“The Smurfs” (2011) was the first film in the current franchise, and was quickly followed by the very successful “The Smurfs 2” (2013), and both were hybrids skillfully combining a live-action universe with a digitally animated CGI characters.

SMURFS – THE LOST VILLAGE is the latest film in the smurfs franchise, this time is fully digitally animated, and presents a brand new take on the Smurfs, and as experienced at the media screening, yet again SMURFS – THE LOST VILLAGE is a huge hit with very young children and their parents, with magnificent voice talents attached to the cast, and this is a very child-friendly kids fantasy movie for three-to-nine-year-olds.

Continue reading SMURFS – THE LOST VILLAGE (2017)



Sydney Youth Musical Theatre presented an impressive and magical restaging of J.M.Barrie’s classic tale featuring a large ensemble cast and a vibrant live orchestra.

For over 110 years, the legendary story of Peter Pan, a boy who can fly, but never wants to grow up. has been delighting children and their parents.

A quick sprinkle of fairy dust from Tinker Bell, and we see Peter take Wendy Darling and her brothers John Darling and Michael Darling to the magic world of Neverland. There they meet Lost Boys, Mermaids, Tiger Lily’s Indians and of course all the pirates and their malevolent leader Captain Hook.

Director Elizabeth Hogan provided her inspired direction that provided stunning rapport between all ages in the high energy cast featuring mostly teenagers. The show featured show stopping performances from all the leads and the well choreographed sword fighting scenes were exciting to watch.

The very functional set easily provided each of the many locations around Neverland, the choreography was delightful and effective, whilst the traditional costumes were just as one would have imagined.

The production delivered consistent, well-timed audience participation, with plenty of raucous laughter. One’s dreams take full flight during this 150 minute musical journey to Neverland.

Sydney Youth Musical Theatre’s production of PETER PAN played a brief season at the Hornsby RSL Club theatre between the 26th and the 28th November.



The amazing Dracula Pack is back, better than the original, with fresh animated slapstick for a non-stop adventure ride after Dracula becomes a grandfather. Just like the first film, HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA 2 has child-friendly sight gags and screwball punchlines, and corny farce humour and the latest scenario also features some ghoulish fun.

HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA 2 begins after the wedding of Dracula’s daughter Mavis (Selena Gomez) to human Jonathan (Andy Samberg) with the full blessing of Dracula (Adam Sandler). Dracula is now fixated with his new grandson’s lack of vampire heritage (with an appearance to remind you immediately of the ginger-headed children in Pixar’s Brave).   Dracula, together with his undead and other monstrosities decide it is their duty to teach the toddler how to be the best ever little monster.

Continue reading HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA 2


Minions (2015) 47

The MINIONS 3D computer-animated comedy movie begins from the dawn of time, with the relatively simple-minded MINIONS evolving from single-celled organisms, and then starting with the Jurassic Era becoming fiercely loyal beings who live just to serve history’s most despicable masters. The forever-young goggles-wearing yellow henchmen, from the two delightful ‘Despicable Me’ childrens’ movies, now have starring roles in this latest film produced by Illumination Entertainment for Universal Pictures. Sandra Bullock finally gets the role of a lifetime as the nasty super-villain, ‘Scarlett Overkill’.

‘Scarlett Overkill’ does mention the bard, and to quote William Shakespeare “She vaunted ‘mongst her minions t’ other day” (Henry VI Part 2). This retro ‘Despicable Me’ prequel is set during 1968 initially in New York and Orlando, with wonderful pop culture icons/references throughout. In the Swinging 60s London finale, Scarlett Overkill alongside her inventor husband Herb, wants to steal Queen Elizabeth’s crown from the Tower of London. The trio of Minions – Stuart, Kevin and Bob pass the henchmen recruitment process at Villain-Com International. Scarlett Overkill gives the job to her new henchmen, the trio of Minions, KEVIN (the leader), STUART (the teenage rebel with his ukulele) and the diminutive and very lovable BOB carrying Tim his Teddy Bear, and is easily identifiable with his brown/green “Heterochromia Iridum”. Via the bedtime story of THE THREE LITTLE PIGS, with “Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf” on the soundtrack, Scarlet threatens to kill the minions if they fail to steal the crown.

Continue reading MINIONS

Monkey…Journey to the West

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Aljin Abella and Darren Gilshenan in Monkey…Journey to The West

Hands up those who remember the iconic incredibly popular TV series Monkey of the 1970’s ?

Theatre of Image under the brilliantly inspired direction of Kim Carpenter, in combination with legendary John Bell of Bell Shakespeare and in collaboration with Team 9Lives have fashioned a magnificent, enthralling, visually stunning production based on a story originally from the 1500’s that enchants.

For those unfamiliar with Monkey it could perhaps be compared to a Buddhist style ‘ The Wizard of OZ’ with our heroes on a mission to rescue three holy scriptures and return them to the people of China. The fable with its moral and visual symbolism lends itself splendidly to this multi layered production.
Continue reading Monkey…Journey to the West

Kermond Comedy Capers

Father and son team Warren Kermond and Wayne Scott Kermond
Father and son team Warren Kermond and Wayne Scott Kermond

Shows which emphasise ideas of family, of having fun and the natural talent of performers are much needed in our present climate. In Monkey Baa Theatre Company’s KERMOND COMEDY CAPERS, father and son team Warren Kermond and Wayne Scott Kermond used their experience to introduce the young crowd to the magic of cabaret, vaudeville, slapstick, classic song and dance routines, and a sequence of hilarious gags.

This worthwhile concept is a celebration of old-school entertainment styles. It contrasted with what the children may witness on TV, especially on over-produced reality show talent quests. Great unison and solo tap-dancing, elements of clowning, careful timing and constant audience participation ensured the audience members of any age group were totally engaged. Continue reading Kermond Comedy Capers



THE MAGIC CHICKEN featured a great plot with perfectly choreographed mime which easily kept every child mesmerised from start to finish. Constant giggles and laughter also came from the adults.

The play is set in a fun ‘Seussian’ kitchen and restaurant, initially with the dumb ‘under’-lectual chef and sous-chef, until a new customer enters the restaurant, and the busy comedy mayhem escalates into utter chaos with the most perfect timing including hip-hop dance moves and time-altering slow-motion. Continue reading THE MAGIC CHICKEN

Roald Dahl’s THE WITCHES

Guy Edmunds delivers a brilliant comic performance in WITCHES. Pics Brett Boardman

Roald Dahl’s THE WITCHES is the much loved childrens’ classic book, which tells a twisted yet endearing fairy tale, all about defeating a coven of evil witches.

Dahl’s story was originally adapted for the stage by David Woods and has since been reimagined by Lucas Jervies.

The current Stables production showcases a clever one man tour-de-force performance by Guy Edmonds (A Moody Christmas) as the master storyteller.

Continue reading Roald Dahl’s THE WITCHES


The-Boxtrolls-6THE BOXTROLLS is based on Alan Snow’s childrens novel “Here Be Monsters”, part of a series of rather ghoulish but quirky and very clever childrens’ books.

Just as in their previous film CORALINE, Laika Animation has worked really hard to stand out with their unique stop motion movies, and their genuine stop motion is so exquisite in every detail and is uniquely charming, as amply demonstrated in the trailers for their third American animated feature length film BOXTROLLS. I am an absolute fan of movie animation in its many forms, however the physical process of creation by the frame-by-frame alteration of every character, still is a very welcome treat for my eyes. Continue reading Boxtrolls


RIO 2 the movie

All those incredible RIO original characters are back, and new character voices are provided by Oscar® nominee Andy Garcia, Grammy® winner Bruno Mars, Tony® winner Kristin Chenoweth and Oscar/Emmy®/Tony winner Rita Moreno, plus featuring the clever music of new Brazilian artists and catchy original music by Janelle Monae and Wondaland.

This second animated outing for the blue macaws from the magical city of Rio, is full of energy and eye candy. Blu and Jewel unexpectedly discover, that there are other members of their species located ”Deep in the Amazon”. City bird Blu (Eisenberg) is happily married to Jewel (Hathaway) and this time, they travel to the Amazon with his family and his friends (from the first RIO movie) to look for Jewel’s family, but the villainous adversary Nigel (Clement) the deranged white cockatoo, is again gleefully subversive and keen on revenge. One of my favourite scenes, is the soccer match between the Blue Macaws and the Red Macaws

Continue reading RIO 2



HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON (2010) was immensely successful for DreamWorks Animation, and was a runaway critical and commercial hit. We now return to the animated world of Dragons and Vikings, and this second thrilling chapter is a sweeping and very imaginative fantasy adventure, and the intelligent storytelling of the original has been beautifully expanded with ambitious high-speed battle sequences. This is an inspired piece of escapism, heavily infused with more of that independent spirit with a slightly off-kilter aesthetic, that enriched the original movie. Starring the voice talents of Jay Baruchel, Gerard Butler, Craig Ferguson, America Ferrera, Jonah Hill, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, T.J. Miller, Kristen Wiig, Djimon Hounsou.

Continue reading HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON 2


Miss Piggy and Kermit in the latest Muppet film, MUPPETS MOST WANTED
Miss Piggy and Kermit in the latest Muppet film, MUPPETS MOST WANTED

“On a European tour, no one notices that Kermit The Frog has been replaced by an evil froggy doppelgänger (Constantine) who is a criminal mastermind . . . “

This family musical ”comedy” originally was to be titled “The Muppets … Again!” . . . “MUPPETS MOST WANTED (2014) is the Muppet’s eighth cinema release since “THE MUPPETS” (1979). Directed by James Bobin and starring Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear, The Great Gonzo, Ricky Gervais, Tina Fey, Ty Burrell, Tom Hiddleston, Christoph Waltz, Ray Liotta, Til Schweiger, Debby Ryan, Danny Trejo, Usher Raymond, Celine Dion, and a huge cast of cameos from famous actors, that the adults will all easily recognise.

Continue reading MUPPETS MOST WANTED



Best LEGO family adventure movie ever, this modern day satire is subversive and yet counter-cultural. This Australian made 3D computer animation comedy movie film, is already so beloved by USA audiences because this film satisfies audiences of all ages, and the sequel is already being made. Decent plot with very engaging characters, and you will be taken for quite an emotional and hectic ride, but near the end, the story has that unexpected twist, with an intriguing moral lesson for all, that is essentially true to life.

Emmet (Chris Pratt) a forgettable everyman, struggles as an ordinary, rules-following, perfectly average LEGO mini-figure and is hopelessly and hilariously under prepared, when mistakenly identified by our surveillance culture. When anointed by an underground resistance movement as the “The Special” and the key to saving the world, Emmet is drafted into an epic quest journey (think HOBBIT) to stop Lord Business (Will Ferrell) the evil tyrant who intends to permanently glue everyone in place. Just like MR.PEABODY AND SHERMAN, there are some surprising voices used as cameos, this time from famous female and male actors. Amazing visuals and yes it is very hard to tell that everything, is not actually made of real Lego pieces.

Continue reading THE LEGO MOVIE


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MR. PEABODY & SHERMAN is an American 3D computer-animated comedy science fiction movie film about time travellers

Mr. Peabody (Ty Burrell) is a lovable talking dog, who is smartest being in the world, business titan, inventor, scientist, a cool musician, Harvard graduate, Nobel laureate, gourmet chef, and two-time Olympic medalist.

Mr. Peabody finds little baby Sherman in a cardboard box, and then adopts him because Peabody wants something that he didn’t have when he was small, a home for him.

Mr. Peabody is the most accomplished dog in the world, and his mischievous “pet” a seven-year-old adopted boy named Sherman (Max Charles), use their time machine – The WABAC – to go on the dangerous time travel adventures in the past on Planet Earth.

Continue reading MR. PEABODY AND SHERMAN



FREE BIRDS is an American 3D computer-animated comedy movie film all about changing the American Thanksgiving Holiday with “TURKEYS that Time Travel”, directed by Jimmy Hayward and produced by Reel FX Creative Studios.

Pardoned by the President of the United States, Reggie (Owen Wilson) is a pardoned turkey, and lives a comfortable life at Camp David, enjoying pizza and watching television Jake (Woody Harrelson) is the president and the only member of the Turkeys Liberation Front. They team up and the adventure begins by hijacking a government time machine, and they travel back in time to just before the first Thanksgiving, to get all turkeys off the Thanksgiving menu forever.

Continue reading FREE BIRDS



From the world of 19th-century children’s literature and very loosely based on the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale “The Snow Queen”, in this century good and evil have become psychologically complex, and also not so clear-cut, and with coherent storytelling we learn that a princess now has to show all her strengths and work to earn her happily-ever-after ending.

Set in the fictional kingdom of Arendelle, the beautiful blond, high-strung princess Elsa (Idina Menzel), and has a secret magical problem. Everything freezes when Elsa waves her un-gloved hands. Her impulsive redheaded younger sister, Anna (Kristen Bell), was nearly frozen to death by accident by Elsa the Snow Queen. Anna suddenly falls in love at first sight with Hans (Santino Fontana), a scheming and opportunistic but otherwise is a too-good-to-be-true picture-perfect prince, but Elsa forbids their marriage. Elsa causes eternal winter in the kingdom of Arendelle.

Continue reading FROZEN


A perfect Christmas movie- RISE OF THE GUARDIANS

The perfect Christmas movie with all the trimmings of the Santa franchise comes gift wrapped in RISE OF THE GAURDIANS (PG).

When Pitch, the master of dark materials and trainer of nightmares, a kind of Bart Cummings of the fright night fillies, threatens to destroy children’s belief in wonder and rent them asunder with fear, the Guardians of the infantile, Santa, The Easter Bunny, The Tooth Fair and the Sandman amalgamate to ward off Pitch’s insidious abomination.

Continue reading RISE OF THE GUARDIANS



An animation about a reanimation and homage to classic horror movies, Tim Burton’s FRANKENWEENIE outflanks all other cartoon contenders so far this year.

With stunning black and white cinematography by Peter Sorg and one of the best Danny Elfman scores in years, FRANKENWEENIE tells the tale of young Victor Frankenstein, a school student who prefers science to sports, whose science project literally resuscitates his deceased dog, Sparky.



His success spurs his fellow students to similarly restore and reanimate and under the guise of the school science project inadvertently creates a dead pets society focused on the resurrection of all manner of critter.

A tortoise becomes a terrifying terrapin, a fearsome amphibian grown to gargantuan Godzilla, a bat melds with a cat to create a ferociously fanged flying feline, sea monkeys become popcorn crazed gremlins, and assorted other animals make up a menagerie of mayhem.

Spectacular sight and sound show is complimented by an array of fine vocalisations, from Martin Landau’s mellifluous science teacher, to Winona Ryder’s Elsa Van Helsing. Both these actors are veterans of Burton’s various visions, from Beetlejuice through to Ed Wood.

Victor’s fellow students all have voice patterns similar to great sibilances of the spook genre – there’s a lispy Karloff and the Eastern European cadence of Lorre and Lugosi for example, and the puppets’ appearance patterns classic characterisations as well, from hunchbacks to henchman.

Fun and entertaining, FRANKENWEENIE is also a clarion call for kids to embrace science and for society in general to take more of an interest.

Basically a boy and his dog story, this is Disney daring to be a bit darker, devoid of dreary dirges, and diabetic ditties, giving Pixar a much needed challenge.

© Richard Cotter

30th October, 2012

Tags: Sydney Movie Reviews- FRANKENWEENIE, Tim Burton, Sydney Arts Guide, Richard Cotter


Asa Butterfield and Chloe Grace Moretz in HUGO

HUGO is a good, entertaining film. Scorsese wanted to make a film that his 12 year old daughter could watch, and he has succeeded very well. It will also be a nice memory for her when she grows up and sees her Dad’s other movies, where people are often stabbed in the throat and beaten to death with baseball bats!

Hugo (Asa Butterfield) is a young orphan living in Paris’s Montparnasse railway station in the 1930’s. He spends his days keeping the station’s big clock in repair, peeking out at the goings-on at the station, stealing food, and escaping the clutches of Borat- sorry Sasha Baron Cohen, as the nasty station Inspector, who has a bad leg and a vicious Doberman, and quite enjoys sending young thieves to the orphanage.

Continue reading HUGO


Dreamworks Animation’s PUSS IN BOOTS (G)

Not quite as successful or sustaining as ARTHUR CHRISTMAS, Dreamworks Animation’s PUSS IN BOOTS (G) is nevertheless an enjoyable romp, a spinoff of the remarkable Shrek series.

Antonio Banderas reprises his role as the fashion footwear feline, one cool cat, a gato that takes the gateaux, and there’s no denying the casting is purr-fect.

The film works best when it focuses on the feline – the milk drinking, the pussy playfulness, the kitty caboodle. When it strides into Zorro zone – an almost irresistible temptation when you have Antonio aboard- it becomes a bit overblown.

Keep the Puss Tom and eschew The Fox, and the Boots has more fidelity and felicity and is less fatuous – in this case Fatuous Catus.

All that litters is not old – it’s just that some writers need to be more malkin savvy for this mouser to sustain feature length without fur-balling.

© Richard Cotter

4th December, 2011



Christmas comes early for cinemagoers with the release of ARTHUR CHRISTMAS, a co-production between Aardman and Sony Animation.

The film is about Santa succession and the enduring success Santa enjoys in circumnavigating the globe on one night.

As depicted at the beginning of the picture, it’s a major military operation, a meld of high tech and magic as 21st century Santa eschews the traditional nine reindeer open sleigh with a star ship, the S-1 that has a Kris Kringle cloaking device Klingons would envy.

Continue reading ARTHUR CHRISTMAS