Ralph Breaks the Internet

2018 PG ANIMATED 1h 52min

CAST— John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman, Gal Gadot, Taraji P. Henson, Jack McBrayer

DIRECTORS— Rich Moore, Phil Johnston

Absolutely delightful take on the impact of the internet, even upon fictional characters. Wreck-It Ralph thinks life is perfect; going to work, breaking down buildings for Fix-It Felix Jr. to fix, hanging out with best friend Vanellope Von Schweetz. Vanellope has become the fastest racer in Sugar Rush but she knows the game inside and out, wishing for some variety in her life. Ralph tries to help his friend but inadvertently ruins the game, resulting in a broken steering wheel for the arcade game, a steering wheel that can only be found on eBay for a premium price. No problem. Ralph and Vanellope decide to just go into the internet like it’s your average video game, find this eBay and acquire the steering wheel, thereby making all right with their world. But they don’t really know what an auction is, and in their excitement end up jacking the price up by thousands of things called dollars. Now they must earn the money by any means possible; maybe the shady pop-up character who claims they can become rich by playing video games can help. The two are sent to the absolutely awesome racing game Slaughter Race, which is just as extreme as it sounds. Whereas Vanellope loves the game Ralph tries other means of earning money, mostly involving being the star of inane viral videos that people really respond to for some reason. But what Ralph fails to realize is that he and Vanellope, though best friends, now have different dreams and goals, his to return to their safe, mundane life, hers to join the toughest racing crew in Slaughter Race. Can the two realize their respective dreams without breaking each other’s respective hearts? Whereas the original film featured a story catered to those nostalgic for old-school quarter-eating arcade games, this film reaches out to a more modern generation, in all its fast-paced, confusing and fickle glory. The main characters are accompanied by plenty of familiar faces from games, movies, and yes, even the internet. Though not as simplistic as the first film, this is a tale sure to entertain gamers, bloggers, vloggers, and even the trolls glued to their various electronic screens.

OUR RATING— ***

Aquaman

2018 PG-13 ACTION 2h 23min

CAST— Jason Momoa, Amber Heard, Willem Dafoe, Patrick Wilson, Dolph Lundgren

DIRECTOR— James Wan

BASED ON— Characters appearing in DC Comics

Remember the fish-boy (sorry, that’s fish-man) first glimpsed in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016), then later shown in more detail in Justice League (2017)? His name is Arthur Curry, son of a lighthouse keeper, an everyday Joe who happens upon a beautiful woman claiming she’s from Atlantis. Turns out her claims are true; she’s an Atlantean queen who’s escaped from a loveless arranged marriage. She and her newfound human husband live an idyllic life and give birth to Arthur, all the while hoping her past doesn’t catch up with her. Which it does. Atlantean soldiers force her to return to the sea and to marry her original intended. As the years progress Arthur, being half-Atlantean, proves his mettle in the ocean and on land, secretly training with the adviser to the king, who is Arthur’s half-brother, Orm Marius, the Ocean Master. Orm’s grand scheme is to unite the various kingdoms of the sea and annihilate the human world, due to the increasing amounts of pollution and waste dumped into the ocean (kinda like Captain Planet, only murderous). Arthur must retrieve an ancient relic of his people, the Trident of Atlan, in order to take up the mantle of Aquaman and battle his brother for peace to exist between humanity and fish-folk. Known for his prowess as a horror aficionado, director James Wan here takes a massive budget and liquefies the assets by creating a landscape of oceanic beauty, but tends to overdue some attributes that could have used more subtlety. The performances are fairly okay, but none of the dialogue is exactly perfect. Though sort of a sequel to previous films, this one focuses more on character origins. All in all the film is tremendously large and tremendously wet.

OUR RATING— **

RETRO REVIEWS

Munster, Go Home!

1966 NR COMEDY 1h 36min

CAST— Fred Gwynne, Yvonne De Carlo, Al Lewis, Butch Patrick, Debbie Watson

DIRECTOR— Earl Bellamy

BASED ON— Characters appearing on The Munsters (television)

A decent lark starring everyone’s favorite family of fright, the Munsters. When Herman learns that he is to inherit an English estate he packs the family up for a voyage across the pond to scope out his new surroundings. But when Freddie Munster (played by Terry-Thomas) discovers that he lost the title of Lord to his American cousin, a perfect stranger, he, his sister and Mumsy devise a plan to do away with them once and for all. But before their plan goes into motion Herman and Grandpa stumble upon a counterfeiting operation hidden in the bowels of Munster Hall. Like the idiots that they are they report the crime to Mumsy rather than to the authorities, oblivious to the fact that she’s in on the counterfeiting ring. They now encourage Herman to compete in the local auto race where they have a driver hired to kill Herman. But really, where’s the fun in that? Reuniting the cast (minus either of the original Marilyns) of the popular TV show The Munsters, the film has the look and the feel of the classic series, plus the added incentive of Technicolor. The drawback is that there’s nothing fresh here for newcomers to appreciate; best left to Munsters freaks. Cheerio.

OUR RATING— ** ½

Nightmare

1964 NR HORROR 1h 23min

CAST— David Knight, Moira Redmond, Jennie Linden

DIRECTOR— Freddie Francis

Impressive feature from Hammer Film Productions. Young Janet has been suffering from nightmares, due in part to her father's grisly murder at the hands of her mother. Now, years later, Janet lives in terror that her mother's insanity is hereditary. Visiting her family home only upsets her, especially when the nightmares manifest themselves in the waking world. On the anniversary of the murder she goes over the edge when she kills her guardian Henry's wife... or does she? It seems her guardian and the missus have been gaslighting Janet in hopes of committing her to an asylum, the estate going to Henry. They get their wish, but the new wife begins to experience odd occurrences of her own, and she's sure her new husband is already two-timing her. He adamantly denies all such accusations, but the suspicions remain, as do the visits from a mysterious, girlish figure. A fine example of what Hammer is truly capable of; no nocturnal blood-suckers, no undead creatures, just plain old suspense. Entertaining thriller with plenty of twists proves worth your while.

OUR RATING— ***

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