Christopher Robin is the latest Disney property to be re-ignited in the current golden age of Disney films. Instead of being an updated all out action franchise, the film sticks true to its roots delivering a charming tale of growing up and rediscovering what is important in life. The film is woven by director Marc Forster (Quantum Of Solace, Monster’s Ball) who takes an old school style of film making bringing the gang from the Hundred Acre Wood into the 21st century with style and respect. Outstanding performances by Ewan McGregor (Christopher Robin) and Hayley Atwell (Evelyn Robin) with gorgeous CGI teddy style graphics for the animals (well some of them?) all combine to deliver one of the most memorable and beautiful films that has graced the screens this year. At the end of a very long blockbuster action film period, this complete change of pace is a welcome one that will stand the test of time.
The film begins at the end of The House On Pooh Corner with a farewell party for Robin as he is sent off to “boring school” All the gang is here Tigger, Pooh, Piglet, Eeyore, Rabbit, Owl, Kanga and Roo and what follows is a montage of Robin’s life as he leaves his friends and childhood behind. The film flashes forward to adult life when Robin is married to Evelyn and living in London with a daughter Madeline (what’s a Madeline?) Robin is working for a luggage company in the efficiency department and all traces of the wayward child have completely disappeared. His wife and daughter are planning a family weekend away to the country when his boss Winslow tells him he needs to work all weekend due to company downsizing. The news doesn’t go down too well with his family and a dropped jar of honey mysteriously awakens Winnie The Pooh bringing him to London to help Christopher Robin re-discover his childhood and re-connect him with his family.
The opening scenes in particular, for anyone like myself who grew up with Winnie The Pooh, are heartbreaking. The farewell party, the scenes of Robin in WWII while it cuts back to Pooh waiting at the door Christopher Robin appears through are completely soul shattering. I did shed a tear of two (possibly three) during these moments, it is done with such love and care, it is hard not to get emotional about it. Similarly the scenes in which Robin and the Hundred Acre Wood gang are reunited are extremely touching, particularly after seeing the hardened man the world has made of Robin.
A great gauge of how a movie is going down with kids is easy to pick up, both times I saw this movie the children were completely entranced by the entire experience. They were laughing, some were being comforted by their parents during the darker scenes that the film presents and the biggest compliment was the cheering and clapping at the end. Having seen other kids movies in the last few weeks (Teen Titans GO! etc) where none of this happened I was concerned that the darker tone and very adult themes wouldn’t go over too well, but it did. It doesn’t treat kids like idiots with devolved humour.
The CGI on the animals is nothing short of spectacular. Seeing how their fur changes over the coarse of the money is spectacular to watch. I found myself mesmerized by just how much detail was given to each and every character. The only complaints were Rabbit and Owl who instead of being cuddly teddy bear types were designed like actual animals which wasn’t really explained or explored which is still left my head scratching.
The score of this film is equally as entertaining as the visuals, the sweeping score brings back a lot of old memories with the Winnie The Pooh theme song to Tigger’s Bouncing song bringing back all those nostalgic feels. This is also complimented by the jaw dropping cinematography that reeks of old school film making. It was a mixture of Harry Potter and Mary Poppins era films with big open countrysides mixed with the chaotic London and the Hundred Acre Wood itself is a sheer symbol of beauty.
Christopher Robin is the surprise hit of this year, the ability to tell a beautiful story while mixing in nostalgia, gorgeous visuals and something for every age, Disney have successfully figure out how to bring their old school style of film-making back for a brand new generation. The film hits cinemas this Thursday and is definitely worth checking out. All credit to Marc Forster for creating this incredible world and for Twitter for claiming the new Poohniverse of films that will undoubtedly follow.
Christopher Robin is in cinemas 13/09.
Review by Alaisdair Leith