Ralph Breaks The Internet, The Nutcracker And The Four Realms & The Grinch Movie Reviews

Three more quickies today as I try to catch up on reviewing the 2018 films I’ve seen. Two of these were okay (just okay) and one was pretty dreadful…

Ralph Breaks The Internet (2018)

Directed by Rich Moore & Phil Johnston

Starring: John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman, Gal Gadot, Taraji P. Henson, Jack McBrayer, Jane Lynch, Alan Tudyk, Alfred Molina, Ed O’Neill

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
Six years after the events of “Wreck-It Ralph,” Ralph and Vanellope, now friends, discover a wi-fi router in their arcade, leading them into a new adventure.

My Opinion:

I love the first Wreck-It Ralph. I think it’s easily one of the better Disney films of recent years and I appreciated that it felt like such an original idea. Hell, it’s almost as good as Pixar’s films! (Almost). And being a lover of the Eighties, I of course loved the classic video game element. Therefore, it was likely that I wouldn’t enjoy this sequel as much. It doesn’t have the magic of the first film (as is often the case with sequels). And it also loses the simple video game innocence of the first film by making the Internet the focus of this one (and having all the brand names in your face constantly). I hate the Internet. Okay… I’m on it all the damn time… (like now). But I’d still rather be living in the pre-Internet Eighties again.

I’ll start with the best thing about this sequel: Ralph & Vanellope. I love these characters and they’re just as loveable in the sequel as in the first film. Actually, Vanellope is even better in this one – she’s much sweeter since becoming friends with Ralph. They make this movie worth watching and I did really enjoy seeing them again even though I didn’t like the story itself all that much. I also enjoyed the “Oh My Disney” bit. It kind of goes against saying I wasn’t crazy about all the commercialism but I admit that I love Disney. I’m a Disney whore! I love going into the damn Disney Store. I’m such a child. So, I did really like seeing Vanellope with all the Disney princesses. Those bits were a lot of fun and I liked spotting so many other Disney characters & references. Oh and I loved that one cameo (don’t want to spoil it)! Screw it – This is a Disney film. They’re allowed to Disney-fy the crap out of it! I liked those bits just fine.

Where it fails is when it talks about eBay & memes & viral videos & etc etc etc. And the end gets a bit bizarre and didn’t really work for me at all. I really missed the innocence of the first film. This was okay but where can they go from here? It was just a little disappointing but my expectations weren’t too high anyway since Disney sequels are rarely all that great. Oh, but the end credits scenes were brilliant! There are two: one partway through the credits and one at the very end. I highly recommend staying for them as they’re pretty much better than the entire movie itself.

My Rating: 7/10

The Nutcracker And The Four Realms (2018)

Directed by Lasse Hallström & Joe Johnston

Based on The Nutcracker and the Mouse King by E. T. A. Hoffmann & The Nutcracker by Marius Petipa

Starring: Keira Knightley, Mackenzie Foy, Eugenio Derbez, Matthew Macfadyen, Richard E. Grant, Misty Copeland, Helen Mirren, Morgan Freeman

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
This is a retelling of E. T. A. Hoffmann’s short story “The Nutcracker and the Mouse King” and Marius Petipa’s The Nutcracker, about a young girl who is gifted a locked egg from her deceased mother and sets out in a magical land to retrieve the key.

My Opinion:

Wow – this has very negative reviews & ratings on IMDb. I don’t fully understand why. I think people were definitely too harsh on this one. No, it’s certainly not great and is quite weak for a Disney film but it was lovely to look at and had a fun story. Hell, I enjoyed it more than that live-action and completely pointless Beauty And The Beast. At least this is a story I didn’t already know and isn’t a re-hash of a far superior film.

Maybe the story was a little too weird for audiences these days? People don’t really go for anything slightly bizarre anymore. As I said, it’s quite a lovely looking film and I liked that it felt a bit like Narnia at first. It makes for a good winter movie in the lead up to Christmas. I also thought the main girl was very good, just as she was in Interstellar (she was the only good thing about that overblown Nolan film).

And Morgan Freeman is in this. Yay! (Am I allowed to admit to loving him again yet? Are people over the “oh my god, he said flirty things to women!” bullshit?). And Helen Mirren – I like that saucy minx too. Unfortunately, Keira Knightley is in this as well. Have I mentioned that she annoys me? (Yes, I have. Many times). Speaking of her and how I said in my previous review that I’m a Disney whore: Knightley recently got on her high horse again and said she doesn’t let her kid(s?) watch Disney movies because they’re a bad influence and blah blah blah. Screw that. How about you talk to them & teach them the difference between reality & fantasy and then let them watch what every other kid watches and enjoys? Are they not allowed to watch this movie, then???

Anyway. This movie was okay but it was also missing something. I can’t quite figure out what it was missing, though. It has the right elements to make it a family classic but it’s already fading from my mind only a few weeks after seeing it. Maybe it’s Knightley’s fault! Her role is too big. She got on my nerves, especially with that stupid voice she put on. Yeah, let’s blame her. Otherwise, this is a decent enough family Disney movie that doesn’t quite deserve the horrible reviews it has had.

My Rating: 6.5/10

The Grinch (2018)

Directed by Scott Mosier & Yarrow Cheney

Based on How the Grinch Stole Christmas! by Dr. Seuss

Starring: Benedict Cumberbatch, Rashida Jones, Kenan Thompson, Cameron Seely, Angela Lansbury

Narrated by Pharrell Williams

Music by Danny Elfman

Plot Synopsis (via Wikipedia)
The plot follows the Grinch as he plans to ruin Whoville’s Christmas celebration by stealing all the town’s decorations and gifts.

My Opinion:

Ugh. No. Okay – I’m a big fan of the 1966 American TV classic How The Grinch Stole Christmas. Who isn’t?! That show has been a yearly American tradition for ages now. It’s one of the most beloved holiday TV specials. That’s why they shouldn’t have done this film. They were never going to live up to something that is, quite frankly, almost complete perfection.

Speaking of movies fading from my mind only a few weeks after seeing them, I can barely remember a thing about The Grinch now. I remember liking his adorable and long-suffering dog Max, but the same goes for the 1966 version anyway. I think the biggest problem with this version is this: The Grinch isn’t enough of an asshole. TV Grinch was gloriously mean. Then, to make it even worse, this movie added a bullshit backstory to help explain why The Grinch is a bit of an asshole. We don’t need a stupid backstory! Can’t someone just be an asshole for the hell of it? I mean, I’m a bit of an asshole for no good reason. This is probably why I’ve always slightly preferred The Grinch before his heart grows. He’s damn funny at the beginning of the 1966 version. He’s boring as shit in this lifeless adaptation.

Oh well – I guess it’s still not as bad as that Jim Carrey monstrosity, which is one of my most-hated movies of all time. Just leave The Grinch the fuck alone, Hollywood. That’s what he wants anyway! Oh, and why the hell did they have Pharrell Williams only narrate this movie and not do the music as well? His music is one of the things that makes Despicable Me so great. Illumination is clearly never going to live up to that film ever again.

My Rating: 4.5/10

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Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016) Review

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016)

***SPOILER-FREE REVIEW***

Directed by Gareth Edwards

Starring: Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Ben Mendelsohn, Donnie Yen, Mads Mikkelsen, Alan Tudyk, Jiang Wen, Forest Whitaker

Music by Michael Giacchino

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Rogue One follows a group of Rebel spies on a mission to steal design schematics for the Galactic Empire’s new superweapon, the Death Star.

My Opinion:

This is going to be really short because a) I have a headache & want to go to bed and b) I’ve realized that no one actually reads anything that I write anyway. Ha! 😉 So I’m more interested in having a discussion about this movie with all of you in the comments instead of me rambling on about the movie for ages. So spoiler-free review but spoilerific in the comment section once you’ve all seen this. Here are my initial thoughts:

I might come back to this movie in a week and give some further thoughts on it here like I did a few days after my initial review of The Force Awakens (review HERE). With The Force Awakens, I wanted to re-visit it a few days after my excitement died down to see if I really DID like it as much as I seemed to (my initial reaction was right – I still love it). Rogue One is quite different in that I don’t instantly love it in the same way I did The Force Awakens. Not even close. I think it’s known by now that this is a very “different” Star Wars movie and I can confirm that that’s indeed an accurate statement. This one is going to take some getting used to. Will I like it more after some time has passed? I honestly have no idea. I hope so…

This isn’t your typical “family” Star Wars movie. This isn’t your straightforward black & white, good vs evil type of story. So many shades of gray to these characters, which is great & very grown-up. But that will also make for a much more divisive movie. And, no – your kids probably aren’t going to like this one very much. If at all. Do NOT let this one be their introduction to the Star Wars universe! FYI – the proper way to introduce kids is to show them in release-date order in my humble (and correct) opinion. If you don’t start with A New Hope, you’re doing it wrong! 😉

Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) is another strong female lead, which I’ll never complain about. I’m loving this current movie trend! She’s no Leia or Rey, though. I didn’t have the instant connection with her like I did with Rey. With Rey, I was shocked to find by the end of the film that I cared about her just as much as I do the original trilogy characters. Same with Finn & BB-8 – these characters ARE Star Wars to me and I absolutely cannot wait to see them again in the next movie. Unfortunately, I can’t say I felt any connection like this with any of the Rogue One characters. I enjoyed watching the story unfold and lead up to A New Hope, my favorite of all the films. But I just felt a bit empty by the end. I didn’t really care about these people. Oh man… I don’t want to say that about a Star Wars movie!

Okay – I did like two characters a lot. Don’t get me wrong – I really did like Jyn Erso but she wasn’t my favorite character in the end. The two who really stole the show were Donnie Yen as Chirrut Îmwe & Jiang Wen as Baze Malbus. Actually, I loved these guys! Great characters, but they didn’t feel like “Star Wars characters” (not that anyone really did). I’d happily watch a standalone movie with these two characters, though – they were fantastic. They kicked ass, were super cool, and had great chemistry. Without them, I’d probably rate this movie quite a bit lower to be honest. I was thankful they were in it as the movie seriously picked up once they showed up.

Sorry – I said this would be super short. I’m going to end here & see how I feel about Rogue One a week from now. I certainly didn’t hate it but I also know I don’t instantly love it the way I did with The Force Awakens. I’ve not read any reviews yet to avoid spoilers but the one thing I kept seeing on Twitter was that it “feels like Star Wars!”. I’m not sure I agree with that statement. Sorry….

My Initial Rating: 7.5/10

Moana (2016) Review

Moana (2016)

Directed by Ron Clements & John Musker

Starring: Auli’i Cravalho, Dwayne Johnson, Rachel House, Temuera Morrison, Jemaine Clement, Nicole Scherzinger, Alan Tudyk

Production Company: Walt Disney Pictures

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
In Ancient Polynesia, when a terrible curse incurred by Maui reaches an impetuous Chieftain’s daughter’s island, she answers the Ocean’s call to seek out the demigod to set things right.

My Opinion:

Yes! Moana is a really good film that I (and my daughter) thoroughly enjoyed. I have to say that the trailers really hadn’t blown me away so I was kind of worried this could end up being one of Disney’s rare duds. It’s not quite up there with some of Disney’s oldest classics & I think Frozen is better & more timeless but I’m happy to say that Moana is fully worthy of the Disney name. It’s certainly 1,000% better than some of the its late-90’s/early 2000’s stinkers! It’s great that Disney is making timeless classics once again. And I can add toddler Moana to my list of “animated kids I want to adopt” along with Boo from Monsters, Inc & Agnes from Despicable Me. What a cutie patootie!


So adorable that I had to include two pictures…

Speaking of Moana herself, she’s also a worthy addition to the Disney name. She’s strong-willed & has no interest in that whole “finding a prince” thing that annoys so many modern women about the older Disney films. However, she also doesn’t go over-the-top in the other direction, which annoys me in some of the more current animated films. Let’s face it – Brave’s Merida is a bit of a stroppy bitch! There’s nothing wrong with being strong-willed AND likable as well… Moana gets the right balance as a female lead character and I’d be happy to have my daughter look up to her.

Animated kids’ movies don’t solely rely on one good main character, though, and Moana is filled with the usual funny & lovable sidekicks we’ve all come to expect from Disney. I may be an adult but I loved that stupid chicken! Her pet pig was super cute, the “coconut” bad guys were adorably evil, her family (especially her kooky grandmother) were sweet, and the main “lava baddie” was actually quite frightening for a Disney villain (so this one isn’t really toddler-suitable, unlike a lot of other Disney movies. Just FYI – it’s nothing too scary, though). Yeah, sorry – I’m too lazy to look up all the proper names of these characters but I can guarantee you that I’ll know them once this is on DVD. 😉 I can tell my daughter will watch Moana multiple times (and I won’t even complain about that).

There are two other characters that need mentioning: the main one is sidekick Maui, the demigod voiced by Dwayne Johnson, and the other is the shiny crab villain dude voiced by Flight Of The Conchords/What We Do In The Shadows Jemaine Clement. I think most everyone will like Maui just fine – he’s charmingly cocky and makes a great duo with Moana. Plus, his “living tattoos” were quite amusing. I didn’t really expect to like his character as much as I did. Very predictable character arc, though!

However, the villain crab (Tamatoa – I looked that one up!) will be far more divisive. At first I kind of hated that character. Then I kind of loved that character. I think… I don’t know. I haven’t fully made my mind up on him yet. Guess I’ll know how I feel after 25 times of seeing Moana at home. Anyway, David Bowie is the clear inspiration for Tamatoa so I guess that’s why I’m conflicted as I’m such a big fan.

Summary:

Disney can be proud to add Moana to its resume (Or Curriculum Vitae in the UK. Yep – I totally had to look up that spelling). The animated scenes involving The Abyss-like ocean were beautiful, especially the one involving toddler Moana (Cutie patootie!  She’s much cuter than Ed Harris). I wish I could say that Moana was perfect – However, some of-the-moment jokes that will date and songs that aren’t as instantly memorable as some of the absolute classics in Disney’s history will keep this film from being quite as timeless as I’d have liked. Still, Moana helps keep Disney & Pixar a thousand miles ahead of anything made by other Western animation studios. Keep up the great work, Disney! We’ll just pretend things like Chicken Little didn’t happen.

My Rating: 8/10

Is there a scene after the credits? Yes, at the very end. Is it worth staying for? Hmm… Only if you’re one of those who HAS to see the end credits bits. Like me. It’s fairly funny but nothing too amazing if you really gotta pee. 

I’ll just say a very small bit about the short shown before Moana:

I’m sure a lot of people have called Inner Workings a rip off of Inside Out. Well, it sort of is but that’s not really fair as it’s quite a lovely short with a great moral about following your heart & living life to its fullest. I think it’s one of the better animated shorts I’ve seen in a while and I have to admit that I do love a good, non-preachy life-lesson. The Disney & Pixar shorts really know how to “tug at the heartstrings”! I far preferred this to Lava, which I didn’t like very much. I bring this up as it’s funny that Moana is quite reminiscent of Lava. Oh well – Inner Workings is pretty good. Better than Lava but still not as good as Feast (I loved that short!).

My Inner Workings Rating: 7.5/10

Tomorrow I’ll be celebrating the 100th birthday of Kirk Douglas by reviewing a lesser-known Brian De Palma film in which he starred…

Wreck-It Ralph (2012) Review

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Wreck-It Ralph (2012)

Directed by Rich Moore

Starring Voice Actors:
John C. Reilly
Sarah Silverman
Jack McBrayer
Jane Lynch
Alan Tudyk
Mindy Kaling
Joe Lo Truglio
Ed O’Neill
Dennis Haysbert
Adam Carolla
Horatio Sanz
Rich Moore
Edie McClurg

Studio: Walt Disney Pictures

Running time: 101 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
A tribute to over 30 years of the gaming industry, the film tells the story of the titular arcade game villain who rebels against his role and dreams of becoming a hero. He travels between games in the arcade, and ultimately must eliminate a dire threat that could affect the entire arcade, and one that Ralph himself inadvertently started.

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My Opinion:

I guess it’s about time to review this one. I saw this when it finally came to UK cinemas last February. I liked it fine but didn’t give it much thought after seeing it. I’ve since kind of half watched it on DVD a few times but today I actually sat down & properly watched it all the way through again and I have to say I appreciate it a lot more now than I did after my first viewing.

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The best thing about Wreck-It Ralph is the concept. LOVE it! Very clever. The concept felt more like what you’d get from a Pixar film (because Pixar is awesome). The movie starts out very strong. Seeing “a day in the life of an 80’s video game villain” was so much fun. I love how the characters from the actual Wreck-It Ralph game in the movie move around in that funny old style video game way. And Ralph grabbing some fruit from Pac-Man and going to the central airport-style station in between games and seeing “homeless” characters from unplugged games there (like Q*Bert) was absolutely brilliant! But I’m old so I’m a sucker for all the 80’s video game references in this, even though I was never that big on video games.

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When Ralph goes into the modern day Hero’s Duty game in order to try to win a medal and prove he’s actually a good guy, it was funny to see how an old school video game character wasn’t able to handle being in one of these new fandangled games. It was a bit like how I feel about life. Such as how my 1970s born self can’t understand teenagers of today. I mean – what is this world I’m living in now?? And, no – I can’t play their fancy modern day games either. What a load of crap! Give me Space Invaders. 😉

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I think the thing that made me not totally *love* Wreck-It Ralph at first was the whole Sugar Rush/Vanellope part of the movie. Vanellope can be a little annoying, yes. I know people feel that same way about the person voicing her (Sarah Silverman) so, if you hate her, you’re not going to like Vanellope. I don’t mind her so I was fine with all that and I have to say that the character has really grown on me. She may be a cheeky little brat but you feel for her once you know her whole story and her relationship with Ralph is very sweet. Plus she’s really cute with her green outfit and candy stuck in her hair! I appreciate the whole Sugar Rush part of the movie much more now. Oh! And I love Fix-It Felix and his crush on Sergeant Tamora Jean Calhoun from Hero’s Duty is really funny.

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Summary:

Wreck-It Ralph has a fairly standard Disney-fied ending and moral but I still thought it was far more original than most kids’ films plus I wasn’t actually able to spot the “twist” beforehand and didn’t know how they’d solve problems like Vanellope’s glitch. Wreck-It Ralph is a very clever movie and way more satisfying than your usual kids’ film. The story of video game characters living a life outside of the arcade’s opening hours and being able to go from game to game is brilliant, the movie looks really good, Ralph is a great character, his relationship with Vanellope is heartwarming in a non-annoying way, Vanellope will grow on you once you’ve watched the movie enough, and the retro video game references were loads of fun. Plus it’s great when a kids’ film manages to have plenty for both boys and girls to love – too many (non-Pixar) kids’ movies are aimed at one or the other, which I find annoying. Wreck-It Ralph is fun for boys, girls, and adults of all ages.

My Rating: 8/10

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Tucker And Dale Vs Evil (2010) Review

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Tucker And Dale Vs Evil

Directed by Eli Craig

Starring:
Tyler Labine
Alan Tudyk
Katrina Bowden
Jesse Moss

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Plot:

A comedy horror in which two “simple” but sweet hillbillies, Dale played by Tyler Labine & Tucker played by Alan Tudyk, are on their way to the “dream vacation home” (a rundown shack) they’ve just bought deep in the woods of West Virginia. While at a gas station, they encounter a group of college students who are there to do some camping. The snobby students are immediately freaked out by these “hillbillies”, especially when Dale tries to talk to one of them (Allison played by Katrina Bowden). Mistaking his nervousness at talking to a pretty girl for “maniacal hillbilly craziness”, the college students flee. Later, when the students decide to do some skinny dipping in the lake where Tucker & Dale happen to be fishing, Allison is startled & bumps her head. Tucker & Dale save her but the other students again flee, thinking they’ve kidnapped her.

What follows as the students try to “rescue” Allison from the hillbillies’ cabin are a series of hilarious deadly mishaps which further reinforce the students’ belief that the hillbillies are killers while a baffled Tucker & Dale are confused as to why these students seem to have some crazy kind of suicide pact.

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My Opinion:

This was a pleasant surprise! Especially as I’ve liked very few horror movies since the 70s & 80s (The Omen & The Shining are my type of thing with a bit of the Nightmare On Elm Street-type 80s slasher). I’m even pickier on comedy – I can’t say I’ve found many movies funny since the days of Wayne’s World, The Princess Bride & This Is Spinal Tap. Yeah, I’m old & grumpy. But Tucker And Dale had me laughing throughout the whole movie. As for the “horror”, it’s harder for me to say if horror fans liked this? The gore is cheesy & the film has that very 80s look overall as that’s (I assume?) what they’re going for since it’s a send-up of 80s slasher flicks. I liked that and it worked perfectly for this film.

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This movie never “tries too hard” on the comedy, which is kind of refreshing. This is NOT, I repeat NOT, one of those horrible Scary Movie movies. This was made by someone with a brain who knows that being more subtle on the comedy isn’t a bad thing and who clearly has a love for 80s slashers and can make fun of them in just the right way. It’s also clearly made by someone the same sort of age as me, though, so I think this movie probably wouldn’t appeal so much to the younger Saw generation who didn’t grow up on 70s & 80s horror movies and might not get the comedy in this. And, of course, they’d just moan at the gore looking unrealistic and cheesy. And that it’s not in 3D with blood, vomit & entrails popping out of the screen at you. Kids these days – they don’t know what’s good. 😉

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Summary:

A thoroughly fun & entertaining comedy horror that lovingly pokes fun at the 80s slasher flick and the horror clichés of dumb college students doing every dumb thing possible in order to “escape” crazy inbred hillbilly maniacs. It takes what’s actually a very simple idea of having the hillbillies just be two nice guys who think that they’re actually the ones being terrorized by college kids who seem to have completely lost their minds and gives us a clever film that, in never trying too hard to please the audience, manages to do just that. However, you’re probably much more likely to enjoy this if, like me, you’re of the age where you grew up on 70s & 80s horror flicks.

My Rating: 7.5/10

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All the movies I’ve seen in 2013 – Yep, Tucker And Dale comes in just under a Hitchcock film… 🙂