The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
Guys. Guys. This was so good. Yes, the violence banquet is all you'd expect, and yes, sometimes the unlikely action sequences had a 007 feel...but I think the unlikelihoods are in keeping with the original book's vibe. I also have a beef over the eagles being short-changed (let's talk, if you've read and viewed the tale, both), but these things aside -- good times. I think re-viewing the first two Hobbit films helped a LOT, as Part 3 launches straight onward and into the final chapter; an excellent climax and close...as a stand-alone it would be lacking. I found the treatment of Thorin's sickness suitably nauseating, a revisit to a certain room perfect, and Smaug formidable. Let us all be thankful Peter and Weta were not around to create The Neverending Story, or we would all still be peeing our pants at night. If you have seen the latest Middle Earth installment, I would very much like to discuss the (added) love story with you. Very much.
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay -- Part 1
Not as bad as the third book, but not as splendid as the first two films. But we knew this was coming -- I mean, they're working with the third book, as material (/blank stare of disappointment). They did well to break up all the talking Mockingjay served up. It was still entertaining. The singing? Genius. This being one of two parts? Ear-flapping Dumbo.
Planes: Fire and Rescue
Once again, I think the Planes' films offer better morals and heroes than the Cars ones. I don't know if we'll buy this one, but our whole family (and my MIL), thought it "good."
Seeing this again (many times), as a parent, I cannot believe how much I remembered vividly from my childhood, and how much I'd ignored back then due to lack of understanding. The entire "Votes for Women" content right alongside satirical wife submissiveness? That went right over my head, as a kid. Now, I think it unnecessarily complicates the story -- especially given the fact that the wife and mother's cause is good and yet the overall message seems that both parents were far too distracted. It'd be nice if balance was achieved instead of suggesting there's an either-or situation for parents. Also: Mary doesn't really spend that much time with the kids or household...it seems like insta-love, nanny style. Err....back to the (plentiful) good stuff; my girls love this movie. They play songs from the soundtrack on repeat, and still find the chimney sweeps, freed carousel horses, and finger-clickin'-clean-up as riveting as I did years ago -- with no skepticism for the dated effects. For me, the film calls for a lot of parent explanatory narration (not just upon the first viewing, but for the first few), but I've enjoyed supplying it. Did not enjoy: Dick van Dyke's accent (another thing that didn't affect me as a child). In fact, his entire character. I greatly prefer Caracticus Potts (of Chitty fame) to bumbly, over-the-top "cockney" Bert (you know those quotes best be there!).
The Gruffalo's Child
I think the film adaptation of this Donaldson/Scheffler insta-classic is superb. It keeps to the original story and aesthetic, and manages to be interesting without being scary -- that's something, for a movie featuring monsters. It is also a great length, at just under half an hour. Other wins: My girls laugh out loud when they watch it, there's surprisingly big talent behind the voices for such a small-scale production, and the special features are educational and excellent.