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Latest news and features from theguardian.com, the world's leading liberal voice

older | 1 | .... | 53 | 54 | (Page 55)

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    Blockbuster animation sequel easily knocks Transformers: The Last Knight off the top spot, earning the biggest opening for an animation since Minions

    With a sturdy debut of £11.15m, Despicable Me 3 had no problem knocking Transformers: The Last Knight off the top spot at the UK box office chart. It scored the third biggest opening of the year, behind Beauty and the Beast (£19.7m) and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 (£13.09m), and is the biggest animation debut of the year so far, ahead of Sing (£6.29m plus £4.2m in previews) and The Lego Batman Movie (£5.46m plus £2.45m in previews). It is also bigger than last year’s top animated openings for Finding Dory (£8.12m) and The Secret Life of Pets (£9.58m). The Jungle Book, which was significantly animated, began last year with £9.9m.

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    Sony’s Spider-Man: Homecoming battles blue skies in Britain, while Despicable Me 3 tumbles following hefty opening

    The narrative around Sony’s latest iteration of Spider-Man has very much been “third time lucky”, with critics acclaiming a creative breakthrough following an initial trio of films directed by Sam Raimi (starring Tobey Maguire) and a pair helmed by Marc Webb (with Andrew Garfield). Now, with Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige as producer and 21-year-old Tom Holland in the title role, Sony has finally got the formula right.

    Related: Forty films to kick off 2017 in UK cinemas

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    Well-intentioned and amiable, this latest instalment in Pixar’s animated auto series is the threequel no one was crying out for

    When Shrek the Third came out in 2007, many pundits commented on the strange phenomenon of cartoon characters who appeared to be going through the motions. That’s really what is going on here. Cars 3 is the threequel that no one was crying out for. It is well-intentioned and amiable, but basically running on empty. It seeks to replicate the rookie/mentor dynamic of the first film, only this time making Lightning McQueen (voiced by Owen Wilson) face up to his dawning oldster status. He is still racing, but losing his speed and losing his touch.

    Jackson Storm (Armie Hammer) is a smug newbie who is outpacing him on the track and patronising him off it; Lightning must submit to a new motivation regime run by Cruz Ramirez (Cristela Alonzo) and a new relationship and new possibilities emerge. “Tow” Mater (Larry the Cable Guy) naturally gets another walk-on, or drive-on. The weird thing is that in this identikit car universe, Lightning doesn’t look or sound older. Obviously he doesn’t get out of shape. Somehow, the film must square the circle of Lightning defiantly remaining a winner and yet gracefully ceding the field to the younger generation. This it just about manages to do, although it is a bit contrived. Cars 3 could make a rental download for a rainy family holiday, but the imaginative spark has gone.

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    Despite its ambitious futuristic reach and some amazing visuals, this violent anime is inert and unconvincing

    Genocidal Organ is a violent anime, based on the cult novel by Japanese SF author Satoshi Itō, who wrote under the pen name Project Itoh and died of cancer in 2009 at the age of 34. This is a widely anticipated film – a live-action version by Park Chan-wook is reportedly being discussed – but, for all its ambitious futuristic reach and some occasionally amazing visuals, I have to confess to finding it inert and glib.

    It is set in a time after Sarajevo has been wiped out by a terrorist nuclear bomb and the resulting horror has caused wealthy nations to become high-security fortresses, where citizens have abandoned civil rights in exchange for surveillance and security. Meanwhile, poorer countries have unravelled into genocidal civil wars that are apparently being masterminded by a mysterious American called John Paul. The Americans send in a special forces team to investigate him, under agent Clavis Shepherd, who like the rest of his crew has been “emotionally optimised” in training to feel no fear.

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    The world’s favourite talking vehicles are showing their age in this latest animated joyride

    A third zip around the racetrack for Pixar’s Cars franchise, this time tackling an older generation’s anxieties about irrelevance in the internet age, with racing veteran Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson) almost edged out by Jackson Storm (Armie Hammer), a sleeker, faster, more efficient anthropomorphised automobile. A sly feminist subplot involving trainer Cruz Ramirez (Cristela Alonzo) is welcome, and it’s a colourful, spry enough ride, but it doesn’t exactly reinvent the wheel.

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    Despicable Me and Spider-Man franchises fight for second place, while indie darling The Beguiled shows big ambition at cinemas

    For the fourth weekend in a row, a film with blockbuster ambition has arrived at the top of the UK box office, with War for the Planet of the Apes landing in the wake of Spider-Man: Homecoming (5 July), Despicable Me 3 (30 June) and Transformers: The Last Knight (22 June). The latest Apes film has begun with a solid £5.22m, and £7.20m including previews for Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

    Related: The Godfather – but with chimpanzees: on set with War for the Planet of the Apes

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    Kevin Hart and Thomas Middleditch bring fun and poignancy to this animated bromance about two schoolchildren whose comic-book creation comes to life

    Here is the week’s unexpected treat: a really good-natured and unashamedly silly animated comedy for younger children and whatever gigglingly immature grown-ups are lucky enough to accompany them. It’s a bromance between two kids, George (the helium-voiced Kevin Hart) and Harold (Thomas Middleditch) who like to hang out, make each other laugh with reprehensibly crude humour and draw their comic book, which stars Captain Underpants. Their enemies are the joyless school principal Mr Krupp (Ed Helms) and a dictatorial science teacher Mr Poopypants (Nick Kroll), who is unwilling or unable to see the humour in his name.

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    This ploddingly mediocre knockoff about a boy with a monstrous genetic secret is visually uninspired and not much to listen to

    However discontented we all might conceivably be with the current state of Hollywood animation, and various iffy threequels for Cars and Despicable Me, it’s still dispiriting to encounter this ploddingly mediocre knockoff, with its budget effects, utterly uninspired visual design and flatlining dialogue. 

    A lonely kid at school is getting bullied and his overprotective dad won’t let him go anywhere without his inhaler. But the reason is that overexcitement could bring on, not an asthmatic attack, but an awful metamorphosis. The boy’s genetic secret is that he is a monster, like his dad. So he will have to journey to his mythic homeland, Monster Island, to confront his destiny. 

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    Bad animation is only the first thing wrong with this children’s fantasy

    There are few things more unpleasant to look at than bad animation. And Monster Island’s Technicolor yawn of regurgitated influences is monstrous in all the wrong ways. The eyeball-melting colour palette is just the tip of the tentacle – this is a cobbled-together, plotless mess from director Leopoldo Aguilar, completely lacking in the internal logic that is essential for the successful creation of a fantasy world. A 13-year-old boy discovers that his asthma inhaler actually delivers medicine that stops him returning to his natural state – as a gigantic orange ogre. He returns to Monster Island to seek the truth about his history and discovers, perhaps unsurprisingly, plenty of skeletons in his family closet.

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    This surprisingly nuanced animation intersperses lavatory humour with narrative invention

    Although one of the foundations on which much children’s cinema was built, lavatory humour was always perceived as an inglorious last resort. Can’t think of a funny line? Have a character break wind instead. By this logic, Captain Underpants, a film almost entirely crafted out of lavatory humour, should be a soul-crushing, puerile slog. However, David Soren’s animation, which was adapted from the children’s books by Dav Pilkey, is a delightful surprise. It’s a celebration of friendship, of the boundless creativity of children’s minds. It’s a dizzily silly collection of sly cultural references. It’s visually inventive, narratively agile. And yes, it has fart gags.

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older | 1 | .... | 53 | 54 | (Page 55)