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.

Pinocchio (1940, dir. Ben Sharpsteen, Hamilton Luske, and others)

A marionette is given the chance to become a real boy. Still-dazzling Carlo Collodi adaptation (only the Monstro sequence doesn’t quite work), with impressive visuals, some great songs used deftly, and more than a few adult gags sneaked in. A pop culture touchstone for good reason. Remade by Disney in 2022.

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.

Jungle Cruise (2021, dir. Jaume Collet-Serra)

A scientist-adventurer and an irascible tugboat captain journey up the Amazon in search of a fabled tree. Labourious action-fantasy cribbing from allsorts: The African Queen, Aguirre: Wrath of God, various Pirates of the Caribbean flicks, the Brendan Fraser iteration of The Mummy. Not great, and a disappointment from the usually sure Collet-Serra.

Here’s the trailer.

Raya and the Last Dragon (2021, dir. Don Hall & Carlos López Estrada, with Paul Briggs and John Ripa)

A warrior princess embarks on a quest to unite five fractured kingdoms and repel their collective threat. A very straightforward fantasy drawing on South East Asian design and story influences. Some pleasures in the incidentals, but this is secondhand tick-box monomyth stuff throughout.

Here’s the trailer.

Maleficent: Mistress of Evil (2019, dir. Joachim Ronning)

Aurora and Phillip are to be wed; but war between humans and fairy folk is threatened. Plodding sequel that substitutes mythos expansion for story. The chief fresh inspiration plundered here is Avatar, of all things. A decent cast does what it can with the material provided, but this is a franchise-killer.

Maleficent (2014, dir. Robert Stromberg)

A loose retelling of Sleeping Beauty, from the perspective of its antagonist. A brisk dark-ish fantasy that at least tries something a little different from the usual Disney liveactionifications of its animated properties. Hyperreal and CGtastic, though at least it’s pacy, and Jolie seems to be having fun. A sequel followed.

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.

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.

Aladdin (2019, dir. Guy Ritchie)

A street thief falls for a princess; a magic lamp offers the opportunity to win her hand. Okay-as-far-as-it-goes live-action/CG remake of the 1992 Disney animation. A couple of new songs, Will Smith brings some pizazz as the genie, and a nice magic carpet gag; otherwise this is a product rather than a movie, and feels it at times too.