Movie review: Toy Story 4 raises bar higher
Toy Story was a herald of what Pixar could do in the world of animation. That was 1995, and the studio's ability to tell a great story using toys is still pretty much evident 24 years later.
Toy Story 3 ended the series on a high note almost a decade ago, and much to Pixar's credit, this fourth instalment raises the bar even higher.
Using toys to deal with the issue of existentialism is clever, and throughout the series, we see Woody (Tom Hanks) learning to cope with his responsibility as top toy. His reason to exist is challenged in this sequel when it dawns upon him that he is no longer the favourite toy.
So when his owner Bonnie is fearful of attending kindergarten, Woody sneaks into her school to make sure she is alright. It is there that he finds a new sense of purpose when Bonnie's recycled craft project magically comes alive.
Made out of a discarded spork, googly eyes, pipe cleaner, modelling clay and ice cream sticks, Forky is not really a toy, but he is Bonnie's current favourite, so Woody takes it upon himself to make sure Forky learns to love Bonnie.
Many of the jokes come from Forky's incessant attempts to dive into garbage bins as he is, after all, trash.
But the real highlight comes when Woody reunites with Bo Peep (Annie Potts) and learns that she is one tough cookie underneath her delicate porcelain exterior.
Bo and the new characters - defective vintage talking doll Gabby Gabby (Christina Hendricks), plushies Bunny and Ducky (Jordan Peele and Keegan-Michael Key) and Duke Caboom as Canada's Greatest Stuntman (Keanu Reeves) - steal the thunder. It is refreshing to see Bo taking over as protagonist as Woody becomes too whiny.
Reeves is hilarious as the vain and somewhat dim toy.
Toy Story 4 may be a nostalgic trip for those who grew up with the series, but it will also bring much joy to a new generation of viewers.
The film-makers have stated this will be the final chapter, and it does look like the toys won't be going to infinity and beyond.
FILM: Toy Story 4
STARRING: Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Annie Potts, Keanu Reeves, Christina Hendricks, Tony Hale, Keegan-Michael Key, Jordan Peele
DIRECTOR: Josh Cooley
THE SKINNY: Woody (Hanks) becomes the babysitter of a spork named Forky (Hale), who is his owner Bonnie's beloved new craft-project-turned-toy. While the toys join Bonnie on a family road trip, Woody reunites with long-lost toy Bo Peep (Potts).
Movie reviews: Men In Black: International, Murder Mystery
MEN IN BLACK: INTERNATIONAL (PG13)
Its lacklustre box office debut over the weekend has already caused a flurry of finger-pointing.
Reports have emerged of clashes between producer and director, threats of a walkout and the stars bringing in their own dialogue writers.
This sci-fi spin-off was built clearly - and very hopefully - on the chemistry Tessa Thompson and Chris Hemsworth had in Thor: Ragnarok.
But it has not carried over. Instead, the lack of a definite script resulted in a bland film.
Hemsworth often breaks into improv, but while it was entertaining in Thor, it feels like an actor treading water for lack of a character.
The attempts at humour feel tacked on.
Too many of the non-punchlines are of the lame "Well, that happened" variety.
It is especially annoying when some decent gags are delivered with all the impact of throwing dust at the sky.
Men In Black: International is simply forgettable to the point that you may well leave the cinema thinking you have been neuralysed.
- JONATHAN ROBERTS
MURDER MYSTERY (PG13)
More comedy than mystery, this Netflix offering follows an average American couple (Jennifer Aniston and Adam Sandler) as their dream invite onto a billionaire's yacht yields multiple homicides spurred by money and revenge.
If you can ignore some ridiculous moments, such as how Aniston gets invited onto the yacht - or how she manages to run around the cobbled streets of Europe so easily in sky-high heels - then you may enjoy the movie for its plus points.
Aniston plays the role of a relatable wife-next-door perfectly, while Sandler's performance as her failed detective husband is hardly dynamic.
However, their camaraderie - they first worked together on the 2011 romcom Just Go With It - allows them to pull off a number of jokes decently, and lets them charm their way through this classic locked room mystery.
If you have 90 minutes to kill, Murder Mystery will tick the boxes for easy entertainment.
- LYDIA GAN
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X-Men: Dark Phoenix (PG13)
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Godzilla: King Of The Monsters (PG13)
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The Secret Life Of Pets 2 (PG)
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Rotten Tomatoes: 57%
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John Wick: Chapter 3 (M18)
In this third instalment of the action franchise, super-assassin John Wick (Keanu Reeves) returns with a price tag on his head and an army of bounty-hunting killers on his trail.
Rotten Tomatoes: 89%