Posted in 2010-2019, Film Review

Ralph Breaks the Internet (2018)

Image is property of Walt Disney Animation Studios

Ralph Breaks the Internet – Film Review

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

Directors: Rich Moore and Phil Johnston

Synopsis: When her game Sugar Rush becomes at risk of being unplugged, Vanellope and her best friend Ralph must journey to the vast world of the internet in order to save her game…

Review: The great wonder of film-making, particularly when it comes to animation is that the possibilities are endless. There is no limit to what you can or cannot do, this is also very much applicable to this rather marvellous invention known as the internet. It is also a world of endless possibilities and a place where you can do literally just about anything you so desire. It seems fitting then that after a film that explored what video game characters get up to after their games close for the day, to go up a notch for the sequel and explore the crazy world that is the internet.

A few years have passed since the events of the first film, with Ralph (Reilly) and Vanellope (Silverman) enjoying a solid friendship hanging out together when their gaming duties for the day are done. However, for Vanellope, something is just not fulfilling enough, she strives for something more. When her game suffers a malfunction that puts its immediate future at risk, she and Ralph must journey to the centre of the conglomerate of the internet in order to save her game.

Sequels should always aim to broaden the scope of their predecessor, and so to make the jump from the inner workings of something as small as an arcade, to the never-ending maze that is the internet is a bold move on the part of Disney, but it turns out to be an inspired one as it makes for a very intriguing adventure. Given that the world of the internet offers users so much to explore, the way that the filmmakers concoct the internet is really quite clever. To be expected, there are a fair number of jokes centred around the internet and various phenomenons that have gone viral because of the internet, which provide plenty of humourous moments.

Furthermore, given the vast array of properties that Disney now owns, there’s a vast array of Disney “Easter Eggs” to be found. The most notable example of this would be the appearances of all Disney’s most popular princesses. This could be problematic as it could have come across as egotistical on the studio’s part. However, their appearances provide the film with some of its best moments (including a rather ingenious Brave gag).

The voice work of Reilly and Silverman in particular once again shines brightest as we watch these two, who seem the unlikeliest of friends, try to make their friendship work. Which, while heart-warming to see given how likeable they both are, is a very familiar premise and therefore doesn’t really break any new ground in terms of story-telling. Gal Gadot, though not herself a Disney Princess, is also a welcome addition to the cast. Despite that, you cannot help but feel, though her character and world are interesting, that the themes explored are somewhat clichéd and could have been a bit more innovative in light of the brilliantly clever concept of exploring the world-wide web.

Though the film is somewhat lacking in terms of a fulfilling narrative, some choices in particular do really feel completely out of the blue. It makes up for this with plenty of heart and (to be expected) some marvellous animation. However, the inevitability of sequels is they are going to be compared to their predecessors, and unfortunately Ralph Breaks the Internet is just not as clever as its predecessor. What’s more, the filmmakers really missed a trick with the title of the film, surely Ralph Wrecks the Internet would have been better?

Retaining the heart and vibrancy of its predecessor, Ralph Breaks the Internet offers up an imaginative look at the Internet, but doesn’t use the cleverness of its concept in a completely fulfilling manner. 

Posted in 2010-2019, Film Review

Wreck-it Ralph (2012)

Image is property of Walt Disney Animation Studios

Wreck-it Ralph – Film Review

Cast: John C Reilly, Sarah Silverman, Jack McBrayer, Jane Lynch, Mindy Kaling, Alan Tudyk

Director: Rich Moore

Synopsis: Video game Bad guy Ralph yearns for something more out of life than just being the bad guy, and when the opportunity to win a medal and become the good guy presents itself, he seizes his chance of glory…

Review: Everyone loves a good video game as the perfect activity to pass the time on a miserable day when it’s pouring with rain outside. There have been a great deal of very memorable video game characters down the years, yet when a video game is adapted for the big screen, the end result is usually nothing to get all that excited about, and in some cases, they have been HORRIFICALLY bad. Well, those folks at Disney certainly had a trick up their sleeve, as they often do, to bring the perfect combination of the mediums of film and video game to the big screen, in a deeply entertaining and very enjoyable manner.

The difference here is that this is not based off a single video game, as this film takes place inside an entire video game arcade. In the same way that when in Toy Story, the toys come to life when their owners leave the room. When the arcade closes for the day, the video game characters have their own lives and the way the lives of the characters once their gaming duties for the day are done,  is really innovative.

For Ralph, resident bad guy of the fictional game Fix-it Felix, well he’s not too happy with his current predicament. Having grown tired of the bad guy lifestyle and the unsatisfying outcome that this lifestyle brings to him, there’s no reward to his bad guy endeavours. Meanwhile he watches on with envy as the hero of his game, Felix receives the adulation that Ralph craves desperately, as such Ralph tries to change his fortunes, and though he’s the bad guy, you really feel for him and will him to turn things around for himself.

So many Easter Eggs…

The games in the arcade are all connected in a similar to this giant central hub, that very much resembles those concourses that you see in train stations.  players can interact with the other games in the winding down period after a busy day of gaming. One rule though, no one must ever leave their game, otherwise the consequences could be severe, but this is precisely what Ralph does in pursuit of his dream. Video game fans can rejoice as there are many rather good Easter Eggs cameos from some of the most recognisable faces in video game history, including a few at the Bad Guys Anonymous meeting. The story takes a few twists and turns before eventually arriving at a racing game which is like a cross between Mario Kart and a land of delightful sugary confectionery, appropriately name Sugar Rush, which sets the stage for some hyperactive drama!

It is here that we meet Vanellope, a character like Ralph who is experiencing some hardships in her life and is desperately striving to change things for the better, and the two share a connection in this respect, and watching these two, through their differing struggles and striving for acceptance, is heart-warming to watch, even if it is straying into familiar Disney territory with themes you will have undoubtedly seen many times before. It’s trademark Disney, but that does not prevent it from being exciting, colourful and really amusing entertainment that takes audiences on a pleasant and satisfying journey, and ensures that there will not be groans of frustration as a “Game Over” flashes on the screen.

 A very unique concept that’s tremendously well realised and extremely entertaining, with plenty of the humour and heart that you’ve come to expect from Disney.

Posted in 2010-2019, Film Review

Zootopia (2016)

Image rights belong to Walt Disney Animation Studios
Image rights belong to Walt Disney Animation Studios and Walt Disney Pictures

Zootopia – Film Review

Cast: Ginnifer Goodwin, Jason Bateman, Idris Elba, J.K. Simmons, Octavia Spencer, Jenny Slate

Directors: Byron Howard and Rich Moore

Synopsis: Judy Hopps is a determined rabbit with ambitions of becoming Zootopia’s first rabbit police officer and making the world a better place, and she must put all of her skills to the test to crack a troubling case.

Review: When you do think of animated movies that have plenty to offer for viewers of all ages, young and old alike, the folks at Walt Disney Animation Studios certainly have a strong grip on this genre. Their last three films: Frozen, Big Hero 6 and Wreck it Ralph have all come along in this decade alone, grossing over two billion dollars combined, and thrilling audiences at the same time with heartfelt and very clever stories. Well for their latest adventure this decade, in almost a throwback to their roots of movies involving animals that talk, Wreck-It Ralph director Rich Moore teams up with Tangled co-director Byron Howard to give us a beautifully realised urban metropolis that happens to be full of animals, and once again, Disney delivers the goods in amusing and heartfelt style.

The centrepiece of this furry tale is a plucky bunny named Judy Hopps, who possess a fierce desire to buck the trend and become a police officer, the first bunny to do so, whilst at the same time she stubbornly refuses to conform to what’s expected of her which is become a carrot seller. She’s a very believable heroine that young female viewers can certainly look up to. Upon arrival in the big league, she is almost instantaneously looked down on by the other recruits, and given a pretty thankless task which stumbles her onto something quite substantial that will require all of her intelligence to help solve.

The story from Jared Bush and Phil Johnston is, somewhat surprisingly for a children’s film, really quite in depth. It is very apparent that the story’s inspiration is drawn from the crazy world we all inhabit, where everything should be a Utopia, but it really isn’t. Also as it often the case with Disney and Pixar films, there’s plenty of references that will fly over the heads of the younger viewers, but give adults watching a good chuckle, including some great references to some well known movies and TV shows.

The voice cast of these eccentric bunch of animals is also top of the range. Ginnifer Goodwin gives Judy that fierce determination so much so that you just cannot help but want her to succeed, with Jason Bateman also providing some great work as a crafty and devious fox. Their chemistry is perfect as they’re polar opposites in terms of the animals they are, but at the same time, there is a mutual understanding between the two, and it works to perfection There’s plenty of A list talent who lend their voices with the likes of Idris Elba, Octavia Spencer, J.K Simmons and somewhat surprisingly, Shakira all providing some tremendous work but is Goodwin and Bateman who definitely steal the show.

Most animated movies these days do cater for viewers of all generations, Pixar films have certainly got this nailed down but so too have their Disney Animated Studios counterparts. The themes and the message of this movie are surprisingly deep and thorough, and despite being a delightful work of fiction, will certainly give the older watching viewer plenty of food for thought when the credits begin to roll.

Superbly animated with some very sincere and well developed characters, added with excellent voice work. Another fine addition to the Disney animated collection. 

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