You know, for kids: The best upcoming children’s films of 2014

Posted on 7 August 2014
By Ben Howarth
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The Lego Movie has undoubtedly been the best children’s film of 2014 so far. Here’s a round-up of the forthcoming releases hoping to win the hearts of young cinemagoers…

The Unbeatables

It’s been a terrific year for football fans, with an exhilarating Premier League season and a thrilling World Cup in Brazil. Despite the sport’s global popularity, there haven’t been too many truly great football films over the years. The Unbeatables, a light-hearted animation, is a rather surprising departure for acclaimed Argentine director Juan José Campanella, who won an Academy Award for The Secret in Their Eyes. Amadeo (voiced by Rupert Grint) is a down and out table football supremo, who inadvertently brings his miniature players to life. He needs their skill and passion if he is to win the game of his life against Flash, the local bully. The Unbeatables was Argentina’s third most popular film of 2013.

Release date: 15th August

The Boxtrolls

The Boxtrolls is a stop-motion feature, based on Alan Snow’s novel, Here Be Monsters! It is the third feature from Laika, and, like the studio’s previous films, Coraline and Paranorman, it mixes humour with a little creepiness. A young boy called Eggs lives deep underground with his peculiar family of resourceful, goblin-like creatures – the boxtrolls, so-called because of their habit of wearing boxes which they can quickly hide in when necessary. The residents of Ratbridge regard the boxtrolls as ghastly monsters, but when Eggs becomes trapped above ground he must change their perception and forge new friendships if he is to ever find his way home.

Release date: 12th September

The Book of Life

Family horror movies have become a burgeoning sub-genre in recent years, with the likes of Monster House, Frankenweenie and Hotel Transylvania joining established favourites such as The Addams Family and The Watcher in the Woods. This Hallowe’en’s main offering, The Book of Life, takes inspiration from the vibrancy, colour and tradition of the Mexican ‘Day of the Dead’ festivities. Two ancient spirits make a wager about the destinies of Maria and her two admirers, Manolo and Joaquin, turning their lives (and afterlives) into an epic battle with fate. A story of romance, mystery and adventure, with a fresh visual style, The Book of Life is produced by Guillermo del Toro (Pan’s Labyrinth; Hellboy).

Release Date: 24th October

Paddington

More than fifty years have passed since darkest Peru’s most famous cub first charmed young readers in Michael Bond’s novel, A Bear Called Paddington. The marmalade-loving, ursine explorer consolidated his popularity in a succession of follow-up books and TV adaptations spanning seven decades. Now a new generation of young film fans has the chance to become acquainted with the calamitous misadventures of Paddington, named after the station at which he is discovered by his new adoptive family, the Browns. How will a mild-mannered, duffle-coat-wearing bear cope with the fast pace of 21st century London?

Release date: 28th November

Annie

In the history of children’s films, orphans feature prominently from Oliver! to Madeline, not to mention a certain Mr Potter. And who could forget the hard knock life of Annie, whose relentless cheer and determination, shock of red curls, and cutie-pie face made audiences love or loathe her in perhaps equal measure.

Adapted from the hit Broadway musical, itself inspired by a long-running comic strip, the 1982 movie was a rather surprising step in the career of director John Huston. This new, updated version, features some interesting casting decisions. Quvenzhané Wallis, nominated for an Academy Award for her role in Beasts of the Southern Wild, is the star of the show, while Cameron Diaz plays the grotesque Miss Hannigan, and the Daddy Warbucks role has been rewritten as politician Benjamin Stacks for Jamie Foxx.

Release date: 26th December

Best of the rest: As always there are plenty of sequels (Planes: Fire and Rescue (8/8); Dolphin Tale 2 (3/10); Nativity 3: Dude, Where’s My Donkey (14/11); Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb (19/12); and yet another Madagascar movie, Penguins of Madagascar (5/12). There’s also a reboot for the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (17/10).

Look out for Ben Howarth’s forthcoming books, 100 Films to Watch Before You Grow Up, and 100 Films to Get You Through Your Teens.