GP Must See Movie: Wreck-It Ralph – 9GPPs
Straight To The Point: Wreck-It Ralph is fun & heart-warming stuff from Disney, and succeeds at being a great film about self-discovery as well as a gamer geek’s cameo wet-dream.
Ralph (John C. Reilly – Step Brothers, Talladega Nights) is bored and lonely. He’s the villain in the old classic game “Fix It Felix Jr” and he doesn’t want to be the bad guy anymore. He’s sick of always being the one that’s left out of the fun, or having to live on a dump instead of an apartment. So much so that he’s even attending a weekly support group with his bad guy buddies. Ralph really wants to be a hero and have friends and join in the party, and decides to go and prove his worth to the other characters of his game.
Ralph finds out he can get a hero medal by taking part in the new game Hero’s Duty (created specially for the movie) which stars Jane Lynch (Glee, 40 Year-Old Virgin) as the hard-nosed commanding officer (typecast just ever so slightly), and in the process of getting his medal gets catapulted into another game – the cutesy kart racer Sugar Rush. Here he meets a friendly, yet mischievous “glitch” called Venellope Von Schweetz (voiced by Sarah Silverman – Bob’s Burgers, Louie).
This is the general synopsis for Disney‘s Wreck-It Ralph – simple, and one that everyone can identify with at some level or other. This is exactly what Disney looks to do when making movies, and they do it oh so well.
However, when creating a movie using characters established in other media like books, comics or videogames, there’s a whole other set of criteria you have to fulfill, and a whole other fanbase you need to appease in order for it to be truly successful. Thankfully director Rich Moore and writer Phil Johnston have managed both with this movie, and they’ve done it incredibly well.
As a quick disclaimer before I continue – there be spoilers abound in the following review, but I will try to keep them to a minimum as much as I can for you lovely readers.
What I worried about before going to see Wreck-It Ralph is how all the different videogame worlds would be interlinked without something being completely cocked-up in the process. This has been achieved by using “Game Central Station” as a hub of how to get from one game to another – scenes set in this area are great fun, as you’ll see characters like Chun-Li from Street Fighter walking around chatting to Princess Peach from the Mario games… not to mention public service announcements from Sonic The Hedgehog & Q*Bert begging because his game was unplugged.
These scenes are some of my favourites – half the time I wanted to try and pause the movie and see how many familiar faces I could spot. It was great to see Ryu & Ken from Street Fighter “clock off” and go to Tapper‘s for a drink. There are so many great little nods to the gaming universe sometimes you forget you are watching a movie.
Everything in the movie helps to add to the videogame atmosphere from the music, down to some of the sweeping camera motions as a kart race starts (the typical sweeping move from the front to the rear just as the start countdown reaches 1). Even the opening Disney “Steamboat Willy” animation before the movie starts is given an 8-bit makeover.
All the voice acting in the movie is great – Reilly does a good job and Lynch although pretty much reprising her role in Glee somewhat, fits into the dynamic really well. Alan Tudyk‘s involvement was a surprise until the credits rolled – he’s practically unrecognisable as King Candy.
The videogame worlds themselves are expansive (Sugar Rush particularly) and the attention-to-detail is amazing. It’s very obvious that the movie creators are massive gamer geeks, and I can happily confirm that everything has been faithfully recreated. Although most of the references are all to the old 8-bit and 16-bit era, it does leave things wide open for more recent game franchises to be used in potential sequels. If I had a wishlist, I’d say involve Samus from Metroid, Crash Bandicoot… and maybe Ezio wandering around Game Central Station?
There are some moments that pull on the heartstrings a little, as expected… but as the characters are genuinely likeable it makes these moments seem all the more genuine and emotional – in fact the last act of the film is quite tense in general.
All-in-all I really loved Wreck-It Ralph – it may be formulaic to a point, but the wealth of game references and cameos as well as some solid action and emotional segments make this a really well-balanced film. For younger viewers I’d hope this will lead to them asking about the older characters, and maybe lead to something of a retro videogame revival.
In my opinion, Wreck-It Ralph is a must watch for movie-lovers and gamer nerds alike. Everyone will have something they love about the movie, and it has a very wide appeal – it may be made for kids, but it’s perfect for big kids too.
On that note, I think I’m going to go and break out my Sega Mega Drive and play some Gouls & Ghosts.
I bet you thought my review was over there, didn’t you? Well – not quite. There was a short animated movie played before Wreck-It Ralph that I felt deserved a mention. It’s a very simple yet moving love story involving paper aeroplanes called Paperman by first-time director John Kahrs.
This started out as an experiment in a new animation technique – it seamlessly blends computer with hand-drawn animation, and gives amazing results as you can see above.
I don’t know about you, but I think Kahrs needs his own full-length feature if it’s going to use this technique… this short is beautiful, and the minimalist black & white aesthetic and beautiful music meshes together perfectly.