The film that very narrowly lost out on being my film of the year. A film that recaptures every aspect of my childhood and coughed up one of the greatest films ever made. I’ve waited literal years to see something of this calibre and it’s finally time to take a trip down memory lane with Winnie the Pooh on the big screen once again. In a similar style to Toy Story 3, the movie takes place years in the future, where a fully grown Christopher Robin has all but forgotten about his time in the 100 Acre Wood.
Possibly the most important aspect of this movie would be recapturing that childhood glee I felt when watching movies like Piglet’s Big Movie and The Tigger Movie. What this movie instead does is not only reinvents itself as a heartfelt successor to those movies, but it also sucks in as much of that feel good nostalgia it can along the way. It’s a big risk making this the first CGI interpretation of Winnie the Pooh and the friends of the 100 Acre Wood, rather than a drawn piece of film. It’s a transfer that works in the films favour, luckily Christopher Robin gives a hefty amount of its budget to the CGI, which rivals the likes of Paddington 2 and Star Wars: The Last Jedi for its intense detail and realism.
But it’s those that portray our favourite characters that bring them to life. I’m a firm believer that the enjoyment of a movie can often depend on whether you personally like an actor. To see that Ewan McGregor was cast as the aged Christopher Robin was a true delight, he’s a personal favourite of mine and has some great movies under his belt, with the likes of Robots and T2 Trainspotting. His performance here is opportunistic, McGregor looks very relaxed and really captures how a grown Christopher Robin may react when thrust into a world he’d not visited since childhood.
Because of that, we get a sense of revisiting our own childhood, through the eyes of some superb direction, courtesy of Marc Forster, whose personal filmography continues to flourish in some interesting and unique directions. Who would’ve thought the same guy that made Machine Gun Preacher could capture my and many other childhoods so vividly well. I can’t think of two better guides on this film than Forster and McGregor, who both work tirelessly well to make sure the film is as close to the source material, yet at the same time so uniquely inventive.
What amazes me most is just how colourful the film is. It’s a treat for the eyes, and I’m not just talking about the superbly loveable CGI of Winnie the Pooh. Some of the cinematography and shots are just phenomenal, really well put together and add so much more depth to the movie. A lot of camera movements and angles are really well thought out, Forster brings some of his best work to the table throughout this one and it’s really nice to see a great deal of effort being put into a movie that could easily be written off as “just another kids movie”.
Interestingly enough, there’s some rather ominous tones throughout the movie that could disregard its childish status. Eeyore’s mood seems to have been amplified to hit all the notes of a cliche, but at least it’s done in a respectfully well rounded manner. Mark Gatiss’ villainous antagonist isn’t quite what I was expecting from a chirpy Disney movie, but I’m extremely glad he gives a resounding performance. Hell, it was nice to hear the voice of Peter Capaldi, however briefly as Rabbit. A great deal of personal favourites kept cropping up in supporting roles throughout this movie, and that was a real treat to see and hear.
Jim Cummings as the voice of both Winnie the Pooh and Tigger is possibly one of the many highlights of the film. They sound just like they always used to, and that rush of nostalgia when first hearing their voices was a beautiful moment. Everything about this movie is beautiful, now that I give it a bit more thought. The lighting is superb, really nice work there. As far as set and costume design goes, it’s truly marvellous, capturing the post-war London aesthetic rather well.
Even at its lowest and dullest points (the ending mainly), it’s a film I couldn’t help but feel invested in. I’ve not seen a film I enjoyed so much yet can remember so little before. Handling the memories of millions seems like a tough job and doesn’t normally go off without a hitch. There have been a great deal of reboots in the same vein as Christopher Robin that have failed tremendously. Does anyone remember The Magic Roundabout? Because I remember The Magic Roundabout, and I wish I didn’t have to fucking remember The Magic Roundabout. But I do, it’s engraved there forever. At least Christopher Robin did a decent job of scrubbing away that painful experience, by creating one of the most joyous and monumental movie remakes of the past decade.
I’m surprised as to how much of an emotive response I had to Christopher Robin. I didn’t expect to cry at this movie, and I sure as hell wasn’t expecting a trip down memory lane in such a vivid and enjoyable experience. Maybe not the most memorable or greatest film ever made, but certainly brilliant enough to receive a perfect rating. From the vast detail in its direction to the solid performance given by our leads, it’s an absolute treat for any and all ages.
A film I had anticipated being a pretty fun and enjoyable romp through my childhood ended up being my greatest cinema experience of the year. Christopher Robin manages to reappraise my priceless childhood memories in only 104 minutes of glorious screen time. From its many brilliant performances to some of the best looking CGI to date, this may just be one of the best films to come out of 2018. My personal childhood was catapulted into a world of amazing highs and beautifully macabre lows, it’s the perfect end to one of my few remaining childhood memories.