This month’s offerings include a DreamWorks animation about life’s unpredictability and a fantasy mystery about hope.
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A society of lone yetis lives high in the frigid mountains, adhering to strict laws etched into the stone. Its leader, Stonekeeper (voiced by Common), upholds the regulations, but one day, while on the prowl, the yeti Migo (Channing Tatum) discovers a Smallfoot, also known as a human named Percy (James Corden), endangering the Stonekeeper’s position of power. Zendaya portrays Meechee, the rebellious daughter of the Stonekeeper, who is in charge of the Smallfoot Evidentiary Society, or S.E.S., a fringe group of rebels that includes Gina Rodriguez and LeBron James as members.
Although its main purpose is to amuse audiences with an animated musical about humans and yetis, it may also provoke thought-provoking discussions on questioning authority and standing up for what’s right. Written by Kirkpatrick and Clare Sera (“Blended”), the screenplay was directed by Jason Reisig and Karey Kirkpatrick (“Over the Hedge”). The writers of “Bad Santa,” Glenn Ficarra and John Requa, are given narrative credit, even though they stayed relatively PG in this case.
‘Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania’
If given a Marvel-sized budget, the campy 1968 Jane Fonda romp “Barbarella” might have looked like the Quantum Realm from “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania”. Ant-Man (Paul Rudd), the Wasp (Evangeline Lilly), and Ant-Daughter Cassie (Kathryn Newton from “Big Little Lies”) inadvertently find themselves attracted into a psychedelic other reality when Cassie transmits a signal into that mysterious place. It’s a family affair since Michelle Pfeiffer and Michael Douglas, who play Janet and Hank, the Wasp’s parents, are also at the lab when everyone gets zapped.
Just as Jonathan Majors’s terrifying adversary Kang is about to make his move in the Quantum Realm, Bill Murray arrives on the scene as Lord Krylar. The emotional centre of the narrative is around the father-daughter bond between Ant-Man and Cassie, and it’s fun to watch Pfeiffer and Douglas giving their best in a superhero film. This ought to be plenty to enthral middle schoolers and older elementary school pupils who appreciate the humour and action of “Guardians of the Galaxy.” Peyton Reed (“Ant-Man,” “The Mandalorian”) is the film’s director, and Jeff Loveness (“Rick and Morty,” “Jimmy Kimmel Live!”) wrote the screenplay.
‘Orion and the Dark’
Though DreamWorks Animation’s “Orion and the Dark” was scripted by Charlie Kaufman (“Being John Malkovich,” “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”), the existential dread was believable. Not many children’s films address novelist David Foster Wallace and nihilism.
Orion, an anxious elementary school boy (voiced by Jacob Tremblay), fears talking to the girl he has a crush on and being around bullies at school. In his first feature film as director, Sean Charmatz adapts the story from an Emma Yarlett picture book. But Orion also has a phobia of swimming, field trips and bees. The darkness terrifies him above all. Orion sets out on a midnight adventure after receiving a visit from Dark (Paul Walter Hauser), who appears to him as a big, endearing person.
Along the way, he meets people who play characters like Insomnia (Nat Faxon), Dreams (Angela Bassett), and Quiet (Aparna Nancherla). It’s a sweet and funny adventure that tackles the concerns that the majority of young kids have. As Orion and Dark say their goodbyes, the young man has gained the courage to go on his field trip, while Dark has battled self-doubt because of the belief maintained by a portion of society that he is a monster. A brief voice-over by director Werner Herzog, who narrates a documentary about, of all things, the dark, is a highlight, at least for parents.
‘The Water Man’
This Is Our The new lad in town is Lonnie Chavis, better known as Gunner. His father, Amos (David Oyelowo), is a stoic military veteran whose duties keeps him away from home too often; his mother, Mary (Rosario Dawson), is dying of cancer; and he has no friends. He withdraws himself into the graphic novel he is working on and the puzzles of Sherlock Holmes. Gunner sets out to find the Water Man, who, according to local legend, lives in the dark woodlands outside of town and is claimed to possess magical skills. Based on an Emma Needell story, Oyelowo’s picture offers plenty of imagination and excitement for kids who love mysteries, much like Gunner did.
Despite the strange happenings in the woods, such as eerie noises, unexpected sightings of wild horses, and summertime snowfall, Gunner and his new friend Jo (Amiah Miller) brave the unknown to see the Water Man and possibly even help heal Gunner’s mother. Ultimately, Oyelowo deftly tackles touchy issues, and it’s primarily an optimistic tale.
‘The Tiger’s Apprentice’
When we first meet Tom Lee in 2009, he is a newborn who is riding in the back of his grandmother’s car in Hong Kong. Behaving like any ordinary grandmother, she shows no sign of surprise until a swarm of neon green and black demon creatures attack the car. Along with a pig, a horse, and a goat, the tiger—one of the twelve mythological zodiac figures that emerge—saves Tom and his grandmother from the evil sorceress Loo (Michelle Yeoh).
Fifteen years later, we are in San Francisco. Tom (Brandon Soo Hoo), a teenage skateboarder, lives in Chinatown with his grandmother. He is being teased at school, but one day, in the midst of a fight, he discovers he is magical. Almost immediately, Tom learns that his grandmother is the custodian of the Phoenix, a powerful amulet that, in the wrong hands, may wipe out humanity but, in the right hands, safeguards everything good in the universe. Tom reluctantly agrees to be Phoenix’s defender, and Henry Golding’s depiction of the Tiger—also referred to as Hu in human form—acts as Tom’s mentor. Dragon Mistral is voiced by Sandra Oh, and the Empress is portrayed by Lucy Liu.