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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Despicable Me 3 (2017) Review

Despicable Me 3 (2017)

Directed by Pierre Coffin & Kyle Balda

Starring: Steve Carell, Kristen Wiig, Trey Parker, Miranda Cosgrove, Dana Gaier, Nev Scharrel, Steve Coogan, Julie Andrews, Jenny Slate, Chris Renaud

Music by Heitor Pereira & Pharrell Williams

Production company: Illumination Entertainment

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
In the film, Gru teams up with his long lost twin Dru in order to defeat a new enemy named Balthazar Bratt, a 1980s child actor who grows up to become a villain.

My Opinion:

Another quickie review today! I’m trying to catch up since I try to review the things I see in the cinema (I managed to finally review Gifted yesterday). At least I missed out on Spider-Man: Homecoming due to a headache so I don’t have to worry about reviewing that! Wait, no – that sucks. I want to see that, dammit. But now I don’t know when it’ll be. Anyone seen it? What did you think? Oops – I’m meant to be reviewing Despicable Me 3…

What can I say? I love those damn minions (one of cinema’s greatest creations, quite frankly). I absolutely adore the three Despicable Me girls (I’d adopt them if you could legally adopt cartoon children) and I love their adorable relationship with Gru. The first Despicable Me film is a favorite of mine, which is extremely rare for an animated movie that wasn’t made by Pixar or Disney. I’m a total Disney/Pixar snob – all other animation production companies can’t even compare. BUT! The first Despicable Me rules. The characters, the soundtrack, the MINIONS…. ! Love it.

As with all money-grabbing animation sequels, though, Despicable Me 2 & 3 obviously pale in comparison to the first. I looked back at my review for Despicable Me 2 (HERE) and I was far too generous with my rating, which I’ve now knocked down slightly to 7.5/10. That’s still probably too high but I think I was buzzing from once again getting to see these characters that I enjoy. I felt the same way while watching number 3 and, when first coming out of the cinema last weekend, probably would’ve rated it slightly too high if I hadn’t waited a week to review it. I at first felt it was a tiny bit better than number 2 but have since changed my mind since watching part of that one with the kid again. 2 & 3 are fairly close but 2 gets half a point more for funnier minion scenes, better use of Pharrell’s brilliant music, and a much stronger opening. Both 2 & 3’s villains are quite weak but, meh – who cares when we get to see Gru, the girls & the minions again? Gru’s long-lost twin brother is probably a love-him-or-hate-him addition but I found him a better character than the lacklustre villains of the last two and slightly less annoying than Lucy (who I’m still unfortunately not crazy about, but that’s not helped by her not being given much to do in number 3).


I think I’m probably going too easy on this film because I love the characters & also love seeing how much my kid enjoys these movies (I think she thinks she IS Agnes sometimes). Despicable Me 3 isn’t a great film but, if you love these characters, I think you’ll get some enjoyment out of it anyway so I would still recommend it to fans. I think reviews have been a bit too harsh since the first movie was so good. But, to be fair, I’ve seen FAR worse animated sequels. And it’s certainly better than the Minions movie, which truly suffered from the lack of the three girls. Oh, and I’ll say I was very worried when seeing the trailer for this one that the girls would barely be in it (why the hell weren’t they in the trailer?!) so I’m happy to say their roles are about as big as they were in the second film. Maybe that’s why I ended up not being disappointed since that horrible trailer gave me very low expectations. But I enjoyed it just fine. It’s watchable. I still adore these characters. But it would be nice if the movies were getting slightly better each time instead of slightly worse…

My Rating: 6.5/10

*I’ve amended this rating – think I was too generous with a 7/10…

Sesame Street To Again Be Shown In The UK!

YES!!! Starting today, Cartoonito will be airing Sesame Street in the UK. This is a big deal to me! I grew up on this show & the characters will always be very dear to me. And I met Gordon when I was 4 or 5 (I have a picture of the two of us – it’s awesome).

It’s always felt weird no longer having some American staples like Sesame Street & Saturday Night Live on TV. Even though I didn’t always watch them, I’ve missed them no longer being around since moving to the UK. Oh, and The Young And The Restless. But don’t tell anyone that I used to watch a soap… (What’s up with Victor & the Abbott gang these days?)

Read more about Sesame Street’s comeback here: Sky News. Unfortunately, it sounds like Sesame Street has undergone a lot of changes. I know they got rid of some of the longstanding human cast members a few years ago, which is a horrible shame. I’ll still be checking it out, though. It’ll never be as good as it was in the classic, pre-Elmo days but it’s a show I’ll always support.

Pharrell Williams and Gwen Stefani will be guest starring in today’s comeback episode so that’s a promising start, at least. Too bad my daughter is now too old for the show but, with such big name guest stars (she’s a fan of both Williams & Stefani), I have a feeling she might not leave the room when I start watching it. 😉

Let’s end this with the classic Alligator King clip…

Music Video Friday: N*E*R*D – Rock Star

Today’s video is N*E*R*D’s Rock Star.

Rock Star is from the 2001 album In Search of… A second version of the album was released in 2002. I’m assuming this second version of the album is what I had (on an actual CD!). I should dig the CD out again – I haven’t listened to it in ages. According to Wikipedia:

“For its 2002 worldwide release, N.E.R.D withdrew the original European version of In Search of… and in its place issued a re-recorded version of the album, also known as the “rock version”, with the electronic backings of the original version being replaced a more rock-oriented sound with the use of live drums and guitars played by American funk rock band Spymob.”

I don’t know how well the album is known, to be honest, but the singles certainly weren’t as big as member Pharrell Williams’ many later hits (pretty sure everyone knows Happy!). I think Williams is hugely talented. My personal favorites are Get Lucky with Daft Punk & the Despicable Me soundtracks. In all seriousness, those soundtracks are amazing & deserve more praise. Provider is also a great song from In Search Of… (I especially love the Zero 7 remix) but Rock Star was always my favorite.

Anyway, here’s the video if you never saw it. For some odd reason, it stars Randy Quaid. Huh. “Shitter was full!

Happy Friday, everyone. 🙂

Despicable Me 2 (2013) Review

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**SPOILER FREE REVIEW**

Despicable Me 2

Directed by Pierre Coffin & Chris Renaud

Starring Voice Actors:
Steve Carell
Russell Brand
Kristen Wiig
Benjamin Bratt
Steve Coogan
Ken Jeong
Miranda Cosgrove

Music by Pharrell Williams & Heitor Pereira

Studio: Illumination Entertainment
Distributed by: Universal Pictures

Plot Synopsis:

After becoming a father to Margo, Edith, and Agnes, Gru is no longer an evil mastermind and is instead throwing kids’ birthday parties & making jelly. That is, until he’s recruited by the Anti-Villain League and must help save the world from a new evil villain…

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My Opinion:

I’m a HUGE fan of the first Despicable Me. It’s the first (and only) non-Disney or Pixar animated film that I’ve ever really liked. Everything about it is brilliant – the relationship between Gru and the three girls who are loveable without ever being overly saccharine and feisty without being bratty, the hilarious minions (one of the greatest cinematic creations in recent years in my opinion), and both Steve Carell & Russell Brand being genuinely funny instead of sometimes slightly annoying. Luckily, all these things are again present in Despicable Me 2.

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It was never going to live up to the first one (not many sequels do). But at least it comes close, so I’m happy with that. It starts early on with a birthday party for Agnes, which reminds us how much Gru fell in love with these three girls and how he’d do anything for them. I love the relationship between Gru and the girls – It was great seeing that develop in the first one and to watch Gru go from villain to hero so, of course, we don’t get that in this film. But we still see plenty of Gru & the girls together in this one and, at the end, we get a moment ALMOST as sweet as when Gru reads the girls the story he wrote in the first Despicable Me (that scene gets me every time!). And we get Gru being a (very!) overly protective father when Margo starts showing an interest in boys. Some great funny scenes involved with that!

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And then, of course, we have the MINIONS. Oh man – I love those little dudes so much! I want my own army of minions. And they’re as hilarious as always. Luckily, there are a lot more scenes with them in this one than in the first film. That’s a good thing (to me, at least). And they’re even more funny this time. I won’t spoil anything but I’ll say they sing a song at one point and the “lead singer” REALLY cracked me up. And there are so many little funny “blink and you’ll miss it” moments with the minions – it’s a lot like how you really need to pay attention to what’s happening in the background of Pixar films. The minions are just plain brilliant – I can see why they’re making a whole movie just about them.

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I really have nothing bad to say about this film other than, overall, the plot was weaker than the one in the original movie. And the new character of Lucy Wilde, who works with Gru as part of the Anti-Villain League, borders on annoying (which is kind of the point anyway). But so does Kristen Wiig, who voices this character. But these are pretty minor things and didn’t ruin my enjoyment at again seeing these characters for whom I have such affection. And, again, the music is brilliant thanks to Pharrell Williams & Heitor Pereira – something I also loved about the first one. And Gru goes on a pretty hilarious date with a woman far more annoying than Kristen Wiig… Plus we have cross-dressing minions again – one dressed as a French maid and one in frilly underwear. Okay – maybe I’m immature but cross-dressing minions are awesome. 😉

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Summary:

Doesn’t quite have the heart of the first one but definitely has all of the humor, if not more. This movie is genuinely hilarious, which is very hard for kids’ films to achieve (trust me – the adults in our sold-out cinema were laughing as much as the kids). Despicable Me 2 is just plain FUN. But, if for some reason you’ve not seen the first one, definitely watch it before seeing the sequel – you really need to understand the characters of Gru & the girls. You’re missing out if you’ve not seen the first one. If you have and if you love it, you won’t be disappointed by the sequel.

My Rating: 7.5/10

(If you’re curious, my 1st Despicable Me rating: 9/10)

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**Forgot to add – there are quite a few funny extra scenes with the minions throughout the credits so you might want to stay for that. I believe there’s no scene AFTER the credits…

Movies I’ve Seen In 2013