Review: ‘Wreck-It Ralph’
With it’s well-advertised video game character cameos, Wreck-It Ralph has mainly gained its popularity among life-long gamers like myself, but don’t think that it makes the mistake of relying on retro gaming in-jokes to get through its running time. It’s a good movie that certainly lives up to its Disney heritage, and while it never quite becomes the Toy Story of video games, it’s destined to be a cult hit among the gaming community.
Wreck-It Ralph takes place in a world where arcade cabinets are actually miniworlds all on their own. The various characters act out the porgrams and go along with the controls as players pump in quarters and manipulate joysticks. At the end of the day, the characters convene in a power strip that connects all of the games. It all makes more sense when you see it in action.
The titular character is the villain in an old but popular arcade machine called Fix it Felix. Fans of Donkey Kong will recognize similar elements of it. After having had to play the villain for 30 years, Ralph is tired of his lot in life.
Sure, he’s only supposed to be a villain in the game. But everyone else seems to treat him that way. One day, he finally gets fed up and “goes turbo”. That is, he escapes from his game and tromps through a few others, all in search of a metal that he can parade around for his own sake for once. His absence throws his game (and eventually, many others) into chaos and danger.
Ralph‘s travels take him through other acrade games called Hero’s Duty and Sugar Rush. The former is a Halo-esque space shooter and the latter is a candy-coated kart racer. InSugar Rush he meets Vanellope von Schweetz (Sarah Silverman), an adorable but surly 9-year-old glitch. Her status as a coding mistake turns her into a practical leper to the other programs, but all she wants to do is race with the others. From Hero’s Duty isSergeant Tamora Jean Calhoun (Jane Lynch), a female commando who is forced to clean up after Ralph‘s mistakes. I could describe more of the plot, but doing so would mostly just ruin the fun of discovery, because one thing that really makes this movie work is how creatively the story makes use of it’s subject matter.
Vanellope is a prime example. Her plight takes a familiar concept to anyone who has dealt with electronics (glitches) and puts it an entirely different context, turning into an unfortunate condition that society despises and one person has to learn to deal with. Yeah, that probably sounds a little melodramatic for the material, but it shows just how far the filmmakers were able to push the concept, creating one of the strongest characters to come along in animated history.
Everything is helped by the voice acting, which is completely steller across the board. John C. Reilly plays the perfect loveable oaf as Ralph. Sarah Silverman brings the perfect amound of cheekiness that her toddler role requires. Jack McBrayer brings the same kind of hilarious earnestness to Felix that he has in 30 Rock, and Jane Lynch is perfectly cast as the hard-boiled sergeant.
The film really has only one (small) issue, and that is the use of the setting. While all of the areas are interesting, most of the film actually takes place in Sugar Rush, a candyland-esque area. While it’s interesting at first, particularly how they implement the candy into a practical world, it gets old kind of fast. I would have preferred that we had gotten the chance to do more exploring in the world. There’s always sequels, though, isn’t there?
Wreck-It Ralph is another home run that proves Disney still has it when Pixar isn’t involved. It’s a must-see for the gamers out there, but everyone else should strongly consider it.
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