Bold it may be to make a sequel to a feature helmed by one of the all-time greats, director Peter Hyams probably didn’t consider the influence of Stanley Kubrick when whirring away on his science-fiction project. Arthur C. Clarke developed sequel after sequel to the lightning in a bottle experimentation of 2001: A Space Odyssey. Like any prolific science fiction writer from the 20th century, he churned out more and more. Eventually losing grasp on the pop culture that would surely adapt his works, Clarke petered out with 3001: The Final Odyssey, a lukewarm bow wrapped around a dead horse, beaten to a pulp years before with its second adaptation, the Roy Scheider-led 2010: The Year We Make Contact.
At the heart of King George’s madness was a power struggle. Defined by controversy and a case of economic castration, The Madness of King George is not just a great vehicle for Nigel Hawthorne’s eponymous performance but an exploration of regal insanity. King George III’s descent into madness is marked by a handful of odd eccentricities that modern medicine would pick up on sooner than those found in the 18th century. Hindsight is a beautiful thing. Nicolas Hytner adapts this Alan Bennett stage production with the calming efficiency founded in this period of British filmmaking. It seemed that the stuffy old stylings of Willy Russell’s Educating Rita had a profound effect on Bennett, whose work is thematically different but equally as proud of its roots.
Collaborating minds in the directing chair, two greats of the industry coming together, knocking heads and building something powerful. That should happen more, but the outcome is often less than stellar. Joe Johnston and Lasse Hallström learn the hard way with The Nutcracker and the Four Realms, a feature that wishes to inspire some of that Disney magic. All it can do is scrape the paste of Christmas cheer from the underbelly of projects past. Surely the men that brought us Jumanji and Hachi can mean us no harm. They are polite, reasonable, nice. They would never betray the qualities of Christmas for, say, cash, or the chance to work with Matthew Macfadyen.
As the death of Princess Diana still lingers on the mind of tabloid consumers and freak royalist fans, The Queen wishes to depict the behind-the-scenes events of such a period. What was the impact on the Royal Family during this time? Frankly, I’ve always found it a bit ghoulish to consider what happened and why, but I have more interesting topics to engage myself with. I am not, however, able to resist the temptations of James Cromwell in a supporting role. He wowed me with The Young Pope, and I am hungry for more. Coinciding with the death of Diana came the birth of New Labour, and there is certainly room for an interesting contrast to take place here, and that it does.
Birds have evaded me for much of my life. To my recollection, I have never seen a living chicken. I have met a penguin and had a seagull maul me for some chips. But chickens and owls, those common beasts, have never crossed my path. In my expedition to understand these great, winged myths, Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole will serve a noble purpose. Not as bold a move as the men and women who thought a feature film about winged creatures would work. Cinema had the chance to learn its lesson with Valiant, but evidently, its warning fell upon deaf ears.
No matter how little I had come to expect of The One and Only Ivan, there was no doubt in my mind that this would be miserably disappointing. Parading Bryan Cranston around as a circus Ringmaster, it seems Heisenberg found gainful employment later in life. Still, Disney have been in the business of fluffy filler for its streaming platform for quite some time, so the existence of this Sam Rockwell-led family comedy shouldn’t be too big of a surprise. Disney+ caters to families, young children and happy individuals that don’t hold any form of narcissism within them. I’m clearly not the target audience, but it won’t stop me from sitting through this whilst I digest eight martinis.