Director: David Soren.
Voices: Ed Helms, Kevin Hart, Thomas Middleditch. USA 2017. 89 mins.
Noted Dreamworks animator David Soren (Shrek, Turbo) directs the first film of a potential franchise based on author Dav Pilkey’s weirdly wonderful children’s adventures featuring elementary-school troublemakers George (Hart) and Harold (Middleditch). Rather than studying in the classroom, George and Harold prefer sitting in their tree house chronicling the exploits of their unlikely superhero, Captain Underpants, in their homemade comic books. However, when their stern headmaster Mr Krupp (Helms) finally catches them out, they accidentally hypnotise him into thinking that he is the caped tighty-whitey crusader. The faux Captain is then tormented by a new history teacher, Prof. Poopypants (Nick Kroll), prompting a slew of fast-paced misadventures that Soren and his team energise with an array of animation formats.
Directors: Kyle Balda, Pierre Coffin, Eric Guillon.
Voices: Steve Carell, Kristen Wiig, Trey Parker. USA 2017. 90 mins.
At the end of Despicable Me 2, one-time dastardly supervillain Felonious Gru (Carell) seemed to have hung up his ‘evil’ cape for good. Having settled in the ‘burbs with his feisty super agent wife (Wiig) and three adorable, unicorn-loving, adopted daughters, he’s now out to actively fight crime, not cause it. Until, that is, a long lost, enviably hirsute twin brother (also Carell) pops out of the woodwork to tempt Gru back to the dark side… Eagerly anticipated by everyone from toddlers to adults, this animated threequel also voice casts Trey Parker (co-creator of South Park and The Book Of Mormon) as an ’80s-obsessed baddie with truly villainous shoulder pads. As if that wasn’t enough, one final word will sell it to you: Minions!
Director: Mira Nair.
Starring: Lupita Nyong’o, David Oyelowo, Madina Nalwanga. South Africa/USA 2016. 124 mins.
Newcomer Madina Nalwanga stars in this fascinating and surprisingly tense account of ten-year-old Phiona Matesi’s journey from the Ugandan slums to international chess championships.
While selling corn in her home village, Phiona (Nalwanga) meets footballer-turned-missionary Robert Katende (Oyelowo, Selma, A Most Violent Year), who teaches chess to local children. Recognising her spirit and innate talent, Katende begins to mentor Phiona, teaming up with her impoverished mother (Nyong’o, 12 Years A Slave) to help her fulfil her potential.
Celebrated Indian director Mira Nair (Monsoon Wedding) was drawn to Phiona’s story after making a 2015 documentary about Katende. Aided by The Reluctant Fundamentalist scriptwriter William Wheeler, she has made a film that is as uplifting as it is revealing about life in one of Africa’s poorest countries.
Monsters Incorporated is the largest scare factory in the monster world, and James P. Sullivan is one of its top scarers. Sullivan is a huge, blue, furry monster and his scare assistant, best friend and roommate, Mike Wazowski, is a green, opinionated, feisty little one-eyed monster. Visiting from the human world is Boo, a tiny girl who goes where no human has ever gone before.