logan j. fowler gets wrecked…
Wreck-It Ralph is an animated movie from Walt Disney studios that is chock full of video game references, name dropping classic arcade characters or old school 8 bit bad guys with the greatest of ease. Being a child of the Nintendo era, the film would no doubt lock sights on my own personal geek love of video games and make Wreck-It Ralph an anticipated film. But as the last screen faded to black I realized how much Ralph and company stood on their own even when the nods and references took a break.
The film tells the story of an ape of a man named Ralph (John C. Reilly, perfectly cast), a video game bad guy who needs a change. He’s been destroying buildings and getting tossed into mud each day for years and because of his demolishing nature, nobody likes him. His good guy counterpart, Fix-it Felix (Jack McBrayer) has been the center of attention forever and gets even more love on the 30th anniversary of the game’s debut. Fed up, Ralph decides to change up his act and go be a good guy, trying to find a medal like the one awarded to Felix every time he saves a building. Spending a good chunk of the movie in the Sugar Rush locale, Ralph comes to the aid of a glitch character, Vanellope Von Schweetz (Sarah Silverman, who is way less annoying and more in key of character than one would ever hope) in hopes to get his medal back earned in Hero’s Duty, a Halo/Metroid style first person arcade shooter.
Wreck-It Ralph is being deemed the Who Framed Roger Rabbit of video game movies, but, as my movie company /fellow video game lover Harry pointed out, it does have a Toy Story vibe to it too. When the arcade closes down, how do the sprites and pixels all act? Where do they go? What do they do? The movie even properly animates these characters and objects so when placed in full fledged CGI animated mode they move like 8 bit people or things break like they would in a video game. It’s just so clever in the play out.
The cameos made by video game characters that aren’t originally developed are brief but well thought out, and spotting them walking around Game Central Station (the hub that leads to all games in the arcade) is just a treat. Let it be known not all the nods were shown in the trailer, and there are plenty of surprises left in the movie if you haven’t gone looking for them on the internet already. It would’ve been nice to have seen more of course but what is there totally works and earns a chuckle every time.
When the video game name dropping halts up the Sugar Rush locale plays on the reference factor by showing all different kinds of candy brands used in clever ways. Seriously, Wreck-It Ralph was designed by some very witty folks because it so highly demonstrated throughout the film. The puns, brands, and nods just all work and they are brilliant in execution.
Wreck-It Ralph is not without original content. A movie like this would be expected to fall flat once it has to rely on the core storytelling, but Disney has created a video game character that is not only endearing, but he’s good enough to place alongside the studio’s classic characters. And following the Pixar formula without fail, Ralph’s tale has a lesson to be learned from it and having it be told out captivates you more than enough even without the presence of all the video game inside jokes.
The soundtrack is also supremely catchy, utilizing chiptunes from the old school video game area and creating unique songs for the video games that are more modern, like Sugar Rush and Hero’s Duty. You’ll hear these play over the end credits sequence, a feast for the eyes for the video game fan in everyone. Stay till the very end.
I have nothing but positive marks for Wreck-It Ralph. If anything from it would be placed in the negative category, it would be that some of the jokes fall flat, especially in the Sugar Rush chunk of the movie. Be that as it may, the film doesn’t drag, and it is full of heart. The voice cast is superb, and speaking of which, Jane Lynch is dynamite as a bad ass Hero’s Duty commander, and Alan Tudyk is near unrecognizable as King Candy, the ruler of Sugar Rush. Along with Silverman, McBrayer, and Reilly, I couldn’t praise the voice work more. Just perfect.
Video game movies have had more misses than hits. We really haven’t had a solid film based on anything we’ve had to control ourselves in an alternate entertainment format, except for the cinematic version of Mortal Kombat. But what Wreck-It Ralph has hopefully done has shown that a film based on pixels and sprites can ultimately work and have a wonderful story at its center. For the lover of old school video game properties in me, I knew that Wreck-It Ralph was going to be fun but I couldn’t imagine that it would completely wreck (in a very good way) all my expectations. No doubt about it, Wreck-It Ralph is the best video game movie ever and my favorite animated film of 2012.
I’M GONNA LOVE IT!!
In addition, Disney included a short before Wreck-It Ralph called, Paperman. The brief cartoon is a treat for the eyes and hopefully a contender for an Oscar in “Best Animated Short” Category. I would like to see Wreck-It Ralph get nominated too, but that may just be crazy talk. Whatever. Here’s hoping. Wires crossed.