivers in some scenes, but which doesn’t hang together as a movie. Some sharper jokes this time out though, and both a lovely chase climax and a lesson learned for our protagonist.

The Secret Life of Pets (2016, dir. Chris Renaud & Yarrow Cheney)

A New Yorker’s pet dog has to cope with a new arrival, and then getting lost in the city. Okay animation that dispenses with its potentially-subversive title in the first few minutes for something more linear and straightforward. Bright, though, with some good gags. Fun while it’s on. A sequel soon followed.

Ralph Breaks The Internet (2018, dir. Rich Moore & Phil Johnston)

Ralph and Vanellope quest online to find a spare part for a games console. Overlong sequel that uses its premise to support an extended (though fun) riff on existing Disney properties. Some sly jokes get through, but this is a product placement-tastic, overstuffed continuation that exposes the limits of its setup and its nominal lead character.

Want another review of this movie? Here y’go.

Wreck-It Ralph (2012, dir. Rich Moore)

A videogame character abandons his console to prove that he has worth. Toy Story/Tron mashup that generally works despite the conceptual awkwardness of its conceit. Plenty of game in-jokes and references, some nice gags, lovely design elements, and a splendid villainous performance from Alan Tudyk, riffing on Ed Wynn. A sequel followed.

Batman: The Killing Joke (2016, dir. Sam Liu)

An origin story for The Joker, filtered through his attempts to show anyone can become like him if they have a single day traumatic enough. Okay expansion of the iconic Moore/Bolland graphic novel. Doesn’t add much except running time; for completists only, perhaps, though those unfamiliar with the book may appreciate it more.

Tron (1982, dir. Steven Lisberger)

A hacker is scanned into his former employer’s computer network; a parallel world awaits. Odd SF/fantasy mashing up evil tech corps and voguish videogames. Simplistic and weird, with some still-stunning design and a cool mix of early CG, traditional animation, and David Warner doing his best. A sequel followed in 2010.

Other views wanted? Here y’go.

Frozen II (2019, dir. Chris Buck & Jennifer Lee)

Elsa and Anna have to leave Arendelle to find out the secret of Elsa’s powers and their family history. Overly-complicated sequel with OK though derivative songs, and reliance on goodwill from Part I to see things through. Some good moments, but second time around, this is no classic.