Pilgrim's Watch: movie reviews

Reviewing What I Watch.

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Wreck It Ralph


I have been waiting in baited anticipation for this film Ever since I saw its trailer months ago. Wreck it Ralph is the latest family adventure from Disney and follows the story of Ralph, the bad-guy in an 80’s arcade game, who has become tired with his thankless lot in life and seeks to move up in the world. In efforts to show the ever chummy crowd of gaming world protagonosts that he too is worthy of a winners medal, Ralph leaves and seeks to find his fortune by jumping into different games in the Archade, which eventually lands him in a cutesy racing game where he meets a shunned glitchy character who also seeks to prove her own worth. And while that sets the basic premise for the direction of the film, the plot is filled is enriching side stories and some interesting backstory. All of this is well explained within the movie so one is not expected to know anything about gaming in anyway, that being said, there is a polethera of gaming refferences that adds to the enjoyment of the film for anyone who grew up around arcade and video games.

This aspect of the film is worth pointing out for a quick moment as it helps to build something of the atmosphere of the movie. Disney wrote the plot and premise for the film and took it to all of the gaming companies and basically said if they wished to be apart of the film then they would be welcome to add thier characters into the feature. And in a wonderful turn, showing that the geeks who grew up playing games are now running those same companies, all the gaming companies threw their game licenses at Disney and so Wreck it Ralf is filled to the brim with gaming references and it tickled every nostalgia geek bone in my body to see the likes of Sonic, Bowser, Pacman, Chun-li and countless others that will have you searching every scene for as many old school and new characters as you can lay yours eyes on.

Had Disney simply collected all these characters, thrown them together with a mediocre story then this film would have been enjoyable and entertaining, but Disney actually went out to make a good movie and they succeeded. The Plot is great and moves along at a good pace, it can be somewhat predictable in direction at times, but this gives a refreshing feeling of knowing what’s going on, feeling like a stereotypical video game, rather than giving any measure of frustration. The characters are very well developed, likable and relatable and have great balance of humor and heavier moments of reality which almost caught me off gaurd, but reminded me what Disney is capable of. The themes demonstrated in this are akin to Toy Story or Antz, that one may not change ones lot in life, but you can change what you do with it.

So should you see this film? Well I took my kids to this with thier uncle and we had a great time, so I will recommend that this is a great film for Dads to take thier kids along to. Both boys and girls will thoroughly enjoy the film as there is plenty of cutesy girly stuff and action hero boy scenes and is honestly fun for the whole family that everyone will enjoy, actually this is probably the best family flick to grace the screens this summer. You would probably avoid this film if your not into the more modern Disney films, even though this is Disney shining brightly, it defiantly not anything classic like Tangeled was, this is more like Toy Story. But even so, if you ever played video games then this film is a must watch. One last final note; I went and watched this in 2D and its was great, but there were moments that screamed that the 3D would have pushed the ‘epicness’ of the scene, and not in those annoying ‘look-this-stuff-is-flying-at-you’ (thankfully we seamed to have moved beyond that for the most part), so while I can’t recommend this film in 3D from experience, it was defiantly animated with this in mind as an effective tool.
You will be able to see Wreck It Ralph in cinemas starting Boxing Day.


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Rise of the Guardians


The latest animation epic to come from Dreamworks pictures, and one of the very few kids movies, with anything resembling a Christmas theme, to show this holiday season is Rise of the Gaurdians. Loosly based on the combined worlds of William Joyce’s books in ‘The Gaurdians of Childhood’ and the short film ‘The Man in the Moon.’ The story follows the antics of Jack Frost (voice by Christ Pine aka the new Cap’t Kirk) as he is enlisted to join the elite group of folklore characters that Gaurd the children of the earth…well at least those who belive in them, the rest are left to fend for themselves, its something is a self preservation thing rather than a noble defence of childlike innocence. The big four are none other than Santa Clause (voiced by Alec Baldwin), the Easter Bunny (Hugh Jackman), the Tooth Fairy (Isla Fisher) and Sandman who is without voice but probably has the greatest about of gumption of the lot. The Boogieman (Jude Law), who is given a more modern namesake of ‘Pitch Black’ then shortened to ‘Pitch’, just to clarify in case you begin to thing the antagonist here has a thing for baseball or building arcs, has returned to strike hopelessness and nightmares among the children of earth in order the break belief in the ‘Big Four’ and somehow transfer this belief to himself thus making himself manifest to rule the world of children’s imaginations for ever and ever untill they all go see phycitricsts and/or grow up.

I was a little cautious walking into this film knowing that one of the big publicity stunts surrounding this feature was the release of Reel FX, which is a open source piece of software the Dreamsworks developed in order to make all of the particle effects in the movies, mainly everything that Pitch and Sandman do with (wait for it) Sand! Which In all fairness look absolutely phenomenal, but as I said, i was cautious as I’ve seen this stunt before and a movie can offen suffer as its goes to extremes to show off its shiny new package and like a disco dancer wearing extraordinarly tight hot pants, you might not mind the dancing but you just didn’t need that much information. And while, in some regards my fears were being realized, its was never overly distracting…that being said I didn’t watch this film in 3D so that might prove a different story.

Plot wise the film has fairly good pace, there is always something big happening and my kids never lost interest, and for the most part niether did I. The characters are comical but largley lacking in depth, Santa is the only one given any real time to expand his character so, for me he comes the driving force for most of the film, I also found Baldwin’s Russian take on St Nick to be rather hilarious and heartwarming in some instances. Frost’s story is one of self discovery and becomes his driving purpose to find out about his past, and mentioning anything of it would be pressing into spoiler territory, but suffice to say while the details may ellude you, the quest to undertand what Jack’s center is resides somewhere in your first guess. But all this ofcourse should be tempered with the fact that this is a kids films and thus one should not expect massive depth in character development and plot, but also on the flip side, with recent Dreamworks releases including works like How to Train your Dragon and the Kung Fu Pandas its also reasonable to expect a high standard in these areas.

So should you see this movie? With the lack of much of anything kid friendly showing up this year then if you have kids then Yes, it’s a good fun family film that will be enjoyed by all that you get to tag along, there’s nothing really scary for the younger kids and plenty of verbal combat between the characters to entertain the adults. But if your expecting the high quality of solid filmmaking that Dreamworks has been demonstrating of late, then this is probably one of the weakest in thier line up, not to say the film is bad, there’s no need to avoid it or shoot it down or anything akin to that, its just lacking that heart that Dreamworks has been using to give thier films that spark of life.

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Ice Age 4: Continental Drift


One again the happy herd of misfits return in Yet another Ice Age film. Looking back I remember seeing the first of these movies back when I was quite young, and while there are other franchises have been hit and miss, Ice Age has been constantly entertaining with each passing release. So after forming their herd, surviving the meltdown and defeating the dinosaurs all whilst successfully navigating the mammoth dating; marriage and pregnancy scene, we find our now familiar friends dealing if the next logical historical conundrum of the continental drift.

All of the favorites are back, plus Manny’s now teenage daughter Peaches and Sid’s grandmother, aptly named ‘Granny’, who is introduced in a brilliant rendition of the Beverly Hillbillies. And while we’re on the subject, these films have honestly gotten better the older I have got, there is such a smorgasbord of pop culture references that children will find entertaining while parents are left picking themselves off the floor in tears of laughter. The team of writers on these films have learnt the golden sweet spot between witty and slapstick humor, and they are getting better and better at it with each film. I would also like to give similar kudos to the animation team, after years of development in this field the style of the movies has never changed, they stuck to their guns and have simply polished their films more and more in every detail. And this is in step with my overall position on the film, its Ice Age! Only better than the last one, which was better than the one before that and so on and so forth.

Just a couple of highlights: Peter Dinkalage (one of my favorite actors) delivers a stella performance as the Monkey Pirate King; Sid, who is honestly one of the greatest comic relief characters in family movies ever, is superbly offset by Granny and all of those little heartwarming movements that make these movies a joy to watch.

So should you watch this film? Yes! Both of my kids gave it BIG thumbs up, and my wonderful wife recommends as there is more than enough to keep adults and children alike thoroughly entertained. And if you’ve never watch Ice Age, or if you never liked it then give it another go, and learnt to laugh a little at the stupid things in life that just might be the most important.