Yes, my inner child once again seized control of my body and dragged me off to see another kiddie movie: Wreck-It Ralph. It was your typical Disney animated film, geared towards children, but with enough parent-appeal to be enjoying to adults; particularly adults like me who grew up spending countless quarters and hours in video arcades throughout your hometown playing god-knows what game.
The story is a basic hero questing type of story, although in this case, the hero is a villain. Well, to be more specific: the hero’s JOB is to be a villain in the fantasy world in which computerized arcade characters inhabit. According to the film, all those arcade characters actually inhabit their respective games; and when the arcade closes, they are allowed to commute, hang out in other character’s games, and generally socialize amongst themselves amongst the wires of the arcade. The name of the villain-turned-hero is Ralph, and he wants to earn a golden medal, and thereby earn the respect of the “good characters” in his game. So, he leaves his own game and goes game-hopping. This, of course, leads to nothing but chaos.
The other main character is Vanellope von Schweetz who is a “glitch” in a kind of candy-land racing game. Ralph and Vanellope start out antagonizing each other, but through the course of the story become true friends (yeah, Disney!) Difficult choices are made, battles are fought, and friendships are tested. It’s a good story.
Unlike most kid movies, I don’t think there is much to complain about in this one (I know, I usually complain about something!). There’s the Hero’s Duty joke which is a poo joke, but a tastefully done one, I guess. I missed one or two scenes, but I don’t think there was anything that was really inappropriate for young children. The whole pretext of it is that it takes place inside the inner-workings of an arcade; so the fantasy aspect is firmly established. I take that back; I seem to recall (sort of—I don’t remember the specifics) that there was a “technology joke” inappropriate for children. I wish I could remember what it was, but it was one of those “Yes, we’ll turn the hairspray into a flamethrower to entertain the kids”-type of scenes. I’ve mentioned such things in other movie reviews for kids movies: I just think Hollywood forgets its target audience, and they just might try something easy-to-do like that.
On the plus side: the movie had a certain internal logical consistency. Everything tied together and flowed together well. Some standard story motifs could be identified; the foreshadowing of the true villain, and the miracle solution to the bug apocalypse, etc… etc… Overall, it was a good movie; it even had a little bit of romance thrown in.
All right, I’ll give it four stars out of five.
The movie “Brave” is Disney’s Pixar’s latest filmmaking venture. It is basically a computer animation that tells the story of a young woman—a Scottish princess, actually—who is going through the typical teen troubles that have become the common fare of Hollywood. The difference being this story is set in medieval Scottland. At least, I think it’s medieval times: the characters are armed with bows and swords and axes, they are ruled by kings and queens, and they tell stories of close encounters with over-sized bears.
The plot revolves around the betrothal of the young woman (for the life of me, I can’t remember her name—I should, but I had an ear infection when I saw the movie, and they were talking in those fierce Scottish accents anyway). As was common in earlier times, the girl’s parents—the Scottish king and queen—are in the process of arranging her marriage. Basically, they want to hold an athletic contest of some sort, where the firstborn sons of the three other Scottish lords are to compete for her hand. She will wed the victor, or so her parents think. I think her name is “Merriada” or something like that. I’ll call her “M” for short. M wants nothing to do with any of her suitors. She’s a typical teenager hell-bent on living her life as she wants to, not as her parents want her to. So she takes steps to thwart her parents’ wills, some of which prove more disastrous than others. She encounters powerful bears, a clever witch, and a number of mystical wil-o-wisps.
Overall, I thought it was a decent movie, but I thought the message was muddled. She goes through her trials and tribulations which were basically a result of her own doing. Her goal is good—she simply wants a say in her own marriage—but she nearly gets her mother killed by her shenanigans. The conflict between what her mother wants and what she wants is only resolved when her mother changes her mind. And I don’t think that transition was handled well—it was cute, but it lacked something. Finally, I’ve noticed a trend in some of the more recent Disney movies. They seem to be getting darker and darker, as if they are forgetting that their primary audience is very young children. This one wasn’t too bad, but there were scenes with skulls and a battle with a very powerful bear that ended with a dead animal. Plus, the looming presence that M might lose her mother might be a bit too much for the very young. Still, it was a good, if not spectacular, movie.
I’ll give it three and a half—maybe even four—stars out of five stars.