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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Atonement (2007) Blind Spot Review

Happy 33rd Birthday To Keira Knightley.

As today is her birthday, I figured I might as well get my Blind Spot review of Atonement out of the way. I didn’t like it.

Atonement (2007)

Directed by Joe Wright

Based on Atonement by Ian McEwan

Starring: James McAvoy, Keira Knightley, Saoirse Ronan, Romola Garai, Vanessa Redgrave

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
Fledgling writer Briony Tallis, as a thirteen-year-old, irrevocably changes the course of several lives when she accuses her older sister’s lover of a crime he did not commit.

My Opinion:

These are the 2018 Blind Spot films I’ve watched so far, from least favorite to favorite:

4. Atonement
3. Gleaming The Cube
2. The French Connection
1. Citizen Kane

Yeah, Atonement is last. This is my third year of doing this Blind Spot thing (my previous two years of lists are HERE) and Atonement may be my least favorite overall. I take that back – it’s probably The Last Temptation Of Christ.

Atonement is certainly not a bad film in any way and its cinematography was beautful. However, I found it boring and, worst of all, I hated the characters. I suppose my irrational dislike of Keira Knightley may be partly to blame (Sorry Keira Knightley – I hope you have a good birthday anyway!). She recently said something along the lines of only wanting to be in these period dramas now because women are always being raped in modern movies. Fair enough – that’s something I hate being thrown into films for no good reason. But did she forget about the entire central plot of Atonement?! Sheesh. Actors are so annoying. And I’m sorry if that’s a major spoiler – the rape is pretty early on in the film. I just found that to be a stupid comment, especially as there have been some very strong female characters in modern movies these last several years who’ve not been raped. Maybe she should watch more movies?


So, this is the movie that got the young Saoirse Ronan noticed with an Oscar nomination. She’s very good in this, although her character is a hateful little brat at first. But she grows & she learns. I’m guessing this was better portrayed in the novel. She clearly is forever remorseful over ruining two people’s lives with her lies but it still didn’t feel like she truly suffered as she should have. At least, she certainly didn’t suffer as much as her sister & her sister’s lover (Knightley & James McAvoy).

Knightley & McAvoy were both very good as well, although I always find that Knightley comes across as very “cold”. Man – I’m really sounding like I hate Knightley… Sorry! I did prefer McAvoy and felt genuinely sorry for his suffering at the hands of that little shit played by Ronan.


*Not Ronan but same character when older and less of a shit

Okay, I admit that this is a good movie and the problem is that it’s just not my type of thing. The acting, the score, and the cinematography were all strong and the story itself was good even though I found its execution odd (in the beginning, they keep going backwards & redoing scenes from different perspectives and it felt clunky & just annoyed me). There’s also a scene involving a letter that isn’t explained well and I didn’t know what the hell had happened until I read a full plot synopsis. The second half of the film luckily didn’t do the weird jumping around thing (from what I remember) but that just made things feel inconsistent.


*This dress was gorgeous

FYI – Knightley is okay with the C word being used in a movie! As long as it’s a period drama. 😉 I just happen to prefer this kind of period drama to the Knightley kind. I hated every character in this movie (other than McAvoy’s) and I usually don’t enjoy a film when that’s the case. The odd storytelling style also didn’t help. Maybe I’d have liked the book more, as I do think it’s a good story & I always like stories that span so many decades. Don’t skip this movie if you think it’s your type of thing. It’s just not mine…

My Rating: 6/10

The Imitation Game (2014) Review

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The Imitation Game (2014)

Directed by Morten Tyldum

Starring:
Benedict Cumberbatch
Keira Knightley
Matthew Goode
Rory Kinnear
Charles Dance
Mark Strong

Running time: 114 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The Imitation Game is based on the biography Alan Turing: The Enigma by Andrew Hodges. The film stars Benedict Cumberbatch as the British cryptanalyst Alan Turing, who helped solve the Enigma code during the Second World War and was later prosecuted for his homosexuality.

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My Opinion:

Okay, then – I’ve watched another Oscar nominee for Best Picture. I’ll say right away that these “historical drama” types of films aren’t really my thing. But, unlike American Sniper or The Grand Budapest Hotel (screw those!), I still had an interest in watching this one. I knew next to nothing about Alan Turing or his code-breaking or WWII (seriously – I hate history) before watching this film. Actually, I still don’t know much about WWII… Vietnam movies are usually better. Better soundtracks, too.

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Anyway! I had no idea that Alan Turing really received no recognition for his accomplishments in helping to win WWII & that everything had been kept a secret for so many years afterwards. I knew about his homosexuality & horrible punishment but didn’t realize JUST how appallingly he was treated. So that’s the thanks he got after all he did?! Seriously – he should have told everyone to go f*#k themselves! Well, I guess it’s good he didn’t.

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This movie is good but I don’t think it’s great. I can’t see it winning Best Picture. I’d heard that they really glossed over the homosexuality & chemical castration thing but that’s not true at all – they did touch on it plenty. In a way, though, I find that the more interesting story so would have liked even more exploration of that. However, I understand why the main focus was more on the breaking of the Enigma code and I suppose that IS really interesting but I can barely even do a simple crossword puzzle or add two numbers together without a calculator so a lot of that was lost on me. I found the story of Alan Turing himself more fascinating than the machine he created and I don’t think the movie quite did enough to show us his life outside of the time he spent trying to break the Enigma code, other than showing us a little bit of one important relationship early in his life. I don’t know – maybe not a lot is known? Like I said, I don’t really know anything about him beyond what I just saw in this film.

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As for the performances, Benedict Cumberbatch is very good. I think he does a good job making a very awkward and almost unlikable character sympathetic, especially in the later parts of the film. I think there’s too much competition in the Best Actor category this year so it’s unlikely he’ll win but it’s a well deserved nomination. Keira Knightley is good, I guess, at once again being Keira Knightley. Yeah, I don’t like her or her style of acting so I’m probably being unfair. She’s just always “Keira Knightley” to me in every role she’s in. She won’t win an Oscar for this but she’s fine playing the “pretty smart girl”. Oh! Tywin Lannister is in this! And the creepy uncle from Stoker. And the guy who was quite good in Kingsman: The Secret Service & reminds me of Stanley Tucci. Oh yeah – and a guy from the first episode of Black Mirror that has scarred me for life to the point that I’d really rather never see the guy in anything ever again! They’re all decent enough but Cumberbatch is by far the best thing about the movie.

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Summary:

The Imitation Game tells two fascinating stories: the solving of the Enigma code during WWII as well as the persecution of homosexuals in England’s history. It doesn’t really get as in-depth with either of these stories as it could, though, so it’s probably worth reading about Alan Turing if you want to know more than what you’ll find out from this movie. I don’t feel like I know that much more than I did before watching this but it’s a great story that needed to be told many years ago and, from a film fan’s perspective, it’s worth watching for Benedict Cumberbatch’s performance.

My Rating: 7/10

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Pirates Of The Caribbean: The Curse Of The Black Pearl (2003) IMDB Top 250 Guest Review

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For today’s IMDB Top 250 guest review, we have the wonderful Abbi of Where The Wild Things Are AGAIN! That’s right – Abbi has already gone & done two IMDB Top 250 reviews for me (you can read her Kill Bill Vol 1 review HERE). So a huge thanks to Abbi getting these reviews over to me so quickly – I love how enthusiastic she (and lots of you!) has been about this project. 🙂

There are still some movies up for grabs if anyone wants to do a guest IMDB Top 250 review. You can find the list HERE.

Abbi loves Kill Bill – let’s see how she feels about Pirates Of The Caribbean: The Curse Of The Black Pearl, IMDB rank 216 out of 250…

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Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003)

On her voyage from England to Port Royal, Jamaica, governor’s daughter, Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley) spots young Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) floating on a piece of wood. When he is brought aboard she notices that he is wearing a gold pirate medallion. Worried that the boy will be tried for piracy she takes the medallion before anyone can see it and keeps it for herself.
Years later Port Royal is flourishing, Will has become a blacksmith and Elizabeth has grown into a beautiful, if not spoiled, young woman, who has caught not only Will’s eye but also that of Commodore Norrington (Jack Davenport).
On the day of Norrington’s promotion Elizabeth faints and falls over the side of a cliff into the sea, where she is saved by Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp), an infamous pirate known just as much for his terrible reputation as his rather eccentric behaviour. Sparrow is arrested for his efforts but as he languishes in the cells the terrifying pirate crew of The Black Pearl descends on Port Royal, sacking it and kidnapping Elizabeth in the process. Will is distraught and decides reluctantly to turn to the one person he is sure can help him rescue Elizabeth, Captain Jack.
Now the two will set off on a swashbuckling adventure where they’ll have to face off against not only a group of pirates with a disturbing secret but also the pride of the Royal Navy. But can Jack be trusted and is Will really who he thinks he is?
To truly appreciate The Curse of The Black Pearl, you have to try and pretend that you haven’t seen any of the progressively more dire sequels and hark back to a time when Captain Jack was a fresh new character rather than a pitiful, overused, annoying caricature of himself, because essentially, this is the Johnny Depp show. Captain Jack is a brilliant creation – devious, cunning, gorgeous and utterly hilarious… a pirate captain played out like a drug addled rock star. Basically you either want to sleep with Captain Jack or be him or maybe both (how would that work?)
Curse of the Black Pearl looks amazing, is packed with action and provides more than its fair share of laughs making it one of those very rare films that really is perfect for the whole family. If only they had stopped after the first one! 4.5/5 (and really bad eggs)

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They see me rollin. They hate it. Patrollin, tryin to catch me sailing dirty.