Movie Reviews

Raya and the Last Dragon (2021)

raya-and-last-dragon-movie-review-2021Director: Don Hall, Carlos López Estrada

Genre: Animation, Action, Adventure, Family

Runtime: 107 Minutes

Main Cast: Kelly Marie Tran, Awkwafina, Izaac Wang, Gemma Chan, Daniel Dae Kim, Benedict Wong, Sandra Oh, Alan Tudyk, Jona Xiao

Plot: Many years ago in the land of Kumandra, humans and dragons lived together in harmony. When an evil force threatened their lives, the dragons sacrificed themselves to save the humans, leaving behind a powerful stone that turned the humans against each other. Raya’s father tried to unite them all but failed, leaving Kumandra’s fate in Raya’s hands.

My Thoughts:  I really hope this is the last time I have to watch a new Disney movie in my living room instead of on the big screen, it’s just not the same. Also, is it just me or has Raya and the Last Dragon had virtually no marketing? I don’t watch regular TV to see adverts there but I’ve heard nothing on the radio, seen no posters on buses or billboards, nothing at all. So if you read reports on how Tom and Jerry (2021) is beating this at the box office, don’t for a second think that it’s because Raya is a bad movie. I don’t think it’s up there with the instant classic Disney movies, but it’s still great.

It’s biggest strength lies with its characters. Raya is instantly likable and she’s fearless. As with most Disney movies, the sidekicks are the scene-stealers. Sisu the dragon made me laugh every time she was on screen, Awkwafina did such a great job voicing her. Izaac Wang voices a young boy named Boun, an energetic kid left fending for himself whilst running a restaurant on a boat. He’s so lively! And I haven’t even mentioned half of the supporting cast yet.

Raya and the Last Dragon has some strong Moana vibes to it, but I can’t help but compare it to Onward. Both great animated Disney movies, both with enthralling characters and a stunning fantasy world. But both are missing that extra bit of magic that’s stopping them from being great. Once the disaster had taken place and Raya’s mission was clear, it felt like a quite generic adventure movie. Travel to each location, get the piece of stone, restore the peace, and so on. It’s a fun journey but there aren’t any surprises along the way.

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Best Bit: I thought Raya’s little rag tag gang couldn’t get any better. Then they added a con-artist baby and I lost my mind. After that, they got a big ol’ brute join them and don’t even try to tell me he wasn’t one of the regulars at the Ugly Duckling from Tangled!

Worst Bit: If having to watch this at home instead of the cinema wasn’t bad enough, I had to suffer through my husband making terrible jokes whilst half-watching the movie and half playing his Playstation. “I hope her Dad doesn’t lose his…chiseled chin!” Ughhhhh!

Fun Trivia: The land of Kumandra is inspired by the Southeast Asian countries of Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Myanmar, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Laos.

My Rating: Three and a half tomatoes I wish I had to hand to throw at the back of my husband’s head.

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Movie Reviews

Ralph Breaks the Internet (2018)

ralph-breaks-the-internet-movie-2018Director: Phil Johnston, Rich Moore

Genre: Family, Animation, Comedy

Runtime: 112 Minutes

Main Cast: John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman, Gal Gadot, Taraji P. Henson, Jack McBrayer, Jane Lynch, Alan Tudyk, Alfred Molina, Ed O’Neill, Bill Hader

Plot: When Vanellope’s game is broken and at risk of being taken away for good, she and Ralph venture into the Internet in order to save it.

My Thoughts: I’m always cautious of sequels but I was so excited by the trailers for Ralph Breaks the Internet that I couldn’t help but get myself hyped up. There is so much to love about this movie, and the creativity behind bringing the Internet to life was brilliant. I’m one of the few that didn’t hate The Emoji Movie, but regardless, Disney have outdone themselves here. There are so many details it would be impossible to list them all, but highlights of mine include the Search Bar (including several autofill jokes), the eBay layout and the way some video game characters move.

Other things to love? The moment Ralph and Vanellope enter Oh My Disney. I wanted so much more of that. Of course we already knew the princesses would be making an appearance but it doesn’t get old. We even get Stormtroopers! And who else here is guilty of taking at least one ‘Which Dinsey princess are you?’ quiz?

I realise that the target audience here is children but where the movie fell flat for me was the moral message behind it all. Yes, there’s an interesting story here of how best friends move on, but I don’t think it was handled in the best way, and since when was Ralph quite so insecure?

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Best Bit: Vanellope gets her own musical number in this movie, and it could not be more glorious. Disney have been great in the last few years and poking fun at themselves, and that’s what makes ‘A Place Called Slaughter Race’ so amazing. Is it available on Spotify? I had to check, I couldn’t wait to find out the answer…IT IS. Apologies to any passenger I happen to have in my car over the next 2 weeks – this is going to be on repeat.

Worst Bit: The big ‘virus’ scene at the end just went on a bit too long, and you know what? It was so creepy! I honestly felt worried for the small kids in our screen, it really was the stuff of nightmares. Plus, we were told how the virus could be destroyed, but that’s not how it ended up happening? Nit-picking I know, but still…

Fun Trivia: When an Internet advertisement tells Ralph “Sassy housewives want to meet you,” the woman on the image is Aunt Cass from Big Hero 6 (2014).

My Rating: 4 out of 5 glass slippers, which Cinderella isn’t afraid to smash in order to shank you!

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