While it would be unfair to ask any film to be on par with one of the greatest ever made, when a movie chooses to open its story in 1942 Casablanca, it’s going to have a lot to live up to. While Allied boasts Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard as its leads, a screenplay by Steven Knight (Locke), and direction by Robert Zemeckis, it’s no surprise that it is not in the same league as Michael Curtiz’s Casablanca.
It is no longer surprising when a new Disney animated feature contains stunning visuals, memorable and moving songs, or funny and engaging characters. The studio has long been not only the pioneer for feature-length animated storytelling, but often the gold-standard bearer. So the fact that Moana, the latest entry in that ever-growing canon of classics, contains all of those elements was certainly no shock.
First contact with alien races has been depicted in many different ways through the history of science fiction. Some stories are about invasions, others offer hope of friendship with far away worlds, but always there is uncertainty and at least some degree of fear for the characters in their forever changed universe. Arrival doesn’t put all of its cards on the table right away in that regard but it does engage the heart as well as the head throughout, which is always welcome.