Ralph Breaks the Internet – a mini review

Six years after the events of the first film, Ralph and Vanellope, now friends, discover a wi-fi router in their arcade leading them into a new adventure.

Sort of.

The console machine thingy on which Vanellope’s game is played has been damaged and they need to get a new one from eBay so they head off into the Interwebs to find it and adventures ensue.

The film is bright and shiny and you will spend loads of time looking at the background to see all of the riffs on famous corporate names. By far the best bit features all (more or less) of the Disney princesses together with some little digs at the Mouse House.

The story is of course about the nature of friendship and the fact you don’t need to be together all of the time to be close, and that people grow and move on at different speeds. All that jazz.

Being about 45 years older than the top end of the target audience I found it to be fun and surprisingly sweet. Think I preferred the first one though…..

Dazzling details: directed by Rich Moore & Phil Johnson, Ralph is 1h 52m long and rated PG for mild threat and rude humour.

Mary & the Witch’s Flower

mv5bndvkymfinmqtmjc3ni00yty5ltk0ntatzdc4yjzizju2yjnlxkeyxkfqcgdeqxvymjm4ntm5ndy@._v1_sy1000_cr0,0,684,1000_al_It’s a tradition chez Bride to select a positive, feel-good film to watch on New Year’s Eve as a way of avoiding the often terrible TV coverage, though we always make sure to be done by the Bells when we will have a glass of whisky and some shortbread.

I’m Scottish, what can I say.

This year’s film was Mary & the Witch’s Flower, a Christmas gift from my brother to the Book God . Mary is the first film from Studio Ponoc, the successor to Studio Ghibli, and is based on the 1971 children’s book The Little Broomstick by Mary Stewart (or Mearî Suchuâtô as she is in Japanese.)

Mary is spending the summer at her great-aunt’s house waiting for her parents to return from a trip. She’s bored and spends her time investigating the local woods in the company of a black cat where she finds a beautiful blue flower and a broomstick. Temporarily possessed with magic powers, Mary finds herself at Endor College, a sort of proto-Hogwarts, where she makes a significant impression. But things are not at all what they seem.

This is a simply lovely film, full of beautiful imagery and excellent animation. Mary herself is a very engaging character. I hate the word feisty but I can’t think of an alternative just now to describe Mary, a child full of adventure and confidence.

There is darkness in the film, as the staff of Endor College (voiced by Kate Winslet and Jim Broadbent) are obsessed with experiments in transformation which have a real Doctor Moreau feeling.

A number of the elements in the story are very familiar, and I would have liked to see more of Mary’s relationship with her great-aunt which has an important role in the later stages of the story in a way that felt a bit too convenient. But that doesn’t detract from a beautiful story which proved to be an ideal end to 2018.

Dazzling details: directed by Hiromasa Yonebayashi, Meari to majo no hana (original title) is 103 minutes long and rated U – suitable for everyone as long as you don’t mind very mild threat.

The Lego Batman Movie

MV5BMTcyNTEyOTY0M15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwOTAyNzU3MDI@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,674,1000_AL_It’s Batman, Jim, but not as we know it. Or as IMDB would have it:

A cooler-than-ever Bruce Wayne must deal with the usual suspects as they plan to rule Gotham City, while discovering that he has accidentally adopted a teenage orphan who wishes to become his sidekick.

Batman learns an important lesson about teamwork.  That is all, but more than enough 🙂

It’s an interesting fact (to me at least, YMMV) that I have always preferred DC comics to Marvel but of course prefer the Marvel movies to those from DC. Apart from Wonder Woman which was and will forever remain awesome.

You will not be surprised to know that The Lego Batman Movie is the exception to this rule. It is a huge amount of fun, with one of the best iterations of Batman ever. It is full of amazing set-pieces all rendered in overwhelmingly bright colours with a catchy theme song over the end credits (though not as catchy as Everything is Awesome – I only have to hear (or type) the title to have that song stuck in my head) and so much detail that you don’t really know exactly where to look in case you miss something.

The voice cast is astonishingly strong but of course Will Arnett is the standout as the Bat, with Ralph Fiennes a very close second as Alfred. We missed this in the cinema but were able to watch it at home over the Christmas break and could not stop giggling.

Favourite quotes (the ones I remember, after all there are SO MANY every second):

I like to fight around

Okay, Robin. Together, we’re gonna punch these guys so hard, words describing the impact are gonna spontaneously materialize out of thin air.

The creators of the recent incarnations of the DC universe could learn a lot from this film, especially in relation to dialogue. You may not want this many jokes but the script is clever and entertaining without getting in the way of the action.

Very funny and highly recommended.

Dazzling details: The Lego Batman Movie was directed by Chris McKay, is 104 minutes long and is certified U – suitable for everyone unless you are offended by mild comic violence, rude humour and/or very mild bad language

October Movie Round-up

Thoughts on the films I watched way way back in October…..

Venom

IMDb is distinctly unhelpful on the plot, thusly

When Eddie Brock acquires the powers of a symbiote, he will have to release his alter-ego “Venom” to save his life

So many questions. Who is Eddie Brock? How did he get all symbiotic? Why is his life in danger? Who is the bad guy in this situation?

So I thought this was not as bad as most reviews have made it out to be, but it is fair to say that it’s a film with an identity crisis – it really doesn’t know what tone to take. Parts of it are really funny, and if they’d stuck with that it would have been so much better; there are some laugh out loud  bits when Venom him/itself finally appears. There’s a mismatch between the hero and the villain – Riz Ahmed is too subtle so he needed to ramp it up or Tom Hardy needed to rein it in. The final fight is messy and difficult to follow, there are lots of “but how?” moments and for a high security site, Riz’s megavillain lair seems pretty easy to get into when required by the plot. So fine, but Elon Musk may sue.

Coco

Miguel is a young boy who loves music and wants a performing career, but the problem is that his family has banned music because of the actions of his great-grandfather, who abandoned the family to go off and be a star. On the Day of the Dead, Miguel enters the Land of the Dead to find him and try to change the minds of his relatives. Things of course do not go according to plan.

This superficially is very similar to The Book of Life (you can find my thoughts on that here on the old Screen God), but to me it is far superior in both plot and structure. Coco is beautifully animated and incredibly charming. A lot of fun and I may have cried a tiny little bit because, you know, happy endings. Worth watching if you love animation and the music is very cool indeed.

Just lovely.

Blair Witch

After discovering a video showing what he believes to be his vanished sister, James & a group of friends head to the forest believed to be inhabited by the Blair Witch

The whole purpose fo this film seems to be to try to capture the mystery from the first film and cash in on its success, but that was a loooong time ago and we have all moved on since then. But it was Halloween and I wanted to watch a horror film and there it was.

It’s put together really were and is much less ambiguous than the original. It’s also more jump-scary and less creepy and intense than the first film. But its fine, no more than that.