How To Train Your Dragon – 8.5/10.

Dreamworks jewel in the crown.

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Despite enjoying huge commercial success with the Shrek and Madagascar franchises plus box office hits like Monsters vs. Aliens, Dreamworks animation still has to hide their envious glances towards Pixar as they have have tied massive profits with universal critical acclaim and adoration.

While Shrek is a decent film and there have been a couple of others on the Dreamworks roster that I have enjoyed, How To Train Your Dragon is the first film that I have loved as much as some of Pixar’s output. In Jay Baruchel, Jonah Hill, T.J. Miller, Kristen Wiig and Christopher ‘McLovin’ Mintz-Plasse director Dean DeBlois has assembled some of the finest comic actors currently working today with Gerard Butler adding his gruff, more dramatic voice to sweeten the pot.

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The beauty of Pixar is the emotional attachment they make you feel about futuristic robots or lost clownfish and I can safely say I was with Toothless the dragon all the way through this movie and it’s hard not to root for any character played by Baruchel.

Dreamworks output before and after How To Train Your Dragon has been patchy and inconsistent but this is a film to rival anything that either Disney or Pixar have released. Don’t wait five years to see it like I did.

IMDB TOP 250 #150

Maleficent – 6/10.

Evil old woman shuns societal norms.

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So after the perplexing success of Alice in Wonderland Hollywood has now decided that ‘dark re imaginings’ of much loved fairy tales is the order of the day. Maleficent follows Red Riding Hood, Jack the Giant Slayer, Hansel And Gretel: The Witch Hunters and Snow White and the Huntsman and like those films it has varying degrees of success.

Angelina Jolie has always had a bit of melodrama and panto about her so it is no surprise she is perfect in the titular role – Possibly still smarting from the enormous failure of The Tourist she really does put everything into her performance here and she carries the film throughout.

Sam Riley provides solid support despite being inexplicably Irish but there is little else to love about Maleficent. To be fair at just under one hour and forty minutes it never outstays its welcome and some of the visuals and effects are nice but the problem with all these films is that they say they are dark but they are not really are they?

Maleficent is no darker than Sleeping Beauty was. Thankfully Guillermo del Toro (Pan’s Labyrinth) is at the helm for a new version of Pinocchio so that should raise the bar a bit.

Frozen – 3/10

Erm… I have no idea how to describe this plot… Disney on ice?

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There is nothing inherently wrong with Frozen. It ticks all the boxes for a Disney film. A princess, a villain, mild peril, (endless) singing, some cute little creatures (coming to a toy store near you) etc etc. The problem is there is nothing great about it either.

FrozenĀ for me felt like Disney by numbers, no different to countless other films churned out by the famous rodent based company.

Frozen is absolutely a kids film. I don’t want to keep banging this drum but whilst Pixar are producing films that appeal equally to kids and adults, Disney are still making flat out kids movies. That is not really a criticism as surely that is what Disney is for but Pixar has shown there is a lot more to offer than lowest common denominator stuff. But I guess from Disney’s point of view If ain’t broke…

Frozen is probably a decent children’s movie but it is a distinctly average movie in general. Highest grossing animated movie of all time though. Go figure.