Avatar: The Way of Water | Review

★★★

It’s been such a long time since James Cameron’s largely forgettable Avatar supposedly changed the face of cinema that a recap almost feels due. Or, rather, it would were such a prelude not to extend this second instalment’s already overwhelming runtime. If Avatar was a tale of romance, its sequel – The Way of Water – is one of familial ties. Thematically, little has changed in the transition. The same is true of the now franchise’s questionable approach to indigenous appropriation. And yet, it’s not narrative prowess that will draw the crowds to a Pandora return. Thirteen years of work has fuelled the technological advancement of Avatar 2. It shows.

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Roald Dahl’s Matilda the Musical | Review

★★★★

Matilda is born of whizpopping minds. From Roald Dahl’s original battle cry to young rebels to the smash hit stage musical dreamed up two decades later by Tim Minchin, Dennis Kelly and Matthew Warchus. It’s their take on the tale that forms the basis of this new film. Dahl’s book has, after all, enjoyed the pleasure of adaptation, courtesy of Danny DeVito’s fondly remembered 1998 box office flop. As though to mitigate potential reprisal for such financial failure, Roald Dahl’s Matilda the Musical – to give the film its full title – is to be constrained to Netflix in all global territories but the UK. What a crying shame. This may be a film for and about little people but it’s a tour de force show stopper and duly demands the very biggest of screens.

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Strange World | Review

★★★

Disney seems oddly disinterested in promoting their latest toon. This being the studio’s first big budget animation since 2021’s wildly successful Encanto. Trailers have been sparse, merchandise limited and buzz low. It’s a shame because Strange World is a rather fun romp on the whole. Popping visuals dance across the screen to the tune of a full bodied orchestra in swell flow. The narrative is, truth by told, somewhat lacking. It’s fabulously Gen Z in agenda but succeeds most when it tries least. The throwaway progressive conceits on display resonate far more here than the heavier and worthy messaging that comes to dominate in the final stretch.

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