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The Florida Project: Welcome to Moonee’s Magic Kingdom

The world was a much simpler place when we were six. Our imaginations ran free. Six-year-olds can find beauty and excitement anywhere, and make any setting their personal playground. It is fun to be reminded how happy the littlest things could make us when we were younger. The Florida Project gives us that opportunity by welcoming us to Moonee’s world.

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GOULDTHORPE | Why the Hate for 3D Animation?

After I reviewed My Little Pony: The Movie a couple weeks ago, I did two things. First of all, I went to see the next available screening of It to set myself at balance. Second, I started to look around and see what other online critics had to say about the movie, a favorite pastime of mine. To my surprise, I found a number of comments saying things like, “Go see the movie! It’s the last chance to tell Hollywood that we want traditional, hand-drawn animation back!”

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Spidey Swings Home

After a semi-successful trilogy by Sam Raimi and two over-the-top films from Marc Webb, it seemed like everyone’s neighborhood wall crawler was going to put up the cowl for good, while studios battled over whether Spider-Man should be portrayed as an emo teenager or an emotionally challenged Tobey Maguire. Yet, who would have thought that thirty minutes of Tom Holland donning spandex in Captain America: Civil War was a sign of better things to come? Holland’s performance earned him stripes for his own solo movie in the form of Spider-Man: Homecoming, the title of which references the eponymous high school dance and is symbolic of Spider-Man joining the larger Marvel family owned by Disney. As with anyone who has to interact with new relatives, Homecoming can feel awkward and terse as it attempts to navigate and connect with past films, but once it finds its own footing, the movie flips into high gear. In the end, the latest Spidey excels as a greater extension of the Marvel Universe, and also as a solid stand-alone feature buoyed by a stellar supporting cast, infectious humor and a fresh, contemporary high school setting.

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Not Enough Spark

Spark: A Space Tail, written and directed by Aaron Woodley (with additional written material by Adam Rotstein, Robert Reece and Doug Hadders), has been a mystery to me. I didn’t know what to make of the film. It premiered nearly a year ago at the Toronto Animation Arts festival. There were no advance reviews, and only a nebulous plot synopsis. All I knew was that it was a Canadian-Korean production from ToonBox and Redrover, the same people who brought us The Nut Job.

RUBASHKIN | Disney Gets Greedy

Despite the recent standout successes of films like Spotlight, La La Land and Moonlight, the past several years have been dark times for cinema. Last summer, droves of Americans willingly spent a collective $176 million to see a movie titled Ant-Man, not because of any particular affection for either ants or the second-tier superhero who obtains their powers, but because we were compelled to do so as a part of Walt Disney Studios’ master plan. See, a standalone film about a man who can shrink himself to the size of an ant probably wouldn’t do so well, regardless of how unassuming and charming the actor playing him was (and Paul Rudd is about as unassuming and charming as they come). But a film about a man who can shrink himself to the size of an ant that happens to be part of a larger so-called “cinematic universe”? Instant blockbuster.

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GOULDTHORPE | You Won’t Be Finding Dory at the Oscars this Year. What Does That Mean For Pixar?

After I published my article last week, I received comments from people around me: “Hey, you didn’t mention Finding Dory! What gives?” Well, I left Finding Dory off my list to talk about it more in-depth because the Academy gave it no nominations this year. Only four Pixar movies have ever been totally ignored by the Academy Awards; all of them have been in the past five years. Those films are Cars 2, Monsters University, The Good Dinosaur, and Finding Dory. See a pattern here?

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Moana: Gorgeous Animation, Expansive Mythology and a Captivating Culture

I had a friend the other day say when I like a movie, my metric ranges from “good” to “coma-inducing.” Well let’s just say Disney’s Moana made it hard for me to wake up in time to write this review. Moana follows the story of a young girl on the island of Mata Nui. She’s the daughter of the village chief and will become chief herself someday. But ever since she was young, she has had a deep desire to explore the ocean. The villagers of Mata Nui live in paradise.

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Disney’s Zootopia: Stunning Animation with Social Commentary

It’d be hard to imagine anyone hasn’t heard the hype around Walt Disney’s 55th entry into their animated canon. The film has dominated the box office for the past three weekends — even overshadowing the release of Allegiant — and it’s not hard to see why. Zootopia, directed by Byron Howard, Rich Moore and Jared Bush, combines wit, charm and fun with sharp social commentary, creating an experience that is truly unforgettable. The story revolves around a rabbit named Judy Hopps, voiced by Ginnifer Goodwin, who — true to Disney standards — is a bright-eyed dreamer who wants to make the world a better place. She feels that the best way to do this is to become a police officer, but faces obstruction from people around her who point out that there’s never been a rabbit police officer before.