Animated feature from France based on the graphic novels of Jacques Tardi

‘April and the Extraordinary World’ – Steampunk animated adventure on Netflix

April and the Extraordinary World (France, 2015), inspired by the graphic novels of the great French comic artist Jacques Tardi, is a steampunk adventure set in an alternate reality Paris where the World Wars never occurred, electricity was never discovered, twin Eiffel Towers anchor a direct cable-car route to Berlin, and the smoke that powers […]

Tobey Maguire is back in Sam Raimi's sequel, with Alfred Molina as Doctor Octopus

Sam Raimi’s ‘Spider-Man 2’ on Hulu

Sam Raimi’s adaptation of the legendary super-hero comic book continues in the high young-adult melodrama mode in Spider-Man 2 (2004). Peter Parker’s (Tobey Maguire) life is a shambles: his studies suffer in the (im)balance of school, work, and crime-fighting, his romance with redheaded sweetheart M.J. (Kirsten Dunst) is sacrificed to the demands of his alter-ego, […]

Judy Garland is Dorothy Gale in the beloved screen adaptation of Frank L. Baum's fantasy

‘The Wizard of Oz’ – Over the rainbow on VOD and Blu-ray/DVD

When gingham-clad farm girl Dorothy Gale rode the tornado out of the somber, sepia-tinged black and white of her Kansas dustbowl farm and into the sparkling Technicolor fantasy land somewhere over the rainbow, she changed the lives of her audiences (both then and now) as assuredly as she changed her own. The Wizard of Oz […]

David Oyelowo and Madina Nalwanga in Disney's "Queen of Katwe."

‘Queen of Katwe’ – The inspiring true story on VOD and Blu-ray/DVD

Queen of Katwe (2016) tells the true story of Phiona Mutesi, a poor, uneducated girl in Uganda who sells corn on the street of her impoverished slum until an encounter with chess offers her the possibility of something more. Newcomer Madina Nalwanga plays Phiona, the nine-year-old daughter of single mother Nakku Harriet (Lupita Nyong’o), taking […]

The animated adventure 'Kubo and the Two Strings' from Laika

‘Kubo and the Two Strings’ – An animated Japanese odyssey on VOD and Blu-ray/DVD

Kubo and the Two Strings (2016) – In the age of CGI and Pixar’s animation domination, the Oregon-based Laika is keeping the art of stop-motion animation alive in inventive, engaging, and engrossing features filled with textures and details you won’t find in even the greatest Pixar accomplishments. “If you must blink, do it now,” recommends […]

Directed by Rémi Chayé

‘Long Way North’ – Animated odyssey on Amazon Prime and Blu-ray/DVD

Long Way North (Shout! Factory) is a gorgeous French-Danish animated feature about a 15-year-old girl from an aristocratic family in 1880s Saint Petersburg who flees her palatial home for the far north to search for the lost ship of her explorer grandfather Oloukine. He disappeared in his attempt to conquer the North Pole in the […]

Gerry Anderson's 1966 feature film spin-off of the Supermarionation TV series

The original ‘Thunderbirds Are Go’ on Amazon Prime

Gerry Anderson’s 1960s Supermarionation series action series about a private rescue organization with really cool vehicles was an inspired mix of Japanese monster movie mayhem and British stiff upper lip cool. It brought new meaning to the term “wooden performance”; its stars were literally puppets, a rather bland and interchangeable marionette family of clean living […]

Kris Kringle in 'Santa Claus is Comin' to Town,' a Rankin and Bass TV special

Santa, Rudolph, and Frosty: Beloved Christmas specials on Amazon Prime

For big kids of certain age, it wasn’t really Christmas until all those silly Christmas specials produced by Rankin& Bass, usually with stop motion animation that looked like toy rooms come to life but sometimes with more traditional hand-drawn animation, started showing up on prime time TV. Sure, A Charlie Brown Christmas and the original […]

Kevin Costner and his team in 'McFarland, USA'

‘McFarland, USA’ with Kevin Costner on SVOD and Blu-ray/DVD

In McFarland, USA, Kevin Costner is the hothead of a coach who lands in an impoverished California desert town and starts a cross country team with Mexican-American students who, until his arrival, had little hope of a future outside of working the fields. Disney has really carved this genre out for itself: the true-life underdog […]