Disobedience ★★★★★ Ralph Breaks the Internet ★★★★✩ Creed II ★★★✩✩
God gives us the freedom to submit or disobey, the elderly Rav Krushka (Anton Lesser) announces at the beginning of Disobedience (15A). Called home from New York to London when the Rav subsequently dies, prodigal daughter Ronit (Rachel Weisz) receives a chilly welcome from the Orthodox community she left behind some years ago. Her old friends Dovid (Alessandro Nivola) and Esti (Rachel McAdams), now married, grudgingly allow Ronit to stay in their home, and soon old passions come surging to the surface again. Adapted from Naomi Alderman’s novel by Rebecca Lenkiewicz and Sebastián Lelio, with Lelio directing,
Disobedience is a powerful drama of suppressed emotions that centres on the character of Ronit, whose complex relationship with her father — a religious intellectual beloved by the community, but severe in his personal affections — is further complicated not only by her gender (Dovid, we’re told, is the son the Rav never had) but her sexuality. Self-exile was Ronit’s idea of selfpreservation, but such freedoms come at a cost, and particularly for those left behind; in the years since Ronit disappeared to New York, Esti, previously Ronit’s lover, has been condemned to a life of quiet desperation. A nuanced, generous script also incorporates Dovid’s dilemma. Anointed the Rav’s natural successor as the leader of his community, Dovid belatedly discovers the extent of his wife’s betrayal, and must come to terms with his own limitations as a man of wisdom. Playing out against the backdrop of the Orthodox observance of the mourning rites, and set in a nondescript London suburb, Disobedience employs a muted palette of colours to convey the low-key, discreet but intense struggle that evolves between the leading trio, with Weisz, McAdams and Nivola all quietly brilliant. Ralph Breaks the Internet (G), the sequel to Wreck-It Ralph (2012), opens with the wellmeaning but clumsy computer game character Ralph (voiced by John C Reilly) accidentally sabotaging the arcade game of his best friend, Venelope (Sarah Silverman). Taking advantage of the arcade’s new wi-fi to escape into the internet in search of the game’s missing part, Ralph — as the title suggests — wreaks havoc in the online world. Directed by Wreck-It Ralph writer Phil Johnston and its writer-director Rich Moore, Ralph Breaks the Internet is a bright, bouncy and effervescent tale, and particularly when Venelope, a racing car driver,
stumbles into the vicious online world of Slaughter Race, where the stakes are considerably higher than in the candy-coloured world of her predictable arcade game — all of which causes the over-protective Ralph to freak out, and start scheming on how best to lure Venelope back to the boring but safe environs of their arcade. The subtext, of course, revolves around how much, or little, freedom is necessary for a child’s development; can Ralph learn to trust Venelope to be mature enough to live in her strange new world? The first half of the movie roars past in a blur of vibrant colours and speeding cars, but the middle section gets a little bogged down with poking fun at, whilst simultaneously plugging the bejasus out of, a host of the internet’s retail giants. That said, the scene in which Venelope encounters a horde of Disney princesses while they relax behind the scenes of a meet-and-greet is probably the funniest thing in a movie that doesn’t quite hit the heights of the original, but nevertheless delivers plenty of laughs and an emotional finale.
Creed II (12A) takes up where Creed (2015) left off, with Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone) finally coaching young boxer Adonis ‘Donny’ Creed (Michael B Jordan) to the world title. Donny doesn’t get much time to rest on his laurels, however: the contender who emerges from the Ukraine, Viktor Drago (Florian Munteanu), is the son of Ivan Drago (Dolph Lundgren), the man who killed Donny’s father Apollo in the ring. Written by Juel Taylor and Sylvester Stallone, with Stephen Caple Jr directing, Creed
II isn’t exactly a remake of Rocky IV, when Rocky faced off against Ivan Drago, although it’s not significantly different either — indeed, Rocky makes a point of coaching Donny to fight the physically superior Viktor Drago in the same way as Rocky himself adapted his own style to take on Viktor’s father. But while the boxing aspects of the story play out much as expected, Creed II is strong on Donny’s personal life: newly engaged to Bianca (Tessa Thompson), who is expecting their child, Donny must contemplate the possibility of dying in the ring like his father, just when he has finally discovered he was so much to live for. Stylishly produced, and more understated than you might expect a boxing flick to be, Creed II is perhaps most notable for the ongoing maturing of Sylvester Stallone into a wonderfully idiosyncratic character actor, who invests every scene with a ramshackle charm.