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
Beyonce, Boris Johnson, Putin, Nigel Farage, Russell Brand and Andy Murray all get the Spitting Image treatment from Newzoids
tvReview: The sketches need to be very short and very sharp as puppets are not intrinsically funny
Arts and Entertainment
Despite the controversy it caused, Mile Cyrus' 'Wrecking Ball' video won multiple awards
musicPoll reveals over 70% of the British public believe sexually explicit music videos should get ratings
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister and Ian Beattie as Meryn Trant in the fifth season of Game of Thrones

Arts and Entertainment

book review
Arts and Entertainment
It's all in the genes: John Simm working in tandem with David Threlfall in 'Code of a Killer'

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Far Right and Proud: Reggies Yates' Extreme Russia

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Kanye West was mobbed in Armenia after jumping into a lake

Arts and Entertainment
The show suffers from its own appeal, being so good as to create an appetite in its viewers that is difficult to sate in a ten episode series

Game of Thrones reviewFirst look at season five contains some spoilers
Arts and Entertainment
Judi Dench and Kevin Spacey on the Red Carpet for 2015's Olivier Awards

Ray Davies' Sunny Afternoon scoops the most awards

Arts and Entertainment
Proving his metal: Ross Poldark (played by Aidan Turner in the BBC series) epitomises the risk-taking spirit of 18th-century mine owners

Poldark review
Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne is reportedly favourite to play Newt Scamander in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Arts and Entertainment
Tom Hardy stars in dystopian action thriller Mad Max: Fury Road

Arts and Entertainment
Josh, 22, made his first million from the game MinoMonsters

Grace Dent

Channel 4 show proves there's no app for happiness
Disgraced Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson
Arts and Entertainment
Game face: Zoë Kravitz, Bruce Greenwood and Ethan Hawke in ‘Good Kill’

film review

Arts and Entertainment
Living like there’s no tomorrow: Jon Hamm as Don Draper in the final season of ‘Mad Men’

TV review

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

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

    NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

    Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

    A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
    Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

    Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

    The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
    How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

    How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

    Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
    From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

    The wars that come back to haunt us

    David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
    Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

    Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

    A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
    Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

    UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

    Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
    John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

    ‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

    Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
    Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

    Let the propaganda wars begin - again

    'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

    Japan's incredible long-distance runners

    Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
    Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

    Tom Drury: The quiet American

    His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
    You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

    You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

    Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
    Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

    Beige to the future

    Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

    Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

    More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
    Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

    Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

    The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
    Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own