5:00 PM, 17th February, 2018
This film brings back the fondest of memories of sitting around the TV on a Sunday night with my family watching “The Walt Disney Show”. Among the show’s colourful characters was a bull named Ferdinand, who first appeared on screen 79 years ago in a hand drawn short that went on to win an Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film. So there are big shoes to fill here.
Set in Spain, Ferdinand tells the story of a giant bull who enjoys nothing more than sitting under the shade of a tree and smelling the surrounding flowers. But his easy-going life changes forever when a misunderstanding leads to him being taken away from his peaceful family and sent to a bullfighting farm, where he must face off against the world’s greatest bullfighter.
Eight decades on, Ferdinand’s story has been given a makeover and new vitality with bright, colourful computer animation. A raft of new characters and themes reflecting today’s society have also been introduced, including the aptly cast John Cena as the voice of Ferdinand. And although it may take some liberties with contemporising its storyline, Ferdinand is still a sweet movie for all generations to enjoy.
7:00 PM, 17th February, 2018
In the 19th century there wasn’t a bigger name in showbiz than Phineas Taylor ‘P. T.’ Barnum (Jackman), who assembled a cavalcade of unique people for the delight of large crowds. This is the story of his rise from humble beginnings to spectacular success, accompanied by his wife Charity (Williams), his upper-crust patron Phillip Carlyle (Efron), the Swedish opera singer Jenny Lind (Ferguson), young trapeze artist Anne Wheeler (Zendaya) and a whole three-ring-circus of strange and astounding characters.
The Greatest Showman is a film that largely exploits Hugh Jackman’s charm, which, fortunately, is pretty substantial. First-time feature director Michael Gracey tells the sensationalised story with grace and verve, combined with a very 21st century set of songs by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, writers of the Tony-winning score to “Dear Evan Hansen” and the Oscar-winning lyrics for La La Land.
It’s also a chance to see top performers offer their singing and dancing props. Efron in particular hasn’t had a vehicle this tailored for his singing and dancing skills since he graduated from the High School Musical series, and Jackman gets to sing happier songs than he did Les Miserables and throw in a bit of dance too. Spectacular entertainment all around.