New on DVD: ‘Ralph' is animated fun
“Ralph Breaks the Internet”
The sequel to the 2012 release “Wreck-It Ralph” picks up with Ralph (voiced by John C. Reilly) and Vanellope (Sarah Silverman) living a happy existence in their respective video games. A crisis occurs when the driving wheel for Vanellope’s “Sugar Rush” game is broken. If a replacement isn’t found soon, her game will be unplugged.
The big strength of the film is the chemistry between Silverman and Reilly. It’s only their voices, but they play the roles with such love and concern for each other that it makes the animated characters seem deeply connected.
Other Disney animated films have had dark endings, but this is by far the most unsettling. A lot has to do with how light and fun the first two acts of the movie are. There are also some big problems with the conclusion that can’t be discussed without spoilers.
There are enough good moments in “Ralph Breaks the Internet” that you should not delete any ideas of renting or buying it. Just be ready to hit escape when the film directed by Rich Moore and Phil Johnston turns to the dark web.
“Mary Queen of Scots”
The film begins with Mary Stuart (Saoirse Ronan), the teenage widowed Queen of France returning to her native Scotland rather than remarrying. Her plan is to reclaim her rightful throne, but Scotland is now under the rule of Elizabeth I (Margot Robbie). First-time feature film director Josie Rourke takes the script by Beau Willimon (“House of Cards”), which skips through history like a flat stone thrown across the pond of time, to look at the politics, social unrest and injustice of the era.
All that is like going to a concert for a massively popular veteran band and having someone read their biography before the show starts. The only reason for seeing “Mary Queen of Scots” is the far-too-short sequence where Stuart and Elizabeth finally have a face-to-face encounter. It’s a main event made so powerful by the two stars it could have been expanded from a few scenes into an entire movie.
It’s sad Rourke was more focused on the canvas behind the actors than focusing on the heavyweight actors performing in front of it. It didn’t help that Willimon’s script had too many unnecessary distractions that kept pulling the attention away from Ronan.
The examination of the creative and destructive nature of genius through Freddie Mercury (Rami Malek) and Queen offers insight into both the musical madness of the band and the emotional insanity Mercury dealt with during his short-lived career. He died in 1991 at the age of 45 from bronchial pneumonia brought on by AIDS.
Anthony McCarten’s (“Darkest Hour”) script hits all the big tent moments, ranging from Mercury’s unusual relationship with Mary Austin (Lucy Boynton) to the creation of some of Queen’s most memorable works. Just when the film begins to slip into a master class in music, McCarten directs the story back to one of the many personal relationships. There are some gaps in the story, but that’s always the case with a biography. Telling every detail would take a lifetime.
As for the music, not every great Queen song is featured, but their catalogue of hits would also dramatically increase the movie’s running time. What is included makes this a soundtrack that is a must to own, even if you have every Queen album.
“The Girl in the Spider’s Web”
Some of the qualities that made Lisbeth Salander so fascinating and compelling in books and 2011’s “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” have been slightly watered down for “The Girl in the Spider’s Web” because the film’s based on the writings of David Lagercrantz, who took over the series after Stieg Larsson’s death. As so often happens when a new writer takes over a book series, the tendency to put an original spin on the work ends up shifting tone and texture.
Even a slightly lighter version of the character is compelling to watch, particularly because of the standout performance by Claire Foy in the title role (played in “Dragon Tattoo” by Rooney Mara). Director Fede Alvarez (“Don’t Breathe”) amplifies Foy’s performance with a beautifully stylized look to the production that embraces the dark and gloomy with ferocity.
Overall, the new DVD release loses a few beats because of the different approach Lagercrantz uses. The changes aren’t bad, but feel disconcerting when compared to the original books and the previous film adaptations.
Available Feb. 19
Director Otto Bathurst (“Black Mirror”) opted to make his “Robin Hood” a production that embraces all the common elements of the story of Robin of Loxley (Taron Egerton), Marian (Eve Hewson) and all the supporting players including the evil Sheriff of Nottingham (Ben Mendelsohn), but presents them with a modern touch. Bathurst’s approach is to present a story set in the Middle Ages where elements from firefights to wardrobe appeal to a modern audience.
Casting Egerton to play Robin was a smart move. He has the kind of boyish charms Tom Cruise shows off in his action movies, and he’s created a foundation with his work in the “Kingsman” franchise.
If your idea of a Robin Hood story is a group of Merry Men hanging around in Sherwood Forest waiting for an opportunity to enter an archery contest, this will leave you heading to the little john. Looking at the work as a mashup of a traditional story with a contemporary approach makes for mindless fun.
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