The Jungle Book (Jon Favreau, 2016)

 Wat je van beren leren kan

Disney has always had a keen sense of how to exploit their legacy. No other company was better at creating a sense of urgency and scarcity surrounding their releases. I remember in the nineties how every one of their VHS tapes was accompanied by a ‘for the first time ever’ seal of quality. It made them desirable. Perhaps enough years have passed now for the kids from that time to be today’s creators, and usher in a new era: one where Disney’s animated classics are remade into live action films filled with digital wonders. With a bit of fudging you could count Maleficent (Robert Stromberg, 2014) as the first, remaking Sleeping Beauty (Clyde Geromini, 1959), but for all intents and purposes, The Jungle Book is the herald of things to come.

Warcraft (Duncan Jones, 2016)

 Lok’tar ogar! Zug-zug.

W A R C R A F T (spacing concurrent to movie title, which is weird since Warcraft has always had closely tucked together letters): what a strange film! It has all the outward appearance of a Blizzard cutscene that occasionally strayed into schlocky Dungeons & Dragons movie territory. Not necessarily by overacting, but more by its staging and flat story. And yet, I totally loved it while seeing it, and now that I've been home for 24 hours I still dig it. Usually my brain uses that time to figure out what it really thinks of a film (and perceptions can then totally skew from what I thought in the cinema), but Warcraft firmly stays in the 'good' range.

Captain America: Civil War (Anthony and Joe Russo 2016)

I want to punch you in your perfect teeth (spoiler notice)

Cap does it again. After being (either mildly or strongly) disappointed with every MCU offering since The Winter Soldier, the Russos show they have what it takes. They once again deliver an intriguing, heartfelt superhero thriller, without being swamped by the array of characters on display. Age of Ultron was in that manner buried under its own weight, Guardians of the Galaxy was surprising but a little slight, Ant-Man was a trifle to the point of not mattering. If you count Deadpool: for all its refreshing bravura that too was it its heart a very standard superhero film with a dull ending. It's been years since I left a Marvel film feeling electrified, much less intellectually engaged.

The Hateful Eight (Quentin Tarantino, 2016)

Not a warning, not a question... a bullet (spoiler notice)

How do you make a minute-long shot of a snow-burdened carving of Jesus on the crucifix the very height of suspense? Simple. Shoot it beautifully in Ultra Panavision 70 (with a whopping 2.76:1 aspect ratio) and have maestro Ennio Morricone score the damn thing. As the custom-built camera draws back and reveals the approach of a distant stagecoach in this, The Hateful Eight, we can already be pretty sure few if any of its occupants will get through the film alive.

Spectre (Sam Mendes, 2015)

Here we are again (spoiler notice)

There’s something to be said for Bond as an auteur series. Back for seconds is director Sam Mendes, who did a superb job infusing Skyfall with an unusually personal story for Bond and an even more unusual, quaintly apocalyptic final act. And it worked. Having him return for Spectre means there’s continuity beyond the usual nods and customs. The blasted-out MI6 headquarters features prominently, Bond receives his personal effects from what remains of Skyfall manor. The film knows an auspicious start with a Day of the Dead action scene that has everything you’d want from the series. And it needs it, because this is of course the big one, the denouement of three movies’ worth of setup.

F for Fake (Orson Welles, 1974)

Do not trust this man (spoiler notice)

Let's work our way back, shall we? Say that you're Orson Welles and you want to make your final film. But wait, he enters only later in this review, though he's front and center to the movie. So let's forget him for a moment. Say that you want to tell a story about Picasso. A truly wild and wonderful tale about forgeries, deceitful ladies and lust. And you're worried that people might not believe you, since it's just too outlandish. How would you proceed?

The Breakfast Club (John Hughes, 1985)

No sex for the nerd (spoiler notice)

Are you a jock, a geek, a doll, a weirdo or an outcast? The Breakfast Club is a film about children growing up. About class – not just classrooms, but class warfare on the school ground and beyond. It opens with the lyrics to Bowie's 'Changes' and it stands as an 80s anthem for teenage kids around the world. But, surprisingly, underneath the veneer of accepting each other's differences, this John Hughes classic hides a warped message that all but negates its theme.

Harlock: Space Pirate (Shinji Aramaki, 2013)

In the year 2977, a new space combat mechanic is discovered

There is, in the field of science fiction, a surprisingly small amount of stories that involve giant, skull-headed space ships employing in battle the main tactic of ramming other ships because, well, they’re just sturdier. Perhaps because of this reason I quite looked forward to Harlock: Space Pirate. Its status as a legacy manga by Leiji Matsumoto doesn’t need explaining – this is one of those titles fit for a canon, alongside the works of Tezuka, alongside Dragon Ball and Gundam.

Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues (Adam McKay, 2013)

By the hymen of Olivia Newton-John!

How'd I miss out on this a second time? Years ago, when I saw Anchorman: The Legend of Run Burgundy on DVD, my first thought was quite honestly outrage: why had no one told me this was one of the funniest movies ever made when it came out? Anchorman was a genuine gold mine of quotable lines and had a devil-may-care attitude to zaniness. Its stand-out sequences with jazz flutes and violent gang fights are to this day, strangely perhaps, rarely seen. So it speaks of a deep character flaw of mine that when Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues appeared, I skipped it.

The Cabin in the Woods (Drew Goddard, 2012)

I’m still on speaker phone, aren’t I? (spoiler notice)

For a film that’s all about a pretty novel twist on a familiar genre, The Cabin in the Woods sure wears its heart on its sleeve.