REVIEW: Wreck-It Ralph

Last weekend, after much hyping on my friends’ parts, I finally got to go see Wreck-It Ralph, a movie that is not so much about video games as it is a movie featuring a video game theme. This film could easily be the best video game-themed film I’ve seen. Ever. So, let’s get into the review!

Plot:

Wreck-It Ralph is the bad guy of Fix It Felix Jr. During the game, he gets thrown off a building while Felix gets a medal if the player wins the game. He’s okay with that. What he’s not okay with is how the game’s characters continue to treat him like a bad guy when the arcade is closed. To fix this, he decides to prove that he can be a good guy and go get a medal and bring it back.

This is a really interesting (and completely character-driven) plot, and I really enjoyed it. When I think of a good movie, I think of a movie that doesn’t waste a single scene. I think Wreck-It Ralph does that, so kudos to Disney. You’ve made the video game equivalent of Toy Story!

Acting:

The acting is spot-on. Every character is casted perfectly (and I love Jane Lynch). To add some bonus points, every recognizable video game character (besides the zombie and the Pac Man ghost) was voiced by their respective actors in the game. How can you go wrong with that?

Atmosphere:

I’ll admit, I’m a little biased towards the atmosphere because I’m a gamer, but I want to point out something about this film that I thought really made it stand out: you don’t have to be a gamer to truly enjoy this film. Gamer’s get that nostalgia boost and will be excited to see some recognizable video game characters (Sonic, Bowser, Zangief, Ken, Ryu, Pac Man, etc…), but really, that’s it. The games portrayed (to my knowledge) are completely original games, and so gamers and non-gamers alike are introduced to it.

This is really important. Everyone’s calling Wreck-It Ralph a “video game” movie. To me, placing that label on it kind of pushes a few prospective viewers away, but the film does an absolutely fantastic job not excluding anyone in terms of its look and feel. This is a film any non-gamer will enjoy, maybe even more than a gamer would.

The music is great. The 8-bit retro was awesome when it was played, but the only composition that really stood out was the ending theme (I admit I love Owl City).

Character:

The characters are fantastic, and complement each other really well. The humor that comes from these characters interacting is great! And, they all have clear-cut arcs that you can see change in throughout the film, and all of them are resolved. It’s nice to see every major character resolving their arcs instead of being left in the dark.

——

Wreck-It Ralph, while being hyped as one of the best “video game” films of all time, is one of the finest films I’ve seen all year. If you love games, go see it. If you don’t love games, go see it. If you love Pixar or Toy Story, go see it!

Actually, don’t even put the if statement in there. Just go see it!

Rating: 5 out of 5 (stars)

Just sayin’.

REVIEW: Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

On my birthday last week, my friends and I went to go see Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, which was released that night at midnight. I went in there expecting a horror/action film, and what I got was probably one of the best comedies I’ve seen all year. So let’s jump in and see why this film is so funny!

Plot:

I think this is probably one of the best parts. As you can probably take from the title, this is a movie that takes place during the time Abraham Lincoln was alive. We see him grow from boy to young man to our 16th president, and during the latter two periods he hunts vampires. Yes, you get to see Abraham Lincoln, as president, hunt down superhuman creatures with an axe. If you’re smiling and laughing after reading that sentence, go see this movie – you won’t regret it!

Really, the plot is Abraham Lincoln’s rise to becoming the president along with the civil war, and it all includes vampires, where the vampires are aiding the South in their desire to conquer the North in battle and keep slavery as a practice. What’s striking is how vampires are weaved in. It’s almost ridiculous how they just end up in the south and feed on slaves, and then aid the South in the civil war.

And Henry, Abe‘s mentor, being a vampire was such a twist…except it wasn’t, but I wasn’t expecting great twists from this movie considering it’s supposed to be part-historic.

Acting:

Honestly, the acting is good. That’s why it’s funny. These actors are legitimately trying to convince you that this could have happened – that Abraham Lincoln was, indeed, a vampire hunter. I don’t know exactly who the actors and actresses were (nor am I interested enough to look them up because none of them astounded me), but they were good, and I enjoyed their acting, especially the interactions between Abe and Henry, his mentor (and also a vampire).

I can’t really comment much on the characters – they’re ones you know, and since it’s made out to be like history, you kind of know where each of them is headed in terms of arc progression.

Music:

The music was pretty standard. Nothing really to comment on because I wasn’t too engrossed by it. It wasn’t bad, just not stellar.

Fighting:

This was the best part. To see Abraham Lincoln with bloodlust eyes as he hacks away at a vampire ind killing them in gruesome/badass ways was, simply put, amazing and hilarious, especially once he becomes the president. I really don’t want to go into too much detail, but believe me when I say that it’s gory, although the blood looks kinda fake, but maybe that’s because vampires have a different kind of blood…yeah, I’ll just go with that.

Anyway, the war scenes are also pretty cool, especially once the vampires come in. The battle of Gettysburg is hilarious because of the vampires!

——

Really, the movie isn’t too bad. I mean, it’s a movie about our 16th president hunting vampires, so take that as you will, but I very-much enjoyed it because of how serious the presentation was. It’s movies like this that present a hilarious concept seriously that I love to watch, and I find these kinds of movies funnier than most movies that are actually comedies. If you’re not against seeing some gore and vampires, and want to watch Abraham Lincoln be a complete badass, do go and watch this move – you won’t regret it!

Rating: 3 out of 5 (stars)

Just sayin’.

REVIEW: Howl’s Moving Castle

This movie is good for ONE REASON ONLY:

Christian Bale Bird Man!

Bird Man - played by Christian Bale

Oh yes, Christian Bale becoming bird man. It’s the only explanation!

I lied, there’s two reasons:

BA scarescrow

The most bad ass scarecrow to have ever existed...

But, seriously – continuing the Miyazaki trend, I recently watched Howl’s Moving Castle. Did you know that Miyazaki throws in sub-themes as casually as strolling into a party where jeans and a t-shirt at a business casual event? Neither did I, and because Arrietty was my first of Miyazaki’s films, I was under the impression his other works would be a little more sensible.

Now, I can take chaos. The movie’s premise of a girl who feels old, ugly, and incompetent and being cursed to reflect her mood is an enchanting premise, and I was really enjoying the movie for a while as we explored Howl’s gigantic moving ‘castle’ and its ability to warp doorways was awesome.

Then came war.

Now, a funny little note here is every single time (and I mean every. Single. Time.) the characters talked about war or we saw war happening, my friend would turn to me and say, “Hey, Kappy, did you know this movie’s about war?”

As annoying as that may seem, it was funny to me because it felt like the concept of war was literally shoved into the movie as a skeleton to the plot being driven by Sophie (I think that’s the spelling) and Howl. Was war really what the movie was about? It shouldn’t have been, but in the end it was.

I applaud Miyazaki for trying to weave a story of two who belittle themselves and are cowardly and, in the end, confront their problems head-on with war being the wrong solution to problems, but was that supposed to be a metaphor for how we as people need to confront our problems head-on with discussion instead of duking it out? Maybe, but if so, it was executed poorly.

We would go from a scene with Sophie to towns and villages being destroyed and Howl just flying around destroying battleships. Um, OK, great. Why? Why was the war even there? How did it start? Why was Howl summoned by both sides?

Let’s move onto something a little more positive: the voice acting and characters. Here’s where this movie really shines. Disregarding any lines about war, the characters develop wonderfully. Being able to actually see Sophie come to terms with her feeling old and weak was incredibly powerful. The supporting cast really helps move things along, and that living scarecrow is easily the greatest character in film history. There, I said it. I loved that scarecrow. It was funny, but really helped Sophie grow, and I thought that was awesome.

Talking of characters, let’s talk about the voice acting. Since I watched it on Netflix, I listened to the english dub, and I was once again impressed by it. Especially Howl, who was voiced by none other than Christian-fucking-Bale. That’s right, Christian Bale voiced Howl in this movie, and damn does he sound good when not talking like Batman!

And how can I forget the gorgeous visuals? The animation and art were, simply put, stunning. Panning across the sky or an open lake was 10-12 seconds of delicious eye candy, and a few of the scenes (specifically when they ‘moved’) were animated really nicely.

All in all, this movie was good. There were some things I think it could have done much better concerning execution and the development of their sub-themes, but other than that, everything was great. I’m excited to watch more of Miyazaki’s work!

Rating: 7 out of 10

Also the concept of Christian Bale turning into a bird man is hilarious.

And credit to the photoshopped photo of Christian Bale goes to my friend Jacob (Xyless)!

Just sayin’.

REVIEW: The Secret World of Arrietty

It’s rare that I come across a movie that I find absolutely fantastic, but I found one last Thursday when my friends and I went to go see The Secret World of Arrietty, a Disney-translated and dubbed Kari-guarashi no Arietti. 

Based off the award-winning book, The Borrowers, The Secret World of Arrietty starts us off going from the city of Tokyo to the countryside, where a boy named Shawn (Sho) is staying to rest before a heart operation the following week. As he arrives, he notices Arrietty (Arietti), a 14-yeard-old Borrower. In highly stylized fashion, we watch Arrietty nimbly dodge the pet cat, Nina, and escape through a grate into an area underneath the house Shawn is staying. Indeed, the art style and animation are truly marvelous eye-candy, and I found myself enjoying the animation throughout the film. Seeing the world through Arrietty’s eyes makes something as simple as a house an entire world to explore, and explore we do as Pod (Poddo), Arrietty’s father, takes her through a few of the rooms of the house to ‘borrow’ a cube of sugar and tissue paper.

I usually take Japanese animated films and shows subbed. Rarely do I find a dub worth mentioning, and this one is definitely worth mentioning. You can tell Disney took time to make sure they had a good voice acting cast, and did they deliver. What really stood out to me during the opening credits was Will Arnett, whom I know from Arrested Development. All of the cast was great, and I felt each voice fit each character nicely, and they really play off of each other.

The movie moves along a little slow; it takes a long time for Arrietty and Shawn to speak, let alone Arrietty letting Shawn see her. Yet, despite this slow pace, I found myself enjoying it. Many movies today are action-packed and full of quick, high-intensity situations, so it was nice to watch a simple movie that had characters that really grew. You can feel Arrietty’s conflicting emotions as she walks down the nail staircase from Shawn’s room after he saves her, and even tries to convince her father that not all beans (a Borrower mispronunciation of ‘being’) are bad.

The music plays off of this quiet, slow style well. The music, all written and composed by French artist Cecil Corbel, really fits each scene well, and I love a movie with excellent music. I especially love Arrietty’s Song. None of the music is fast or intrusive. It just gently ebbs and flows with each scene, even the more spurring pieces able to stay soft whilst letting you know that the characters are pushing themselves.

The ending is a little abrupt, but understandable. I was wishing it had been a little different, but it didn’t really jar me. It was a good ending to a wonderful film.

All in all, The Secret World of Arrietty is, at its core, a children’s film of friendship, but told in such a way that anyone of any age (or those who love animation) can enjoy. I highly recommend you see this.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Oh, and Hayao Miyazaki co-wrote the screenplay.

Just sayin’.