Pinocchio (2022, dir. Robert Zemeckis)

A marionette boy, if worthy, can become human. Another of Zemeckis’s CG/mocap/animation hi-tech but low-soul classic adaptations, this time a remake of the 1940 Disney classic. A few wrinkles, characters, and new songs are added, but no improvements, with some aspects toned down.

Here’s the trailer.

Sing 2 (2021, dir. Garth Jennings)

Buster Moon talks himself into trouble mounting a show in a Las Vegas-style resort. Dayglo jukebox animation sequel that doesn’t have the focus of the first flick, but nevertheless delivers jokes, visuals, and a musical palette from Mercury Rev to System of a Down via Prince, Billie Eilish, and The King and I. Something for everyone, pretty much.

Here’s the trailer.

Encanto (2021, dir. Jared Bush & Byron Howard, with Charise Castro Smith)

A Columbian family fractures when their magical powers weaken. Great-looking but derivative animation with too much tickbox Disney stuff, saddled with dull songs. Moments amuse, and the small scale gives focus, but there’s nothing here that Moana or Coco didn’t do ten times better.

Here’s the trailer.

Vivo (2021, dir. Kirk DiMicco with Brandon Jeffords)

A kinkajou quests from Cuba to Miami with a statement of long-held love. Bland animated musical comedy adventure. The songs are the movie’s weakest point: the movie looks great (Roger Deakins is listed as a consultant) and there’s some OK comic moments, but this is forgettable underwritten stuff.

Here’s the trailer.

Rocketman (2019, dir. Dexter Fletcher)

Biopic of Elton John, charting his rise to fame and his struggles with success, leading to addiction and recovery. And a chirpy fantasia it is too, daft and jolly and waspish and excessive enough to hint at the real Reg/Elton, while its involved producer/subject settles some scores along the way.

Here’s the trailer.

The Christmas Chronicles, Part 2 [AKA The Christmas Chronicles 2] (2020, dir. Chris Columbus)

Two years on, and an unhappy Kate Pierce is kidnapped by a cast-out elf aiming to get revenge on Santa. Sprawling grab-bag sequel, mashing up Milton, Gremlins and a hundred other properties. Messy and uncoordinated, though Kurt Russell is having fun, plus he gets another Blues Brothers-ish singalong set piece.

Here’s the trailer.

Slumber Party Massacre II (1987, dir. Deborah Brock)

A survivor of a mass murder hallucinates during a break with bandmate friends. Shifting from the slasher template to ape now-voguish Elm St-derived dream logic (and Trick or Treat‘s rock focus), this semi-spoof sequel takes forever to get going, and isn’t good when it does, one great stunt aside. The fourth-wall-breaking villain gets a song, though.

Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga (2020, dir. David Dobkin)

No-hoper Icelandic childhood best friends dream of winning Eurovision. Ferrell adapts his sports comedy template to fit, with generally appealing results. While it’s overlong and needs more jokes, everyone’s having fun, the musical parodies are good, and there are plenty of in-jokes and guest appearances for the faithful.

Blue Story (2019, dir. Rapman)

London teens become inexorably drawn into turf warfare, and the violence that comes with it. Straightforward though vivid and confident debut, keenly balancing school and street, the ordinary world and the futility of revenge. Lots to admire, not least the use of music and fourth wall breaking throughout; writer-director Rapman is one to watch. Recommended.

Dreamgirls (2006, dir. Bill Condon)

An unscrupulous manager manipulates the careers of multiple music performers throughout the 60s and 70s. Awkward facsimile of the musical biopic subgenre adapted from a stage show. Some of it works (Eddie Murphy is great as a James Brown-ish blowhard) but too much is sketchy by-the-numbers genre pastiche material that doesn’t even have the benefit of actual period songs.