A boy magician quests with a warrior to retrieve a magic ring and avenge his father’s murder. Family-oriented sword and sorcery on a budget: sets, footage, and music recycled from other Corman productions, plus half an eye on wider 80s fantasy tropes. Dayglo and unabashed, mind, so tolerable for the undemanding. A sequel followed in 1989.
A socially-awkward boy gets a robot companion, except it’s malfunctioning. Generally straightforward (there’s some interesting darker edges and jokes) CG animation E.T. variant, that’s well-made if not really distinctive enough to set it apart from the likes of Big Hero 6 or The Mitchells Vs The Machines.
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.
A woodcutter’s son journeys to find hope to save his father and his kingdom. Very straightforward festive origin fantasy shamelessly lifted structure-wise from The Princess Bride. A decent cast helps no end: the flick relies on professional support for its scant charm.
Larry and friends fight a reanimated pharaoh intent on conquering the world. Second and best of the family adventure flicks, not being saddled with set-up, and having confidence to play with its premise in fun and inventive ways. Highlights include Amy Adams and Hank Azaria, both revelling in their roles.
Larry, his son, and their museum friends go to London to return a magical talisman. Third time out and there are signs of franchise fatigue setting in: the new additions work best (Dan Stevens and a cameoing Hugh Jackman). Series fans won’t be disappointed, though it’s the same film as twice before in essence.
A Christmas-hating misanthrope decides to steal the holiday from the nearby town of Whoville. While the Dr Seuss story stretches too thin to really make a movie, this is nevertheless a fun, clever attempt with great animation and fine voice work from lead Cumberbatch.
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.
A reclusive naturalist and doctor voyages to find a fabled fruit so he can save the life of the young Queen Victoria. Genuinely terrible revisioning of the Hugh Lofting talks-to-animals character: a movie assembled from multiple reshoots and dubbing sessions. Michael Sheen is fun as the villain, but that’s about it.
The wastrel son of a postmaster is given a challenging remote office to run as a final opportunity. Oddball but charming Santa Claus origin variant story, with some fine gags and great animation and design throughout. A welcome spin on the lets-save-Christmas storyline.