The 1981 horror film Evil Dead that was first made a hit by director Sami Raimi, was remade by director Fede Alvarez. The newer version was released into movie theaters across the nation earlier this month.
When I walked up the dark steps searching for a seat, all that seemed to be running through my head was the good old, “I’m going to pee my pants”, or the tough-guy thoughts like, “Psh, this movie isn’t going to be scary at all!”
Everybody has their own preferences when it comes to horror films. If you’re someone who prefers their scary movies to be creatively bloody, then Evil Dead should be the first movie on your favorites list. In the new version, the soul of Evil Dead is alive, which makes it much more entertaining.
A group of five friends travel to a run-down cabin in the middle of the woods looking for both a fun vacation spot and a healing spot for Mia (Jane Levy) to kick her drug addiction. They all make a pact that no matter how bad Mia’s temper tantrums get they won’t leave the cabin. But the withdrawals are the least of their worries.
In the basement of the cabin Mia’s brother, David (Shiloh Fernandez) and friend, Eric (Lou Taylor Pucci), discover a mysterious book wrapped in human flesh and barbed wire that clearly states NOT to open, read, or verbally speak of this book, but they proceed to open it anyways. Mia makes a run for it only to encounter something nasty that triggers the terror and murders at the cabin.
From then on, the film continues to progress with violence. One by one, each friend is brutally infected by the demon and killed.
The ending of this disturbing story just spells out “plot twist” in my opinion. You definitely don’t expect what is dished out and the hero of the story isn’t who I expected it to be.
Alvarez showed off great director skills when it came to cinematography, sequencing, and blocking. A director of a horror film is supposed to create a creepy set that really helps put the audience inside of the story, and Alvarez nailed it. He made the film stand out from other horror films.
However, there are some negative aspects to this movie. It was very predictable and not at all suspenseful. The actors weren’t well known and they overacted in a way that made the scary parts hysterical. The plotline was difficult to follow and the switching from scene to scene made it confusing. The raining blood and the blood shooting out of missing limbs were over the top and unnecessary.
The Evil Dead’s ratings ranged from a 60 percent to a 90 percent on the five-star scale. It all depends on your views towards scary movies.
Evil Dead was too gory for my liking. I expected it to be frightening, not disgusting.
For more than a century the story of The Wizard of Oz has been a source of inspiration for many creative visionaries as well as adoring fans of the iconic franchise. With a new perspective take on the tale, famous director, Sam Raimi has presented a highly renowned outlook to a childhood classic; Oz the Great and Powerful.
However, this film was not the prequel to the 1939 film many fans were expecting. Nor is it even a type of updated version of the previous film. Oz the Great and Powerful, staring Oscar Winner, James Franco, is a movie that developed the common ponderings from fans “reading between the lines” of the original film. Oz is a film that is all about the story of how The Land of Oz was first saved, how The Wicked Witch came to be, and how The Great and Powerful Wizard of Oz really began.
Fans and fault-finders will argue over conflicting plot-points between the two high-profile movies, but ultimately, Oz offers a magical and captivating experience that to most is worthy of a return trip to the yellow brick road, possibly even in 3D.
A number of fans could, without a doubt, be dismayed by Oz the Great and Powerful, since the film makes liberal, yet while sustaining a respectful utilization of franchise characters: particularly Oz, Glinda, and the Wicked Witch of the West. Nonetheless, any alterations to the characters or The Land of Oz has successfully served the story at hand if fans are willing to keep an open mind on Raimi’s twist to the tale.
Oz the Great and Powerful is surprisingly exciting with attractive imagery and a quick balance between humor and emotion-rousing drama that crafts even some of the dull supporting characters into remarkable symbols.
Though the film does consist of some obvious moments and weak thoughts, the heart of the story – the journey of a great (and powerful) man – raises the uplifting spirit of the classic tale in an entertaining “return to Oz” for the intrigued modern moviegoers.
Oz the Great and Powerful explores the roots of quite a few characters that play key parts in The Wizard of Oz, as well as other Oz adventures. But the film’s primary focus is on a plainly mortal, Oscar “Oz” Diggs (Franco), a womanizing sideshow magician for a travel circus.
The storyline is fairly simple, especially for film fans that are already accustomed to the elements of Oz ; witches, Munchkins, flying monkeys and other magical populace. The movie serves as a dual origin story for both the Wizard of Oz and the Wicked Witch of the West, even though Oscar is the main focal point and his personal journey from being a conman to a great man is what shifts all of the other characters into action.
Assisted by a likable performance from Franco, Oscar is unexpectedly deep especially since an older version of the character pleads for Dorothy to “pay no mind to the man behind the curtain” in the 1939 original film. As it seems, apparently that man has a story worth telling after all and, contrasting to many other films that attempt to create more depth of the origins of a known Hollywood icon, Oz the Great and Powerful essentially has the opportunity to make the character in the original Wizard of Oz more impactful.
A very large, impressive part of the film is the visual aesthetic and design involved. CGI characters like Oscar’s two sidekicks Finley, a friendly flying monkey (voiced by Zach Braff) and China Girl, a living doll (voiced by Joey King), are a part of what made some of the most amusing and touching scenes in the whole movie. The characters are a significant achievement in digital acting and are again raising the bar for what filmmakers can do with non-human roles.
Oz the Great and Powerful presents a captivating take on that wonderful Wizard of Oz – fleshing out the character with a beautiful and emotional adventure. The story of Oscar Diggs is a worthwhile tale with a satisfying payoff – an experience that will leave most filmgoers glad that Raimi decided to investigate the “humbug” behind the curtain.
All in all Oz The Great and Powerful is a film about a man’s journey that deals with frequent conflict between good and evil prevalent in the land of OZ and his personal struggle with greed and honesty. With “when we believe, anything is possible” as the success mantra of the film, the wizard proves that he is indeed great and powerful even without having genuine magical powers. Oz was able to show that being great can come from what you do with the opportunities you have as well as the choices you make, and with that greatness you hold your own power for infinite potential.
Warm Bodies, based from the novel by Isaac Marion, displays a magnificent twist on the zombie apocalypse with romance and comedy. Released on Friday, February 1, Warm Bodies tells the story of a not so ordinary zombie who goes by the name of R. Nicholas Hoult portrays this character perfectly throughout the movie making each scene not only believable, but exciting.
I walked into the theater not expecting much out of the movie or to be the least bit impressed but my thoughts immediately changed at the beginning. Jonathan Levine’s direction of Warm Bodies is inexplicably worthy of recognition and shouldn’t be ignored. The movie starts off with R slowly walking through an airport moaning and groaning, along with other zombies doing the same. Hoult had me laughing right off the bat with his mind being spoken on screen and continued throughout the entire movie. When R and a pack of other famished zombies venture to the city to feed, R runs into Julie (Teresa Palmer), whom he saves and later becomes romantically involved with.
It’s certain that Hoult put everything he had into his performance and so too with Palmer. Not saying much for Hoult must have been a lot different and difficult because he had to express everything strictly through actions. Regardless, he was wonderful with his body language and didn’t cease to entertain me. Likewise, Palmer did a spectacular job making her character appear very terrified at all the right moments and sentimental at others.
Furthermore, the general direction of this movie was near perfect. Levine does a brilliant job at capturing the movie and shining a new light on what is usually looked upon as a frightening topic. Apocalyptic movies are more likely to be in the horror genre but Warm Bodies gives us a different outlook of this take on death and what happens afterward.
During the movie I couldn’t help but feel bad for the corpse, I actually admired him. As did many other people considering the 98 minute film received a positive rating of seven and a half out of ten stars. Additionally, it has made an astounding $45 million in the box office and is still continuing to grow.
Overall, I would give this film nine out of ten stars. Surprisingly, I was left speechless with the amount of spectacular acting and the works of the director. The film came together beautifully and I don’t believe better people could have been chosen for the parts of R and Julie.
The great balance of comedy and romance make this film a must see. I would highly recommend Warm Bodies to anyone who wants a different taste of the apocalypse.
When it comes to real-life disasters, particularly those concerning a family torn apart like in The Impossible, you can see how easily a life-altering catastrophe could happen to you and your family if you end up in the wrong place at the wrong time.
That being said, The Impossible, being the very well done and gripping film that it is, had me on the edge of my seat from the high anticipation start to the unsettling relief that occurs at the end.
The Impossible is based on the true story of a young family of five that survived the 2004 tsunami in Thailand. The main characters, Henry (Ewan McGregor) and Maria (Naomi Watts) portray a British couple who travel to an extravagant resort in Thailand for a Christmas vacation with their three kids; ten year old Lucas (Tom Holland) and two younger boys, Thomas (Samuel Joslin) who was eight years old and Simon (Oaklee Pendergast) who was five years old.
Watts is terrific as the persistent mom who will stop at nothing to protect her son, even as she loses massive amounts of blood and struggles to keep her own life. For her performance in this film Watts has been nominated for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role at the upcoming Oscars telecast on February 24.
But from my perspective, the standout performance for this film was in Holland, whose engaging performance as her son Lucas gripped the audience tightly yet somehow tenderly around the heart. I could experience the connection between the two of them, as he wills his mom to survive, is exceedingly discomfited when his mom’s breast is exposed after the tsunami thrashes them about in the water, and as he calmly takes care of her as they make their way to a hospital. At one point in the film when he believes he’s the only surviving member of his family, Holland compels the audience to cry with him in irrefutable despair.
All in all the film was true dramatic brilliance in portraying realistic audio and footage of intense realistic disaster sequences that results in a satisfying heart break with a heavy impact upon the way one views life, love, and what is truly important. The Impossible shows the answers to what it means to love someone with your entire heart, what true love for another can do, and how it can sometimes can go against the odds and accomplish the seemingly impossible.
The year 2012 brought many new movies to the big screen. There were some that brought tears to your eyes and smiles to your faces. Here is my take on the top ten that deserve to be remembered.
10. 21 Jump Street
Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill helped make this movie one of the best comedies of the year. They play two undercover cops who are placed in a high school to stop the selling of illegal and dangerous drugs. To their witty, funny jokes and charm, they had a perfect chemistry of friendship that kept the movie down right hilarious.
When three friends gain extraordinary superpowers after an underground discovery, they soon see their lives spiraling out of control and their friendship is tested after the embrace their dark side. With this plot in mind, I had no idea that the ending was going to be so unpredictable and action packed. It was what put the whole film together.
8. Act of Valor
Inspired by actual events, this film features a Navy Seal Team, known as the Bandito Platoon. After they complete their task of rescuing a missing CIA agent, they soon discover information on a terrorist ring and soon find themselves on the U.S-Mexico border, in a full blown war. Using real Navy Seals, this movie plunges audiences into the actual events of war and shows them the real definition of heroism.
At first glance, I never imagined that a movie about a man and his talking teddy bear could be so full of comedy. However, Seth MacFarlane’s debut film delivered hilarious and crude jokes that made me laugh until I cried. His vocal performance of Ted was extremely entertaining, considering a lot of the humor came from his mouth. To add to his amazing performance the movie brought in 218,815,487 dollars.
6. Perks of Being a Wallflower
This movie, which is based off of the book, truly takes you into the world of a troubled and angst ridden teen, who just wants to fit in. A shy freshman gains a friendship with two seniors who show him the real world. There was drama, romance and some comedy that made the movie absolutely perfect. It also included a talented cast, such as Emma Watson and Logan Lerman. They actually seemed like they lived their character’s life. Their chemistry was perfect and their performance was spot on.
Stephen Spielberg continues to shine. Lincoln surrounds around the final moments of President Abraham Lincoln’s life and to say the least, Daniel Day Lewis as the president delivers a flawless and impressive performance that should never be forgotten.
4. The Hunger Games
Based on the world acclaimed book by Suzanne Collins, the Hunger Games became an immediate success. Katniss Everdeen, played by Jennifer Lawrence, volunteers to take her younger sister’s place in the Hunger Games, a televised fight to the death in which two teenagers from each of the twelve districts are chosen at random to compete. The emotions the characters brought to the screen were outstanding and the action never quit.
3. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Peter Jackson yet again shows off his skills of a director by bringing the prologue to the Lord of the Rings Trilogy to the big screen. The Hobbit follows a younger Bilbo Baggins, played by the talented Martin Freeman, who is unexpectedly requested to join a journey with a group of dwarves who want to reclaim their stolen mountain home. Despite the movie being faster paced then other movies, the breath-taking scenery and witty characters, proved it to be a true master piece.
2. The Dark Knight Rises
Christopher Nolan’s epic Dark Knight Trilogy finally comes to an end and he again delivered powerful characters and villains see in the previous films. From Anne Hathaway portraying cat women to Tom Hardy playing the terrifying and intimidating villain, Bane, who causes Batman to rise up again, the movie ceased to be boring. Christian Bale continues his defining role of Batman and never fails to fall short of his character. With a jaw dropping ending that left me speechless, The Dark Knight Rises seemed to be the perfect end to such a successful franchise.
1. The Avengers
Nick Fury of S.H.I.E.L.D.S assembles a team of super humans to help stop the evil villain Loki from destroying earth. It didn’t surprise me to discover that this movie topped all the box offices, bringing in a whopping 623,357,910 dollars. The movie kept you on the edge of your seat with pulse pounding action and a well-put together cast, including Robert Downey Jr. and Chris Hemsworth and Jeremy Renner, with outstanding performances.
According to Yahoo Voices in 2007, “The Horse in Motion” (1878) was the first motion picture ever made. Eadweard Muybridge was the creator behind this motion photography masterpiece. Roundhay Garden Scene (1888) is considered the actual first movie made, although compared to today where movies usually last about two hours, Roundhay Garden Scene only lasts about two seconds. From there on out, movies have been improved to where the sound, color, picture and every last detail is nearly perfect. Many movies are even 3D now. The Academy Awards are a night to celebrate and honor every great movie made from that year.
The Academy Awards were first presented in 1928, and this year marks the 85th reoccurrence of this grand display. This year the nominees for the Oscars were announced on January 10 at 5:30 a.m. at the Samuel Goldwyn Theatre in Beverly Hills by Emma Stone and Seth MacFarlane. Everyone else heard the announcement around 8:40 a.m.. Traditionally, the awards will take place on Sunday night, February 24 at 7 p.m.. It will be held at the Dolby Theater at the Hollywood Highland Center. The Oscars will air in more than 225 countries. Even before the nominations were announced, there had been very strong predictions on who has the most potential of receiving the awards. While all awards are a prestigious honor, the three that everyone is craving to hear are these: best picture, best actor and best actress.
The following films are nominated for best picture: “Zero Dark Thirty”, “Silver Linings Playbook”, “Lincoln”, “Les Miserables”,”Life of Pi”, “Amour”, “Django Unchained”, “Argo”, and “Beasts of the Southern Wild”.
The best actor list consists of Daniel Day Lewis who played Abraham Lincoln in Steven Spielberg’s film “Lincoln”. Spy Ghana news claims: “Lewis is arguably one of the finest actors of our generation, and Spielberg one of our top directors. The results of this collaboration are unsurprisingly brilliant, and this movie has the word Oscars pasted all over it.” Denzel Washington, the pilot in “Flight”, also did a remarkable job. John Hughman in “Sessions” and Hugh Jackman in “Les Miserables” are also top choices as best actors.
The best actor nominations are: Daniel Day-Lewis for “Lincoln”, Denzel Washington for “Flight”, Joaquin Phoenix for “The Master”, Hugh Jackman for “Les Miserables”, and Bradley Cooper for “Silver Linings Playbook”.
The best actress choices are down to a close three. Jessica Chastain in “Zero Dark Thirty” who plays a CIA agent that helps find Osama bin Laden. The Wall Street Journal spills: “To research the role, Chastain spent months with producer and screenwriter Mark Boal, asking him about his research and gathering as much information about the story as possible. She also read ‘The Looming Tower’ by Lawrence Wright and ‘Osama bin Laden’ by Mark Scheuer, and then used her imagination to fill in the rest of the blanks.” Naomi Watts who is the mother in “Impossible”, is also a nominee. On nyt.com (New York Times) Watts says, “I guess what I’m trying to do in everything is recreate that family experience that perhaps I missed out on with the missing parent.” She made the movie so realistic that viewers relive the tragedy that happened in 2004.
The Academy Award nominees for best actress: Jessica Chastain for “Zero Dark Thirty”, Naomi Watts for “The Impossible”, Jennifer Lawrence for “Silver Linings Playbook”, Quvenzhane Wallis for “Beasts of the Southern Wild”, and Emmanuelle Riva for “Amour”.
The Academy Awards are considered to be the most prestigious award a person could receive.
The chills shoot up your spine as you hear the sound of the chains grinding on the blades. The little hairs stand up on your arms as goosebumps cover you from head to toe. That feeling of absolute terror is taking over you. You’re at the edge of your seat, waiting, waiting; and then, it’s over. Shrieks fill the theater. Texas Chainsaw is back, but this time, in 3D.
On January 4, one of America’s favorite horror stories came back into theaters and picked up right where it left off. An hour and thirty-two minutes is all it took for director, John Luessenhop, to scare my socks off.
In Texas Chainsaw 3D, a young woman named Heather Miller (Alexandra Daddario), and her friends Nikki (Tania Raymonde), Carl (Scott Eastwood), and Ryan (Tremaine ‘Trey Songz’ Neverson) travel to Texas after hearing about Heather’s unknown grandmother’s death to collect her inheritance. Little does she know that a crazed chainsaw-wielding killer is lurking in the basement of her new mansion.
On its opening night, Texas Chainsaw 3D, earning approximately ten million dollars, took first place at the box office. For the entire weekend, the film ultimately took first place making over 25 million dollars. As of January 20, the film made 36 million dollars worldwide, proving the series still has horror fans chained to their seats.
Although this movie is all about blood and guts and suspense, a touch of humor was scattered throughout. It’s a great Friday night fright.
Much like books that make it to the big screen, film adaptations of musicals are often anxiously awaited by those who fell in love with the original, and then venomously attacked by those same fans who cannot stand even the slightest changes made to their story. This everlasting cycle was broken on Christmas Day by director Tom Hooper, whose Les Misérables was a perfect representation of the raw emotion which the musical has always been meant to convey.
The stage production, based on the novel by Victor Hugo (1862) and written by Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schönberg in 1980, tells the story of a man named Jean Valjean. It begins when he is released on parole after serving 19 years in prison for stealing a loaf of bread.
Though there are a number of intricate subplots, the storyline centers around Jean Valjean’s lifelong quest to escape his dark past, and his inner struggle to ultimately redeem himself and become a thoroughly good man.
The film has a suspiciously big-named cast. When a director chooses the actor that will draw the biggest crowd, it leaves those more critical of the musical aspect wondering if talent is being sacrificed. Though Hugh Jackman (Jean Valjean) and Anne Hathaway (Fantine) have both publically displayed their better-than-average voices, the roles they undertook require a tremendous amount of acting ability as well as singing. Surprisingly enough, they both exceeded expectations.
The way in which Hathaway portrays the defeated, hopeless woman whose only thought is to send more money to the caretakers of her ailing daughter, and her heart-wrenching rendition of “I Dreamed a Dream” makes the desperation Fantine feels break through the thickest of skins. As she struggles to get the words out in between sobs, and her bruised and broken body sits hunched on the floor of a dirty room, she sings: “I dreamed a dream in time gone by, when hope was high, and life worth living… now life has killed the dream I dreamed…” and every heart in the theater starts to ache.
Jackman, playing the part of one of the most dynamic characters ever created – from convict, to thief, to mayor, to father – perfectly displays the power which Jean Valjean exhibits, along with the innocence of his undivided love for his adopted daughter, Cosette, the only person he’s ever loved.
When Valjean leaves the galleys, he is a hardened man, seeing the future only as freedom, and as a contrast to the life he’s known for 19 years. Then he is changed by the Bishop, who showed him compassion, and saves his soul for God. He becomes a good man, helping as many poor as he can, but is still troubled by his past. When Cosette enters his life, however, his heart belongs entirely to her. Everything he does from that point on is for her benefit, and he sees her as the purpose for his life. And despite the difficulty in showing the contrast between these two personas, Jackman managed to spit out the words “Take an eye for an eye! Turn your heart into stone!” with all of the bitterness deserved in the beginning of the movie, and still submissively ask God to take his own life in place of Marius’s, the man with whom Cosette has fallen in love.
Though Hathaway and Jackman’s powerful performances stole the show, the supporting cast backed them up strongly. Russell Crowe, playing the part of the policeman Javert, who pursues Valjean up until his final day, did not disappoint. His performance of “Stars” gave an understanding of Javert’s belief that the world is controlled by the law, and the law alone.
The part of Eponine, who is secretly in love with Marius, is perfected by Samantha Barks, and anyone who’s ever loved someone who doesn’t feel the same way will feel it deeply when she sings “On My Own” in the pouring rain. Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter make a dazzlingly devious pair as the Thénardiers, innkeepers who rob their tenants blind and provide the only comedic relief in the musical.
Movie musicals always have a certain degree of artificiality to them, as the songs are prerecorded in a studio months before filming even takes place, and actors are forced to lip sync the words and act at the same time. Even the best of actors have a hard time keeping up with the music, and it ensures that the scenes lose some of the emotion which is originally intended. Tom Hooper took care of that when he decided to film all of the singing in Les Mis (as it is affectionately known) live. The actors were all equipped with earpieces, and a pianist accompanied them at whatever pace they decided to take. Later, the orchestrations were dubbed in over the tracks.
As Hugh Jackman said in an interview, “It gives us this freedom…I can take a little break; I can move on; I can speed it up; I can slow it down; which means I just have to worry about acting it.” Live recording has never been done before, on such a large scale such as the entire cast of Les Mis. It was a groundbreaking venture, and it did its intended job successfully. The characters were not only entirely real, but also believable.
Though the film was independent of its preceding Broadway legend, it did make sure to give credit to some of the people who were a part of it. The part of the Bishop is played by none other than Colm Wilkinson, the original Jean Valjean from the 1985 London cast. Frances Ruffelle, the original cast’s Eponine, appeared in the movie as one of the “lovely ladies.” The movie’s Eponine, Samantha Barks, played the same role in the 25th Anniversary Concert cast of the show, and the 25th Anniversary’s Grantaire (a friend of Marius), Hadley Fraser, found his way into the movie as an army officer.
Although the plot of Les Mis is impossible to explain simply, and the emotion felt by the characters and the viewer are impossible to describe, it can be said that the end of the movie has such an incredible full-circle effect, that it would be inconceivable to leave the movie theater with any regrets.
Red Dawn is a remake of John Milius’ 1984 war film about the United States being invaded by the Soviet Union and its Cuban and Nicaraguan allies. The story follows a group of American high school students who resist the occupation with guerrilla warfare, calling themselves Wolverines, after their high school mascot.
The remake stars Chris Hemsworth, Josh Peck, Josh Hutcherson, Adrianne Palicki, Isabel Lucas, Connor Cruise and Jeffrey Dean Morgan. It is set in Spokane, Washington sometime in the near future, and centers on a group of teenagers who must save their town from a North Korean invasion.
This is Connor Cruise’s (son of Tom Cruise) second movie, and his first big role. For his second acting experience I thought he did a pretty good job. The only part that I didn’t like about his character is that he didn’t seem very emotional. He’s separated from his family through the entire movie, and he didn’t seem to be very broken up about it, so that seemed kind of unnatural.
The film has received mostly negative reviews with critics saying that it doesn’t measure up to the original because the invasion in the remake is just unrealistic, which is true. In no way would a small country like North Korea ever be able to successfully overthrow the United States government in the near future. There is also no clear time frame in the remake and it is unclear what is really happening to the rest of the United States.
The plot of the remake is not much different from the original, the only differences being the city which is attacked and the country which we are being attacked by. But the remake is also much more dramatic and seems much more relatable. The remake is a lot more violent, which I thought made it seem a lot more realistic than the original film.
But what I don’t understand is why critics are saying that the reason that the movie isn’t good is because it is “unrealistic”. I don’t know about you, but I don’t judge if a movie is good or not based on how real it seems. The Avengers obviously could never happen and isn’t real, but everyone thought that that was a great movie, right? There is just about a 0% chance that anything like what happens in this movie will ever happen, and that’s what makes it good in my opinion.
I do have to admit though, that there were some things that I thought were bad about the movie. Throughout the movie, they’re all driving the same pickup truck, and this truck sure can take a beating. It made it through multiple car chases and somehow, they managed to not run out of gas through the whole movie. Pretty amazing truck if you ask me. It was also pretty weird to see Josh Peck running around with a gun. Whenever I think of him I think of Drake & Josh, so it was just really unusual to see him in such a dramatic role. And whenever he cried it was kind of awkward to watch, because he wasn’t very good at making his emotions seem believable.
Overall, I do think that Red Dawn is a movie worth seeing if you like action movies, and a story that will keep you on the edge of your seat.
It was my friend’s 18th birthday, and we had to navigate a swarming sea of teenage Twilight devotees outside the Breaking Dawn premiere in order to get to Wreck-It Ralph.
Admittedly, our interests have never really aligned with those of adolescent pop culture; we still dress up as cartoon characters for Halloween, our movie nights consist of good-natured High School Musical roasts, and I don’t think it’s physically possible for any of us to not belt the entirety of “I’ll Make a Man Out Of You” whenever possible (though that might just be a generational quirk). Choosing to see the newest Disney movie as opposed to the Twilight saga’s final installment wasn’t a painstaking decision for us. I doubt many of the people in line for Breaking Dawn lost sleep over their ticket purchase, either.
But here’s the thing: they should have. Which is why I’m going to take this time to cordially invite everyone who saw Breaking Dawn instead of Wreck-It Ralph to drop an anvil on their heads, Looney Tunes-style.
(Trust me, it’ll all make sense later.)
Wreck-It Ralph opens with a catchy drop of 8-bit synth, an arcade game from 1982, and a bumbling, self-deprecating monologue courtesy of John C. Reilly. “It becomes kinda hard to love your job when no one seems to like you for doing it,” Ralph, the protagonist, opines. Flash forward to modern day – a Dance Dance Revolution avatar calls out the ‘all clear’ to an empty arcade; two battling Street Fighter characters shake hands, then go for a drink; the camera zooms back in on Ralph’s game, Fix-It Felix (named after its hero and Ralph’s terminally-upbeat rival), giving us a brief glimpse into his daily life before we’re transitioned into an Alcoholics Anonymous-like meeting of villains that includes Bowser and Dr. Robotnik.
These first five minutes effortlessly set the stage for the rest of the film, introducing almost all major plot points while peppering in enough video game humor to rival Scott Pilgrim vs. The World. One concern I’d had going in to the theater was that it would try too hard to be “cool”; Disney Channel and Cartoon Network fall victim to this with shows like “Dog With a Blog”, which shoot for being hip and modern yet fall somewhere in the realm of total absurdity. Wreck-It Ralph sidesteps this smartly. Every obscure reference, every big-name cameo, just serves to enrich the film’s world and endear us to it even more.
The paradox of coolness isn’t the only pitfall Wreck-It Ralph manages to leap over. How many films over the years have been lamely lauded as “fun for the whole family”? Enough to make me, a self-admitted animation dork, cringe at the thought of most PG-rated movies slapped with that label. Here, though, it actually fits. By tempering nostalgia and familiarity with wit, cleverness, and subversion of tired clichés – chivalrous Felix goes gaga over a tough-as-nails war hero “programmed with the most tragic backstory ever”, while the villain is a gleefully maniacal little turd whose only motive for wreaking (wrecking?) havoc is “because I can” – Wreck-It Ralph crosses genres and in the process avoids catering to one subset of its audience over the others.
Now that we’ve established that Wreck-It Ralph makes a great stand-alone film, where does it fall within the Disney canon? In terms of other films, it could best be described as a zany mash-up of The Incredibles’ energy, Monsters, Inc.’s heart, and Who Framed Roger Rabbit?’s knack for satire, but the truth is that Wreck-It Ralph is not a mash-up at all. While it certainly takes narrative and tonal cues from its predecessors, it’s also much more than the sum of its parts. Cohesive and coherent, genre-savvy and self-aware – but never self-important – Wreck-It Ralph is an island unto itself, a thrillingly dynamic, ridiculously well-plotted labor of love.
I’m not sure I can say the same for Breaking Dawn, and I’m not sure I care. In the end, this is the kind of movie that stands for itself, that pummels its competition into the ground and then extends a freakishly-huge hand to help them up. You can’t be too mad at it.