Ralph Breaks the Internet

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Swanner: Ralph has everything he wants in his world: he’s got a job that he loves and a best friend, but when Vanellope’s game steeling wheel is broken, Ralph and Vanellope must travel into the internet to find a replacement before her game is scrapped. Wreck it Ralph director, Rich Moore, returns with screenwriter Phil Johnston to take us from the video game world to the internet. Johnston, along with Pamela Ribon tell a story of friendship in a place that is ever changing.

The film is just terrific. It teaches us how the internet works while it shows our heroes. Once they are there, they show us a city of all your favorite sites. Facebook, Amazon, Ebay and more. While moving the story along they introduce all the things we hate online with pop up ads, viral videos, and a search engine that constantly tries to guess your next thought. All of these things become characters and places in the film. When Vanellope discovers an online racing game, she finally finds what makes her happy. How can she tell Ralph that what she really wants will take her away from him and what he really wants.

The folks at Disney are always top of the line, creating characters their audiences actually bond to. They also love to poke fun at themselves whenever possible. At one point Vanellope ends up with the Disney princesses in one of the funniest sequences I’ve seen in a movie in a long time. The film is fresh and clever. It’s fast paced and involving. The race for best animated movie just got a front-runner and I wouldn’t be surprised if Ralph Breaks the Internet ends up in the Best Picture race. It’s easily one of the best movies of the year.

Swanner: 4 stars

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Podcast: SJ 215: Survivor; American Horror Story; The Walking Dead; Fresh Off the Boat; The Conners; Will & Grace; Superdrags; Summer Salt; Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald

White Background LogoSwanner and Judd talk about Survivor; American Horror Story; The Walking Dead; Fresh Off the Boat; The Conners; Will & Grace; Superdrags; Summer Salt; Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald.

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Overlord

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Swanner: On the eve of D-Day, a group of soldiers are tasked with destroying a radio tower in a small occupied French town; an act certain to change the outcome of the war. Once there, these soldiers find not just the radio tower, but a lab where the Nazis are performing horrific experiments on the towns people, both alive and dead. JJ Abrams produces

The opening sequence was as thrilling and terrifying as the opening of Saving Private Ryan but the film suffers the same way Ryan did when it goes from high adrenaline to a more realistic pace. Once the story-line kicks in, it’s one action sequence after another. The young cast keeps the audience focused on the exciting script from Billy Ray and Mark L Smith, and the edge of your seat directing from Julius Avery. Lots of things to like here.

The films R rating is in place with enough blood and guts to satisfy any horror fan. I would say it’s too much for younger kids but with the gore in today’s video games, this might be considered tame. The film feels original even though there are elements obviously borrowed from other films. I really liked this fun and exciting film and I can see it making my top ten favorite films of the year.

Swanner: 3 ½ stars

The Grinch

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Swanner: This is a remake of the 1966 How the Grinch Stole Christmas as a full length animated feature. There was also a 2000 live action feature film staring Jim Carrey as the Grinch. For those unfamiliar with the story, the Grinch is the grumpy recluse who lives in the mountains above the lovely town of Whoville. Every year the town goes overboard on their celebration of Christmas. The Grinch decides to impersonate Santa Claus but instead of bringing presents, he is going to steal everything that has to do with Christmas. The film is based on the Dr. Seuss children’s book.

When I heard they were remaking the story I immediately wondered why. Then I realized that the original came out 52 years ago and maybe it’s a bit dated for a new audience of children who are use to sharp clear animation. To make this a full length film they have added a secondary story-line for Cindy Lou Who, who now is older than two. She wants to meet Santa Claus and plans to abduct him on Christmas Eve, when he’s delivering presents. This story-line just felt like cheap filler in between the Grinch’s story.

The Grinch is voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch, who I thought was going to be a good voice, but he actually came off more like a bitchy gay guy. The film comes from the Illumination folks that bought us Despicable Me and The Secret Life of Pets. The film suffers the fate of most of the animated films from this company, there is no heart. I felt nothing for the characters in this film, which is a shame since it looks wonderful, and I was definitely there for some Christmasy fun.

Swanner: 2 stars

Podcast: SJ 213: Modern Family; The Walking Dead; American Housewife; South Park; Will & Grace; Conners; Cool Kids; The Degenerates; Don’t Watch This; White Denim; Bohemian Rhapsody; Halloween

White Background LogoSwanner and Judd talk about Modern Family; The Walking Dead; American Housewife; South Park; Will & Grace; Conners; Cool Kids; The Degenerates; Don’t Watch This; White Denim; Bohemian Rhapsody; Halloween.

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Bohemian Rhapsody

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I am a huge Queen fan and have been looking forward to the Queen biopic for the near-decade that the movie has been in the works. Having gone through multiple issues with actors, directors, and the band itself, the movie has finally been released. Bohemian Rhapsody is directed by Bryan Singer and stars Rami Malek as Freddie Mercury. The movie follows the band, with the majority of its focus falling on Freddie, from the time a quiet Freddie Bulsara replaces the leader singer of Smile (Brian May, Roger Taylor, John Deacon), to the point where the band reunites after a rocky hiatus to play the Live Aid concert in 1985.

I was worried going into the movie, knowing the sort of issues involved in its creation. Sacha Baron Cohen felt the movie straight-washed Freddie’s past, and quit over creative differences. The remaining band members thought the movie focused too much on Freddie. Bryan Singer was fired from the film with two weeks left to shoot. While viewing the movie, one of the issues that immediately stood out to me is that songs introduced and used as markers for the band’s signature sound, were completely out of order. Anyone who is a Queen fan is going to recognize this. The band’s look was also taken out of order, particularly Freddie’s costumes, with John Deacon’s hair being the only chronologically correct appearance. Am I being overly particular? Maybe, but no more than any other Queen fan will be.

As I walked out of the theater, I was pleased what I saw – excepting the chronological errors – but as I digested the film, more and more things started to bother me. The move focused on Freddie, but I can’t say that I learned anything about him. He loved a woman named Mary, but we don’t know the dynamic of their relationship or why he loved her the way he did. Freddie fell under the influence of a man named Paul – but the movie did not reveal the fact that Paul was his actual manager and pushed the band into the Euro-disco sound of Hot Space, which the band strongly disliked. We saw Freddie turn to partying and drug use, but it was nothing more than clichéd PG-13 debauchery we’ve seen in other biopics of this type. Everything felt very superficial for a movie that runs 2 hours and 15 minutes.

A movie about a rock band that consisted of a flamboyant, golden-voiced Persian, a dentist, an electrical engineer, and an astrophysicist who created an orchestra with his homemade guitar should have been as unique as the band itself. Instead, the movie is about as formulaic as it comes – which is ironic, given the wonderful rant Mercury has about the detriment of formulas.

Judd: 2 stars