Rise of the Blood Queen

Hellboy (2019) is a major insult. Not just because it’s one of the worst superhero bombs in recent memory, but because it killed Hellboy III. Guillermo del Toro and Ron Perlman’s third installment that should’ve been made. Hellboy was already pretty niche as a Dark Horse Comics adaptation, so making a reboot was a baffling decision. Horror director Neil Marshall took over and the project became a gritty R rated reboot. Like Perlman, Stranger Things star David Harbour already had the Hellboy look. So I gave Hellboy (2019) a chance despite the overly comedic trailer looking kinda bad.

Hellboy (2019) is just as tryhard as it looks. With the Hellboy makeup trying too hard to be gritty and an entirely unwarranted R rating. It’s just characters dropping F bombs every few minutes and excessive gore that’s more disgusting than entertaining. The CGI blood squibs are pretty awful too. Harbour tries, but his unfunny agro Hellboy isn’t as charming. Other characters suffer for the sake of being different. Ian McShane’s Professor Broom is too rough, Liz is swapped for lesser known medium Alice, and Abe is swapped for unlikable werejaguar Ben Daimio. Ed Skrein dodged a bullet when Daniel Dae Kim was cast in his place.

The only Mike Mignola character done justice is Thomas Haden Church as vigilante Lobster Johnson. Unfortunately it’s in a seriously crappy recreation of Hellboy’s Nazi unleashed origin. The uninspired conflict follows the Arthurian legend with Milla Jovovich as the dismembered Blood Queen who seeks to rule. Hellboy works with a less interesting B.P.R.D. and confronts the disgusting Baba Yaga. Giants are fought, a nasty pig fairy rebuilds Nimue, demons wreak havoc, and Hellboy becomes Anung Un Rama. Too bad I nearly fell asleep in the theater several times. What’s really funny is an Abe Sapien cliffhanger that they seriously thought would spark a sequel. Hellboy (2019) should be sent below where it belongs.

3. Hellboy

Hellboy with B.R.P.D.

Building a Butcher

Leatherface is the simply titled second prequel in the consistently all over the place franchise. Doing yet another origin for how infamous slasher Leatherface came to be. Except this one makes less sense than the remakes attempt with The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning. Leatherface traces the origin of young Jedidiah Sawyer in the Texas Chainsaw 3D continuity. As he refuses to use a chainsaw to do his first killing. A more active grandpa does it instead.

He seems to grow out of it since the cow-headed Jed doesn’t flinch when a member of the Hartman family is killed. Giving the corrupt Hartmans good reason to hate the Sawyers. Texas Ranger Hartman takes Verna Sawyer’s child away from her and he’s raised in a 1965 mental institution. Once again the story is more complex than it needs to be. Verna tries to get Jed back, but his name is changed. So we follow an escaped band of youths wandering rural Texas, unaware who Leatherface is. The group consists of final girl nurse hostage Lizzy, well adjusted Jackson, the silent hulking Bud, sadistic Ike, and his equally psychotic pyromaniac girlfriend Clarice.

The couple is way too evil with their excessively mean spirited murders. They engage in the franchises only real nude scene, but it’s just plain gross. Gore is even more excessive with far more lingering deaths. SPOILER ALERT! Although Bud is clearly the logical Leatherface, it was friendly and skinny Jackson all along. Even with a newly deformed mouth and mental trauma that doesn’t make sense. Jed chainsaws Hartman and chases after Lizzy. Since it’s a prequel, no one good survives once again. Ending on Jed sewing up his first leatherface. Leatherface is further proof of why I’d put this series low on my list of favorite slasher franchises.

8. Leatherface

Leatherface pulls out the chainsaw

Followed by: The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974) & Texas Chainsaw 3D

Country Cousins

Texas Chainsaw 3D is the most needlessly complicated massacre in the confusing franchise. Complete with obnoxious 3D. After 7 installments, they decided to make a sequel that ignores the tone shifting sequels and pointless remakes. Meaning Texas Chainsaw 3D takes place immediately after The Texas Chain Saw Massacre in 1974. The decision isn’t entirely unwelcome since it brought back Gunnar Hansen and Marilyn Burns one last time. Even John Dugan returns as Grandpa. Along with Chop Top actor Bill Moseley as Drayton Sawyer.

Mild Part 2 acknowledgement like the Sawyer name is kept, but the cannibalistic family is the most generic they’ve ever been. None of its many members stand out since they’re all killed when the perfectly recreated home is burned to the ground. A rival clan called the Hartman’s kill them with vigilante justice. All except the now Jedidiah named Leatherface and a baby survive. A baby who somehow grows into the gorgeous Alexandra Daddario despite being a baby in 1974. Heather is the final girl who takes her equally sexy sex-crazed friends to the house she’s inherited. Yet somehow there’s still no overt nudity. All the legality, familial ties, and warring clan stuff don’t belong in a slasher movie.

You shouldn’t have to think when the elderly Leatherface is more murderous than ever. This is one of the goriest installment with very brutal chainsaw and meat hook deaths. SPOILER ALERT! The biggest insult is making Leatherface sympathetic. Since it’s the corrupt Hartman’s who kidnap Heather. Revealing her to be a Sawyer is a serious suspension of disbelief since she’s just too hot to be related to this family. What’s worse is her embracing her cousin, allowing him to kill, and taking care of him like her grandmother Verna Carson requested. Texas Chainsaw 3D is just another mess in an already messy franchise.

7. Texas Chainsaw 3D

Leatherface pulls out the chainsaw

Preceded by: Leatherface & The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974)

Sleeker and Weaker

RoboCop (2014) is the soulless remake to an 80’s juggernaut no one needed. Paul Verhoeven is no stranger to people who don’t understand his work. So it was only a matter of time before RoboCop was rebooted. He’s practically a superhero anyway. As if they didn’t learn their lesson, RoboCop is gutted once again for a blockbuster friendly PG-13 rating. Missing the point of the brutal hard R satire all over again. Only now so much could have been done with the gritty approach they went with. Like everyone else, I didn’t see RoboCop (2014) in theaters, but I’ll admit it looked cool.

Until you realize how lifeless and robotic RoboCop is… before becoming a cyborg. With stars as big as Michael Keaton, Gary Oldman, and Samuel L. Jackson, they seriously went with someone as bland as Joel Kinnaman to play Alex Murphy. One interesting difference is having his wife & son play an active role in his story, but no emotion comes out of it. Rather than sadistic creeps taking down Murphy, a boring car bomb nearly kills him. The newly named OmniCorp rebuilds him with all his memories left in tact.

Until he’s randomly stripped of emotion like the original only to regain them again. His now black male partner Lewis doesn’t play a role in any of it. Instead it’s just emotionless family turmoil with a little action thrown in. Although unforgivably bloodless, the motorcycle riding shoot em’ up Detroit action is about all they get right. His trademark bulky grey armor is just ditched for a generic sleek black design with a single human hand for some reason. Commentary is present, but it’s just Jackson screaming with bleeped out swears. RoboCop (2014) is proof nothing can ever touch the original.

4. Robocop

RoboCop takes aim

Remake of: RoboCop (1987)

They Tried Stoning Me My Dear

Dark Shadows suffers from an unclear audience. Since it’s based on a soap opera from the late 60’s to early 70’s. Despite its apparent popularity, I hadn’t heard of Dark Shadows before the 2012 movie came out. Turns out my mom was a big fan who used to rush home just to catch the latest exploits of charismatic vampire Barnabas Collins. The main reason the gothic soap opera lasted as long as it did. Really it was only a matter of time before Tim Burton did a vampire flick. Although it was actually Johnny Depp’s idea to make the film.

The problem is most older audiences probably won’t care to see a tongue in cheek retelling. While younger fans of Tim Burton like myself aren’t gonna appreciate the jokes. Not that Johnny Depp as pale vampire Barnabas Collins wasn’t plenty entertaining. Even if most of his material amounts to reacting to the modern 70’s. From what I understand about the show, all the major characters are represented. With Barnabas cursed to be a vampire by seductive witch Angelique. Then waking centuries later to reclaim his family fortune at Collinwood.

A cast of names like Eva Green, Michelle Pfeiffer, Chloe Grace Moretz, Helena Bonham Carter in her final Burton role, and Christopher Lee in his 200th film role deserve credit too. Along with a 70’s appropriate Alice Cooper cameo. Occasionally it works, but the plot mostly meanders with Barnabas’ efforts to fix the dysfunctional family, restore their business, and face his lost love. While at the same time dealing with ghosts, witches, and werewolves. Dark Shadows is as pale, quirky, and stylish as the rest of Burton’s work, but I’m really not sure who its for.


Barnabas Collins awakens

You’re All Going to Die Tonight

Evil Dead went full horror. Although presented as yet another remake to an 80’s horror classic, Evil Dead is really more of a soft reboot. One that’s technically connected to the other films despite repeating a lot of the same beats. My biggest reason for putting off the Evil Dead franchise was the 2013 reboot. Even though I really wanted to experience Ash Williams’ fight against deadites. He’s an icon that spawned Army of Darkness comics that crossed over with the likes of Freddy and Jason. Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell had light involvement in the reboot, but it was left with newcomer Fede Álvarez.

He does not hold back on gory hard R violence. As someone who avoids torture porn, I dreaded my obligation to watch it. Evil Dead makes the wise choice not to recast Ash. Instead a lesser group of young people head to the cabin in the woods to starve Mia of her heroin addiction. They find the faceless Naturom Demonto that actually looks like it’s bound in skin in the cellar. One of the friends very stupidly reads from the book and unleashes evil spirits all over again. This time Mia is the unlucky one molested by a tree and locked in the cellar.

Comedy is ditched for excessive blood and body mutilation. I had to look away when faces were carved, tongues were slit, and arms were sawed off. SPOILER ALERT! Although Mia is mostly a nasty deadite, she is freed of possession. Becoming a worthy final girl who faces an Abomination mirroring the first movie’s poster. Finally dismembering it with the famous chainsaw in bloody rain. What makes the reboot feel complete is an unexpectedly groovy cameo from Ash himself. Evil Dead is not for the faint of heart.

4. Evil Dead

Deadite Mia in the cellar

Reboot of: The Evil Dead

Into the Unknown

Frozen II was bound to happen eventually. Since the Frozen franchise never truly ended after the first movie. There seemed to be something Frozen related every year until the sequel came out. There was the passable Cinderella released spring short Frozen Fever and misguided Coco released winter short Olaf’s Frozen Adventure. There was an endless barrage of merchandise, dolls, LEGO, video games, and an entire half season of Once Upon a Time dedicated to Frozen. Plus children continuing to sing Frozen songs non-stop for 6 years. Sure other Walt Disney animated movies distracted them, but Frozen was always there. Since Ralph Breaks the Internet was also an unconventional theatrical sequel, I’m more convinced that it starts what I’ll temporarily call the sequel era.

Frozen II is the fifty-eighth animated Disney movie and the first to officially phase out computer animation pioneer John Lasseter. Replacing him with Frozen writer/director Jennifer Lee. Only time will tell if later projects can benefit from her input. Frozen II seems like it was only made to cash in on the massive success of Frozen, but Disney once again gave the “We only make sequels when the story is good” response. Now Hans Christian Andersen’s The Snow Queen is practically irrelevant. Since the furthest they go is working in a very heavy amount of Scandinavian folklore. A lot of the production can actually be seen in the Disney+ documentary Into the Unknown: Making Frozen 2. While Frozen II was obviously another billion dollar success, the lack of Best Animated Feature nomination is pretty telling of how the sequel is in comparison…


Elsa, Anna, Kristoff, Sven, and Olaf travel into the unknown

Frozen II was a definite viewing experience regardless of how tired I might of been with Frozen. My brother and I never got tired of the first movie, but everyone should’ve let it go. Then I saw the stunning teaser trailer and was immediately sold on the idea of a Frozen II. The silent, serious tone definitely made it seem more grown up and sophisticated. In keeping with the seasonal change tradition, Frozen II now takes place during the fall. Snow isn’t seen half as much as falling leaves, pumpkins, and other parts of nature. The main goal for Frozen II was to answer questions left open in Frozen. Effectively taking away the mystery of the fairy tale. While at the same time having an obvious checklist of callbacks to keep fans happy. Once upon a time, Anna & Elsa’s parents told them all about their kingdom’s past. With a whole lot of exposition that’s bound to confuse kids.

Water, Earth, Fire, Air. Long ago, the Enchanted Forest was in harmony. Then, everything changed when Arendelle and the Northuldra tribe attacked each other. Only the fifth spirit, master of uniting all four spirits, could make things right, but when the forest needed it most, it placed itself under a curse. Several years passed as King Agnarr and Queen Iduna ruled after the King’s father perished in battle. And although the dam given by Arendelle remains in tact, it’s only a matter of time before the past catches up to them. But Anna & Elsa believe there’s more to the story than their parents are telling them. Since the King & Queen didn’t have names or A-list voice actors in their brief first appearance, Alfred Molina and Evan Rachel Wood serve as replacements. Their mother continues the story by mentioning a place of answers called Ahtohallan. All this before the title is even shown.

I have no problem with Scandinavian folklore, but it’s just not necessary to get this deep in Norwegian culture. That’s not why people keep going back to Frozen. It’s characters like Anna, Elsa, Kristoff, Olaf, and Sven. All of whom return with Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel, Jonathan Groff, and Josh Gad never seeming to get a break from their roles. Alan Tudyk is a bit harder to spot. 3 years after Elsa’s coronation, she starts to hear a voice call out to her. Meanwhile, Anna enjoys the changes made to the kingdom and Olaf now has a whole existential bit about growing old. If there’s one thing Disney sequels always have to deal with, it’s having their wacky comic relief present for the entire movie. Olaf is tolerable, but his random educational facts and contemplations aren’t always funny. Once again a modern Disney (and/or Pixar) movie favors emotion over comedy. There’s way too much somber quiet moments, talking, and overall exposition.

Along with characters that they likely needed an excuse to keep relevant in the story. Kristoff has more to do sure, but his arc is just comically trying to propose to Anna and feeling bad when she keeps misreading everything. After a game of charades that acknowledges Frozen one of many times, Elsa gets distracted by the voice again. Anna tries to comfort Elsa, but she can’t shake the call to go into the unknown. With the four elements out of control in Arendelle, Grand Pappie rock troll returns to direct them to their next adventure. Righting the wrongs of the past and doing the next right thing to save the Enchanted Forest. Despite Elsa being the only one who should go on the journey, Anna wants to protect Elsa, Kristoff wants to protect Anna, and Olaf wants to tag along. Sven takes their sled to a magical barrier that engulfs the entire forest. As they enter, Olaf mentions water having memory. Which somehow reveals the past through Elsa’s ice powers. Call it magic or conventiant storytelling.

They also discover each elemental spirit has a physical form. Each one being hostile before it softens up. First they encounter the air spirit tornado that’s really just a leafy wind Olaf names Gale. Then they meet the Northuldra people who have been imprisoned for years with feuding Arendelle guards. So Olaf comically recaps all of the events of Frozen that we already know. Yelena leads the Sámi inspired Northuldra and Lieutenant Matthias leads the small Arendelle group. With Sterling K. Brown cast, Matthias becomes the only black man in Scandinavia. While other new characters like Ryder and his sister Honeymaren aren’t fleshed out nearly enough to get invested in them. Really it’s the fire spirit of pink flames that’s really an adorable salamander named Burni that’s worth talking about. Even if his only purpose is to be Elsa’s animal companion.

SPOILER ALERT! It’s then revealed that the Queen was really Northuldra and the one who saved the King’s life. Making that the reason why Elsa has powers. Kristoff is left with his reindeer as Anna, Elsa, and Olaf then discover the truth about where their parents were heading when their ship sank. The destination was Ahtohallan. Since it was the only place they could find answers about maintaining Elsa’s magic. So Elsa sends Anna & Olaf away as she intends to find it herself. Anna & Olaf encounter earth spirit rock giants and they find themselves lost in a cave. Meanwhile, Elsa is determined to cross the sea with the full force of her ice powers. Then she encounters the final water spirit known as Nøkk. A mythological water horse that Elsa tames in order to reach Ahtohallan. A glacier that reveals the mysterious voice to be the memory of her mother revealing Elsa to be the fifth spirit. She also finds more ice memories that showcase Frozen references yet again.

Despite the many references to Hans, Frozen II doesn’t have a villain since Disney keeps settling on complex themes that make everyone look bad. In this case, it’s Anna & Elsa’s grandfather who attacked the Northuldra out of fear of their magic and used the dam to cut off their resources. Elsa freezes, but not before getting the truth to Anna. Who watches as Olaf fades away in her arms. All alone, Anna realizes destroying the dam (and Arendelle with it) will right the wrong. Kristoff rides in to help as Anna leads the rock giants to the dam. Although it seems like Arendelle will face the consequences of the past, Elsa swoops in last minute to stop the flood. I’m definitely not the kind of person who thinks tearing things down fixes the past, but Frozen II is almost meaningless without it. Olaf doesn’t even stay melted since it’s enough just to traumatize kids with the possibility. Anna & Elsa find that they’re equally important and Kristoff finally proposes. In the end, it’s satisfying to see Anna crowned queen of Arendelle, Elsa free with the Northuldra, and everyone living happily ever after.

Frozen II has such breathtaking animation that they had to stylize things a bit just to keep it from being too realistic. Water just gets more and more lifelike with every passing Disney movie. The spectacle of ice and snow may be smaller, but the Enchanted Forest is still very impressive. Characters remain the same, but now they have plenty of toy friendly costume changes. Anna & Elsa both let their hair down with more fall appropriate outfits. Elsa’s new signature is her all white dress that she creates after discovering herself. With Elsa continuing to not have a love interest and Anna as queen, they feel even less like official Disney Princesses. Maybe that’s why they still haven’t been inducted. Well the musical tradition continues at least. With 2 time Oscar winning married duo Robert & Kristen Anderson-Lopez forced to live up to their incredible Frozen soundtrack. Although the songs are high caliber with a Broadway feel, they ended up being seriously overproduced. The Frozen songs are extremely catchy and easy to learn. So much so that they incorporated the “hey-ya” choir into the sequel.

I literally forgot almost every Frozen II song after leaving the theater. They’re all either too long, complex, rambling, or frequent. “All is Found” is a fine Norwegian lullaby that doesn’t feel like opening song material. “Some Things Never Change” is catchy, if longer than it needs to be. “When I’m Older” is about as necessary as Olaf’s previous solo. Kristoff finally gets his own love solo with “Lost in the Woods.” A completely out of nowhere 80’s power ballad. Anna has a solo too with “The Next Right Thing.” A very slow, sad number that’s clearly trying to get awards attention. Just like Elsa’s second empowering solo “Show Yourself.” The only song to gain awards attention ended up being “Into the Unknown.” An obvious “Let it Go” clone that’s still the most catchy song in the movie. The notes leave you gasping for breath and the AURORA call makes it more memorable. Frozen II is a fine addition to the flurry of Frozen media, but nothing could possible live up to the impossible hype of the first movie.

92. Frozen II

Elsa meets the Nøkk

Preceded by: Frozen

Oh My Disney

Ralph Breaks the Internet is the most mainstream Disney animated movie ever made. As well as their biggest vanity project by far. When it comes to sequels, Walt Disney animation almost never goes for a theatrical release. With the exception of The Rescuers Down Under, Fantasia 2000, and Winnie the Pooh. Everything else was relegated to direct-to-video sequels of varying quality. Since the Disney Revival era was such a big success, Disney broke their unofficial rule not to release sequels in theaters. Making Ralph Breaks the Internet the fifty-seventh film from the studio and the first sequel made with the original crew (except John Lasseter). Although some might consider it to be part of the Revival era, Moana should be considered the end since it was original.

Ralph Breaks the Internet uses the basic setup from Wreck-It-Ralph, only it moves things to the ever changing giant known as the internet. Director Rich Moore originally wanted to explore more video games with online and console gaming. When the internet became the primary setting, the story went through many changes. Along with deciding on all the memes and websites they could cram in. Eventually Ralph Breaks the Internet: Wreck-It-Ralph 2 became the title (before the subtitle was dropped). Despite “Wreck” making more sense than “Break.” Not to mention the fact that Googling “Break the Internet” will take you to Kim Kardashian’s naked butt. Well Ralph Breaks the Internet was another success for Disney, but it’s probably best that an internet based movie didn’t win Best Animated Feature…

89. Ralph Breaks the Internet

Yesss shows Ralph and Vanellope around the internet

Ralph Breaks the Internet offered a lot to Disney fans like my brother and I. More than just a Wreck-It-Ralph sequel, Disney leaned way more into the possibilities the internet presented. Absolutely everyone uses the internet. Including myself at this very moment and whoever ends up reading this review. Video games were one thing, but I honestly didn’t know how to feel about both a Disney sequel and one that seemed way too modern for the old fashioned studio. Well Ralph Breaks the Internet ended up being a more competently made version of The Emoji Movie. Both feature worlds based on devices we use, but the difference is heart. Although I thought Ralph Breaks the Internet would just be Ralph & Vanellope wandering around the internet for 2 hours, the sequel is actually about their friendship.

6 years after Ralph helped save Vanellope in Sugar Rush, the two have been best friends ever since. Hanging around the arcade, making immature jokes, and getting stuck in Tron. John C. Reilly and Sarah Silverman return with hardly any difference. Since video game characters don’t age. As if the trailers weren’t telling enough, very little takes place in Litwak’s Arcade. Thus Jack McBrayer and Jane Lynch have hardly any screen time as Felix & Calhoun. Sonic has slightly more to do, but it’s about as much as any of the other video game characters. They don’t even use Mario like they promised. Ed O’Neill has a slightly bigger role as Mr. Litwak. Since he plugs a WI-FI router into the power strip. I might as well say now that Ralph Breaks the Internet doesn’t have a specific villain. So it’s yet another Disney movie that makes its heroes look bad because of it.

When Vanellope wishes for something new and exciting, Ralph builds an unauthorized race track for her. Causing the steering wheel to break in the real world. Some kids immediately find it on eBay, but it’s too much and Litwak decides to unplug the game instead. Leaving all of Sugar Rush homeless. All Felix & Calhoun have to do is adopt the racers and raise them perfectly off screen. Meanwhile, Ralph gets the idea to physically go to the internet and find Vanellope’s steering wheel on eBay. The router blasts Ralph & Vanellope’s code out of Litwak’s, through the power lines, and straight to the internet. The idea of a physical internet world isn’t a new one. Ralph Breaks the Internet only benefits from a creative take on the idea. Websites like Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, IMDb, Pinterest, Fandango, and Snapchat are buildings in a neverending metropolis with Google at the center.

It seems like blatant product placement, but original websites are really the main locations. Except for eBay, which is of course like an auction. Internet users are represented by blocky avatars that only interact with the websites they click onto. Spam is represented by pop up salesmen with all that bogus clickbait you see on various websites. A search bar is represented by KnowsMore, an academic voiced by Alan Tudyk. He takes Ralph & Vanellope to eBay where they frustratingly overbid on the steering wheel. Now the conflict is the two of them trying to raise $27,001 any way they can. So they go to J.P. Spamley, who mentioned getting rich playing video games. Spamley takes them to the dilapidated deep web where his weird assistant Gord hands them loot to find in various online games. New characters like these can be funny, but it’s a little too random.

We then go to another new location in Slaughter Race. An MMORPG racing game set in a violent city likely modeled after Grand Theft Auto. With a little Fast & Furious thrown in since Gal Gadot voices Shank. A badass streetracer with a crew of philosophical misfits. Although internet gags are the best source of humor in the movie, I really wish Disney would stop relying on modern humor like this. An emotional core is fine, but everyone’s a little too touchy feely here. Vanellope falls in love with the chaos of Slaughter Race and Ralph starts to feel insecure about it. Especially after Shank and her crew give them the perfect way to make money on the internet. By shooting a dumb video with Ralph on BuzzzTube. YouTube is shown, but setting another major location there would be pushing it. It’s on BuzzzTube that Ralph & Vanellope meet the websites fashionable algorithm Yesss voiced by Taraji P. Henson.

Yesss and her assistant Maybe point out the most popular trending videos online and Ralph decides to do everything in order to make money. Since an 80’s arcade villain becoming internet famous is just the kind of random thing you’d expect to see become a meme. Between cameos from Miranda Sings and the floss dance, there’s no way the movie won’t become dated in the future. Then it becomes more blatant when Ralph sends Vanellope to ohmy.disney.com. An excuse for Disney to show off their corporate hold on all of pop culture. With Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, and the Muppets on full display. I know Disney are a bunch of greedy corporate overlords, but I still eat this stuff up. That’s why I have the biggest love-hate relationship with Disney. Characters like Eeyore, Iron Man, Buzz Lightyear, Baymax, Groot, Grumpy, Stormtroopers, Nick Wilde, C-3PO, and even Stan Lee make cameos. But it was the inclusion of every Disney Princess that was promoted the heaviest and the biggest reason I wanted to see the movie.

Snow White, Cinderella, Aurora, Ariel, Belle, Jasmine, Pocahontas, Mulan, Tiana, Rapunzel, Merida, Anna, Elsa, and Moana all appearing together is a major achievement. I just wish it wasn’t in a Wreck-It-Ralph sequel. Disney managed to bring back Jodi Benson, Paige O’Hara, Linda Larkin, Irene Bedard, Ming-Na Wen, Anika Noni Rose, Mandy Moore, Kelly MacDonald, Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel, and Auli’i Cravalho. The three classic Princesses had to be replaced for obvious reasons. Although the modern Princesses sound the same, the older ones have understandably aged. Except for Jodi Benson who always sounds like Ariel. Since Vanellope is technically a Princess, she’s the one who meets them. I have very mixed feelings about the whole sequence. While it is hilarious to see the Disney Princesses compare their many similarities, dressing in comfy clothes, and showing off their signature traits, the cynical PC undertones just doesn’t feel right. Almost like Disney is trying to insult their own characters at times.

It doesn’t help that Vanellope is so anti-princess. She can’t sing, but that doesn’t stop her from singing about her dream of joining Slaughter Race. “A Place Called Slaughter Race” is a babbling parody of Princess songs that benefits from Gal Gadot’s beautiful voice, but suffers from Sarah Silverman’s obnoxious voice. Ralph finishes getting the money on BuzzzTube early on, but makes the mistake of reading kid friendly mean comments. Only feeling worse when he overhears Vanellope wanting to stay in Slaughter Race with Shank. So Ralph makes another terrible decision to get a virus from the deep web. Alfred Molina voices Double Dan, a slug with a face boil who creates viruses. Yet another random for the sake of random character. He gives Ralph an insecurity virus that copies Vanellope’s glitch and spreads it across Slaughter Race. As the game reboots, Vanellope discovers the awful truth.

SPOILER ALERT! Then the virus enters the internet and actually spreads Ralph’s insecurity across the web. As represented by zombie Ralph’s who literally break the internet to be with Vanellope. Then they form a giant Ralph of insecurity that’s only defeated when Ralph agrees to let Vanellope go. I wish I was making this up, but they really do try that hard to say something with an internet movie. Ralph & Vanellope tearfully say goodbye as they part ways as best friends with different dreams. Then a mid-credit scene gets meta by featuring the bunny & kitty feeding game played by baby Moana. Then an after-credits scene trolls the audience with a sneak peak of Frozen II that’s actually a Ralph Rickroll. Ralph Breaks the Internet is loaded with internet jokes and trendy pop culture references. It’s really a miracle that the movie wasn’t torn apart by critics. Well high caliber Disney computer animation, storytelling, and voice acting are to thank for its success.

They build on what was already present in Wreck-It-Ralph with more characters and locations than any other Disney animated film. A grand total of 434 characters can be seen in the movie. Like the internet, it does feel neverending at times. You have video game characters in the arcade, internet users, internet workers, a lot more humans than we saw before, Slaughter Race NPC’s, and a bunch of Disney owned characters that all needed to be computer animated in the same style. The internet is an impressive construct and they’re just showing off with the giant Ralph made up of a billion Ralph’s. Apart from Vanellope’s song, the catchy “Zero” by Imagine Dragons is the only other original song. Although Ralph Breaks the Internet is one of the better representations of the internet, a kids movie could never do it justice. The internet is a very R rated place full of cruelty and debauchery. Sure there are some risque jokes, but it’s mostly just Ralph & Vanellope’s juvenile humor. That being said, Ralph Breaks the Internet is still worth logging onto if you’re looking to kill time on the internet.

90. Ralph Breaks the Internet

Vanellope takes a selfie with all the Disney Princesses

Preceded by: Wreck-It Ralph

To Infinity and Beyond

Toy Story 4 is the 1 hour & 40 minute epilogue to Toy Story 3. If there’s any Pixar sequel I was against from the very beginning, it was Toy Story 4. There’s never been a more perfect trilogy than the Toy Story trilogy. Pixar’s crowning jewel and poster child. Toy Story 4 is what I like to call the “fatal fourth.” An unnecessary 4th installment in an already wrapped up trilogy. It took 15 years for Toy Story 3 to pick up where Toy Story 2 left off. Despite everything that happened since then, it managed to be a heartfelt conclusion that gave every toy a time to shine. Toy Story 4 was really more of a tag on that was made for money and nostalgia purposes.

Former Disney & Pixar head John Lasseter or director Josh Cooley can claim that it wasn’t, but did it really deserve to win Best Animated Feature compared to more adventurous Oscar nominees? Toy Story 4 asks questions about toys that become far more philosophical. Despite my frequent objections, I was still drawn back as a 24 year old longtime Toy Story fan. My entire family went to see Toy Story 3 (and Incredibles 2), but Toy Story 4 didn’t feel like a big enough event. So my brother and I instead decided to see it with our mom. As a tribute to when she took us to see Toy Story 2 20 years ago. More than anything else, we found it to be really funny. Unfortunately, it was at the expense of its emotional core…

42. Toy Story 4

The toys search for a way out

Toy Story 4, for whatever reason, has no short film attached to it. 24 years of filmmaking and I’m still in awe of the stellar computer animation Pixar has made since Toy Story. The detail is so excessive that you can see the toys every stitch, scratch, and thread with a magnifying glass. I don’t know how you could possibly top something like that. Not to mention how much better humans look with each passing film. Every new location is beautifully animated and so impressive that it’s really what makes Toy Story 4 worth the experience. Toy Story 4 was made in response to Rex mentioning Bo Peep as one of the toys who’s been given away since Andy grew up. If there’s anything that cooled my criticism for a 4th installment, it was my need to see Woody reunite with his true love. The entire respectable cast of aging celebrities reunites, but it was far from the first time since Toy Story 3.

Pixar kind of went overboard with continuations. Whether it was theatrical Toy Story Toons like Hawaiian Vacation, Small Fry, and Partysaurus Rex or TV specials like Toy Story of Terror! and Toy Story That Time Forgot. Each one a lighthearted visit with the characters that offered greater insight into other parts of the toy world. Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Joan Cusack, Wallace Shawn, John Ratzenberger, Blake Clark, Estelle Harris, Bonnie Hunt, Kristen Schaal, Timothy Dalton, and Jeff Garlin all return, but sadly Don Rickles passed away before recording anything. So they instead made use of archive recordings. Since Bo Peep was now a major character, Annie Potts returned for the first time in 20 years. Just like everyone else, her voice had noticeably aged. Which is once again okay considering toys age on the inside instead of the outside.

Toy Story 4 hits its nostalgia mark by beginning at Andy’s house when he was still a kid. Sheriff Woody, Buzz Lightyear, and Jessie work with Bo Peep to rescue RC from a rainstorm. Together with Barbies and a barrel of monkeys, they rescue their fellow toy. Unfortunately, it’s at that moment that a friend of Andy’s mom shows up to take Molly’s Bo Peep lamp. Woody contemplates going with her, but they instead have a tearful goodbye. Cue the obligatory “You’ve Got a Friend in Me” opening credits. This time it’s Andy playing with the toys in a montage that recaps Andy giving his toys to Bonnie and her growing up with them. Only Andy’s design is practically unrecognizable for some reason. Although the Toy Story movies have always been either buddy or ensemble pictures, Toy Story 4 is entirely Woody’s story. To the point Hamm, Rex, Slinky, Bullseye, the aliens, and especially Mr. & Mrs. Potato Head have almost nothing to do. Even Dolly, Trixie, Buttercup, and Mr. Pricklepants are rarely used. Sometimes it feels like they’re coming up with any excuse to keep Buzz & Jessie relevant to the story.

Toy Story 4 is about Woody realizing he’s no longer the favorite with Bonnie not even playing with him anymore. Which seriously undermines the touching speech Andy made to Bonnie at the end of Toy Story 3. It feels so disrespectful and out of nowhere that I kind of don’t even like Bonnie anymore. Bonnie puts Woody’s badge on Jessie and leaves him to collect dust in the closet. Along with other aging toys like Old Timer. As well as Bonnie’s toddler toys Melephant Brooks, Chairol Burnett, Bitey White, and Carl Reineroceros who are all voiced by their legendary namesakes. When Bonnie gets anxious about going to kindergarten, Woody stows away in her backpack. Unknowingly helping her cope with her first day. Woody pulls art supplies out of the trash and Bonnie makes a new friend out of a plastic spork, gum, plasticine, a popsicle stick, a pipe cleaner, and googly eyes named Forky. I swear Pixar is trolling us at this point. Going so far as to give a spork emotion. Another question that Toy Story 4 sort of addresses is what makes a toy a toy. My theory of a child’s imagination seems to be correct.

Forky is a panicky spork voiced by Tony Hale who faces an existential crisis. He thinks he’s trash, but Woody makes it his mission to make sure he stays with Bonnie. Bonnie’s father makes his first appearance when he takes Bonnie and her mother on a vacation in an RV. Forky’s limited understanding of the world and constantly trying to throw himself away is really funny. Randy Newman of course returned to score and write the catchy song “I Can’t Let You Throw Yourself Away.” So Newman’s had a song nominated from every Toy Story movie. When the job becomes too much, Woody has a heart to heart with his best friend. Only Buzz for whatever reason mistakes a conscience for his voice box. Alerting them to Forky as he throws himself out of the RV. Woody goes after Forky with the intention of meeting everyone else at an upcoming stop. While dragging Forky, Woody tells him all about the joy of being a toy. Including one of several references to previous movies. Forky accepts his place as Bonnie’s toy, but Woody sidetracks them when he spots Bo’s lamp in an antique store window. I can appreciate the level of detail in Second Chance Antiques since my parents are antique dealers.

While searching for Bo, Woody & Forky encounter the villain of the movie. A Chatty Cathy type doll named Gabby Gabby voiced by Christina Hendricks. She gets around with a stroller pushed by creepy ventriloquist dummies. As she talks to Woody, she makes it clear that she needs his voice box in order to fix her broken one. When her Dummies get grabby grabby, Gabby Gabby has them take it by force. They only succeed in taking Forky. Leaving Woody in the hands of the shop owner’s granddaughter Harmony. It’s at that moment in a park amongst lost toys that an inanimate Woody finally reunites with Bo Peep. One thing I definitely wasn’t expecting was her taking on a more adventurous look as opposed to her frilly dress. Bo now has a bow, pants, a cape, and her trusty crook that PETA complained about. The time between her last appearance also meant minor improvements to her porcelain appearance. Her three headed sheep are also given more attention and the names Billy, Goat, and Gruff.

In the time since Bo was given away, she’s had her lamp passed around from child to child until she wound up in the antique store. Her whole story can be seen in the Disney+ short Lamp Life. Bo was never all that deep of a character. Spending most of her appearances flirting with and caring for Woody. There’s no way she could have survived the physicality of Toy Story 3, so it’s ironic that they found a way to make her so adventurous. It just feels like a drastic character change at times. Woody & Bo awkwardly embrace and she introduces him to her new friends. Every new toy in the movie was likely chosen from a list of toys that hadn’t been covered yet. Ally Maki voices  Giggle McDimples, a Polly Pocket type cop and Bo’s closest friend. A clever bit of continuity is a set of Combat Carl toys voiced again by Carl Weathers. They’re lost toys just like Bo. Who gets around with a skunk race car and hops around from park to park. A carnival is the main backdrop for the action.

Bo agrees to help Woody get Forky back, meanwhile the toys look to Buzz for leadership. He decides to go after Woody using the ridiculous inner voice thing from earlier. Except most of Buzz’s phrases were never even heard before. Buzz flies with the aid of rides, but a carny with a Pizza Planet truck tattoo makes him a prize in a carnival game with a pair of prizes named Ducky & Bunny. A couple of joined stuffed animals voiced by Key & Peele. Like their show, they’re definitely the funniest toys in the movie (especially with their daydreams), but their brand of humor doesn’t feel right for the franchise. Their insult comedy felt like it took too many shots at beloved characters. Buzz escapes, but is chased by the toys who just want a kid. Back at the RV, Jessie flattens the tires to buy some time. Buzz reunites with Bo and Ducky & Bunny join the makeshift group. The plan is to get to Forky in Gabby’s china cabinet, get the key from the owner, and avoid the perfectly rendered cat. Although it turns out Gabby is just misunderstood. Confiding in Forky that she just wants to be loved by Harmony.

Woody puts Bo’s sheep in danger, so she goes to another toy for help in jumping the gap between the cabinet. People’s favorite Keanu Reeves voices Duke Caboom. A Canadian stuntman based on Evel Knievel stunt toys. Duke is another highlight due to his tragic past with his former kid. SPOILER ALERT! The stunt works out, but everyone leaves when rescuing Forky puts everyone else at risk. Leading to Woody being constantly told he’s wrong for holding onto to the past. A problem that goes with a lack of villains. Since it makes the hero look bad. Gabby convinces Woody to give his voice box to her and it practically destroys me to see Woody without his trademark pullstring. Woody finds Bonnie’s backpack that Buzz was trying to mention, but stays to help Gabby when she’s rejected.

Bo returns too when she realizes Woody’s need to help toys is right. The rest of the toys comically redirect Bonnie’s parents to the carnival, Duke believes in himself enough to make a major jump, and Gabby is stopped by another girl. A lost child that gives her a happy ending. The RV’s awning bridges the gap between toys, but Woody has conflicting emotions. What was supposed to be the peak tear worthy moment of the franchise, didn’t make me cry one bit. I saw Woody & Buzz parting ways coming from a mile away. Woody gives his badge to Jessie and stays lost with Bo. Tearfully saying goodbye to his best friend. Emotional sure, but the whole movie tries too hard to be emotional. So Toy Story 3 is still the perfect ending for me. Toy Story 4 is a commendable addition to the franchise, but I can take it or leave it “To Infinity and Beyond.”

43. Toy Story 4

Woody introduces Forky

Preceded by: Toy Story 3

Behold the Underminer!

Incredibles 2 is the nearly incredible 14 year follow up to The Incredibles. If there’s any Pixar sequel I was most excited for, it was Incredibles 2. Unlike most of the other Pixar continuations, superheroes are made for multiple movies. So it was only a matter of time before it was greenlit. After directing Ratatouille, Brad Bird was questioned about the possibility of an Incredibles 2. He already had ideas for it, but he didn’t want to do it until it was perfect. Incredibles 2 asks questions about the superhero family that help their relatability. Rather than follow adult versions of the kids like I briefly assumed, Incredibles 2 takes place exactly 1 minute after the first movie.

Anticipation for the long awaited sequel was bigger than any Pixar sequel at the time. Since superheroes only grew in popularity since 2004. Thanks to Disney owning Marvel as well. My generation made it clear that the movie was made for us. Any child that saw Incredibles 2 wasn’t even born when The Incredibles came out. Going from 9 to 23 years old, superhero movies were such a big deal that my entire family went to the theater to see it. Something we hadn’t done since Toy Story 3. Sure originals like Coco were successful, but nothing beats name recognition. Making it the third Pixar movie to cross the billion dollar mark. Incredibles 2 was a fun experience, but the only thing strong enough to take its Best Animated Feature win was another superhero movie…

40. Incredibles 2

The Incredibles fight together

Incredibles 2 has its family theme represented in its Oscar winning short Boa. A sentimental Chinese allegory where a mother experiences motherhood all over again through a baozi bun. Incredibles 2 was far from the only sequel made in the time gap. Sequels were also made in the form of the video game The Incredibles: Rise of the Underminer and comic books made by BOOM! Studios. I played and read both, but I had a feeling they wouldn’t use material from either. Since computer animation had advanced exponentially since 2004, Pixar no longer feared human focused stories. The only difference was the software that no longer contained the original character models. Like Toy Story 3, they had to be re-rendered from scratch. The Incredibles was still impressive, but it was a very early attempt at a human centered computer animated movie. So characters are now cleaner with slight improvements made to their stylized appearances. Along with the usual increase in locations.

All the primary respectable cast members return including Craig T. Nelson, Holly Hunter, Sarah Vowell, and of course Samuel L. Jackson. Which would be his 11th appearance in a superhero movie since the first Incredibles. Spencer Fox was understandably replaced by Huck Milner. Like the replacement voice for Nemo, Milner does a fine job recapturing the energetic voice. Since John Ratzenberger could only voice the Underminer at the end of the first movie, it only made sense to follow events immediately after he emerged from the ground with the Incredibles ready for action. A Pizza Planet truck was also included, but tear worthy moments are in short supply. Can’t say I was expecting to open on Tony Rydinger recapping events. Tony was Violet’s crush who asked her out at Dash’s track meet. He describes how he witnessed the Incredibles suited up and accidentally saw Violet without her mask to Rick Dicker. Since Bud Luckey retired, then passed away, Jonathan Banks replaces Dicker. He erases Tony’s memory the same way he did to Kari in the short Jack-Jack Attack.

The Incredibles are still learning to fight as a family. Mr. Incredible faces Underminer directly, Elastigirl stretches to help citizens avoid the drill, Dash runs to help, Violet shields people with her force fields, and Jack-Jack is passed around. Frozone arrives to use his ice on the drill and Mr. Incredible uses his super strength on it when Underminer escapes. The long awaited fight starts the sequel with a bang, but it’s a little underwhelming compared to the video game. Really the devastation is meant to highlight a bigger issue. Despite the Parr families very confident expressions while masking up, Elastigirl & Frozone bring up superheroes being illegal. The government shuts down the Superhero Relocation Program in response to City Hall’s destruction. Dicker says his goodbye’s, but Bob mentions Tony before he leaves. Bob & Helen disagree on the anti-supers law over dinner while the kids just want to be super. Lucius arrives at their motel and tells Bob & Helen all about a rich tycoon who wants to make supers legal again.

The three of them arrive at DevTech dressed in their classic costumes. Bob Odenkirk is the eccentric head of the company Winston Deaver. A man who loves superheroes so much he knows their theme songs. Catherine Keener is his unseen sister Evelyn Deaver. A laid back, behind the scenes part of the company who designs all their technology. They each disagree on the death of their parents who died waiting for supers after they’d been made illegal. Winston’s goal is to fix the public’s perception of supers with calculated heroic missions using a body cam. Some people read too much into it, but Brad Bird always intended Elastigirl to be the lead in Incredibles 2. She’s chosen by Deaver since her stretching powers cause less collateral damage. Since superhero movies & shows are all over the place, Elastigirl is the one given the most superhero action. Since Bird wanted to put more focus on the family dynamic.

I should be disappointed, but I love the characters too much not to appreciate anything they do. Having a mom with a new job gone while dad watches the kids was very relatable. It’s something my own mom and dad did once when I was younger. Helen gets a new dark grey costume from an alternative designer and a snappy new Elasticycle. Meanwhile, Bob becomes Mr. Supermom back at Deaver’s lavish house that he lends to them. Elastigirl is sent to a crime filled city to wait for crime. When a runaway train occurs, she stretches into action. Elastigirl’s stretching is easily the most creative use of those powers I’ve seen put to screen. The Elasticycle breaks apart for better elasticity and the rest of her stretching comes in handy to stop the train. Even though Bob would much rather be the one fighting crime, he begrudgingly accepts his new role.

All members of the Parr family have their own problems to deal with. Dash only has math homework to deal with and Violet has relationship problems with Tony. Bob is unable to comprehend new math and is accidentally responsible for Tony forgetting Violet. Staying up with Jack-Jack starts to drain him as well. After the end of The Incredibles and Jack-Jack Attack it was obvious that Jack-Jack would be the highlight of the sequel. Who doesn’t love a superbaby? Jack-Jack’s unexpected fight with a raccoon had the whole theater erupting with laughter. While every new power he exhibits is funnier than the last. Powers like fire, demon transformation, heat vision, floating, and phasing were seen in the movie/short, while new powers like multiplying, cross dimensional travel, blobbing, enlarging, and morphing are just as entertaining. Bob hides Jack-Jack’s powers from his wife and kids while Helen interviews for her train rescue. It’s then that she discovers the main villain Screenslaver. A villain capable of hypnotizing anyone with a screen, including the pilots of a foreign Ambassadors helicopter.

Elastigirl makes another daring rescue before anyone gets hurt. I continue to forget The Incredibles was set in the 60’s, but the sequel makes it even more obvious. Even though Evelyn’s technology mirrors our own. It’s just that the Screenslaver’s message of escaping into a TV screen would have made more sense in the modern world. Meanwhile, Violet renounces superheroes after Bob mentions Dicker erasing Tony’s memory. Bob also gets mad when he sees his old Incredi-bile being bid on live TV, but he decides to make the most of his time with the kids. Learning Dash’s new math and attempting to make it up to Violet by going to Tony’s parent’s restaurant. When the kids discover Jack-Jack’s powers, they call their Uncle Lucius. An exhausted Bob shows Jack-Jack’s powers to Lucius and he decides to take him to Edna Mode. Incredibles 2 does check off a few boxes, but at least Edna’s role is different. She instead helps Bob by studying Jack-Jack’s powers which can be seen in the short Auntie Edna. She reworks his super suit and builds a control panel to help keep his polymorph abilities under control.

After another successful save, Winston introduces Elastigirl to fellow aspiring heroes who just came out of hiding. Each one stranger and more stylized than the last. The main one is Elastigirl’s biggest fan Voyd, voiced by Sophia Bush, with the power to create portals. Other supers include strongwoman Brick, electrical conductor He-Lectrix, telekinetic crusher Krushauer, owlman Screech, and elderly lava vomiter Reflux. Helen and Evelyn have many mature conversations throughout, but one conversation gives them an idea to catch Screenslaver. She finds him in an apartment with seizure inducing hypnotizing screens. Screenslaver is unmasked, then locked up, but Helen can’t shake the feeling that something is off. Surprise, another twist Disney villain! SPOILER ALERT! It was Evelyn Deavor who had the evil endeavor all along. Her reason to hate supers makes sense, but she doesn’t hold a candle to Syndrome. Her evil plan is to hypnotize supers like Elastigirl after she’s made progress in gaining public trust, then having them attack at a televised summit meeting.

After an hour of mostly family drama, the superheroic climax was more than worth the wait. Mr. Incredible is hypnotized along with Elastigirl and the rest of the supers go after Dash, Violet, and Jack-Jack. Frozone arrives to help after a brief shout out to his wife. They do their best to fight the hypnotized heroes and Dash even signals for the Incredi-bile. Frozone is taken over, but the kids escape. Leaving them as the only ones who can save their parents. The climax on Deavor’s boat is another incredible blend of multiple powers that ends when everyone comes together to free the supers and stop the runaway boat. Evelyn is arrested, Violet gets a new date with Tony, and supers are made legal again. Ending in another call to action that hopefully won’t take another 14 years to see. Followed by the always epic Michael Giacchino score. Incredibles 2 did a serviceable job at standing out from other superhero blockbusters and was well worth the wait.

41. Incredibles 2

Elastigirl rides into action

Preceded by: The Incredibles