The Monday Night Movie Review (November 12)

Posted on November 12, 2012

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I am hoping a weekly or bi-weekly movie review will become a staple to the blog. I love movies, and as anyone who knows me can attest, I am in no shortage of opinions. πŸ˜‰

1.) Wreck It Ralph

I generally dislike making all-encompassing statements like this, but… I’ll go ahead and go there: any video game geek worth a hill of beans should have been paying attention to this movie.

From a marketing standpoint, the premise is incredibly clever. What if the “bad guy” of a classic video game wanted to do something else? (In fact, I already have a blog in works about certain video game characters that might want to find something else to do for a change…) While giving inanimate or generally unsentient objects / beings human personalities and characteristics is the name of the game for pretty much every Disney movie ever made, this is the fresh approach on the concept. But what makes it clever is the choice of video games represented: Super Mario Bros (“Fix It Felix” himself has a very Mario-like quality to him), Pacman, Street Fighter, Q-bert, etc. These choices were clearly aimed for the parents, though those franchises still have enough noteriety to be familiar to younger crowds as well.

I have to admit that it wasn’t quite what I expected. The cameos are prevalent in the first 30-45 minutes of the film, but they’re mostly superfluous, just fodder to establish the environment the movie was dealing with. I sort of expected Ralph to be working more closely with recognizable characters, but that just isn’t the case. This isn’t a negative, necessarily; just don’t expect Ralph to be storming the castle with Mario.

I did have a few qualms about the movie going into it, namely the cast. John C. Reilly is usually the sidekick to Will Ferrell, who is, in my opinion, not funny. Not a fan of Sarah Silverman or Jack McBrayer either. Jane Lynch is pretty funny, but 1 out of 4 wasn’t good odds. I am happy to report that the cast, at least for this project, was perfect for their parts. I was initially also concerned, from the trailer, that Vanellope von Schweetz (the young girl character) was going to be an unmitigated brat for the entire ride and drag the movie down, but this fear was also moot.

After the initial premise setup and obligatory cameo parade, the movie boils down to an almost formulaic Disney tale that takes place in a Mario Kart meets Strawberry Shortcake like game world, but that isn’t a bad thing. Say what you want about Disney movies, but they work for a reason and this movie, while feeling fresh and innovative, still has a natural fit with the classics.

Bottom Line: Surprisingly endearing mishmash of video game inspired characters and fun plot (with just the right amount of fanservice) make for an enjoyable outing. Even as an adult with no kids, I enjoyed the friendship between the two main protagonists and was genuinely pleased with the outcome of the story. I’ll be buying the 3D pack when it releases. (Sidenote: I’m jazzed about Brave 3D releasing this week, had it preordered since July.)

2.) Skyfall

I’ve been a big fan of the Daniel Craig outings as Bond so far, even the less than critically acclaimed Quantam of Solace. I like that they took the series back to formula and removed a lot of the corn and camp from the Brosnan films. I liked Brosnan as Bond, but after Tomorrow Never Dies, they kept getting progressively worse.

It’s difficult to speak much on the plot of the film without giving important elements away. Suffice to say that it is pretty dark; they give just enough doubt as to whether or not Bond can still cut it and whether or not the man has any genuine allies left. Craig plays his role well, though Javier Bardem steals the show as the villain. It has been a long time that an on screen villain made me physically cringe, but Bardem is an understated mixture of creepy and dangerous (not unlike his role in No Country for Old Men).

While a tad overlong, there is sufficient suspense and plot development to hold it all together. I appreciated the little touches made to give homage to the older movies and even re-establish some characters that had been missing from the franchise since the reboot. It all fits into place at just the right time; some of it I guessed way in advance but it didn’t detract from the movie at all.

A larger plot regarding Bond’s past was hinted at towards the final act that wasn’t really addressed fully, but there is enough of a sense of conclusion at the end for the movie to feel like a cohesive package. I’ll say this much; “Skyfall” probably doesn’t refer to what you think it might.

Bottom line: One of the best Bond entries to date, probably Craig’s best (though I do love me some Casino Royale) and definitely in the top 5 films of the year so far, maybe even top 3.

Can you guess my top 5 for the year? What movies have you enjoyed in 2012?

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Posted in: Geek, Movies