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Superheroes have spent the past decade-plus as the primary cinematic currency of the land. Whether you enjoy those films or not, you can’t deny their primacy in the movie world. And while the main beneficiaries of that primacy are the Marvel and DC cinematic universes, there are other, less obvious projects that are adopting their own super-angles.

Take Disney’s “Flora & Ulysses,” currently available on Disney+. Based on Kate DiCamillo’s 2013 children’s novel, the film – directed by Lena Khan from a screenplay by Brad Copeland – takes a very different, much … smaller leap into the superhero realm. How small?

How about the size of a squirrel?

That’s the deal – a 10-year-old girl teamed up with a superpowered squirrel, all in the context of a story about the struggles of family and fitting in. It sounds ridiculous – because it is – but it’s no less engaging because of it. Frankly, it’s charming and quite sweet. Plus, it has a wildly overqualified cast, resulting in a movie that is significantly better than the tossed-off throwaway project that it easily could have been.

Published in Movies

In a cinematic landscape littered with high-octane action movies driven by gritty dialogue, computer generated imagery and explosions, it’s rare to see a good old-fashioned adventure story, something family-friendly but not condescending.

Oddly enough, “The Call of the Wild” fills that void, even though it heavily relies on CGI in its own way. This adaptation of Jack London’s 1903 classic of the same name is directed by Chris Sanders from a screenplay adapted by Michael Green; unlike the numerous film adaptations that preceded it, this version relies on a computer-generated lead character. It’s a choice that, while not wholly effective, winds up working considerably better than you might expect.

There’s a bit of tonal inconsistency as far as the narrative goes, but for the most part, the filmmakers lean into the broad adventure vibe that is foundational to the book. That grand sense of nature’s power and possibility goes a long way toward compensating for any issues. Ultimately, this is a story that kids and parents alike will find palatable, if perhaps not the most exciting entertainment ever made.

Published in Movies

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