When a twist in a kids movie is obvious and someone points it out the inevitable response they get is “Well it’s a kids movie. What did you expect?”. Now that sounds like condescending bullshit and from most people it is. A lot of people use the “kids won’t get it” defense when you ask for a more complicated twist and that’s pretty shitty. Kids are smart and can handle a lot if you let them. Or more importantly if you challenge them. But you have to do it in the right ways. That’s what this article is for. Finding and discussing the right ways to create twists in kids films. I’m going to restrict myself to talking about films that came out in the last five years or so as I think there is a higher chance all of you will have seen them and there is a plentiful pile of examples to choose from. Warning: This article presumes that the reader has seen and has a reasonably high level of familiarity with Big Hero 6, How to Train Your Dragon 2, Frozen, ParaNorman and The Lego Movie. There will be major spoilers for all of the films mentioned above throughout the article. With that out of the way, let’s get going.
2016 has been a mixed bag for superhero movies hasn’t it? We started off with the witch’s brew of vulgarity, violence and fourth-wall breaking that was Deadpool. Hurray! Then we had Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice which was, to put it bluntly, a flaming shit-show of self-importance. Boo. Then we had Captain America: Civil War, where Marvel once again taught a class in how to pull off a shared cinematic universe. Hurray! Then X-Men: Apocalypse came out and the world sighed with indifference, muttering that the Quicksilver scene was kind of cool. Boo. So with a pattern of “Hurray, Boo, Hurray, Boo” what does Suicide Squad get? Anger. Such anger that I hadn’t felt in so long. And it’s only when you stop to think about the film that you attain this level of anger. It’s worse than just being badly made, but it certainly is that. What really separates it out is its lack of respect for the audience. We’ll get to that later. For the moment, warnings for there will be spoilers for Suicide Squad throughout the review and some colourful language. Oh and a spoiler warning for Batman Vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice which is relevant almost immediately because…
Finding Dory is a perfect example of a film that is greater than the some of its parts. Please don’t misunderstand, none of it is bad but none of the individual parts are gold standard either. But the way they interact with one another is what raises this film up. It really is a question of how they position everything for it to have maximum impact. Watching this movie was like watching a chess master play a novice. For most of the game, the chess master doesn’t seem to be doing anything special. That is until he reveals that he was just after spending the whole game arranging his pieces, luring the novice into a false sense of security before absolutely decimating him and making cry like a baby. I didn’t cry though. I swear. I was too busy lifting weights and chopping trees with my face. Seriously I was. Shut up. Also, spoiler warning.
The BFG is like an incontinent labradoodle. It keeps pissing itself but it’s so cute I can’t stay mad. This isn’t Spielberg’s best effort but by God he is still the master of whimsy. I just couldn’t stop smiling. The BFG is a wonderfully retro, silly jaunt and a pretty poorly made movie at the same time. This somewhat undermines the position of the critic, so out of spite, I’m going to give you a detailed analysis of why this good movie isn’t a great one. What I’m saying is, kids will love it and if your heart hasn’t been turned to stone by the ravages of age you will enjoy it. If it has turned to stone, then sit back and enjoy me tearing it apart for the rest of this article.
Have to say at the beginning of this, that I am not the biggest Star Trek fan. I’ve never seen a full episode of any series but I have seen several of the original run of films. Combine this with a few random pieces of trivia, the impression I’ve gotten from photos and the film Galaxy Quest and you get a rough idea of my pool of knowledge. Needless to say, I am not an expert. That being said, I feel confident in saying that Star Trek Beyond is the best film in the current series by some distance. And it’s because it has finally moved on from being obsessed with the original series and its details without forgetting its roots entirely. A tough balancing act to say the least but director Justin Lin does it with style.
So I hadn’t seen E.T. the Extra Terrestrial in about 17 or 18 years before I sat down to watch it for this review, so I can be forgiven for forgetting just how good it is. Yes I know it was directed by Steven Spielberg who with whimsy in one hand and a John Williams score in the other crafted most of our childhoods. I should have known it was going to great, especially given that this movie has one of cinema’s most iconic lines and most iconic scenes. Well this article isn’t about the iconic scenes that everyone remembers. It’s about how the background details that created the mood which enabled those iconic moments. I’m going to put a spoiler warning for this movie in place, so if you that haven’t seen E.T. then I would suggest that you look at yourself in the mirror and reflect on lost wonders. Or just watch the movie. Which ever suits. We’re also going to skip the story section this week because seriously it’s fucking E.T..
The Fundamentals of Caring is a Netflix original movie and is also the third movie discussing the relationship between a carer and a disabled person that I’ve reviewed since I started this blog. To recap, Me Before You had the carer as a crusader, trying to save the disabled person, then muddied the water with a romantic relationship between them. The Intouchables was a film that placed the carer and the disabled person on fairly level pegging in a platonic relationship. The Fundamentals of Caring then has the characters be truly equal, savagely ripping into each others’ vulnerabilities and weaknesses. A wonderful, hilarious film that manages to be incredibly sweet without it feeling contrived.