The Princess and the Frog, John Musker & Ron Clements, 97 mins (U)
Edge of Darkness, Martin Campbell, 116 mins (15)

Disney goes back to the drawing board, while Mel gets stuck in an Eighties time warp

When John Lasseter's Pixar studios revolutionised cartoons with their spookily lifelike digital animation, their rivals at Disney panicked and abandoned traditional hand-drawn animation altogether.

Ironically, it's only now that Lasseter has taken charge of Disney's cartoons himself that the studio has returned, not just to hand-drawn animation, but to all the other things it used to do before Pixar stole its thunder. The Princess and the Frog may be set in 1920s New Orleans, rather than "once upon a time in a far away kingdom", and its heroine may be a black waitress who dreams of opening her own gumbo restaurant. But beneath these relatively modern trappings there's a prince, a pantomime baddie, a menagerie of talking animals and characters who keep bursting into song, just as Walt might have signed off on 70 years ago.

I'm not so sure that he would have approved of the unwieldy story, however. Seemingly the result of too much brainstorming and not enough editing, The Princess and the Frog has too many villains, too many comedy sidekicks, too many unconnected incidents and not enough plot.

It takes well over half an hour for the waitress and a visiting prince to be turned into amphibians by a voodoo witch doctor, and after that the writer-directors can't think of anything to do with them except turn them back again. But it's still a bright, peppy, lushly animated musical. If Disney is ever going to recapture some of the old magic, then The Princess and the Frog is a hop in the right direction.

Disney's animators aren't the only people harking back to former glories this week. In Edge of Darkness, Mel Gibson's first star vehicle in eight years, Gibson, right, plays his usual "Man Out for Revenge After a Loved One Is Murdered", while the director, Martin Campbell, is on even more familiar ground: in 1985, he directed the BBC series on which the new film is based. But if both men were slap-bang in the middle of their comfort zones when they were making Edge of Darkness, you wouldn't think so from watching the botch-up they've cobbled together.

The action has been relocated from the UK to the US, specifically Boston, but to begin with it's not too different from the TV series. A distinguished police detective (Gibson, of course) is reunited with his 24-year-old daughter one night, only to stand by as a man in a balaclava blasts her in the gut with a shotgun. Gibson's colleagues assume that he must have been the intended target, but Gibson – unlike everyone else in the police department – does the 30 seconds' investigating it takes to reveal that his daughter was mixed up in a conspiracy. It might even have something to do with her highly classified job at a nuclear research facility.

The film's first sticking point is that its concerns are more Cold War than "war on terror". Last year's State of Play film expertly updated its source material, whereas Edge of Darkness feels like 1985 except with smaller mobile phones. And there are a lot more sticking points where that came from. Perforated with plot holes, and disastrously unsure of its tone, it starts steadily and sombrely, before switching to a hysterical parody of a conspiracy thriller: a parade of irrelevant car chases and ridiculously public assassination attempts, plus Ray Winstone as an ill-defined government fixer who goes around quoting Diogenes. I may be wrong, but I don't think the original TV series was a sitcom.

Also Showing: 31/01/10

Breathless (130 mins, 18)

Being a movie gangster usually involves sharp suits, strip clubs and stylised violence, so this low-budget Korean film is a bracing corrective. Make no mistake, there's a phenomenal amount of punching and kicking to be endured, but here it's nothing more than an unpleasant chore performed by a loan shark's impassive debt collector. Assaulting and/or swearing at everyone he meets, male or female, friend or foe, he would seem to be irredeemable, but Yang Ik-June, the film's star, writer, director and producer, slowly but surely lets glimmers of his humanity peep through. Expect imitations and remakes aplenty.

Adoration (100 mins, 15)

A teenage boy reads out an essay in class in which he claims that his father was a terrorist who tried to blow up his mother on a flight to Israel. Atom Egoyan's earnest issue drama touches on a range of ideas about extremism, identity and victim mentality. But when he turns from intellectual debate to the way human beings actually speak and behave, you might feel that he'd be better off writing essays himself.

Horses (87 mins)

Documentary following three Irish "equine athletes" over the course of a year's racing. There aren't many highs and lows – just mediums and lows – and while it may just go to prove how far life is from a feel-good sports movie, it may also be that the director simply backed the wrong horses.

Next Week:

Nicholas Barber sees whether Michael Cera can get away with playing a gawky adolescent, yet again, in Youth in Revolt – a teen comedy adapted from CD Payne's cult novel of 1993 based on the fictional journals of one Nick Twisp

Arts and Entertainment
Nick Hewer is to leave The Apprentice after 10 years

TV review Nick Hewer, the man whose eyebrows speak a thousand words, is set to leave The Apprentice

Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says

film George RR Martin owns a cinema in Santa Fe

Arts and Entertainment
Clued up: John Lynch and Gillian Anderson in ‘The Fall’

TV review

Arts and Entertainment
The Baker (James Corden) struggles with Lilla Crawford’s Little Red Riding Hood

film...all the better to bamboozle us
Arts and Entertainment
English: Romantic Landscape

art
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Mark, Katie and Sanjay in The Apprentice boardroom
TV
Arts and Entertainment

Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites

Arts and Entertainment
Frances O'Connor and James Nesbitt in 'The Missing'

TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations

Arts and Entertainment
Joey Essex will be hitting the slopes for series two of The Jump

TV

Who is taking the plunge?
Arts and Entertainment
Katy Perry as an Ancient Egyptian princess in her latest music video for 'Dark Horse'

music
Arts and Entertainment
Dame Judi Dench, as M in Skyfall

film
Arts and Entertainment
Morrissey, 1988

TV
Arts and Entertainment
William Pooley from Suffolk is flying out to Free Town, Sierra Leone, to continue working in health centres to fight Ebola after surviving the disease himself

music
Arts and Entertainment
The Newsroom creator Aaron Sorkin

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Matt Berry (centre), the star of Channel 4 sitcom 'Toast of London'

TVA disappointingly dull denouement
Arts and Entertainment
Tales from the cryptanalyst: Benedict Cumberbatch in 'The Imitation Game'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Pixie Lott has been voted off Strictly Come Dancing 2014

Strictly
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
    Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

    Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

    As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
    The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

    The Interview movie review

    You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
    Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

    How podcasts became mainstream

    People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

    Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
    Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

    A memorable year for science – if not for mice

    The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
    Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

    Christmas cocktails to make you merry

    Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
    5 best activity trackers

    Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

    Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
    Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

    Paul Scholes column

    It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
    Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

    Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

    2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

    Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

    The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
    Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

    Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

    The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
    Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

    The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

    Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas