Oona Laurence and Oakes Fegley with a fuzzy, flying best friend in Disney's "Pete's Dragon."

Last chance: ‘Pete’s Dragon’ – A storybook wonder on Netflix

Pete’s Dragon (2016) is that rare breed of remake that outshines the original. The 1977 film, about an orphaned boy who runs away from his abusive adoptive parents with a magical dragon, was a live action film with a bright cartoon character taking the part of the dragon. The dragon is no less animated in […]

Ellen DeGeneres voices Dory in Pixar's animated adventure 'Finding Dory'

Pixar’s ‘Finding Dory’ on VOD and disc

Finding Dory (2016), Pixar’s sequel to its gorgeous animated aquatic masterpiece, can’t shake off its sequel-ness—it plays like a variation on the theme rather than an original take on the familiar tale—but it’s a Pixar picture with all the care and love and storytelling magic that the studio brings to every project. Which makes this […]

Hiromasa Yonebayashi directs the animated fantasy based on the children's novel by British author Mary Stewart

‘Mary and the Witch’s Flower’ – a magical odyssey on Netflix

Mary and the Witch’s Flower (Japan, 2017), the magical fantasy by Japanese animator and filmmaker Hiromasa Yonebayashi (director of the marvelous When Marnie Was There), based on a children’s novel by British author Mary Stewart, follows the adventures of a schoolgirl who receives magical powers for a day from a magical flower that blooms once […]

Daniel Radcliffe and Emma Watson in the third "Harry Potter" feature

‘Harry Potter’ – the complete saga on VOD and Blu-ray/DVD

Looking back on the original Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (2001), directed by Chris Columbus, we see a painstakingly literal translations of J.K Rowling’s first novel, a near-perfect replica created with a kind of funhouse spectacle of the wonders of the magical world come to life. Sorcerer’s Stone (2001) is a lush, lavishly produced […]

The animated Superman from Max and Dave Fleischer

‘The Complete Animated Superman’ – The original classics on Amazon Prime

The Complete Superman Collection (1941-1943) – “Faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, able to leap tall buildings in a single bound. The infant of Krypton is now the Man of Steel: Superman!” The 17 animated shorts produced by Max Fleischer between 1941 and 1943 were the first big screen incarnation of […]

Mowgli and friends in Disney's live-action 'The Jungle Book.'

‘The Jungle Book’ – Disney’s 2016 remake on VOD and disc

The Jungle Book (2016), Jon Favreau’s live action (or at least photo-realistic) version of the Rudyard Kipling stories, offers far more than the bare necessities as it combines Kipling’s stories and Walt Disney’s 1967 animated musical adaptation for a marvelous new version of the classic story of a boy quite literally raised by wolves. The […]

Asa Butterfield and Chloë Grace Moretz star in Martin Scorsese's love letter to the movies and his first PG movie

Martin Scorsese’s ‘Hugo’ on Amazon Prime

Hugo (2011), Martin Scorsese’s first family film (it’s PG!) and his first engagement with 3D, is a love letter to the magic of cinema. Based on the novel by Brian Selznick, it is a tribute to early film pioneer George Méliès (played by Ben Kinsgley), a child’s adventure through a grown-up world of loss and […]

Henry Thomas and friend in Steven Spielberg's beloved science fiction fantasy

‘E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial’ on HBO Now

E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982), Steven Spielberg’s suburban fairy tale for kids who think they are too hip to believe in fairies, is as glorious as ever 35 years after its debut. Henry Thomas is Elliot, an emotionally bruised kid suffering under his parents’ separation who finds another lonely, lost soul, a benevolent alien left behind […]

Gene Wilder is Willy Wonka in the musical adaptation of the Roald Dahl novel

The original ‘Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory’ on Netflix

“Come with me and you’ll be in a world of pure imagination.” Gene Wilder is the weird, wonderful, slightly sinister candy bar king who invites five children into his factory kingdom in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971), a musical adaptation of Roald Dahl’s children’s fantasy. It is a rare breed: an imaginative live-action […]

‘My Life as a Zucchini’ – Oscar-nominated animation from France on Netflix

The Academy Award-nominated animated feature My Life as a Zucchini (France, 2016) uses stop-motion animation to tell the bitter-sweet story of an imaginative, vulnerable boy nicknamed Zucchini who is orphaned after the death of his abusive, alcoholic mother and sent to a foster home. But while it is set in France (the view from Zucchini’s […]