CANE TOADS: THE CONQUEST ****
Like THE HANGOVER: PART TWO, CANE TOADS: THE CONQUEST is not so much a sequel to Mark Lewis’ enormously enjoyable (and popular) 1988 comic documentary CANE TOADS: AN UNNATURAL HISTORY as a bigger, longer, more expensive remake; also like HANGOVER II, it essentially replaces the first version, rather than sitting comfortably alongside it. Needless to say, if you’re one of the many, many fans of the original (and I certainly am; I’ve probably watched it about every two years since it came out) then you’ll love this new re-telling of essentially the same story. The new stuff you’ll get is an update on where the toads are at (they’re no longer just in Queensland, folks, and they’ve encountered absolutely no setbacks in their expansion); even more exquisitely framed shots of toads in all manner of situations; a few more advanced graphics; and 3D – and therein lies, perhaps, the main reason for this new version’s existence. Lewis has used 3D in a way that is so absolutely enjoyable, I can’t imagine a 2D version of this film being particularly relevant. The first time you see a toad, in close-up, in 3D it’s funny and oddly beautiful; by the end of the film the effect has not only not worn out its welcome, it’s even gathered force. Not since AVATAR have I seen a film that so weaves 3D into the fabric of the film, and to such good effect. Lewis’ toad tableaus (including an awe-inspiring sequence of a gang of toads feeding on insects in the light of a lonely Queenslander porch) are beautiful, awe-inspiring and very often laugh-out loud hilarious. His art is all his own: no-one else shoots ugly amphibious imported pests in 3D quite like him. See it if you loved the original; see it if you’ve never seen the original. The only way you wouldn’t enjoy this new version is if you didn’t like the first one – or if the sight of 3D toads makes you twitchy.