Given the history of Disney Animation, it should come as no surprise that “Moana” maintains the studio’s tradition of excellent animated films. The newest movie from Disney follows the adventures of the titular character, Moana, as she explores an uncertain time of transition within herself and her tribe. Moana is the heir to the chiefdom of the village that inhabits her island but the island’s resources are becoming scarce. Faced with the difficult problem of ensuring that her people do not go hungry, Moana must strike a balance between the traditional ways of her ancestors and the new means of living that are required for her tribe’s survival. Despite protests from her father, she sets off on an incredible journey in which she meets demigods and sentient coconuts. “Moana”follows the lead of the latest Disney films in its refreshing take on the princess archetype. Instead of the traditional princess waiting in a castle to be saved, Moana is strong-willed and determined. Although this movie will certainly please any child that sees it, Moana‘s colorful characters and moving story make the film enjoyable for people of all ages.
Dr. Strange: Thumb Sideways
Feb. 6 – Feb. 12
Another solid addition to the ever-expanding Marvel Cinematic Universe, “Dr. Strange” is the latest superhero movie to come out of Marvel Studios. The film relates the origin story of Dr. Strange, played by Benedict Cumberbatch, the confident and sometimes pompous neurosurgeon Stephen Strange’s transformation into the magic-wielding superhero Dr. Strange. There are great performances from Mads Mikkelsen and Tilda Swinton but it is Cumberbatch who shines especially bright. His portrayal of Strange is expectedly enthralling and provides a humanizing look into the mind of his confident character. The film also engineers amazing visual displays that thrust the viewer into a fantastical world. Marvel sticks to its tried and true formula of action-packed drama and spectacle with humor sprinkled throughout. Although this formula does work for the film, it is hard not to see the repetition if one has seen a fair share of the previous Marvel movies. Despite this, “Dr. Strange” is an extremely well made movie that is sure to please.
Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them: Thumbs Sideways
Feb. 13 – Feb. 26
Loosely based on J. K. Rowling’s journal of magical animals, “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them”is a welcome expansion on the wizarding world of Harry Potter that explores the American magical community. The imaginary author of Rowling’s aforementioned book, Newt Scamander, serves as the protagonist of the story that explores his experience in 1920s New York City after some of his animals are accidently released to the city. Although Scamander must now collect all of his beasts, there is something more sinister that is attacking New York. He finds himself hunted by the Magical Congress of the United States of America and the anti-magic New Salem Philanthropic Society while dealing with the mysterious monster that is terrorizing the city. The film’s strong points come from its interesting characters and fantastic world building. Eddie Redmayne provides a wonderful performance of Scamander while Dan Fogler adds comedic relief and the audiences most relatable person in his portrayal of the non-magical Jacob. The rich imagination of Rowling comes to life in this film through the amazing visual effects and intriguing animals. Although previous fans of the Potter franchise will be pleased by the references to the British wizarding world, those who have not yet been introduced to the series will also appreciate this movie.