Ralph Breaks the Internet
Dir. Rich Moore and Phil Johnston
Starring – John C.Reilly, Sarah Silverman, Jack McBrayer, Taraji P.Henson, Gal Gadot
Considering that Ralph Breaks the Internet is a Disney film about videogame characters, it tackles some issues that are pretty deep. From the films get go a broken steering wheel on Vanellope’s (Silverman) Sugar Rush arcade game means that it is switched off, with all of the games characters having to flee their home. This early plotting could be a, none too subtle nod, to the worlds current migrant crisis with Disney possibly trying to educate their young, and old, audience about the benefits of acceptance. It is a nice thought, and possibly true, but it is unfortunate that this plot point is quickly forgotten about, and this is really the films main problem, its slightly muddled and doesn’t really know what it’s trying to say.
After Vanellope’s displacement she, and her best friend Ralph (Reilly), have to travel into the internet, for the first time, in search of a replacement steering wheel to stop her game from being sold for parts. It is when we enter the online world that the film really kicks into gear, it’s visually great and has a frantic pace which doesn’t let up until the films end.
There is also a nice mixture of humor for all ages, smart digs at the internet for the adults and slapstick for the kids. The film is at its best however when ribbing the internet, with some of the best gags stemming from this, such as Ralph’s baffled reaction to encountering pop up adverts for the first time, or when our protagonists learn about social media memes and trends.
It is in this focus of the online world, and the modern culture we have created for it, that the film also finds its strongest voice. For a film aimed at children it has some insightful things to say about internet culture, wisely showing the nastier elements of which we are all unfortunately aware of.
The biggest conflict of the film however is centered on Vanellope and Ralph’s friendship, Ralph being overbearing and too needy, wanting to stick to their arcade routine, with Vanellope wanting to develop and achieve new things. This is handled well, and has a very sweet and heartfelt ending, but it is a path well-trodden and seems to distract from the more interesting investigation of the internet, with the two plot lines never really marrying that well.
The film may be slightly confused about what it wants to be but it looks great, has a good gag rate and some real stand out moments, special mention must go to Vanellope’s trip to the “Oh My Disney” website with the animation giant sending itself up, whilst also giving them a good excuse for some big name cameos from their endless list of classic characters.
Dir. Steven Caple Jnr.
Starring – Michael B. Jordan, Sylvester Stallone, Tessa Thompson, Dolph Lundgren
Boxing films are formulaic, with all of them, more or less, following the same tried and tested pattern.
Up and coming fighter must make a name for them self against a usually stronger opponent, whilst also balancing their tricky home life, and most of the time they are aided by an old, grizzled coach whose seen it all before.
This doesn’t mean that the formula doesn’t work though, with boxing being the sport that has most successfully, and consistently, shone on the big screen, with classics like Rocky, Raging Bull and The Fighter to name a few.
Creed II isn’t up there with those great works but it hits all the right notes and produces a very good boxing movie.
Three years after his loss to “Pretty” Ricky Conlan, Adonis Creed (Jordan) scores a string of victories, culminating in him winning the WBC World Heavyweight Championship.
Now a worldwide star, Adonis contemplates starting a new life with his pregnant partner Bianca (Thompson) in Los Angeles.
Meanwhile, Ivan Drago (Lundgren), a former Soviet boxer who killed Adonis’s father, Apollo Creed, in the ring 33 years earlier, sees an opportunity to regain the glory that was taken from him as a result of his loss to Rocky Balboa in Moscow by pitting his son, Viktor Drago against Adonis.
Now if you have seen 1985’s Rocky IV then you will understand the significance of this plot much more, but it isn’t at all necessary to enjoy this film, which brings everyone up to speed quite quickly.
The film does what it has to do very well, make us care about Creed, he was very well crafted in 2015’s original and is again aided by an excellent Michel B. Jordan performance, very few actors can match his intensity when on form, see also Fruitvale Station or this year’s Black Panther.
Stallone lends the film its heart as the iconic Rocky, with the actor having played the character so many times now that his performance seems effortless.
The in ring action, what boxing films can live and die on, is excellent, showcasing the brutality the sport can create and in some scenes you can almost feel every landed punch. The villain of the piece, Drago Jnr, is also done very well, he may be mostly mute throughout but he lets his fists do the talking.
His hulking presence, and a nicely handled early twist, makes Creed seem very much like the underdog, another important box ticked in the boxing formula.
It is also refreshing to see that the Drago father and son duo aren’t portrayed as cartoon like villains, surprisingly here they are given their own tragic back story which we can sympathise with, a far cry from Rocky IV’s Reagan era propaganda view of the evil Soviet fighter.
All in all Creed II may not reinvent the wheel when it comes to the boxing movie, but it still delivers a good, albeit predictable, story. It lands all its punches and is a welcome addition to a well-loved genre.