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 […]

‘Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius’ on Netflix

Little Jimmy Neutron is an Einstein in short pants with the vision of a junior Jules Verne. He races with Air Force pilots and launches satellites before breakfast, invents shrink rays for show-and-tell, and has even created a mechanical dog, Goddard, who is infinitely loyal, endearingly playful, and sports more gadgets than a Swiss Army […]

‘From Up on Poppy Hill’ from Hiyao Miyazaki and son on HBO Max

If your idea of Japanese animation is space opera, cyberbpunk action, and Hiyao Miyazaki’s modern fairy tales, then From Up on Poppy Hill (Japan, 2011), might surprise you. Produced and co-scripted by Miyazaki and directed by his son, Goro Miyazaki, this is a gentle, somewhat slight story of student life and young love in early […]

‘Son of Rambow’ – a homemade odyssey on Amazon Prime Video

Meek Will Proudfoot (Bill Milner), a wide-eyed naïf in a repressive religious sect, and “devil child” Lee Carter (Will Poulter), a belligerent school troublemaker, becomes unlikely partners in Garth Jennings’ fanciful, funny Son of Rambow (2008). They’re odd couple buddies born of convenience (on Lee’s part) and naiveté (that would be Will) but forged in […]

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

‘The Wizard of Oz’ – Over the rainbow on HBO Max

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 […]

‘Mirai’ – Oscar-nominated family fantasy on Netflix

A surprise Oscar nominee in the animated feature category, Mirai (Japan, 2018) is the sweet, imaginative tale of a four-year-old boy who becomes jealous of his newborn sister Mirai when she becomes the center of attention in the household while his parents grapple with new strains that the growing family puts on the household. Mother […]

‘Okko’s Inn’ – an orphaned girl finds purpose on Netflix

An orphaned girl finds purpose when she goes to live with her grandmother, the aging innkeeper of a small spa in a country vacation town known for the healing waters of its natural springs, in the lively animated feature Okko’s Inn (Japan, 2018). Okko, an urban girl who loses her parents in a devastating car […]

‘Ratatouille’ – Food glorious food on Disney+

“I’m a rat, which makes life hard.” That’s an understatement. In Ratatouille (2007), the dynamic animated film from writer/director Brad Bird (The Iron Giant and The Incredibles) and Pixar Studios, Remy (voiced by Patton Oswalt) may be a rat but he’s also a budding gourmand. Where his family is content to raid trash cans and scarf […]

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

‘The Jungle Book’ – 2016 remake on Disney+

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 […]

Fay Wray in the ape's paw in the original 1933 classic

The original ‘King Kong’ on HBO Max

King Kong (1933) is the king of the jungle of giant creature features. The acting and the dialogue verges on kitsch, but the production from explorers, adventurers, and real-life adventure filmmaking pioneers Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack is still awe-inspiring and the special effects of Willis O’Brien, groundbreaking in their day, are beautifully […]