How do you know it’s a Disney picture even if you’ve missed the magic castle logo? The protagonist’s mother is dead before the opening credits roll and a mouse shall lead them. Make that King Mouse, a creature made whole only when hundreds of Mickeys stand on each other’s shoulders to form a lean, mean, vermin machine. Morgan Freeman and Helen Mirren bring little more than marquee value to justify their paychecks, and it would have been hard to find someone less emotive and more void of humor than star Mackenzie Foy. And yet, maybe see it anyway, for the effects work and production design, both of which are nothing short of spectacular. Lasse Hallstrom (My Life as a Dog, What’s Eating GIlbert Grape), Disney’s first choice for director, was unavailable when it came time to return for the additional CGI work needed to complete the film. So visual effects doyen Joe Johnston (Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, Captain America: The First Avenger) was contracted for 32 days of reshoots. My biggest regret is not having seen it in 3D. With equal tributes to Leopold Stokowski and Dave Edmunds. (2018) — Scott Marks
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