REVIEW: Ralph Breaks The Internet (2018)

Directed by: Phil Johnston, Rich Moore
Cast: John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman, Gal Gadot, Taraji P. Henson, Alan Tudkyk, Jack McBrayer

Written by Fernando Andrade

After Wreck-It Ralph hit the big screen back in 2012 and introduced us to the arcade world of Ralph and Vanellope, we get the long-awaited sequel which transports our characters to the vast world of the internet. Fully equipped with its product placement, Disney nostalgia, and Easter eggs, Ralph Breaks the Internet delivers much more than just eye candy. It tells a story about friendship, true friendship, one which everyone, young and old, should see.

Ralph Breaks the Internet takes place six years after the events of Wreck-It Ralph. Both Ralph (John C. Rielly) and Vanellope (Sarah Silverman) live rather simple lives in their world, following a pretty strict routine and rarely breaking from it – no pun intended. They see the sunrise, play their game – or as they call it “work”, and then goof off, going into other games, drinking root beer, and then the process repeats. Ralph is more than content doing the same thing over and over again, and so is Vanellope – to an extent. She is vocal about how easy her game has become, shes memorized all the tracks and finds no challenge in it anymore. So when a girl comes into the arcade ready to play her game, Ralph takes it upon himself to make a new track for her to hopefully give her a new sense of joy. When Vanellope starts taking control over the game, the girl playing ends up breaking the steering wheel causing her game to be unplugged. This sets our heroes on a journey through the internet to try and buy the missing part to save Vanellope’s game.

The surprising thing about Ralph Breaks the Internet is how deeply layered it is. The directors Phil Johnston and Rich Moore, along with their entire team, created a very intelligent movie, one which both children and adults can enjoy – which also happens to be a great sequel. Both Ralph and Vanellope develop as characters from the original movie in a very believable and earned way. A lot of that has to do with the incredible voice talents of John C. Reilly and Sarah Silverman who bring these characters to life. Its a true testament to how good both of them are when you are able to have such strong emotions watching a giant hobo and candy princess figure out their friendship while inside the world of the internet.

Speaking of the internet, the way it is portrayed in this movie is also very intelligent, sometimes even for its own good. Unlike other internet inspired movies like the abomination that is The Emoji Movie, Ralph Breaks The Internet does not prioritize the internet as it’s main engagement tool (that is strictly reserved for the relationship between Ralph and Vanellope). If anything the internet is just used as a vessel to get our characters to there ultimate destination, while along the way providing some great moments of comedy that is also extremely relatable (yes the princess scene is absolutely wonderful). It could be argued that the internet is this movies main selling point, as the trailers highlighted in depth, but once the movie transitions into the world wide web, it sticks with its characters every step of the way. That being said, at times the pacing suffers a little in the second act of the film when our heroes are deep within the internet world. At times some references can be really in your face and take you out of the movie, but the directors went about a clever way of trying to reduce that by creating their own websites where the majority of the movie takes place.

Ralph Breaks The Internet is one of the best animated films of the year, providing a very sincere and important message which everyone should witness. While it is littered with references and nods to familiar things, the relationship of Ralph and Vanellope, one that grows from the original movie, is front and center. We see them grow and change as characters which culminate in a very satisfying ending – one that is capable of causing tears, so you have been warned.

Fernando’s Rating:

4

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Welcome To The Internet In A Brand New Trailer for ‘Ralph Breaks The Internet: Wreck-It Ralph 2″

““Ralph Breaks the Internet: Wreck-It Ralph 2” leaves Litwak’s video arcade behind, venturing into the uncharted, expansive and thrilling world of the internet—which may or may not survive Ralph’s wrecking. Video game bad guy Ralph and fellow misfit Vanellope von Schweetz must risk it all by traveling to the world wide web in search of a replacement part to save Vanellope’s video game, Sugar Rush. In way over their heads, Ralph and Vanellope rely on the citizens of the internet—the netizens—to help navigate their way, including a webite entrepreneur named Yesss, who is the head algorithm and the heart and soul of trend-making site “BuzzzTube.” 

Directed by: Rich Moore and Phil Johnston

Cast: John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman, Taraji P. Henson, Jack McBrayer

Release Date: November 21st, 2018

Ralph Is Back In The First Trailer For ‘Ralph Breaks The Internet’

“Ralph Breaks the Internet: Wreck-It Ralph 2” leaves Litwak’s video arcade behind, venturing into the uncharted, expansive and thrilling world of the internet – which may or may not survive Ralph’s wrecking. Video game bad Ralph and fellow misfit Vanellope von Schweetz must risk it all by traveling to the world wide web in search of a replacement part to save Vanellope’s video game, Sugar Rush. In way over their heads, Ralph and Vanellope rely on the citizens of the internet – the netizens – to help navigate their way, including a website entrepreneur named Yesss, who is the head algorithm and the heart and soul of trend-making website “Buzztube.”

Directed by: Phil Johnston, Rich Moore

Starring: John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman, Alan Tudyk, Jack McBrayer, Kristen Bell, Taraji P. Henson, Anthony Daniels, Idina Menzel

Release Date: November 30th, 2018

Battle of the Sexes

Year: 2017
Directed By: Valerie Faris, Jonathan Dayton
Cast: Emma Stone, Steve Carell, Andrea Riseborough, Sarah Silverman, Bill Pullman, Alan Cumming

Written by Fiona Underhill

Co-directed by the ‘Little Miss Sunshine’ helmers Valerie Faris and Jonathan Dayton, ‘Battle of the Sexes’ has come out of the festival circuit and probably has hopes of Oscar potential. This film tells the true story of Billie-Jean King (played by Emma Stone here), the Number 1 women’s tennis player of the early 1970s and a washed-up, has-been male tennis player, Bobby Riggs (Steve Carell) pitted together in a ridiculous rivalry that questioned whether a female athlete could rival a male one. It is set during the burgeoning ‘women’s lib’ movement, but of course still resonates today, not least in the world of tennis itself where the likes of Andy Murray has to constantly remind the media of Serena Williams’ achievements. I confess I was unaware of this event until the film came about, but it had a huge impact at the time. It was one of the biggest televised sporting events ever, with 90 million viewers and made a significant difference to the feelings of women who still struggled to get credit cards in their own names.

As told in this film, the match came about because King dared to challenge the huge imbalance between prize-money for male and female tennis players. When she was met with derision from the Association of Tennis Professionals, headed by Jack Kramer (slightly shocking to see Bill Pullman in an elder statesman role), she decided to ‘go it alone’, finding a group of fellow women tennis players to form the Women’s Tennis Association. Bobby Riggs, a successful player in the 30s and 40s,  had fallen on hard times due to a gambling problem and marital problems (his wife Priscilla is played by Elisabeth Shue). So he comes up with the wheeze to challenge a female player to a match, first he persuades Margaret Court (who had recently had a baby), then he finally manages to ‘bag’ Bille-Jean King.

The performances in ‘Battle of the Sexes’ are astonishing across the board. I truly believe Steve Carell is one of the best actors we have working today and he should have received more attention for ‘The Big Short’ last year. The supporting cast is also exemplary; of course Andrea Risborough is the stand-out, as she is in anything. Risborough plays Marilyn, a hairdresser who goes on tour with the women and who starts an affair with Billie-Jean. Sarah Silverman is also fantastic as King’s agent and Austin Stowell sports the finest head of hair I’ve seen since Robert Redford’s heyday (whilst portraying King’s husband, Larry).

Frustratingly, although written by Simon Beaufoy, whose work I have enjoyed, the script didn’t really stack up for me. It’s also disappointing after ‘Little Miss Sunshine’ (in which you felt like you knew and understood each member of that family) and ‘Ruby Sparks’ (a really great rom-com directed by Faris) that ‘Battle of the Sexes’ doesn’t quite work. For me, the main failing comes from the character of Riggs and his motivation. He is portrayed as a buffoon, doing anything gimmicky (playing tennis with sheep and in a variety of costumes) for publicity and money. This ‘challenge’ is just another extension of that, you certainly don’t get the impression that he was truly a vehement chauvinist – out to put women back in their place. He seems to be acting that role and playing it up for the cameras, but this disconnect isn’t made explicit or explored in enough depth. It’s also unclear whether King really believed or understood why he was doing it. Although reluctant, King allows herself to become part of this circus, during the peak of her career and I’m not sure I fully understood why. It didn’t allow her to be open about her sexuality, for example.

Alan Cumming’s character, Ted Tinling, who designs and makes the women’s tennis dresses also didn’t quite work for me. He is portrayed as stereotypically camp but is also shown trying to share a tender (actually cheesy and sentimental) moment with King in ‘solidarity’. Although all of the performances were excellent (I don’t want to get into a debate about whether Stone deserves the Oscar for this more than ‘La La Land’), ‘Battle of the Sexes’ did fall short, for me. I’m glad I got to see groups of middle-aged women clapping and whooping in the showing I saw and I was affected by an article about how important this real-life event was to a woman who was a young girl with an abusive father at the time. However, I feel that they deserved a better film than this – one that really got to grips with the motivations of the characters. And one that perhaps put the event more firmly in the context of the women’s lib movement of the time. Ultimately; great performances, shame about the script.

Full disclosure: I am adding 2 points to my rating for Andrea Risborough alone.

Fiona’s Rating: 7.0/10

tennis

Fox Searchlight Pictures Serves Up First Trailer For ‘Battle Of The Sexes’

Synopsis: “The electrifying 1973 tennis match between World number one Billie Jean King (Emma Stone) and ex-champ and serial hustler Bobby Riggs (Steve Carell) was billed as ‘The Battle of the Sexes’ and became the most watched televised sports event of all time.  The match caught the zeitgeist and sparked a global conversation on gender equality, spurring on the feminist movement. 

Trapped in the media glare, King and Riggs were on opposites sides of a binary argument, but off-court each was fighting more personal and complex battles. With a supportive husband urging her to fight the Establishment for equal pay, the fiercely private King was also struggling to come to terms with her own sexuality, while Riggs gambled his legacy and reputation in a bid to relive the glories of his past.

Together, Billie and Bobby served up a cultural spectacle that resonated far beyond the tennis courts and animated the discussions between men and women in bedrooms and boardrooms around the world.”

I’ll admit, I had no idea about the real ‘Battle of the Sexes’, and to be honest I’d never heard of Bobby Riggs or Billie Jean King before today.  Having said that, this trailer has definitely piqued my interest… So much so I’ve spent the last half hour reading about the pair and this historic tennis match. 

Emma Stone and Steve Carell most definitely look the part in this first trailer! Carell’s latest, more dramatic, roles have been a nice change from his previous comedic and often ridiculously dumbed down characters. Not that I don’t enjoy those roles, it’s just this recent change in the characters he plays has served him well so far, and he’s brilliant in films such as ‘The Big Short’ and ‘Fox Catcher’.  

Husband and wife directing team, Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris, are at the helm for this historic tennis match, which also stars Bill Pullman, Sarah Silverman, and Alan Cumming.

‘Battle of the Sexes’ swings into UK cinemas November 24th

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