November 2018 – Read the best of Filmmaker Interviews

Interviews by Matthew Toffolo

Touch the link and read 8 different interviews with the best of new filmmakers from around the world.

Dominic McCafferty (BOONDOGGLE)
Interview with Filmmaker Dominic McCafferty (BOONDOGGLE)

Bevin Hamilton & Rachel Murphy (INCALL)
Interview with Filmmakers Bevin Hamilton, Rachael Murphy (INCALL)

Marvin Nuecklaus (CROSSROADS)
Interview with Filmmaker Marvin Nuecklaus (CROSSROADS)

Max Mortl (ISLAND)
Interview with Filmmaker Max Mörtl & Robert Löbel (ISLAND)

Nick Dolinski (CLOUD COVER)
Interview with Filmmaker Nick Dolinski (CLOUD COVER)

Erik Bloomquist (SHE CAME FROM THE WOODS)
Interview with Filmmaker Erik Bloomquist (SHE CAME FROM THE WOODS)

Mark Howling (OBE: THE OUT OF BODY EXPERIENCE)
Interview with Filmmaker Mark Howling (O.B.E. THE OUT OF BODY EXPERIENCE)

Andres Passoni (3:32)
Interview with Filmmaker Andres Passoni (3:32)

Film Review: THE GREAT BUSTER: A CELEBRATION (USA 2018) ***

The Great Buster Poster
Trailer

Documentary on the life and works of comic genius Buster Keaton, directed by Peter Bogdanovic.

Buster Keaton is not someone as well known Charlie Chaplin.  But this is by no means to say that Buster Keaton is no less a genius.  Myself, I first saw Buster Keaton in a supporting role in Richard Lester’s 1966’s comedy A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO THE FORUM.  The doc, THE GREAT BUSTER: A CELEBRATION includes a footage of Keaton in the film.

The film is a celebration of actor/comedian/filmmaker and genius Buster Keaton.  Buster, in those days meant ‘Fall’ and Buster Keaton grew famous in funny falls from the young age touring the country with his travelling show parents.  The film is an examination of the artist from literally a baby to adult, which writer/director Peter Bogdanovich undertakes.

Who better than Peter Bogdanovich whose most famous film WHAT’S UP DOC? starring Barbra Streisand and Ryan O’Neal was likely influenced by the slapstick antics of Buster Keaton.  Bogdanovich also loves black and white oldies and made the excellent THE LAST PICTUR SHOW and PAPER MOON, all black and white period pics.

Unless one is familiar with Keaton’s films or grew up in those times (i.e. if you are over 70), there is much to enjoy in the old footage assembled by Bogdanovich.  From Keaton’s early pictures like his two reelers to his shorts and feature films, expect plenty of laughs. 

Bogdanovich also ties in the passion of film into the doc.  Not only is Keaton’s talent for comedy shown but his genius in filmmaking.  

The early comedic sequences are the ones with Fatty Arbuckle and Keaton.  Arbuckle was Keaton’s mentor and introduced him to film, which aided Keaton’s fame.  The sequence of the two having dinner is not only funny but a genius in its set up.  Other simple sequences featuring these two are equally priceless.

Every genius has his downfall or at least bad times in life.  Arbuckle got entrapped with a murder charge and scandal.  For Keaton, it was his drinking and contract with MGM.  The film was clear to point out that MGM destroyed a few classic comedians of the time including The Marx Brothers, Stan and Ollie and Abbott and Castello with churning out their worst films.  Keaton’s drinking led to his divorce and firing at MGM, fed up with his drinking.  The height of his depression led him  to be committed to an army hospital taken away in a straight jacket. ‘Straight Jacket required to move Buster Keaton to hospital, ” read the newspaper headlines.   

It becomes apparent half way through the film that material is running out.  Bogdanovich inserts old Keaton film footage as fillers.  At least they are funny and satisfying in filling the time.

The film ends with Keaton’s death in 1966 and with the words of Dick Van Dyke who delivered the eulogy at the funeral service.

THE GREAT BUSTER is a celebration of not only Keaton but the artists of the silent era.  The film’s best segment is the clip from Charles Chaplin’s LIMELIGHT where Chaplin and Keaton performed together for the first and only time.  

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HsffUJBYya0

Film Review: IN SEARCH OF GREATNESS (USA 2018)

In Search of Greatness Poster
Trailer

Through the eyes of the greatest athletes of all time, IN SEARCH OF GREATNESS is a cinematic journey into the secrets of genius.

Director:

Gabe Polsky

Writer:

Gabe Polsky

 

IN SEARCH OF GREATNESS is a documentary that seeks to find the secret behind the success of ‘great’ athletes.

The film never really defines greatness.  What is greatness?  From the first few segments of the film, the idea of greatness appears to be narrowed down to the greatness of athletes.  Their ability to do well in their field of sports be it football or soccer or hockey.  Still greatness is assumed to achieve fame in their sport so that they become world-famous in their sport.  Intelligence, dedication and other factors are tied in as well.  The film relies heavily on the interviews with authors and creativity experts Ken Robinson and David Epstein.

The main point drummed into the audience is that one cannot measure greatness.  The film does measure it in terms of  fame, or why would they pick Lou Ferrigno,  Jerry Rice or Wayne Gretzky to be their spokespersons?  What is the filmmakers measurement definition of fame then in picking them?  But another associated fact is that one cannot train for greatness.  If one as become a hockey star, he cannot go to hockey school or a special hockey camp to cultivate that greatness.  The film comes up with dozens of examples of people that go against the flow.  It never however mentioned the exceptions of the people who did go for special training and followed the rules who got into major leagues.  I am sure there are many here too.

The road to greatness?  The hockey legend Wayne Gretzky and “Red Army’s” Gabe Polsky, among others have a lot to say based on their experiences.  Most of these are common sense.  But it is educational and there is nothing wrong to be clarified on what common sense can teach human beings.

So what are these common sense pointers?  It seems silly that one should attend a full length feature to learn what is commonly known.  The most important point that is emphasized time and again is the need to ditch conformity.  Following the formula of a great athlete’s training does not make another great athlete.  From the film, these can be summarized, of course from the point of view of the doc’s ‘experts’:

rage to perform: in other words, dedication is key as emphasized by Wayne Gretzky.  He would rather spend two hours hitting the puck instead of going to a movie with his pals.

ability to learn: in other words, intuition, again Gretzky could immediately analyze the payers in a game within the first few minutes of play

Despite the concentration on sports greatness, the film only narrowly touches other fields of genius.  The film contains footage of many great athletes at their heights (Pele, Muhammed Ali, Tiger Woods, John McEnroe, Serena Williams) which makes like cameos in a feature.

One can only wonder why director Polsky does not apply the principles of greatness in the making of his documentary.  IN SAERCH of GREATNESS is an ok doc but to a great one.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=loSryNWg58k

Film Review: CREED II (USA 2018)

Creed II Poster
Trailer

Under the tutelage of Rocky Balboa, light heavyweight contender Adonis Creed faces off against Viktor Drago, the son of Ivan Drago.

Director:

Steven Caple Jr.

Writers:

Cheo Hodari Coker (story by), Ryan Coogler (characters) | 4 more credits »

How time flies.  Before one knows it, CREED II, the sequel to 2015 CREED is now the 8th instalment of the ROCKIE franchise.  All of the films feature Sylvester Stallone who also co-wrote CREED II.  CREED II is not as good as CREED I primarily because ideas are running out – after all it is the 8th film.

The film follows Adonis Creed (Michael B. Jordan) training in order to defeat the son of Ivan Drago, the powerful athlete who killed his father in the ring more than 33 years prior.

It was in 1985 that the Soviet boxer Ivan Drago (Dolph Lundgren) killed former heavyweight boxing champion Apollo Creed during an exhibition fight in Las Vegas.  That same year, Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone) defeated Ivan Drago in a boxing match on Christmas Day in the Soviet Union. Thirty-three years later, Apollo Creed’s son Adonis (Michael B. Jordan), with Rocky’s training and guidance, seeks to avenge his father’s death by fighting Drago’s son Viktor (Florian Munteanu) while at the same time, Ivan hopes to reclaim his honour through Viktor.  Stallone plays again Robert “Rocky” Balboa, Sr., the two-time world heavyweight champion and Apollo’s rival-turned-friend who becomes Adonis’ trainer and mentor.  He still owns and operates his Italian restaurant in Philadelphia.

The script surprisingly is sympathetic towards the villain Viktor and his over-unforgiving father Ivan.  During a few points in the film, one actually wishes Viktor would win the fight.  Adonis is comes across (unintentionally) as a spoilt celebrity.  Viktor is shown in the script to be a victim of family circumstances that he cannot escape from.  A similar situation was tapped in Steve McQueen’s WIDOWS where the Colin Farrell character is tied in to his family’s reputation.  Both wish to be out.  This is the only positive difference in the ROCKY films.  On the negative, Stallone ups the melodrama several notches.  Adonis’s girlfriend Bianca Thompson (Tessa Thompson) is suffering from hearing loss.  Rocky Balboa has not seen his son and granddaughter for years and finally gets to reconcile (sob-sob!) at the end of the film.  Rocky visits his late wife Adrian’s grave and speaks to her.  Adonis visits his late father’s grave and talks to him too.  It is this melodrama that kills the movie.  

A neat touch is the appearance at the final fight of Viktor’s mother (played with icy coolness by Brigitte Nielsen) who had deserted the family. 

It is clear that Viktor is the bigger and better fighter, so it is a hard task to make Adonis a credible foe that can beat Viktor.  The script devotes the usually hard training sessions (devised by Rocky that Adonis undergoes – like pulling trucks, turning tires and running in the ht desert).

The climax of the film is understandably the heavyweight championship bout between Adonis and Viktor,  executed with all its expected gore and brutal violence.  The fight begins during the last 15 minutes of the movie.

All that can be done with CREED II is to use the recycled formula of what worked in the past.  The result is a lacklustre over melodramatic film with a few good fighting sequences.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cPNVNqn4T9I

Film Review: ANNA AND THE APOCALYPSE (UK 2017)

Anna and the Apocalypse Poster
Trailer

A zombie apocalypse threatens the sleepy town of Little Haven – at Christmas – forcing Anna and her friends to fight, slash and sing their way to survival, facing the undead in a desperate race to reach their loved ones. But they soon discover that no one is safe in this new world, and with civilization falling apart around them, the only people they can truly rely on are each other.

Director:

John McPhail

ANNA AND THE APOCALYPSE is the rarity that is a zombie musical set during Christmas directed by John McPhail and written by Alan McDonald and Ryan McHenry.  The film is based on the 2010 BAFTA-winning short Zombie Musical.

The zombies do not appear till 20 minutes or so into the movie.  They are seen only in the background as Anna and her friends do a musical number.  The film takes its 20 minutes in the set up of the story that revolves around Anna and her the sleepy Scots town of Little Haven – at Christmas.

The story is typical for a young teen.  Anna (Ella Hunt) is upset that her father disapproves of her taking a year off her studies in travelling to Australia. Anna’s best friend is John (Malcolm Cumming) who want something more than a plutonic relationship with her.  Nick (Ben Wiggins) woos her though she dislikes him for his wild behaviour.  Her friends include lovebirds Chris (Christopher Leveaux), who loves recording everything on film and Lisa (Marli Siu).  

Though a Scots production, the film fails to use much o the magnificent Scots landscapes usually found in films from Scotland.  The Scots accent is also lowered several notches so that North American audiences can follow the dialogue and song easily.  The dance and song numbers are nothing spectacular – something that in the order of what can be expected in a show put on by a school, which is actually the case here.  The musical novelty in a zombie flick runs out of steam quickly.  After the seconds song, one wishes the distraction of song be left out.  The one exception is the spritely naughty musical number performed by Lisa on stage with lewd lyrics  accompanied by scantily lad boys in  Christmas spangled attire.

The zombies are disposed off with a fair share of violence but done in a matter-of-fact comical way.  No one should complain.

The reason for the zombie outbreak given is a flu type virus.  Nothing is mentioned of what is happening in the rest of the world.  The film totally revolves around the narrowed world of Anna and her friends.

The teen characters in Little Haven resembler pretty much the typical teenager around the world but less annoying.  They are stuck in their little world of non-ambition, fun, romance and independence.  The script could have added some rites-of-passage or coming of age that the teens could have gone through a result of the so-called apocalypse.

The story also ends up predictable fare towards the end.  One can tell who is going to be bitten by the zombie and thatAnna and her father will reconcile.

The reason this small Scots film fined North American distribution is the fact that is is a musical – a rarity.  But it is this same fact that mars the film from going anywhere.  It seems all the incidents are geared towards a musical number from the very first song “Breakaway” which stresses Anna’s desire to travel to Australia.  The film’s target audience for ANNA AND THE APOCALYPSE would be youth interested in horror fare.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G9j1CBq1Wj8&t=

Fim Review: TIGER (USA/Canada 2018)

Tiger Poster
Trailer

A practicing Sikh is banned by the boxing commission for refusing to back down from his religious beliefs. Through racial profiling and stereotypical threats, he does what any strong American would do, fight back.

Director:

Alister Grierson

TIGER tells the story of a boxer (based on true events) who also had to contend with battles outside the ring – for his Sikh religion.   He was not allowed by the American Boxing Corporation to box unless he shaved his beard claiming that they held the best interest of boxers in mind for cuts and bruises might not be seen underneath the facial hair.

The film is inspired by the true story of Pardeep Singh Nagra (Prem Singh) aka Punjab Tiger, a practicing Sikh man who was banned from the sport of boxing.   Pardeep fights back with the support of his coach and mentor (Mickey Rourke), family and a community lawyer (Janel Parrish) who he falls in love with.   Obstacles faced include racial profiling by public officials, overtly racist threats, jealous rival boxers and pressure to change from loved ones.  It is within the course of these challenges and at his weakest moment that he discovers love.

One wonders the reason the film is entitled TIGER instead of PUNJAB TIGER, which would be the more appropriate title.   One might think that for an anti-racist film, dropping the PUNJAB word might be taking a prejudiced view that the title might put off general audiences.  On the other hand, one could also argue that the simple TIGER will fetch a larger audience and likely the ones to learn a lesson or two about racism.

Good intentions aside, TIGER feels like a poor man’s version of ROCKY.  There are similarities between the two boxing films.  Both are based on real life characters and both do not qualify as a true biographies.  Rocky Balboa’s character emphasized his Italian background while Pardeep Singh his Sikh background.   Both rely on the expertise of their experienced coach, who were real boxers, Mickey Rourke in TIGER.  There is also the romantic element in both films that show the boxer also as a human being.

Prem Sing delivers as the feisty boxer.  It is good to see Mickey Rourke (Academy Award nominee for Best actor in THE WRESTLER) again on screen though the man is definitely showing his age (and his glass eye).  A photograph of Mickey Rourke int he film shows the boxer/star in his hey day.

The film’s climax is expectedly the middleweight championship fight between The Tiger and the racist bully, Bryan Doyle (Michael Pugliese).  (Pugliese and the real Nagra wrote the script for this film.)  Everyone loves a good boxing match.  The camera work is sufficiently effective, well cut to the fight, the spectators’ reactions and the agony on the fighters’ faces.  Director Gierson cannot resist using the roar of the tiger on the soundtrack during the final bout.

TIGER ends up a predictable and cliched though relatively entertaining part-biography of boxer Nagra who discovers that winning a fight need not always be in the boxing ring.  The film won the Best Film at the San Diego International Film Festival.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E2KnrqtAnEE

Film Review: DEAD IN A WEEK: OR YOUR MONEY BACK (UK 2018) **

Dead in a Week: Or Your Money Back Poster
Trailer

After his ninth unsuccessful attempt on his own life, a young man outsources his suicide to an ageing assassin. “If you’re serious about ending it, you need professional help”

Director:

Tom Edmunds

Writer:

Tom Edmunds

DEAD IN A WEEK (OR YOUR MONEY BACK) follows the sad life of William (Aneurin Barnard, the Welsh actor from DUNKIRK), a failed writer who has tried to take his life 9 times without much success.  These attempts are sad, not because they failed but because they are shown briefly on screen as attempts at comedy but simply failing at getting any laughs.  The hanging results in ceiling breakage.  The electrocution leads to a blackout.  Yes, not funny.  And neither is the rest of the film.  The premise might have looked good on paper but what transpires is only mildly funny comedy at best and a whole lot of predictable fare.  

William hires a contract killer who needs him to be his last killing to make his quota.   The contract killer, Leslie (Tom Wilkinson) gives William his calling card at the bridge where he attempt his 10th suicide.  William jumps off but no prizes in guessing that he lands on a passing boat below.  William signs a contract for his own death.  The predictable catch is that he falls in love and his next book looks like a success.  So, he now wants to live.  But the killer is not going to stop what he is paid to do.

The worst thing about the film is when it attempts to offer life lessons advice to the audience.  The speech by William just before he is about to be shot is something  everyone could do without.  The contract killer, Leslie is supposed to be super efficient so the scenes in which he shoots and keeps missing William is totally unbelievable.  The running joke of Leslie’s wife supporting her husband in his job  (“Maybe this will help”, she tells him at one point handing him a kitchen knife, sending him off to work) outstays its welcome.

Punch lines like: “Killing is the only thing I live for,” as uttered by the hit man is typically expected from a film like this.  Or “I am an assassin, that is what I do, that is what I am.”  The script also has to resort to foul language, a sure sign of desperation.  The Ennio Morricone-type soundtrack (Clint Eastwood used to play similar lone ‘Man with no Name’ killers)  is an obvious choice for music.

The Aki Kaurismaki film I HIRED A CONTRACT KILLER, by inevitable comparison, that treaded similar territory is more effective on a different level.  Kaurismaki’s film was deadpan comedy which means  that one could watch the weirdly funny film and still not laugh.  The film was depressing but I have seen it three times.  The closing credits have the cheek to claim that DEAD IN A WEEK is based on an original idea by writer/director Tom Edmunds.  Both films has the protagonist change his kind and both have them falling in love.  CONTRACT KILLER had him fall in love with a flower girl with added a nice touch.

The film has an odd rather original ending that does not qualify as a Hollywood ending.  Unfortunately it makes no sense at all.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d-HKbDkqpqY

Film Review: AT ETERNITY’S GATE (UK/USA/France 2018) ***1/2

At Eternity's Gate Poster
Trailer

A look at the life of painter Vincent van Gogh during the time he lived in Arles and Auvers-sur-Oise, France.

Director:

Julian Schnabel

There have countless films/biographies on Dutch painter Vincent Van Gogh.  So the question is why would any filmmaker want to make yet another?  

The reason is hinted at during the closing credits when it is mentioned that writings in a journal n Van Gogh had been discovered in 2016, the year before production of this film began.  Director Schnabel also said on the making of the film which is written by himself and French screenwriter Jean-Claude Carrière, quote: “This is a film about painting and a painter and their relationship to infinity.  It is told by a painter.  It contains what I felt were essential moments in his life; this is not the official history – it’s my version. One that I hope could make you closer to him.”

The film is set during the final years of Van Gogh’s life.  As most are aware of, the famous painter was mentally institutionalized at Auvers-sur-Oise, France.  He died from complications from a gunshot wound to the stomach and he had also cut off his ear in Arles in the south of France.  Making a film about madness is a difficult task which is often not rewarded with a crowd pleasing film.  The result is as expected, a film very difficult to take in as director Shnabel personalizes and ups the angst on the painter’s decent into madness.  Schnabel is no stranger to mental torment and suffering. His best picture to date THE DIVING BELL AND THE BUTTERFLY how a paralyzed writer completed his memoirs is a near-masterpiece in film endurance and suffering.  Unfortunately AT ETERNITY”S GATE does not reach the same heights.

For one, the Van Gogh story is one that everyone is familiar with.  To re-think that his suicide is something unexplainable might not please everyone.  Watching a person’s decent into madness is not anything entertaining or pleasant to watch either.  The film understandably lags in the middle with quite a few boring parts.

But the film is magnificently shot by cinematographer Benoît Delhomme in colours identical to the colours of the Van Gogh paintings painted in the open.  In the film, Van Gogh was advised by fellow painter, Paul Gauguin (Oscar Isaac) to go to the south of France to paint as it is so beautiful there.  So Van Gogh travelled to Arles.  Being to Arles myself, for the reason Van Gogh cut off his ear there, I never found Arles as pretty than the present after watching this film with the beautifully shot scenes.

The film also benefits from the cameos of Mads Mikkelsen as the priest, Mathieu Amalric (in THE DIVING BELL AND THE BUTTERFLY) as Dr. Paul Gachet who Van Gogh painted, Emmanuelle Seigner as the Woman from Arles, Niels Arestrup as a fellow inmate and Vincent Perez as the director.

What is marvellous to watch is Van Gogh at work painting his masterpieces.  These scenes look really authentic.  The display of dozens of his work on screen is a bonus for those who love Van Gogh’s work.

AT ETERNITY’S GATE is undeniably a difficult watch due to its madness theme but the film is by no means not without its pleasures.  Just don’t expect the normal Van Gogh biography.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T77PDm3e1iE

Film Review: THE BALLAD OF BUSTER SCRUGGS (USA 2018) ***** TOP 10

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs Poster
Trailer

An anthology film comprised of six stories, each dealing with a different aspect of life in the Old West.

Directors:

Ethan CoenJoel Coen

Writers:

Joel CoenEthan Coen

Made as a Netflix original movie, THE BALLAD OF BUSTER SCRUGGS is the title of the first of six the Coen Brothers stories set in the American frontier.  It is also the best of the six stories.

Written and directed by the Coen Brothers (the name that is synonymous with solid entertainment), the film is comprised of six chapters that present a different story with a different attitude from the wild frontier.  

The odd thing is that instead of the best reserved for the last, the first chapter, and the title of the film is the best of the anthology.  Anthology films, so popular in the past are now not so common.  Each chapter lasts about 20 minutes or so, and stars a complete different cast of actors.

The first episode – The Ballad of Buster Scruggs-  tells the story of a sharp-shooting songster played by an unforgettable Tim Blake Nelson.  It is hilarious, unpredictable and fun from moment one.  Nelson shows up as the fastest gun in the west while breaking into song and dance unexpectedly as well.  Though predictable as to what will happen to him at the end, this is one chapter that one does not want to end.  And to watch again and again!

The second is called “In Near Algodones’, in which a wannabe bank robber (James Franco) gets his due and then some.  The bank clerk the robber has to deal with is someone totally unexpected, coming out a-shooting with his armour of pots and pans.

Meal Ticket is a gothic tale about two weary travelling performers with Liam Neeson.  This is the least strong of the stories and my least favourite.

Al that glitters is definitely gold.  All Gold Canyon is a story about a prospector mining for gold, with Tom Waits as the elderly prospector.  The scenes of him panning the sands for grains of gold nuggets are priceless with Waits eagerly waiting to strike the mother lode.  The next is a wagon trail in which  a woman finds an unexpected promise of love, along with a dose of life’s cruel irony, across the prairies in the chapter entitled The Gal Who Got Rattled. 

Finally, ghostly laughs haunt The Mortal Remains as a pompous Lady (Tyne Daly) rains judgment upon a motley crew of strangers undertaking a final stagecoach ride.  This is the most talky of the stories and clearly shows the film deserving of the Best Screenplay Award it won at the Venice International filmFestival.  The monologue by the uneducated trapper, played by Chelcie Ross in simple but and the superbly well-written prose is unforgettable.  

The common thread in all the 6 movie is the unforgettable central character.  Each story has one that stands out and each are performed by a famous actor trying on something completely different.

One can only wish for more of these priceless uniquely Coen Brothers stamped  stories.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_2PyxzSH1HM

Film Review: RALPH BREAKS THE INTERNET (USA 2018) ***1/2

Ralph Breaks the Internet Poster
Six years after the events of “Wreck-It Ralph”, Ralph and Vanellope, now friends, discover a wi-fi router in their arcade, leading them into a new adventure.

Writers:

Phil Johnston (screenplay by), Pamela Ribon (screenplay by) | 5 more credits »

One can observe more and more formulaic flow in the Disney movies.  Even for their December Christmas animated features, one year features a male and the next a female young protagonist.  This year sees a young female (as it is the lady’s turn) but she dabbles in stuff that more males would be interested in – car racing.   Her character, Vanellope (voiced by Sarah Silverman, who recently got her Hollywood Walk of Fame) is however, in a video game and her best friend is WRECK-IT RALPH (John. C. Reilly), who in this film breaks the internet.  Her dream is to win races.  The film questions the importance of friendship against chasing ones dreams.  No prizes for guessing the answer!

The film begins with something quite different.  While a lot of scripts begin with  some dream that needs to be reached from poverty, this story begins with Ralph and Vanellope having the perfect life.  They enjoy what there doing, are best friends and want nothing to change.  The film questions this status quo.

The setting is six years after the events of the first film (also in real time as the last RALPH movie was 2012).  The steering wheel controller on the Sugar Rush arcade game console breaks, forcing Mr. Litwak (Ed O’Neill) to unplug the machine.  Wreck-It Ralph and Vanellope von Schweetz evacuate all of the Sugar Rush residents to other games before it is shut down, placing the racers in the care of Fix-It Felix Jr. and Sergeant Tamora Jean Calhoun.  Ralph and Vanellope then use the arcade’s new connection to the Internet to go looking for a replacement steering wheel.

The script uses fully all the quirks that can be found in the internet.  Those who are unfamiliar (maybe none in today’s audiences) will find a few things strange but the filmmakers make the solid assumption that everyone is aware of the concept of viruses, search engines and social platforms.  A few new internet characters like eBoy and  Mr. Knowsmore ( the man who knows everything in charge of a search engine) sprite up the list of characters.

The film also contains a few totally entertaining imaginative numbers like the tap dancing on the car hoods and the animated Busby Berkeley sequences.  The film’s funniest segment is Ralph’s visit to the virus Master, Double Dan (Alfred Molina in his British accent) and told never to look at his little brother, which of course, he cannot help but do, while making comments about him all the while.

John C. Reilly has an unmistakable voice and one can only expect him to do his goofy, sympathetic tones, especially in the scenes where he is pleading for Vanellope’s friendship.

Two lively songs ‘Zero’ and ‘Place Called Slaughter Race’ enliven he festivities.  (There are also a few songs in the other December Disney animated features).

RALPH BREAKS THE INTERNET is no FROZEN, TOY STORY or COCO.  But it does have its moments and its inventiveness.  The most inventive of these involve the coming together at the film’s end of all the past animated movie characters (the Disney Princess lineup with The Muppets, Star Wars, Disney Animation, Marvel Comics, and Pixar characters)

together.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lX71_Jcm4po