Film Review: Fighting with my Family

 

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Saraya Knight (Florence Pugh) fights to become a wrestler in Fighting with my Family (Credit: IMDb)

It’s not surprising that this underdog story is a bit wobbly on the ropes, but the cast of Fighting with my Family pack a mean punch.

Straight off the bat, or should it be “straight after the bell”, wrestling is centre stage. The pros – The Rock, Hulk Hogan and John Cena – are seen in action on a TV screen. A young boy replicates their moves until the channel is suddenly changed by his younger sister.

In retaliation, the boy attempts to get his sister in a headlock. His actions are fumbled, but he is quickly corrected when his dad enters the living room. The girl is then challenged to get out of her brother’s hold when their mum follows through the door.

This is the Knight family.

Saraya Knight, played by Outlaw King’s Florence Pugh, is the only daughter of a wrestling-obsessed family from Norwich, England. The movie follows Saraya through her fight to become a wrestler for the WWE, where she becomes ‘Paige’ in the ring (spoiler: she’s a massive fan of the programme Charmed).

The film passes as a sports movie, but the quirky theatrics that come with professional wrestling – otherwise referred to as “soap opera in spandex” – puts a new spin on the somewhat overplayed underdog plot.

Throughout the film, the audience constantly question whether Saraya truly does want to become a wrestler, or if she is just following the dreams of her parents (played by Nick Frost and Lena Headey) and brother (Jack Lowden). Her training is definitely tough – 4,000 miles from home in America, with no friends and no family around – but the Knight’s close-knit bond puts up a fight to see Saraya through.

The heartwarming family-feel to the film is even more apparent in the closing credits featuring home videos of the Knight family. It becomes clear that Stephen Merchant, who wrote and directed the movie, did not create this energetic ensemble in his mind and that it is reflective of a true story.

Fighting with my Family is in cinemas now – find a showing near you here.

 

Film Review: Vice

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Christian Bale was completely transformed for his role as Dick Cheney (Photo credit: TheStranger.com)

Going to the cinema to see Vice? Prepare yourself for a rollercoaster ride of anger, confusion, laughter and pure brilliance, as you dive into the world of former Vice President Dick Cheney.

The brainchild of Adam McKay, known by most for directing comedies including the Anchorman movies and Step-Brothers, Vice is an informative yet bizarre alternative take on the events that took place leading up to and during Dick Cheney’s time in the White House as George W. Bush’s Vice President. Bush’s presidency has been analysed and speculated over time and time again, but Vice provides viewers with a completely different take on the matter.

We see a transformed Christian Bale as Dick Cheney and Amy Adams as his wife, Lynne Cheney, as they try to work their way up the political ladder. Although at the beginning of the film the audience sees Cheney at a low point in his life, working a low paid job and caught driving while drunk, he manages to make his way into positions of power, before Bush (Sam Rockwell) eventually approaches him and asks him to run as his Vice President.

The film is unapologetically anti-right wing and you can feel the anger from the filmmakers seeping through throughout. It is clear Adam McKay wants the audience to view Cheney as evil and thankfully Christian Bale does a fantastic job of communicating this, even though he is playing a character who on the surface is quiet and subdued. Through his physical language and delivery of the script, Bale manages to portray a character who is calculating and power-hungry.

The film has a non-linear structure with scenes frequently cutting away to flashbacks and original footage, which perfectly accompany specific plot points to give what is happening in the story more meaning. This extra information and the narration by Jesse Plemons, is also helpful for those of us who aren’t experts in American politics.

Vice is also full of cleverly executed symbolism. An excellent example of this is while Cheney is trying to persuade Bush to agree to certain terms before Cheney agrees to be his vice president. We see shots of a fishing rod spliced in, eventually reeling in a large fish, just like Cheney reels in Bush. Not only is this a wonderful example of creative editing and cinematography, the thoughtful symbolism throughout the film helps viewers to understand what is going on inside Cheney’s head as he manipulates other characters.

Despite the creative and captivating filmmaking techniques and fantastic performances from the cast, in some ways Vice is an uncomfortable movie watching experience. Seeing how the selfish actions of politicians has destroyed lives and continues to cause chaos worldwide is not pleasant. The film is also entirely one-sided and some may argue that it’s not an accurate representation of events. However, the comic relief throughout the film helps distinguish these potential drawbacks. Vice is not a documentary and it’s not a history lesson, but it does make you think.

You can check out the trailer for Vice here.

Film Review: Ralph Breaks The Internet

While not an instant classic, this sequel to Wreck It Ralph defies expectations simply by being “surprisingly not terrible”.

Ralph Breaks The Internet

Ralph Breaks The Internet

It’s a strange thing, being a grown man and going to watch a kid’s movie on your own. Still, I’ve managed to apply a critical eye and not simply lurk around the theatre, looking creepy.

The plot of Ralph Breaks The Internet follows essentially what the title says. Our hero Ralph, a lovable 80s arcade game villain, journeys to the internet with his feisty young accomplice Vanellope to save the latter’s arcade cabinet (which is in need of spare parts). They find what they need on eBay, there’s some shenanigans, they get the thing, there’s yet more shenanigans, and then some minor peril ensues as Ralph’s best intentions go awry. However, everything ends well and leaves you with a nice fuzzy feeling inside. If that’s a spoiler for you, there’s a few Disney classics you’ll need a peek at before you read the rest of this.

The film mostly takes place inside a fictionalised version of the internet, so the humour centres around internet culture, memes and social media. This is an incredibly difficult kind of joke, as it needs to be incredibly up-to-date. More so than any movie that has spent two years in production has any right to be. Yet, they actually manage it. There’s still a few bits of banter that really would’ve been funnier six years ago when the first one came out, but for the most part the in-jokes and references are pretty on the ball. One particularly notable scene from the trailers involving all the various Disney princesses is actually a great laugh.

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Promotional movie poster

I think the way they manage to not entirely miss the punchline with all the internet humour is by not delving too deep into online culture. They do cover a lot of interesting points – the viciousness of comment sections, viral videos, even the highly illegal “Dark Web” – but there’s always more references you can make when you’re talking about the internet. Doing that, however, would just create some horrifying remake of The Emoji Movie. Instead, the writers have shone the light back onto the characters themselves for most of the jokes, and made a lot of self-referential jabs about Disney movies. Looking back is a good theme, I suppose, for what is Walt Disney Studios’ first theatrical sequel since 2011 – the one you’re thinking of when you see that fact and go “Really?” is either a Pixar movie or was straight-to-DVD.

While I seem positive here, I am being very generous with the term “entertaining”. It’s a great movie to watch with gullible, easily distracted children, or to put on for a couple hours while you play with your phone. You can (and should!) tilt your head up every so often to enjoy the odd sequence but the film doesn’t overly grab you. It’s also pretty long: nearly two hours, and this is supposed to be a kids movie. My attention span isn’t even that long, let alone that of the standard pre-pubescent cinema goer. There’s laughs, but it seems like it mostly just appeals to the hard-core Wreck It Ralph fan –  if that’s even a thing.

See movie times for Ralph Breaks The Internet here. 

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