Family

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Dolphin Tale 2

29 Sep 20142 stars

Ashley Judd and Morgan Freeman feature in a bland, aquarium-set sequel

The seam of true-life marine stories mined in 2011's anodyne Dolphin Tale is further depleted by this return visit to the underwater denizens of Clearwater Marine Aquarium in Florida. The bright-looking yet colourless live-action narrative and…

The Giver

15 Sep 20142 stars

Disappointing adaptation of Lois Lowry's YA novel with Meryl Streep and Jeff Bridges

The pile of unwanted, underwhelming young-adult adaptations is rising. From The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones to The Host via Ender’s Game, the search for another Twilight or The Hunger Games has ransacked the bookshelves of many literate teens.

The Boxtrolls

8 Sep 20144 stars

Ben Kingsley and Elle Fanning add their voices to a smart, surprisingly dark animation

Billed as ‘from the makers of Coraline and ParaNorman’, The Boxtrolls is a weird, wonderful stop-motion and CG hybrid animation based on the novel Here Be Monsters! by Alan Snow. Graham Annable and Anthony Stacchi’s film isn’t innocuous knockabout fun…

The Unbeatables

11 Aug 20144 stars

An enjoyably quirky football-themed animation featuring the voices of Rupert Grint and Rob Brydon

The Unbeatables (original title Metegol) is probably the last film you would expect from Argentinean director Juan José Campanella. His first feature since the moody, labyrinthine and ultimately Oscar-winning thriller The Secret In Their Eyes is a…

Planes: Fire & Rescue

5 Aug 20142 stars

Animated sequel starring Ed Harris and Teri Hatcher improves on the original but still fails to soar

A sequel to Planes, itself a spin-off from the Cars franchise, Planes: Fire & Rescue is a Disney animation aimed at very small children who might appreciate its world of cheerful, chattering vehicles. Adults, however, would do well to stay away, there’s…

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Earth to Echo

30 Jul 20142 stars

Dave Green's directorial debut is an artless retread of the Spielberg-inspired Super 8

Debut director Dave Green’s family film rehashes JJ Abrams’ pleasingly retro Super 8 using herky-jerky footage, supposedly captured by the children involved. It’s a gimmick that results in a spew of ugly, hard-to-watch images; audiences who like to…

How to Train Your Dragon 2

10 Jul 20144 stars

The animated vikings 'n' dragons sequel arrives full of its predecessor’s invention, wit and flair

Cast your mind back to 2010, and Dean DeBlois and Chris Sanders’ animated adventure How To Train Your Dragon. Inspired by the series of YA books by Cressida Cowell, this tale of a young Viking named Hiccup (voiced by Jay Baruchel) and his impossibly…

The Nut Job

8 Jul 20142 stars

Bluntly animated and over-complicated Ice Age spin-off offering low entertainment

Like last year’s Free Birds, in which enterprising turkeys build a time machine and attempt to stop the first Thanksgiving, The Nut Job feels like an archly contrived excuse to justify the groaning pun of the title. The story of an eccentric squirrel…

The House of Magic

27 Jun 20143 stars

Exceptional 3D effects fail to disguise a humourless script in this family adventure

Co-directed by Ben Stassen and Jeremy Degruson, The House of Magic is the latest animated adventure from nWave Pictures, the Belgian animation studio behind the likes of Fly Me To The Moon and A Turtle's Tale (both directed by Stassen). Like these…

Island of Lemurs: Madagascar

16 Jun 20143 stars

A beautiful but over-simplified family-friendly nature doc narrated by Morgan Freeman

At 40 minutes, David Douglas’ slender, family-friendly IMAX lemur doc is a hark back to the format’s days as a short-form edutainment outlet. Friendly, photogentic primates leap across the massive screen while Morgan Freeman’s subterranean tones…

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Edinburgh International Film Festival 2014: Take a trip to the Island of Lemurs

10 Jun 2014

Writer-producer Drew Fellman discusses the IMAX doc, which is narrated by Morgan Freeman

It’s a cute, furry, animals-acting-like-humans narrative that could have been lifted straight from a Disney storyboard: a group of primates, fearing extinction on the mainland, board a naturally made raft and set sail for distant shores. ‘It’s the sort…

Legends of Oz: Dorothy's Return

20 May 20142 stars

The latest family fantasy incarnation is a cynical, charmless cash-grab

The Kingdom of Oz is a complicated one from a copyright point of view; while the rights to many of L Frank Baum's books and characters have expired, many of the details of the 1939 MGM film remain tightly controlled by studio lawyers. So without any…

Postman Pat: The Movie

13 May 20142 stars

A serviceable kids film undermined by grating tribute to Simon Cowell & idyllic Royal Mail nostalgia

Turning classic children's TV shows into full-length features appears to be all the rage at the moment, what with a big screen outing for Paddington due in November and this adaptation of Postman Pat out in May. Created by children's author John…

The Goonies: who would be available for a sequel?

7 Apr 2014

Director Richard Donner says he wants the original cast back for a remake - but are they available?

Director Richard Donner surprised a showbiz photographer recently when he casually mentioned he's working on a sequel to 1980s family adventure The Goonies – and that he hopes the original cast will be back on board. The seminal 1985 kids' film starred…

WATCH: The hilarious teaser trailer for Aardman's Shaun the Sheep movie

3 Apr 2014

The scene-stealing sheep from Wallace and Gromit is set for his own big-screen adventure

A teaser trailer for Aardman Animation's Shaun the Sheep movie has landed, and it's reassuringly hilarious. While the new footage doesn't offer any plot details – the movie itself won't be released until 2015 – Aardman's signature talent for humanising…

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Rio 2

1 Apr 20143 stars

The sequel to 2010's animated parrot adventure is amiable but forgettable family entertainment

The brief appearance of the acorn-loving Scrat character over the Blue Sky logo at the start of Rio 2 is a reminder that this animation studio has now authored four films in the Ice Age franchise to date. These films had a strong, evolving plotline, but…

Muppets Most Wanted

13 Mar 20143 stars

A fun enough adventure that lacks the magical quality of its nostalgia-driven predecessor

The opening song in Muppets Most Wanted openly acknowledges the fact that most sequels exist in the shadow of their original. They are words that prove prophetic. James Bobin’s follow-up is mostly inferior to the 2011 comeback movie despite existing…

Shrek theme park to open in London in summer 2015

24 Feb 2014

The attraction will be run by Merlin Entertainment, who also operate Madame Tussauds

A new theme park inspired by the adventures of Shrek is set to open in summer 2015. Shrek’s Far Far Away Adventure will open just ahead of Shrek's 15 year anniversary, and will feature an interactive walkthrough adventure, a character courtyard where…

The Lego Movie

11 Feb 20143 stars

A genuinely funny film from the makers of Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs

Fast, funny and created with loving attention to detail, The Lego Movie will delight anyone who has ever played with those universally-recognised little yellow figures. Beginning at a blistering pace that never lets up, the film (from Cloudy With A…

Rob Minkoff talks animation changes

11 Feb 2014

Film gossip

'Mr Peabody and Sherman' used even more artists than 'The Lion King', says director Rob Minkoff. The new animated comedy is helmed by the 51-year-old filmmaker who is also responsible for Disney's tale about loveable lion Simba, which was released in…

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Mr Peabody & Sherman

4 Feb 20142 stars

A weak, overstretched revival of the super-intelligent pooch and his human son

Dreamworks Animation’s latest attempt to recapture Shrek’s hit combination of pop culture references and unforgettable characters fails due to an overabundance of the former and none of the latter. The titular pair are a dog and a boy, with the twist…

Frozen

3 Dec 20134 stars

An old-fashioned but charming musical fairytale from Disney

The Walt Disney of Saving Mr Banks might barely recognize the company who currently partner Pixar and Marvel, but he’d be right at home with Frozen, adapted freely from Hans Christian Andersen’s The Snow Queen. This long-gestated project springs to…

Free Birds

29 Nov 20131 star

A limp, misguided animation about turkeys attempting to escape Thanksgiving

‘Hang on to your nuggets!' proclaims the poster for Free Birds, but director Jimmy Hayward’s film isn’t about chickens, it’s about turkeys. As an example of the wrongheaded brashness of this animated film, this misnomer sets the tone for a dull…

Saving Mr Banks

18 Nov 20133 stars

Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson deliver engaging performances in the story behind Mary Poppins

Almost exactly 50 years after Disney released Mary Poppins, the musical that would go on to receive 13 Oscar nominations (the most of any Disney film before or since), comes this charming story of how the film was made. Emma Thompson plays PL…

WATCH: The Lego Movie character trailers

30 Oct 2013

Will Ferrell, Elizabeth Banks, Will Arnett, Chris Pratt and Nick Offerman star in 2014 Lego Movie

After providing the medium for many movie poster homages and reenactments of well-known film scenes through the years, it's good to see the interlocking construction toy making it to the big screen in its own right. In the days running up to the first…