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.

Mary Poppins (1964, dir. Robert Stevenson)

In Edwardian London, a magical nanny aids a family in need. Solid musical comedy with then state-of-the-art animation/live-action hybrid sequences and practical effects. Some great songs, a sense of playfulness, and an iconic central performance. A sequel was made in 2018.

Enchanted (2007, dir. Kevin Lima)

A fairytale princess is magically transported to present-day New York. Excellent musical rom-com which satirises and celebrates Disney animated fairy stories at the same time. Lots to enjoy: great songs, fine performances, a keen sense of self-awareness, and no little affection for its subjects.

Dumbo (2019, dir. Tim Burton)

A failing circus buys a pregnant elephant; her baby has huge ears, allowing it to fly. Ambitious but mostly soulless attempt to make a non-musical live-action/CG remake of the 1941 original. Some heart, but this is mostly anodyne and clean, lacking the dark inventive touch of early Burton.