Monday, November 26, 2012

Quick Blurb Review: Wreck-It Ralph

Okay, this was originally supposed to be a Vlog, but my son and better half are sleeping and I am currently without sufficient recording room, so here we are.  Over the weekend while Scholar was doing stuff with her bridal party in Brandon, I called up my brother and we took my son to the theatre for the first time.  I wanted something that he'd sit through but at the same time was something that my brother and I wouldn't mind or even looked forward to sitting through, so we decided to check out Wreck-It Ralph, the third and final film that was on my "Must See In Theatres" list.

Ralph (John C. Reilly) converses with Vanellope (Sarah Silverman).

The plot of Wreck-It Ralph is almost like Toy Story with video games: Ralph, the villain in the game "Fix-It Felix Jr.", has been doing the same thing for 30 years: wrecking the building while Felix (Jack McBrayer) repairs it before Ralph destroys it completely (like a cross between Donkey Kong & Rampage).  However, Ralph is considered by the tenants of the building to be "just the bad guy" and treat him like dirt at every opportunity, even snubbing him an invite to a party celebrating the game's 30th anniversary.  After attending a Bad Guy Group Therapy session with the likes of Kano (Mortal Kombat), Zangief & M. Bison (Street Fighter), Dr. Eggman (Sonic The Hedgehog) and other recognizable video game villains, Ralph decides that he doesn't want to be the bad guy anymore and sets out to find the game where he can be a hero.  However, by doing so, he puts not only his game but potentially every other game in the arcade at risk.

If Sgt. Marcus Fenix (Gears Of War) and female Commander Sheppard (Mass Effect) had a kid together, it'd be Sgt. Tamora Jean Calhoun (Jane Lynch).

Hm, how can I put this delicately...I loved this movie!  I tried not to let myself get too excited about Wreck-It Ralph because it is a Disney movie and sometimes their formula can become stale and tiresome.  Not that I don't like Disney movies, it's just some work better than others.  Ralph is one that works, both as a fan of Disney films and as someone who grew up with video games.  As a movie, the film looks great both with the animation and the worlds within it.  When you step into Game Central Station for the first time (which to us is just the power bar connecting all the arcade machines together), you get taken aback and you say to yourself, "Wow."  The detail in the game Sugar Rush was very well done with the world (and most of its inhabitants) being made of candy while Hero's Duty looked like what I imagine a cross of Halo and Starcraft would be.  These are the only two other games created for the movie that Ralph ventures into outside of his own (Sugar Rush being the primary location), which is kind of unfortunate because it would've been cool to see Ralph jump into additional well-known games other than the Group Therapy session in Pac-Man and Root Beer Tapper, but when the events unfold within the games, you have so much fun with it that it doesn't matter.

I'd be lying if I didn't say half the fun of this movie was looking for the iconic characters placed within the crowd.

As a retro gamer, the movie is full of nods to classic titles, which made a good chunk of the film a huge nostalgia trip for my brother and I (Konami code FTW!) which was worth admission alone.  Thankfully, Wreck-It Ralph was more than that as it had a lot of heart to it.  There's some scenes in Sugar Rush that really tugs at you involving Ralph and Vanellope that really make you feel for the characters, which is good otherwise this movie would've been an hour and forty minutes of gaming references.  Without going into too much detail, there's one part that'll widen your eyes a bit when Ralph plays a move (forgive the pun) that he knows that he's not going to walk away from and you'll be thinking to yourself, "Wow...Ralph's gonna die."  Granted, this scene isn't as intense as the incinerator scene from Toy Story 3, but when it still makes you have that sort of reaction, then you know you've got a good one on your hands.

I wonder if someone will actually make this game and put it on xBox Live (if it hasn't been done already).  I'd buy it in a heartbeat.

Alright, I think I've said all I wanted to say about this movie.  I didn't really talk about the cast because I don't have a whole lot of experience with the four main actors outside of this movie (I think the last John C. Reilly movie I watched was Gangs Of New York), so now whenever I see anything with them in it, I'm going to know them as these characters.  So, in closing, as a Disney and retro game fan, I had an absolute blast with Wreck-It Ralph and I highly recommend it to everyone.  I tried my best to avoid spoilers in this review because I really do want you to see it for yourself.  If you haven't yet, go check it out.

-The Cynic

P.S. This movie has a somewhat sappy but very heartwarming ending that makes a sequel seem almost...unnecessary.  Would I say no to a sequel, though?  Not likely.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

My Heartfelt Plea Regarding World War Z

Just something I wanted to share with you guys, from the bottom of my heart.  This is a video depicting my thoughts on the upcoming World War Z movie.

Quick Blurb Review: Prometheus

Um, I'm restarting this review because there's no way I can talk about Prometheus and do it justice without giving stuff away, so...SPOILERS!

As I'm writing this review, I'm supposed to be getting ready to go for my second coffee break at work.  Alas, Mother Nature had other plans involving anywhere from 30-50 cm of snow over the course of today.  My in-laws were snowed in, so I didn't have anyone to take care of my boy while we're at work and the highways are just garbage, so I stayed home.  Let's make the most of this, so let's discuss Prometheus.

Pictured above: The view from my living room window.

Prometheus follows the story of an archeologist couple in 2089 as they discover ancient artwork all over the world showing humans worshiping larger humanoids pointing to a particular star formation.  The woman archeologist believes that these larger humanoids, dubbed "Engineers," may have created humanity, so a crew is assembled on the ship Prometheus as they map out the star formation and discover their destination is the formation's moon, LV-223.  As they land and explore a nearby cavern, they find clues that something disastrous happened there and that the answers they seek may carry a heavier price than they are willing to pay.

The fantastic Michael Fassbender as the android David.

Okay, I just wanna make one thing clear before I proceed: I liked Prometheus.  Didn't love it, but I liked it.  The performance by Fassbender is probably the best part of the film and I did enjoy some of the creature effects and "scary" moments of the film, but there were a lot of parts to the film that felt bizarre to me.  Not bizarre in that I didn't understand what was happening, but bizarre in the sense that it felt like two movies that many say shouldn't be in the same room as each other.  Prometheus had the overall look and feel of Ridley Scott's original Alien film (which this movie is a distant prequel to) with the dimly lit corridors, the space suits, the stasis pods, etc but it had the updated special effects, archaeological angle and red-shirts that Paul W.S. Anderson's Alien vs Predator film had.  This is one of the most unusual mixes of film elements I had seen in a while and it was actually a little distracting to me for a minute.  I would go into talking about the cast & performances that I usually do, but the only one that really wowed me here was Fassbender.  It's amazing how well he can squeeze into roles and even if he turns out to be Peter Weyland's (Guy Pearce) monotone, back-stabbing saboteur of a puppet, we still love him.  The rest of the cast were not terribly memorable to me, whether it's just in comparison to Fassbender or in general is up to debate, and I felt that their characters were not fully developed enough for me to feel for them when they started getting killed.  It was just like they were there to give exposition, sleep with each other and throw themselves into the body count without our concern...not exactly the best thing to do if you're trying to do a character driven story.

Here's the short version of Charlize Theron & Idris Elba's coversation prior to their hookup:
Elba: Hey, are you a robot?
Theron: OH DO ME!!!!
Congrats on that working, though.

Okay, now here's where we get to the spoilers of the film.  I mentioned that this film is a prequel set in the Alien universe.  It turns out that the Engineers DID create humanity and they've also created this primordial ooze that they intended as biological weapons of mass destruction to use on us, as the ooze can mutate humans if they ingest it into zombie-esque creatures (why zombies and not the original design?) and the usual creatures the ooze creates bleed acid and breed by implanting embryos into other hosts (hint hint).  The Engineers also turn out to be the Space Jockeys, as the caverns the humans are exploring turns out to be one of the Jockeys' ships and you see one of them in the full helmet sitting in the gun, just like the one found in Alien.

Oh, and this guy shows up at the end, too.

For anyone wondering, Prometheus doesn't take place on the same planet as Alien and Idris Elba's character figures that LV-223 was a military or research outpost where the Jockeys experimented with this ooze and got the better of them.  So this coupled with the fact that there are two survivors at the end of this film leaves it open for a sequel that will hopefully answer some questions left by the film and, according to Ridley Scott, will bridge Prometheus closer to Alien.  Honestly, I think that's where half the fun of Prometheus lies: discussing the questions the film leaves.

Such as, "U mad, bro?"

I could go on about said questions, but I think I've chipped at this review long enough.  I don't think you necessarily need to see Alien before watching this one, although it doesn't hurt.  Ordinarily a film that leaves more questions than answers would be frustrating, but I'm making an exception here.  If you're looking for a movie to sit down and discuss with your sci-fi geek friends, Prometheus is for you.  If you're looking for sci-fi horror on the same level as Alien, you won't find it here, but should be able to still salvage some enjoyment from the movie.

-The Cynic