Tuesday, 6 March 2018

Movie Review - Game Night

A premise I was certainly excited to see unfold when the first trailers came to my attention, Game Night sees a group of friends whose most recent weekly, well, game night, become something much more dramatic when a staged murder mystery soon evolves into one quite the opposite; with lives at stake and major criminals behind the scenes, it's now down to said friends to piece together exactly what is going on and put a stop to it before major repercussions soon come to fruition.

Leads Jason Bateman and Rachel McAdams helm most of the story, supported by a lineup of similarly talented actors - Kyle Chandler, Jesse Plemons, and many more. Said well chosen cast help bring many of the film's best moments to life without a doubt, particularly Chandler and Bateman in their chemistry as a long lasting sibling rivals. Whilst I'd love to of course say the same about McAdams given her role as Bateman's wife, it's hard to remain as interested in her persona at times given her occasionally excessive, hyperactive nature, rendering her an irritating listen in many scenes.

Whilst the overall cast is certainly decent and visibly talented, and all perform their roles without any major flaws, it's only really our aforementioned leads Bateman, McAdams (when not bellowing every comedic line), Chandler, and Plemons that stand out for the majority of the story. Of course supporting roles don't require as strong a focus on development, but the outright lack of it in areas also leaves some of the other characters extremely forgettable and somewhat bland at first. Similar flaws also extend into the overall story, which arguably drags a little during it's opening moments, courtesy of a sluggish pace and somewhat repetitive humour; it comes and goes without an awful lot of charm, but thankfully such standout flaws largely brush off as we venture into the meat of the story...

While I struggled to find the overall viewing as much of a consistent gem like many others, it's certainly the second half where the story becomes just that little bit more involving, presenting us with many cleverly structured plot twists and balancing witty humour with some genuine thrills as the climax approaches - and this is of course where our cast, despite their flaws, really pull off their best efforts, thus perfectly bringing a well structured finale to life. Of course one doesn't expect the introductory moments of the film to be in a similar category of excitement, but it's a shame Game Night isn't really as interesting when it begins as it is when it ends - for the most part, it starts off samey and boring, morphing into something far more engaging as it progresses, thus making it a fairly decent if unbalanced viewing for the most part.

Wednesday, 21 February 2018

Movie Review - Black Panther

The MCU continues to grow as each year passes; we now approach it's ten year anniversary with Iron Man hitting cinemas as far back as May 2008, and with each year since more and more heroes have hit the big screen to renowned success and widespread acclaim. Yet another example arrives in the form of Black Panther - far from the most well known hero to the general public, but one whose opening box office takings would make you assume quite the opposite. Said accolades are well earned for sure, for the finished product is an ambitious action flick to say the least.

The story branches away from the meat of the MCU narrative, taking us into the fictional nation of Wakanda, home to a number of supernatural tribes powered by the rich material known as Vibranium. Using said material to devise advanced technology, the Wakandans segment themself from the main world, their actions directed by the Black Panther leader. Said role is soon assumed by newest king T'Challa (Chadwick Boseman) - who then finds himself on a quest to prevent Vibranium from falling into the wrong hands following the malevolent actions of vengeful soldier N'Jadaka (Michael B. Jordan).

The story has a lot of depth and branches to it, so summing it up is quite difficult - those who haven't read the comic books may find themselves a little confused at times, though it does it's best to establish characters and their motivations in the best possible way, blending such development with a number of entertaining, beautifully filmed set pieces. Black Panther adopts a rich, stylishly dark visual style that makes it's briskly paced fight scenes superb to watch, and certainly leads to a lot of absorbing tension during it's more atmospheric moments. Thankfully this isn't just a mindless blend of action, however; the film does it's best to develop strong characters and mix them into a suitably complex story. The traditions of the Wakandan tribes are nicely captured without becoming too excessive, helping to establish the world around us as we head through each phase of the plot.

What I also found equally enjoyable about Black Panther is how it's almost entirely absent of any scene that contributes to building the MCU franchise and little more. Many recent films in the franchise that I've admittedly still enjoyed have had their fair share of forgettable moments that, again, simply exist to just merge other characters in the series together - Black Panther lacks such stuff, making it a well focused and consistently engaging story that doesn't branch away at any point to simply build the franchise around it and awkwardly link it with other MCU flicks. All this, coupled with some excellent performances, notably Boseman and Jordan in their lead opposing roles, make for a gripping superhero hit from start to finish; sure, the story, fab as it is, may be a little puzzling at times, and perhaps some moments do drag, but we're still left with a fine entry to the MCU that even non comic book fans can enjoy.

Thursday, 15 February 2018

Best and Worst of 2017 - Best Five Films

I've already covered the worst cinematic efforts of last year, and my list of the finest is late to say the least - sadly Disney decided to release Pixar's latest product Coco two months later here in the UK and considering it's outstanding acclaim upon debut in the US, I decided to wait and check it out before listing my favourites of the past 12 months. Perhaps I've also been a bit lazy in recent times...so, with Coco reviewed a few weeks back, let's finally commence with a long overdue ranking of the best films of 2017...

#5 - It

First brought to life as a television flick starring Tim Curry in 1990, Stephen King's arguably most renowned novel made it's way to cinema screens for the first time last September to rather outstanding results, scooping up $700 million in global earnings to rank as the horror genres highest grossing effort. Such accolades don't go undeserved - thanks to a superb script, haunting visuals, and a fantastic lead performance by Bill Skarsgård, It ranks as a terrifying yet thoughtful tale, far from afraid to censor the novel's key thrills whilst also never forgetting the complex story behind it all. Certainly one of the best horror films I've seen in quite a long time, and one fans of the genre must make checking out a huge priority.

#4 - The Disaster Artist

Tommy Wiseau's masterpiece of bad filmmaking The Room remains an icon to many - and so a film based on it's development, in turn adapted from the 2013 memoir of the same name, was inevitable for sure. James Franco finds himself helming and starring in this retelling of Wiseau's adventures throughout his films' bizarre production stages, and while Franco's own re-enactment of some of The Room's most infamous scenes are not always as faithful as one would hope, his overall effort in capturing the detail and depth to each character in such a story is inspiring for sure. Ranking as a humourous yet surprisingly deep story, The Disaster Artist is also an admirable and reasonably faithful effort to retell a strangely iconic part of film history.

#3 - Paddington 2

Paddington, released back in 2014, raised initial concerns of being a beloved childhood character being forced into a silly modern, pop culture riddled story simply to cash in on the appeal and earn a quick buck for needy film studios. Thankfully, the final product was a loveable and superbly told family adventure, and this all carries over into the sequel with equally fantastic results. With our titular hero once again brought to life with superb visual effects and rich voice work from Ben Wishaw, what also makes this another loveable watch is of course the superb blend of tender emotions and big laughs - we're left once again with a film apt for wide range of audiences in almost every way, only building upon the many successful merits of it's predecessor.

#2 - Coco

Again, I had to see this first before making this list - it may have not even made it on, but based on it's overwhelming critical success, I had a major feeling it simply would. Alas, Coco certainly stands tall as one of Pixar's very best efforts, let alone one of the best films of last year, showing how the studio has yet to lose their touch when it comes to crafting beautifully original stories that help prove animation still has the potential for complexity and emotional depth - not just ranking as colourful silliness to keep the kids quiet. It succeeds in pretty much every key category for sure - it looks gorgeous, has a handful of memorable songs, and a rich narrative that has the courage to explore deep themes in an approachable manner, leaving it a heartwarming masterpiece for all age groups.

#1 - War for the Planet of the Apes

The Planet of the Apes series recovered from a downward spiral with it's 2011 reboot, which revitalised the central story with a well told origin tale featuring some of the most exceptional motion capture CGI effects seen in a modern blockbuster. Last year's War for the Planet of the Apes brought the central trilogy to a close, despite potential for more sequels, and everything you'd expect from a closing installment is met in this emotionally stirring yet still suitably epic sci-fi hit. Alongside remarkable special effects, it's the lineup of fine performances that also help bring a well structured story to life in the best way possible, notably Serkis as ape leader Caesar once more and Woody Harrelson as our intimidating villain, simply known as the Colonel, who lacks the amount of screentime one may expect from a major foe but this somehow doesn't prevent him from remaining a thrilling antagonist. All this coupled with gripping yet never overly excessive set pieces leave this a superb finale to a fantastic story, maintaining all the positives of the previous entries and treating us to a lot more to boot.

Apologies once again for the major delay with this post, but there you have it - now let's see how this year's lineup of films compare...

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, 8 February 2018

Movie Review - Winchester

The supernatural horror genre, in fact perhaps even the horror genre as a whole, is an ideal one for low budget flicks. Budget doesn't always equal success, as many classics have made clear, but of course such classics didn't reach their acclaim just because of low budgets. Winchester is another awkward example of this, and one that also utilizes one of the biggest marketing tools for a horror project: based on true events...

Okay, well yes, it is to an extent based on a true story - that of the renowned Winchester Mystery House, residence of firearm magnate William Winchester and his widow Sarah Winchester (Helen Mirren). This bizarre landmark holds various backstories as a cursed one for ghosts of Winchester gun victims to chill, a story Winchester uses as we bring mental health doctor Eric Prince (Jason Clarke) into the mix. With Sarah deemed mentally unsound to helm the company in her grieving state, Prince is hired to make a diagnosis for himself that will support or debunk such claims of Sarah being cursed...let's face it, being a supernatural horror film, what route do you think we'll be going down?

The more I left the gap between seeing the film and writing this review, the more difficult the latter became. Winchester I never recall being a painfully awful horror flick, but without a doubt a boring and forgettable one. What's most apparent upon watching is how reliant the film is on cheap and eventually irritating jump scares; the human body's natural flinching response to such sudden loudness is passed off as genuine fear once again, and I'm sure I'm not the only person who finds such a strategy tiresome and irritating. To be fair, sometimes the content making you jump can be quite threatening and induce mild scares, but this seldom occurs and for the most part you're putting up with a string of thunderous sound effects and occasional generic screams.

Whether a horror film sucks in the scare department or not, it still has to be held together with a half decent story, and Winchester doesn't offer much here either - simple parts of the narrative are frequently dragged out to desperately piece together a feature length tale from fairly mediocre source material, and a our newcomer fictitious characters including lead Eric Prince don't offer much to keep us compelled. Whilst Jason Clarke gives a decent performance, once again considering mediocre source material, it doesn't truly save the character from being bland and largely uninteresting. Same can be said for Helen Mirren who, fantastic an actress as she always will be, fails to be more than a pale lady walking around adopting a moody expression, perhaps opening up a bit more as the film nears it's climax but not so much to keep her consistently interesting. It's this mixture of weak scares and boring characters that makes Winchester a dull horror effort through and through, with praise only really viable for it's decent production design and nothing more.

Saturday, 3 February 2018

Movie Review - Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle

Though a sequel to a 25 year old cult hit seems odd, Welcome to the Jungle has become a surprise success to say the least; nearly $900 million in global earnings despite a relatively minor debut, and a high level of acclaim for critics and audiences alike. With the original having Robin Williams dragged into a supernatural board game of sorts, Welcome to the Jungle brings the concept into the modern era with a lineup of teens being dragged into the mysterious Jumanji video game, taking on the form of their chosen avatars, and left with a mission to escape before time (or their extra lives) runs out.

Jumanji is a simple blockbuster effort from start to finish, and that works to it's benefit for the most part; the characters each have their own charming if somewhat generic personalities and are brought to life by a loveable cast both in their teen forms and in-game avatars. Dwayne Johnson particularly stands out as a comedic charmer, with much of the humour aimed at his impressive physique as expected, but those behind him are just as loveable in their own unique ways. Jack Black finds himself with an interesting role given that his character within the real world is actually female, now transferred into a male avatar, paving the way for a ton of obvious yet witty jokes that make for a number of crude yet big laughs.

This a story that can't truly prosper without modern special effects - and said effects are beautifully handled without a doubt, leading to many epic set pieces with all kinds of creative fictional creatures. Fans of all kinds of video games will adore the clever references to such game logic, including special moves, character perks, non playable characters and their repetitive dialogue, and various missions that drive the main structure of the game itself. Jumanji uses these conventions to portray a simple yet fun story and also fill it with tons of clever gags, both through witty dialogue and well timed slapstick. Perhaps the film's only real flaws lie within it's undemanding nature, which isn't exactly a trait of a poorly made project, but just inevitable considering it's source material - for one thing the villain doesn't truly stand out as a consistently interesting opponent, though many audiences may have no real issue with such stuff. As it stands, Jumanji is a fun and well structured comedy adventure, portrayed once again through a talented cast and some forever impressive special effects.

Monday, 29 January 2018

Movie Review - Coco

It seems each Pixar's best film usually ends up changing as soon as a new one is released; while not without their slumps, the renowned studio has arguably produced some of the most innovative computer animated works to grace the industry, showing how such a genre can be much more than an array of colours to keep kids occupied for 90 minutes. Their latest effort, Coco, already finds itself hailed as one of their finest yet, and this isn't without good reason once again.

Set during the Mexican holiday Día de Muertos, Coco focuses on aspiring musician Miguel (Anthony Gonzalez), whose bitter family continuously seek to drive him away from his ambitions and focus on his future within their own lifestyle - all of which takes a turn for the worse when Miguel himself finds himself warped into the Land of the Dead as the holiday progresses, meeting mysterious trickster Hector (Gael Garcia Bernal) and left desperate to return home whilst seizing a chance to fulfil his own dreams along the way.

It goes without saying Coco looks beautiful - even in their worst efforts Pixar will never fail in terms of visual prowess, yet the technical outcome can be no good without equally good art direction, which Coco also masters in every respect. The visuals are colourful enough for kids without disrespecting the key concept behind them, with the Land of the Dead becoming a perfect blend of visual gags representing pop culture yet also a world full of refined detail and life - more than just a vibrant background for our characters to dwell in. Coco is also a musical in many ways at it's core, and the lineup of songs it does offer are certainly memorable to say the least - Gonzalez finds himself performing many of the film's key numbers and does so beautifully; following the film's conclusion, my key impulse took me straight to the iTunes Store.

Amazing presentation makes Coco a delight to look at and listen to - but this is also held together by a brave story that explores thought provoking themes without ever reaching excessive stages or resorting to tired clichés. Viewers won't have to do extensive research on the aforementioned Día de Muertos to understand the ideas the film conveys in it's most heavy moments, making it approachable for all without sacrificing the complexity it aims for. This is a story about culture and family, embracing life yet accepting death, and such powerful themes are conveyed well with a lineup of loveable characters, a well drafted script, and superb overall direction - combine this with gorgeous visuals and superb music, and you have a winner of a film through and through, no questions asked.

Sunday, 21 January 2018

Worst to Best - 3D Sonic

In recent times, Sonic the Hedgehog has been an iconic video game character for both good and bad reasons, particularly when it comes to his many 3D outings. Some rank as the worst games in history, others...well, I can't say any rank as the very best, but they're not all bad.

This is getting awkward. Let's just crack on...

#10 - Sonic the Hedgehog (2006)

Widely dubbed one of the worst games of all time, let alone one of the worst in the Sonic series, Sonic 06 as it is colloquially known isn't really a game I have to spend ages ranting about - it's infamous nature has rendered many of it's most iconic flaws apparent even to those who've barely played it. Whether it's the onslaught of glitches, poor controls, dreadful level design, or the ludicrous, laughably bad plot, there's plenty of negatives to list if you wanna get critical. It's such a shame that the once mighty blue blur had to sink to such a horrific low, yet even worse that Sega decided to associate this garbage with the beloved Genesis classic with that iconic title. For shame.

#9 - Shadow the Hedgehog (2005)

Undoubtedly another new low for the franchise, Shadow the Hedgehog seemed to be some sort of attempt to make kids feel badass for liking Sonic and win them over through cartoony yet somewhat dark violence - to be honest, it perhaps worked in some ways. I was 10 and at Primary School when the game came out, and certainly recall many of my classmates being won over by the so called badassery of Shadow wielding his epic firearms and blasting away his foes within sinister looking locales. But when you start taking games a little more seriously, this initial wow factor for the narrow minded promptly fades away - Shadow the Hedgehog I'd certainly almost dub as bad as Sonic 06 as, while certainly not as glitchy or unfinished, it's simply a poorly designed mess with some dreadful controls and, once again, a laughably bad plot. There's no harm in trying to stir up an existing formula with new ideas, especially within a spinoff of sorts, but trying to turn it into some sort of poorly structured adult thriller is quite embarrassing for sure.

#8 - Sonic and the Black Knight (2009)

The second entry to what seemed like a planned sub series, Black Knight follows on from 2007's Secret Rings by having Sonic journey into the world of King Arthur, armed with his own sword to hack away at an onslaught of new enemies. It's actually a decent success in terms of presentation, featuring some superb visuals for the Wii, decent voice acting, and a story that, while still a little daft at times, thankfully doesn't take itself too seriously. However, it's this solid presentation that makes the less than tacky gameplay even more of a letdown; whilst Black Knight has some fun moments with a brisk pace, it's often bogged down by a clumsy control scheme that makes the swordfighting tiresome and messy. Players will find themselves waggling the Wiimote like an idiot over and over as strings of enemies block the way, and it's seldom any fun - just exhausting and boring. Such a shame, considering it's newfound potential.

#7 - Sonic Heroes (2003)

It's a game most fans seem pleased with, but I myself find it hard to engage with Sonic Heroes beyond the fresh concept which offers the occasional charm - otherwise the end result is overstuffed with countless frustrations that certainly become major detractors as things continue. Of course, said unique concept is the ability to swap between a trio of characters as you race through each level, and the game features several trios to stir things up even further: from the classic Sonic, Tails, and Knuckles to lesser known (and liked) extras Amy, Cream, and Big, to name a few. It's this concept which works at times and fails miserably at others, leading to a clumsy mess of fiddly platforming with some pretty damn awful controls. I lost patience with the majority of the game far too quickly as a kid, despite wanting to love it with all my heart, and even now I can't find any real reason to enjoy it the same way most do - there's bags of potential, but it's all wasted on mediocre presentation and frustrating, imprecise controls.

#6 - Sonic Unleashed (2008)

Sonic Unleashed was a frustrating game for many of the blue blur's biggest fans, both the SD and HD versions. The developers virtually nailed the gameplay style within Sonic's 3D running stages - the pacing, balance of speed and platforming, and seemless shifts from 3D to 2D gameplay made each one an exciting and generally fun experience, and one that most felt was what 3D Sonic was always supposed to be. It's even more of a shame then that these gripping stages have to come to a tragic end to make way for the second gameplay mode: the Werehog. A sort of werewolf like alien hedgehog Sonic turns into come nightfall, the Werehog stages simply feature players continuously beating up an onslaught of generic and uninteresting enemies, hampered once again by iffy controls and bland level design. It's a shame this is also helmed by a very silly story, as once again the 3D Sonic stages virtually nail what we expect - lessons were certainly to be learned here.

#5 - Sonic Adventure 2 (2001)

My opinion of Sonic Adventure 2 won't be popular with many - though shimmers of greatness are visible from many of it's fast paced stages featuring Sonic and Shadow, and occasionally the chaotic shootouts with Tails and Eggman, it often feels inconsistent in terms of overall focus, and certainly not consistent in terms of overall quality. Perhaps it's main flaw is simply the incredibly mundane treasure hunting stages with Knuckles and one Rouge the Bat which, despite being laughably easy and over quick in the first game, are overly expansive and thus drag on for far too long; it's this and many of the aforementioned shooting stages that detract from much of the greatness offered by the aforementioned running stages with our lead hedgehogs, though even they aren't free from flaws. It's a solid effort in terms of presentation (not so much story), with catchy albeit cheesy rock music and some decent looking environments, but otherwise I'm not one who can see just why it's hailed as such a masterpiece by many; just a decent pasttime at best.

#4 - Sonic Adventure (1998)

Though many would consider Sonic Adventure 2 the superior game, and while I certainly find both vastly overrated and fairly average, I'd have to go with the original when selecting a favourite - if only because I can play as Sonic, and Tails to be fair, and dismiss the other characters for the most part. Unlike it's sequel, Sonic Adventure features a lineup of protagonists to choose from, each with their own unique structure: speedy thrills with Sonic and Tails, short lived treasure hunting with Knuckles, clunky, boring platforming with Amy, repetitive and overstuffed shooting with E-102, and...fishing? Yeah, fishing for some dumbass frog with Big the Cat. Even Sonic and Tails' stages aren't free from clunky controls and awkward level design, though there's still fun to be had with their brisk pace and decent levels of variety. It's reasonably enjoyable at it's best, and has some great music I won't lie, but can't help but feel dramatically outdated just like it's successor.

#3 - Sonic and the Secret Rings (2007)

A controversial choice to put above the Adventure titles, but Secret Rings is a game I ended up enjoying a lot more than many of Sonic's most dedicated fans. It's most notable factor at first glance are the controls; the on rails structure has players holding the Wiimote on it's side and tilting it to steer Sonic throughout each stage, and while this can get awkward no doubt, it's a surprisingly fun way to play. The levels are also structured with this in mind, allowing for a generally smooth experience with it's fair share of unique challenges, though the pace may be abruptly halted now and then with irritating obstacles. It's no masterpiece, feeling quite short lived and occasionally frustrating, but it's refined presentation and approachable gameplay structure make it an enjoyable experience regardless.

#2 - Sonic Generations (2011)

A blend of old and new is what sums up Sonic Generations perfectly - here Sonic meets his past self from the classic Genesis days, and both journey on a quest to stop the evil Eggman once more. Here we have a blend of modern 3D stages coupled with retro 2D ones, each themed after iconic stages from the past and featuring a handful of memorable remixed tracks that equate to one of the best Sonic soundtracks for sure. However, it's also the gameplay that really nails it - the modern 3D stages further perfect an already solid formula, and while it's again not without occasional frustration, it's certainly an experience that superbly captures the pace and agility of what this should be. As for the 2D stages, they to largely master the formula they aim for, harkening back to the old school days outside of just presentation, but also with it's solid blend of speed and intricate platforming. The aesthetic design for all these stages is also masterful, certainly some of the best visual design in a recent Sonic title.

Good stuff.

#1 - Sonic Colours (2010)

After a lengthy slump, Sonic made an impressive recovery in 2010 with the Wii's Sonic Colours, returning to his vibrant aesthetics and fast paced gameplay, whilst also bringing us some refreshing new ideas. Perhaps one of the biggest downsides in modern 3D Sonic games was plots that took themselves too seriously, trying to add excessive drama into an inevitably cartoony premise, but Colours dismisses these faults once and for all and gives us a story that's fun and simple, and certainly not without humour; the dialogue is genuinely funny, and the voice acting is a fantastic starting point for the largely revised cast, featuring the debut of Roger Craig-Smith as Sonic himself.

But it's also the gameplay where things are well executed - Sonic finds himself in all manner of vibrant locales that nicely combine relentless speed with enjoyable platforming once more. The Wisps bless Sonic with all manner of power ups that blend nicely into each stage, be it brief hovering or a quick boost, and each level is of course designed very well with these in mind; the end result is a highly refined experience full of variety and, while not without some hiccups here and there, largely absent of the major frustrations that plagued the many Sonic games before it. Modern 3D Sonic is not an easy formula to perfect, but Colours largely nailed it, and certainly ranks as one of the blue blur's finest outings to date.

Disclaimer: Haven't played Lost World or Sonic Forces, hence their absence. Sorry!

Thanks for reading!

Saturday, 6 January 2018

Most Anticipated Films of 2018

Another year, another lineup of films on the way - though I can't deny that trying to select my most anticipated films for the coming 12 months has been so much harder than ever before. Simply put, 2018 just doesn't have as many films that greatly interest me compared to previous years, so trying to select some that I was excited for was a tricky task.

But alas, I've finally found five that I am genuinely keen to check out upon release, so let's crack on and have a look over them...

#5 - Christopher Robin

No images yet released for this film...so I'll have to go with this for now.
With no trailers and barely any official images released, Christopher Robin is a film not yet well known to many, and I have to be honest and say I myself didn't know of it's existence until very recently. Of course there's nothing to really trigger my excitement at this rate, though I find myself strangely enticed to see how this one pans out - initially this seems like another live action remake of a Disney classic, though there's an interesting twist on the story that makes it much more than that at first glance.

Said twist now has Christopher Robin all grown up, with his childhood friends within the Hundred Acre Wood trying to find and help him regain his vivid imagination. Robin finds himself played by Ewan McGregor, while one Winnie the Pooh is voiced by the renowned Jim Cummings - the current voice of the character in many modern portrayals, and of course a huge contributor to many of Disney's works. Again, there's little promotional material around at this stage, but I'm still interested by this unique twist on the source material and am once again keen to see just how it turns out.

US Release: August 3
UK Release: August 17

#4 - Pacific Rim Uprising

An exciting creature feature that thankfully didn't take itself too seriously, Pacific Rim was certainly far from a narrative masterpiece, but also showed that blockbusters don't need to be full of excessive depth and complex themes to be an enjoyable watch - sometimes just a fun experience with some exciting set pieces and charming characters equates to something just as memorable. The film's less than remarkable box office earnings meant a sequel seemed unlikely at first, though fans can now be relieved to see one not far from release; Uprising jumps to a decade after the events of the first film, featuring a lineup of new characters as well some familiar faces and returning foes in the form of the monstrous Kaiju.

The trailers once again show that this will certainly be sporting more style than substance, but that's not a flaw providing the narrative is more than a rehash of the original; the visuals certainly look as impressive as ever, and once again look set to be brought to life through a number of thrilling action sequences. This all makes me continuously keen to check out the finished product, which thankfully isn't far from release.

UK + US Release: March 23

#3 - Mowgli

So soon after Disney's live action remake of The Jungle Book comes a second CGI-fuelled live action reimagining, though this time of course of Rudyard Kipling's original tale and not Disney's renowned musical. Motion capture master Andy Serkis leads the way as director and as the beloved Baloo, with an equally superb cast at his side including Christian Bale, Bennedict Cumberbatch, Tom Hollander, and Cate Blanchett. There's been little in the way of marketing yet with the release almost a year away, but I find myself highly intrigued to see more glimpses of what's to come, especially once again as it's adapted from the original story and not based on Disney's musical reimagining in any way. It'll take a lot to rival the effects of the 2016 film, but with Andy Serkis at the helm, I'm sure some impressive aesthetics are inevitable - let's hope a solid story is also.

UK + US Release: October 19

#2 - Incredibles 2

If you told fans of The Incredibles back in 2004 that they'd be waiting 14 years for a sequel, mayhem would certainly ensue; Incredibles 2 continues where the original left off, seeing the Parr family tackle a new villain known as the Underminer, a plot previously used in the video game sequel back in 2005. The most we've seen of this anticipated successor is a simple teaser hinting at Jack Jack's potentially larger role, exploring his newly developed powers seen towards the end of the original film, though otherwise things are under wraps for now - likely due to change soon as it's release edges closer and closer, however.

The Incredibles is not my favourite Pixar film, though it remains a winner in dozens of ways - the fact that Pixar have taken so long to get to work on this much needed sequel is a shame, but all is forgiven providing the finished film lives up to it's title.

US Release: June 15
UK Release: July 13

#1 - Ralph Breaks the Internet: Wreck-It Ralph 2

Wreck-It Ralph certainly ranks as one of Disney's best efforts for me - clever game references aside, the film finds itself a witty and surprisingly heartfelt adventure with a universal appeal, and so a sequel was always desired. Much like other films on this list, it's hard to talk much about Wreck-It Ralph 2 when not a lot of promotional material is around at this stage, so I can only hope the upcoming trailers only improve my anticipation and that the end release itself is a sequel worthy of it's title. Well, a better title to be honest.

The internet is a dangerous place though, Ralph...what we certainly don't want is a film that dismisses it's story in favour of milking the barrage of pop culture references that such a premise has the potential for. The first film found a great balance, so let's hope such a trait is passed over.

US Release: November 21
UK Release: November 30

Thanks for reading!