In cinemas this week: Zootopia, The Witch, The Daughter, London Has Fallen and Miracles From Heaven.
Zootopia – From the largest elephant to the smallest shrew, the city of Zootopia is a mammal metropolis where various animals live and thrive. When Judy Hopps (Ginnifer Goodwin) becomes the first rabbit to join the police force, she quickly learns how tough it is to enforce the law. Determined to prove herself, Judy jumps at the opportunity to solve a mysterious case. Unfortunately, that means working with Nick Wilde (Jason Bateman), a wily fox who makes her job even harder. I am still in awe that this film exists – visually it is incredibly inventive and detailed, it has a meaty procedural plot with a timely pro tolerance/equality message and an outstanding voice cast. Sets the bar high for animation in 2016.
The Witch – In 1630 New England, panic and despair envelops a farmer (Ralph Ineson), his wife (Kate Dickie) and four of their children when youngest son Samuel suddenly vanishes. The family blames Thomasin (Anya Taylor-Joy), the oldest daughter who was watching the boy at the time of his disappearance. With suspicion and paranoia mounting, twin siblings Mercy (Ellie Grainger) and Jonas (Lucas Dawson) suspect Thomasin of witchcraft, testing the clan’s faith, loyalty and love to one another. Full review at the link.
The Daughter – Christian (Paul Schneider) returns to his Australian hometown for his father’s (Geoffrey Rush) wedding. Reconnecting with a childhood friend (Ewen Leslie) and his family, he unearths a long-buried secret that threatens to shatter their lives. It screened in the Official Competition at last year’s Sydney Film Festival, so it feels like a long time coming back to screens. I was rather disappointed; the DRAMA felt predictable and implausible, despite some very good performances. Leslie, Sam Neill and Odessa Young in particular.
London Has Fallen – After the death of the British prime minister, the world’s most powerful leaders gather in London to pay their respects. Without warning, terrorists unleash a devastating attack that leaves the city in chaos and ruins. Secret Service agent Mike Banning (Gerard Butler) springs into action to bring U.S. President Benjamin Asher (Aaron Eckhart) to safety. When Asher falls into the hands of the sinister organization, it’s up to Banning to save his commander in chief from a horrible fate. Have seen some reviews calling this “one of the worst action movies in recent memory”. Guess what another recent one is? The prequel, Olympus Has Fallen. I hated that film, no way will I ever subject myself to this.
Miracles From Heaven – Anna Beam (Kylie Rogers) lives with a rare, incurable disorder that leaves her unable to digest food. Despite the dire diagnosis, devoted mom Christy (Jennifer Garner) relentlessly searches for a way to save her beloved daughter. Everything changes in an instant when Anna tells an amazing story of a visit to heaven after surviving a headlong tumble into a tree. Her family and doctors become even more baffled when the young girl begins to show signs of recovering from her fatal condition. Righto.
Weekly Recommendation – Zootopia and The Witch, about as different as you can get, are two of the most impressive films I have seen this year. Zootopia, while colourful and fast-paced enough for kids, is so rich in narrative and theme it is likely to be a even more of a treat for the adults. The Witch is scary; a skillfully crafted debut feature that genuinely earns your fear. Very limited release.