Each week on the nationally syndicated Richard Crouse Show, Canada’s most recognized movie critic brings together some of the most interesting and opinionated people from the movies, television and music to put a fresh spin on news from the world of lifestyle and pop-culture. Tune into this show to hear in-depth interviews with actors and directors, to find out what’s going on behind the scenes of your favourite shows and movies and get a new take on current trends. Recent guests include Ethan Hawke, director Brad Bird, comedian Gilbert Gottfried, Eric Roberts, Brian Henson, Jonathan Goldsmith a.k.a. “The most interesting man in the world,” and best selling author Linwood Barclay.
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Richard joins CP24 to have a look at new movies coming to VOD, streaming services and theatres including Disney’s animated action flick “Raya and the Last Dragon” (Disney+ with Premier Access and theatres), the long awaited sequel “Coming 2 America” (Amazon Prime Video) and the look at the war on drugs “Crisis” (on digital and demand).
Richard sits in on the CFRA Ottawa morning show with host Bill Carroll to talk the new movies coming to theatres, VOD and streaming services including Disney’s animated action flick “Raya and the Last Dragon” (Disney+ with Premier Access and theatres), the long awaited sequel “Coming 2 America” (Amazon Prime Video), the biopic “The United States Vs. Billie Holiday” (VOD), the legal drama “The Mauritanian” (premium digital and on-demand), the coming-of-age story “My Salinger Year” (VOD) and the look at the war on drugs “Crisis” (on digital and demand).
If you look on IMDb, there are dozens of titles containing the phrase “dragon slayer.” Movie dragons, by and large have been of the Smaug variety, a beast “The Hobbit” author J.R.R. Tolkien described as “a most specially greedy, strong and wicked worm.”
There are exceptions of course, like the “How to Train Your Dragon” creatures and the wyvern in “The Reluctant Dragon” who would rather recite poetry than cause havoc. “You’ve got to be mad to breathe fire,” he says, “but I’m not mad at anybody.”
This week we can add Sisu the self-deprecating water dragon voiced by Awkwafina in Disney+’s animated “Raya and the Last Dragon,” to the happy dragon list
Five hundred years ago humans and dragons happily co-existed in the Five Lands of Kumandra—Heart, Talon, Fang, Spine and Tail—the fantasy land (inspired by several Southeast Asian cultures) Warrior Princess Raya (Kelly Marie Tran), Guardian of the Dragon Gem, calls home.
The dragons were fierce warriors, the only creatures capable of defeating the Druun, the nasty neighbors who turn everything they touch into stone. To save humanity Sisu the dragon imbued a gem with magic powerful enough to drive away the interlopers and bring the folks who had been turned into pillars back to life. With the work done, Sisu disappeared, leaving behind the gem and a deeply divided nation.
In an effort to bring the warring tribes together Raya’s father Benja (Daniel Dae Kim), head of the Heart Tribe, leaves the gem vulnerable and soon it is smashed, split into pieces, leaving the land open to further attacks from the Druun.
If the Druun are to be defeated once and for all Raya must track down the last dragon. That would be Sisu, a quirky pink and turquoise dragon with self-esteem issues. “I’m going to be real with you,” she says. “I’m not like the best dragon. Have you ever done like a group project, but there’s like that one kid who didn’t pitch in as much, but still ended up with the same grade?”
Disney’s first original princess movie since 2016’s “Moana,” “Raya and the Last Dragon” is a feast for the eyes. The backgrounds are beautifully rendered, with particular attention paid to the details that differentiate the five clans. The animation will make your eye balls dance, and perhaps leave you wishing this could be the big screen experience it was originally meant to be.
The clever backgrounds are populated with nicely realized characters. As Raya, Kelly Marie Tran plays the first Disney princess who is as good with her fists as she is with her wits. The combat scenes, including a fistfight with Fang Tribe meanie Namaari (Gemma Chan), sword fights and chases, are well presented, always allowing for the viewer to follow the action and not get lost in a blur of glinting swords or flying fists. In a film populated with lots of secondary characters, she holds her own with determination and a heap of spunk.
Awkwafina has more to work with character wise. As the quirky dragon she’s a scene stealer, bring humour and heart to Sisu. The movie wants you to root for her and you will.
“Raya and the Last Dragon” is meant for kids, so the main character’s journey isn’t overly complicated, but it does contain poignant, joyful messages of the importance of togetherness and trust. In an increasingly divided world comes a movie that promotes trust as a key to human relationships. Disney isn’t blazing new ground with the moral, but it’s not such a bad thing to be reminded of from time to time.
A weekly feature from from ctvnews.ca! The Crouse Review is a quick, hot take on the weekend’s biggest movies! This week Richard looks at the Michael B. Jordan boxing drama “Creed II,” the on-line romp of “Ralph Breaks the Internet” and the odd couple buddy film “Green Book.”
Richard sits in with CTV NewsChannel anchor Jennifer Burke to have a look at the weekend’s big releases, the boxing drama “Creed II,” the on-line romp of “Ralph Breaks the Internet” and the odd couple buddy film “Green Book.”
Given the movie’s subtext “Ralph Breaks the Internet” could have been called “Ralph Wants You to Think About the Ramifications of Internet Usage.” Not as catchy, I’ll admit, but amid the fun and games the sequel to “Wreck-It Ralph” is a strong message about the dangers of Internet culture.
It’s been six years since we met Wreck-It Ralph (voice of John C. Reilly), a disgruntled video game character who demanded respect. This time around the action begins when the steering wheel controller on the Sugar Rush game console breaks. “It might be time to sell Sugar Rush for parts,” says Stan Litwak (Ed O’Neill), owner of Litwak’s Family Fun Center & Arcade.
Before Litwak unplugs the machine Ralph and the game’s racer Vanellope von Schweetz (Sarah Silverman) rescue Sugar Rush’s characters by moving them to other games.
To get the game up and running Ralph and Vanellope hit the Internet, using the Arcade’s wifi to explore the net in search of a replacement steering wheel. They find the wheel at eBay, trouble is, they don’t have any money. “I left my wallet at home,” Ralph tells the eBay cashier. “In the wallet room and the door is locked!”
When they befriend Shank (Gal Gadot), a racer in Slaughter Race, their problems seem to be over. The violent racing game overs a source of money but as Shank’s influence on Vanellope grows Ralph worries that his friend is drifting away.
“Ralph Breaks the Internet” is at its best when it’s subversive. The colourful animation, coupled with an imaginative take on what it would be like to be inside the internet—eBay is an actual auction house, and “likes” are sucked up by a vacuum cleaner—will make eyeballs dance but it’s the messaging that is memorable. Woven into the story are clever lessons on toxic friendship, how insecurity can infect a relationship like a virus on the computer and the dangers of obsessing about getting likes on social media posts.
Even better is a scene where Vanellope, while visiting OhMyDisney.com, stumbles into the Disney Princess break room. Here the film makes fun of Disney’s bread-and-butter, the stereotype of the princess. “Do people assume all your problems get solved because a strong man came along?” Fans of the first film know that Vanellope is a reluctant princess, preferring the title president. Her, among her spiritual sisters, she helps them shed some of their stuffy weays and they help her along the way to figuring out her path in life. “I stare at the important water and all of a sudden I start singing about my problems? I don’t think so,” Vanellope says, bursting one of Disney’s most familiar princess tropes.
The princess scene is a highlight in a film that has laughs but isn’t exactly a comedy. It’s more a heartfelt examination of friendship—“It’s not right to hold a friend back from her dreams.”—with some wild cartoon action and satire.
“Ralph Breaks the Internet” is a very specific story about two animated characters that illuminates universal themes from the real world.
Richard and CP24 anchor George Lagogianes have a look at the weekend’s new movies, the new Brad Pitt wartime thriller “Allied,” the new kick-ass Disney princess in “Moana,” the Oscar hopeful “Manchester by the Sea” and the Warren Beatty rom com “Rules Don’t Apply.”