Mini-Reviews: Wreck-It Ralph and The Man With The Iron Fists
Wreck-It Ralph is being advertised as the Who Framed Roger Rabbit? of the video game world. Early on, it focuses on this aspect, giving the film a cleverly constructed world most films can only dream of. However, when Ralph enters a game called Sugar Rush (a Candy Land Mario Kart, if you will), the film suddenly becomes something more: heartfelt, witty, and full of rich character relationships. The voice work by all is sensational, particularly by John C. Reilly as the titular character and Sarah Silverman as a fellow misfit turned friend. Special mention must be made of King Candy, voiced by Alan Tudyk channeling Charles Nelson Reilly– once he takes the screen, the movie takes off and never looks back. He’s one of my favorite characters in any film this year, tossing one-liners machine gun style. The tropes of the underdog story are all familiar, but they’re executed exceptionally well, and by the end, I doubt any warm-blooded audience member isn’t holding back tears. Don’t let the ads fool you into thinking this is primarily for video game buffs: everyone should be able to fall for Wreck-It Ralph.
The Man With The Iron Fists:
I’ll start with the good: the music is fantastic and Russell Crowe is fat, hammy, and awesome. That’s where the good comes to an end, I’m afraid– The Man With The Iron Fists is incompetently conceived, shot, edited, and generally executed, to the point where any fun one could have with its possible grindhouse appeal is lost in a sea of characters and inexplicable visual choices. Every actor is on a different wave length, with Russell Crowe and Byron Mann chewing the scenery with great gusto while RZA, Jamie Chung, and others seem to be playing their roles quite seriously. No one, including the writer/director, seems to know exactly what they want this movie to be, and when there’s no strong vision in a genre flick, it can go from “so bad it’s good” to “just plain bad” very quickly. RZA also drops the ball as leading man, giving himself nothing at all to do despite being the titular character and hero of the film… so he gives his character a lengthy backstory at about the 80 minute mark of a 105 minute film. I could list things that didn’t work in this all day– if Quentin Tarantino hadn’t slapped his name on this and blinded critics, this would be under 10% on Rotten Tomatoes. It never ceases to amaze me how if Tarantino is involved, “incompetent” magically becomes “part of the grindhouse aesthetic that should be appreciated.” Only see this film if you want to see Russell Crowe pull beads from a prostitute’s privates with his mouth shortly before telling Lucy Liu she can “sample his baby’s arm.”