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THIS WEEK: Your luck continues: Less talk, more movies! Like last week, I’m gonna give you two reviews with the Good, Bad and the Ugly (in tribute to 88-year-old Clint Eastwood, whose new movie “The Mule” came in 2nd place after the animated “Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse,” beating out several others). I’ll make these quick so you can be on your way to the theater–or your couch.
FIRST UP: The sequel to the animated break-out “Wreck-It Ralph,” which obviously should have been called “Ralph Wrecks The Internet” instead of the crazily cumbersome “Ralph Breaks The Internet: Wreck-It Ralph 2.” This one has Ralph and gal-pal Vanelope on a quest to eBay to replace the broken wheel of her arcade video game while she questions her virtual life choices during encounters with other characters.
Written by Phil Johnston and Pamela Ribon with story by Rich Moore & Phil Johnston and Jim Reardon & Pamela Ribon & Josie Trinidad. Directed by Phil Johnston and Rich Moore.
- Top voice cast: John C. Reilly and Sarah Silverman are back, along with Gal “Wonder Woman” Gadot as racing driver Shank, Taraj P. Henson, Jack “30 Rock” McBrayer, Jane Lynch, Alan “Serenity/Con Man” Tudyk, Alfred “Doc Ock” Molina, Ed “Married With Children” O’Neil, Sean “The Goldbergs” Giambrone and others. All of them are fun and/or funny. Disney animation is mostly top-notch, especially the races and chases. Tons and tons of “easter eggs” with background logos and characters galore. Shank is an animated hottie that I’ll be looking for on YouTube and the scenes with the Disney princesses are some of the best and funniest of the year. Funny end credits scene.
- Overall too long, too serious and too complicated of a plot. The filmmakers decided that to shoot for more “emotional character growth” and “lessons in friendship” rather than outright laughs, which is a shame. Kids (and their parents) get enough lessons from school and life. We all get too little laughter in this crazy angry world.
- A giant Ralph made up of millions of life-sized Ralphs all making the same weird clawing/crawling movement. (The animation department must’ve run out of time and/or money and just hit the “copy/paste” button a gazillion times.) And is it weird to be attracted to a hot toon?
The first film is better but there’s enough gags, imagination and action to make this one worthy to watch for free if you fast-forward past the sobby and sappy stuff and pause to find all the characters and companies you can name.
The film version of “Mortal Engines,” the four-book YA series by writer Phillip Reeve (no relation to “Superman” Christopher). Over a thousand years in the future, a “60-minute war” destroyed most of the world and survivors are divided between “Tractionists” who live in mobile cities-on-wheels and “Anti-Tractionists” who stay put. The major cities like London chase after and “ingest” smaller ones for their resources. Masked Hester Shaw (Hera “DaVinci’s Demons” Hilmar) teams up with historian Tom Natsworthy (Robert Sheehan) and Anna Fang (Jihae of Nat Geo’s “Mars”) to stop London bigwig Thaddeus Valentine (Hugo “Lord Of The Rings” Weaving) before he causes a ton of trouble.
Screenplay by Fran Walsh & Philippa Boyens & Peter Jackson (based on the book by Philip Reeve). Directed by former storyboard artist (on Jackson’s “King Kong” and “Lord Of The Rings”) Christian Rivers.
- Peter Jackson and WETA Digital is all ya need to know as the CGI and effects, especially of the giant, rolling cities are as awesome and cool as the concept itself. Camera work has some jaw-dropping stuff, and the sets, tech and gadgets are an amazing blend of dystopian and steampunk styles. (Plenty for cosplayers.) Even the use of colors stands out. Good amount of exciting and suspenseful action, especially the opening scene. Lots of cool battles in the air and on land, plus martial-arts fights. The “resurrected man” (aka cyborg) Shrike (Stephen “Avatar” Lang) is both frightening and sad (though mostly creepy). Costumes are equally impressive.
- Definitely too long (two-and-a-half hours but feels like three). There were literally three different times I thought it was ending. No button at the end. (Never read a book–err, the book, so can’t compare.) No real babe stuff (guy or gal)–everyone stays fully clothed and there ain’t even a kiss! Couple in-film logic issues: if you’re in a small, nimble vehicle being chased by a giant lumbering one, it’s easier to escape by just turning sideways and driving behind it than trying to outrun it in front. And if you build a massive wall to keep invaders out, you wouldn’t build your city on it! (You don’t see a shopping mall up against Trump’s Mexican wall, or huts attached to the Great Wall of China, do ya?)
- Future food is pretty nasty. How do they keep those giant tires inflated? The drawn-out “emotional impact” scene with a cyborg was more awkward than touching and did not move me at all. Looks like the box office for “Mortal Engines” was awful (under $8 mil for a $100 mil budget), which is a shame. Desitned to be a “cult classic” eventually.
As cool as it looks on the big screen (IMAX is probably mind-blowing), it’s just too long to recommend sitting in a theater seat that long, even if it’s a luxury recliner. If you have the dough to blow, IMAX is the way to go, but for the rest of us, wait to watch on the couch so you can pause and pee when you need to.
That’s it, elves! Do you prefer a few quick-and-quippy reviews like these or the one-per-blog I usually do? Take five secs and lmk in the Comments, will ya? I’d appreciate it. Happy ho-ho-holidays to you and yours from me and mine!
P.S.: Save some money from your holiday binge and get yourself or a loved one (or even a liked-a-lot one) some quality ORIGINAL ART! Perfect time to get a nice and reasonable commission of your choice from Pascale. FREE SHIPPING if you mention any review.
Just ask Craig here!