Film Review: Ralph Breaks the Internet

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Death, taxes, and Disney.  3 surefire constants in life.  Disney has made a TON of quality films: Toy Story 1-3 (Pixar but still under Disney umbrella), Lion King, Duck Tales Movie (You better believe that counts), Little Mermaid, the list goes on.  And hey, they’re allowed to have a Black Cauldron,  Chicken Little, or Meet the Robinsons every so often.  Then what happens?  Disney buys Star Wars and fires out films faster than Alexandra Ocasio Cortez fires out her lack of knowledge regarding government structure.  SHE ACTUALLY THOUGHT SHE WAS GETTING INAUGERATED??!! Anyway, some of the Star Wars films were solid (Rogue 1 and Episode 8), and a couple that weren’t (Solo and arguably Episode 7).  But Disney is that guy you want up to the plate with bases loaded and down by 3 in the bottom of the 9th.  They’ll bring it home and make more “feel good” memories for you 8 times out of 10.    

So when they announced a sequel to one of my favorite recent Disney films, Wreck it Ralph, I was immediately ecstatic.  How perfect was the mix of 80’s/90’s video games, humor, and even a message of acceptance for people with physical issues that doesn’t constantly hit you over the head.  I laughed throughout the first film and had to rewatch to see all of the characters walking in the background of all the scenes.  How did I think the sequel holds up?  Well…

Ralph and Vanellope (John C Reilly and Sarah “I don’t mind watching Louis CK beat off as long as that ginger juice doesn’t get on me” Silverman) are back in Litwak’s arcade, hooping it up when Ralph accidentally contributes to the breaking of Sugar Rush’s (Vanellope’s game) steering wheel.  Uh-oh!  A replacement steering wheel costs more than Sugar Rush takes in a year so all the characters escape from the now shutdown video game.  Vanellope and Ralph make their way into the wi-fi router and head to eBay so they can get that replacement steering wheel and save Candy Crush from being taken out of the arcade.  Cue the spam/pop up add jokes, the google autofill jokes, and various internet gags.  After Ralph and Vanellope win the auction for the Sugar Rush steering wheel, they learn that Ebay does indeed cost money.  Ralph heads off to make goofy videos and becomes a viral star with the help of the algorithm, YESSS (Taraji P Henson).  Meanwhile, Vanellope heads off and gets tied in with bad girl/wannabe Fast and the Furious racer, Shank (Gal Godot).  Vanellope wants to drive and Shank tells her that maybe Sugar Rush is not longer for the place for her.  Enter internal conflict of staying with her best friend or leaving for her dreams.  

At this point, this film is solid and just about as enjoyable as the first.  I must say that when Vanellope goes to the Disney section of the internet is HILARIOUS.  She runs into Star Wars characters, priceless.  But when she mets all of the princesses of the Disney films is when this film takes the cake.  Tons of shoutouts, tongue in mouth jokes from Snow White to Mulan to Elsa.  That writing couldn’t have been more sharp.  But I have to say, this film disappointed me when Ralph tries to sabotage the internet with a virus.  It really lost me in the end and I think the payoff was subdued because I wasn’t really on board with that final act.  Is this a fun film?  Yes.  Did I like it?  Yes.  But is this in the same ballpark as its predecessor?  Absolutely not.  

I give it a 6.5 out of 10.

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Review of Star Wars: Rogue One (No spoilers)

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As I have said before, I like to see the schedule of films coming out and I’ll circle the ones I highly anticipate.  Usually, there about 4 per year that I get excited for and this was one of them.  However, being that Rogue 1 isn’t part of the original story, I was a little less excited for this as I was for Episode 7 last year.  Spinoff of the original tend to suck (Scorpion King, This is 40, X-Men Wolverine films are awful, and those god awful American Pie straight to DVD films) so I was slightly hesitant.  I also read that this is the first Star Wars film that John Williams wasn’t doing the score for.  John Williams is as integral to these films (Indiana Jones, Star Wars, Jaws, the list goes on) as pepperoni is to pizza.

The story takes place after Episode 3, Revenge of the Sith, when Hayden Christiansen thankfully slides into the lava after Obi-Wan slices his legs off.  I wish Obi-Wan used the force to give Hayden better acting lessons.  Felicity Jones plays Jyn Erso, whose father (Madds Mikelsen) was the architect behind the Death Star.  Young Jyn is hidden for years by Saw Gerrara (Forrest Whittaker) as the Imperials have been looking for her to ensure her father’s cooperation in the completion of the Death Star.  Jyn is freed by the Rebellion and thus begins her mission to steal the plans for the Death Star.

The new characters are instantly likable and you feel something for them all.  K2SO is the robot who embraces the newest comedic role. You’ll see a bunch of familiar faces from previous films, even some restored by CGI as their younger selves from Star Wars.  Some characters may take you a second to recall but when you do, a smile will cross your face.  And of course, Darth Vader makes several appearances in the film.  And without spoiling anything, his final scene is bad-assery at its finest. One of my complaints are they take you to several planets/moons all over the galaxy but you won’t need to remember them later on. I wish they showed you the Emperor in some capacity but no luck.  This film flows beautifully while weaving a fantastic tale.  It’s almost sad as we know the fate for most of these characters being that we’ve seen the 7 previous films.  Director Gareth Edwards ensures it ends with a flawless segue for Star Wars, Episode 4.

People ask me how I rank this amongst the other films but I really need to see this again to take it in.  I’m still processing everything but rest assured, it’s damn good.  If I were to give an early ranking, I put it after Empire and before 7.  Here’s the way I rank them as of now.  4, 6, 5, 3.5, 7, 3 (really good, people just hate the shit out of the 2nd trilogy), 2 (the last 1/3 is really good), 1 (an egregious piece of shit).

Film reviews: “Arrival”, “Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates”, and “Jason Bourne”

The main 2 rules of gambling are: 1) Go with your gut and 2) Don’t be a hero, just win money. 

arrivalposterToday’s reviews are going to focus on rule 1.  When I saw the preview for “Arrival,” I said aloud, “Who gives a shit?  This is Jodie Foster’s Contact 2.0.”  And the reviews started to come in: Rotten Tomatoes loved it, some of my friends loved it, Amy Adams is going to win the Academy Award….you get the idea.  I figured since I was wrong about “Dr. Strange,” I decided to give it a go.  

So I did give it a shot.  I even saw it in the theater as other reviewers said you MUST see it in its purest form.  Amy Adams plays a master linguist who is called to service and communicate when alien spaceships land in many different countries.  Forest Whittaker and his lazy eye play an Army officer who recruits her for the position.  Tiny Jeremy Renner plays a scientist that goes with Adams to facilitate the communication betweens the aliens and Adams. And director Denis Villeneuve (did Sicario and LOVED it) is at the helm.

This film is better than Contact was but I have to admit, I was underwhelmed.  The ending was different than expected but not enough for me to pull a 180 on this film.  Just like Seinfeld, a lot of people found this to be fantastic and I’m just not with it.  You’ve seen the same plot before: aliens land on Earth, humans attempt to make contact, humans make headway, another nation wants to attack the aliens because they don’t want to wait for first strike, conflict arises, will the aliens destroy humanity or do we take them out first?

This film is alright, save your 15 bucks and watch at home.  6/10

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Trivia question: What do you a comedy that isn’t funny?  Answer: a Wes Anderson film.  BOOM!  Taking no prisoners, that’s for goddamn sure!  “Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates” is loosely based on the true story of 2 brothers who were told by their parents to bring wedding dates to their sister’s wedding in Hawaii after countless family gathering were ruined by the boys.  Zac Efron stars as one of the brothers who needs to make sure his shirt is off in at least 73% of the scene.  Anna Kendrick co-stars as a scorned bride who was left at the alter who makes it her life’s work to get on that free trip to Hawaii.  I did notice Stephanie Faracy (the mom in Great Outdoors) plays the boys’ mom and between plastic surgery and aging, Father Time has given her a vicious right uppercut to her work calendar.

When this preview came out, I said, “This COULD be that summer R-rated comedy of the year.”  And I wasn’t enamored by the preview and the reviews were as kind as a 24″ inch waist is to Rebel Wilson.  So, I watched it for free with the free (cable company which doesn’t sponsor me) points I’ve accrued.  You know a film is bad when you turn it off after 45 minutes AND YOU GOT IT FOR FREE.  I think I semi-chuckled twice, which is double the times I laughed at “Napoleon Dynamite” or any other Jack Black comedy.  Nothing gets me like a solid R-rated comedy but when the punchlines are softer than any Drake song, you lost me.  This film is dogshit and I was SHOCKED that it actually turned a profit. Anna Kendrick has a weird face and it’s funny to see her attempting to be sexy.  She’s perfect as Clooney’s protege in, “Up in the Air” and from what I saw while changing the channel, good in those, “Pitch Perfect” films.  Raunchy comedy, not her bag.  

I’d rather watch teens play in a video game tournament that finish watching this film.  2/10

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The first Jason Bourne film, solid.  The second, not so much.  The third, fantastic rebound and my favorite of the trilogy.  So when I read that Paul Greengrass (director of the 1st and 3rd films) was coming back to do the 4th Bourne and this time, I penciled this in to see in the theater.  Matt Damon reprises his title role, and we can wipe our memory banks clean of Jeremy Renner?  Cool, I’m in.  What scenes do you see over and over in the preview?  Damon dropping a dude with one punch and then yet another insane chase scene, this time on the Vegas strip.  Again, I’m in.

And then the reviews came in: nothing positive and pretty much all of them saying this was a hybrid of all 3 Damon films with no real original aspects of it.  So I didn’t see this in the theater as most of my friends confirmed these reviews.  I was going to see this and Suicide Squad in the same day and I’m glad I laid this hand down.  It’s the same recipe as all of the other films.  Hell, I think I can direct the next Bourne film.  Have an older white guy in a communications room, barking out orders to SWAT teams who are trying to locate Bourne for about 60% of the film.  The next 30% would be chase scenes mixed with a few hand-hand combat scenes.  The last 10% would be him trying yet again, to unearth even more backstory about how and why he was recruited to be an assassin. Give me 5 million bucks and the catalog rights to Moby’s, “Extreme Ways” so I can do the 234235th remix of that song and I’ll see you next summer with a 2 hour film that hopefully makes its money back.  

I again, used points from (cable company not paying to advertise with me) and didn’t pay a dollar for this film.  I wasn’t thrilled at all but hey, at least I made it all the way, unlike “Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates.” The Vegas chase scene does carry on a little too long.  The plot is murky and we’re again trying to figure out his character’s as well as his dad’s history with the Treadstone.  You end up not caring about this story about 20 minutes it.  “Bourne Ultimatum” did a fantastic job of wrapping up loose ends and answering all questions.  Greengrass should’ve ended on that high note cause this note cracks and falls flat. 

I’d rather watch all of the trailers for Rogue 1 (review next week) on an endless loop than watch this again.  4.5/10