By Fiel Estrella, Patricia Manarang, and Gaby Gloria
Ralph Breaks the Internet (aka Wreck-It Ralph 2)
In this sequel to Disney’s affectionate homage to classic video games, six years have passed since misfit besties Wreck-It Ralph and Vanellope von Schweetz found true friendship and understanding in each other. They’ve developed a comfortable routine, hanging out at Game Central Station and capping the night off with root beer at Tapper’s — and then Litwak’s Arcade gets a new WiFi modem, and everything changes all over again. When Vanellope’s game Sugar Rush loses its steering wheel controller and might be unplugged for good, she and Ralph decide there’s only one way to fix everything: by going to the internet.
While overstuffed and a little under-baked, Ralph Breaks the Internet follows a coherent enough plot with a clear goal and clear stakes for both Ralph and Vanellope. The first film’s inventive way of reimagining arcade games as habitable places works quite well for the internet: personified algorithms are the most stylish trendsetters, pop-up ads are held by determined little sprites that won’t leave you alone (Bill Hader’s voice is unmistakable), and Twitter is a forest of trees with birds chirping at one another.
But this movie is more than just a fun romp across the Information Superhighway, full of Disney property cameos and savvy meta-references to memes and online culture. (FYI, stay until the very end of the credits.) It’s also a tale of two friends who have been through a lot together, and who are beginning to learn that sometimes, growing up together means growing for yourself, whatever that may mean — a poignant, truthful touch to a wonderful world of make-believe. —Fiel Estrella
Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald
The Crimes of Grindelwald, is another universe-expanding film that delves deeper into the the international wizarding community, but this time ties in more to the history of the original storyline that we know and love. We get to meet Dumbledore (younger this time, played by the talented Jude Law) and Hogwarts again — which honestly made me tear up a little. We even get to see Professor Mcgonagall! It was cool to connect callbacks and references to the Harry Potter franchise, like with Nicolas Flamel and the quick glimpse at the philosopher’s stone.
Despite the nostalgic whiplash that this film hits you with, it still leaves a lot to be desired. For someone who isn’t a hardcore fan, the plot can be confusing and difficult to follow, even more so than the usual sequel. The combination of new characters and subplots upon subplots will leave you muttering “Wait, I thought he was the bad guy? Who’s this one? What’d she do again?” the whole run time. It makes the movie seem like it lacks focus.
Even if it is supposedly about Grindelwald and his Crimes, the film is more about exposition that’ll (hopefully) make sense later. Like the fact that one of the newly introduced characters is the Nagini, a.k.a Lord Voldemort’s trusted snake, is not addressed or even acknowledged. Her addition did nothing for this movie in particular, but will (supposedly) pay off in the future. Other characters like Leta Lestrange and Theseus Scamander, played by Zoë Kravitz and Callum Turner respectively, also make the cast feel a little too crowded, and their storylines pale in comparison to everything else that’s happening in the film.
Eddie Redmayne as Newt Scamander is great as usual, and that’s not me being biased because I’m a Hufflepuff. Newt remains to be one of the strongest characters of the whole series. Tina and Queenie Goldstein (Katherine Waterston and Alison Sudol), Jacob Kowalksi (Dan Fogler), and Credence Barebone (Ezra Miller) were always interesting personalities and we get to see more of them here.
TLDR; Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald tells too much in too little time. It’s definitely not a stand-alone film as it sets up the next movies in the series and you need to watch the first one again in order to keep up. If you’re a fan like me who loves to revisit old spells and places while coming up with possible fan theories, definitely catch this. If not, maybe just go watch it when you can binge the whole Fantastic Beasts franchise all at once in six to 10 years. —Patricia Manarang
The Princess Switch
“What’s better than a film starring Vanessa Hudgens? A Christmas film with Vanessa Hudgens in a double role,” read the email subject line announcing the new Netflix holiday offering. With a statement like that, who wouldn’t decide to check out The Princess Switch?
In the film, High School Musical alum Vanessa Hudgens plays both Chicago baker Stacy De Novo and Lady Margaret Delacourt, two unrelated women who have an uncanny resemblance to each other. They meet at a baking competition in the fictional country of Belgravia, where Lady Margaret, who is engaged to be married to the country’s crown Prince on New Year’s Day, propositions that they switch for two days so she can experience De Novo’s “normal” life.
Stacy agrees, and the two spend the next few days falling in love with the men in each others’ lives. I read somewhere that The Princess Switch was written by an algorithm, a highly likely situation given all the romantic tropes it seemed to check off. The film had all the workings of your run-of-the-mill Hallmark Christmas movie, but with elements from classics like The Parent Trap remake starring Lindsay Lohan (the switcheroo), The Princess Diaries (the walking scene and Vanessa’s delivery of “Get. Out!”), and Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s IRL relationship (European royalty marries American commoner).
If you’re looking for a ~guilty pleasure~ movie for relaxation purposes, The Princess Switch is perfect. Otherwise, you might want to stick to watching To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before for the 10th time to get your romance fix. —Gaby Gloria