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Onward and 1917 offer something for everyone: James King's Week in Movies

Our film expert James King recommends what to watch from the comfort of your sofa

James King

The boffins at Pixar practically wrote the rules on how to make animations appeal to kids and adults alike and their latest release is no different. Plus, award-winning film-maker Sam Mendes gives action fans food for thought and a throw ahead to Simon Pegg’s latest thriller (and new haircut). Enjoy!

BEST NEW FAMILY FILM TO WATCH AT HOME

ONWARD

There’s only one problem with Pixar movies and that’s this: they’re just too good. The result? When one comes along, like ONWARD, that’s not quite so sparkling, witty and effortlessly insightful as classics such as Up, Inside Out and Finding Nemo then we can’t help but feel a little disappointed. It’s a shame though, since this tale of brothers searching for a way to bring a little magic into their lives is a real charmer. Other animation companies can only dream of this kind of classiness. 

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WATCH: Onward trailer

ONWARD focuses on elf siblings Ian and Barley (voiced by Tom Holland and Chris Pratt), told one day by their single mum Laurel (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) that their late father left behind some magic spells for them. Get the spells right, they learn, and dad can come back to life for a day. Ian, however, is no Harry Potter and a bungled attempt leads the brothers on a quest to find a special gemstone which can help them with their task. 

READ: Five cinema releases you can watch at home right now

 

 
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Whilst ONWARD is set in a world of dungeons and dragons, like all good animations it manages to transcend its childlike fantasy world and say something profound about human behaviour for all ages. In this case it’s the importance of family that’s front and centre - hardly a groundbreaking message but nicely put across by the versatile voice talents of Holland and Pratt. If the plot meanders and the big set pieces aren’t quite as touching as the smaller moments then at least ONWARD still has its heart in the right place. Would Pixar have it any other way?

READ: Netflix's Extraction starring Chris Hemsworth sequel confirmed - and director has already hinted at the plot

ONWARD [U] is available now on all digital platforms

BEST AWARD WINNER TO WATCH AT HOME

1917

The No1 UK and US box-office hit comes to your living room hot from its ten Oscar nominations and Best Picture wins at the BAFTAs and Golden Globes. Does it still work away from the cinema? Absolutely. The story of a nail-biting journey undertaken by two young soldiers in the First World War - inspired by director Sam Mendes own grandfather and his experiences in the trenches of Northern France - would need a lot more than a small screen to dilute its power. 

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The film is now available to watch at home

Much has been made of the cinematography in 1917, how the camera roams and follows Lance Corporals Will and Tom in what appears to be one continuous shot. It’s an astonishing achievement but it’s also more than just a novelty. In a story where geography is so important - from the layout of the trenches to the fields and villages the men have to secretly cross - that claustrophobia serves the story perfectly. Where’s safe? Where’s occupied? Where’s no man’s land? Neither we nor the lead characters can ever truly relax. 

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The film was a huge success

So here’s a ‘horror film’ in the true sense of the phrase. Young stars Dean Charles Chapman and George MacKay (so great in Sunshine on Leith) remind us how youthful the lads were at the heart of this horrific war. What they went through as little more than teenagers was mind-blowing and it’s all credit to the film’s unique style that for two hours, we’re right there with them. 

1917 [15]  is available now on all digital platforms and on DVD/Blu-ray from the 18 May

 

 
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COMING SOON

INHERITANCE 

Lily Collins and Simon Pegg both show off their darker sides (and in Simon’s case, a remarkable wig) in this warped thriller about a young woman left a mysterious gift in her father’s will. Gossip Girl’s Chace Crawford co-stars. 

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WATCH: Inheritance trailer

INHERITANCE [Cert TBC] will be released later this year

 

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