Saturday, November 3, 2012

Wreck-It Ralph (2012) Review

Disney's Wreck-It Ralph poster
Director: Rich Moore
Stars: John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman, Jack McBrayer, Jane Lynch
Genre: Animation, Children's

I went to the theatre on the day that Wreck-It Ralph and The Man With the Iron Fists came out. I only had enough money for one ticket but I was still undecided which one I would see. I ended up going with Wreck-It Ralph. Why? I don't know. Maybe because it was the closer showtime. Maybe though, just maybe, it's because I subconsciously knew I'd absolutely love it.

I was skeptical of this film at first. Would it portray the gaming culture in a true way? Would it be just a lame film trying too hard to appeal to gamers? Will it be a mere reference fest and will all the third party video game characters from popular games sell the tickets rather than a well-done movie?

I'm happy to say that Wreck-It Ralph went above and beyond my expectations. 

The plot follows Ralph, the main enemy in the video game Fix-It Felix, Jr. But Ralph really isn't a bad guy, he proves to be caring and likable. But yet he is still shunned by the other characters of his video game's world while they all focus their attention and praise towards Fix-It Felix, Jr., the hero of the game. Ralph decides that he wants to be praised for a change, and thinks winning a medal will help him achieve that. But it's not so easy for a bad guy to win a medal so Ralph has to 'game jump' to different video games in the arcade and try his luck at winning one. Throughout his adventures Ralph meets a sweet little girl, voiced by Sarah Silverman, who is a glitch in her game. Ralph forms a bond with this little girl and must help her to become accepted, just as Ralph is trying to become accepted.

For a children's movie it's surprisingly a bit troublesome to explain the plot. It's not hard to follow though, which is obviously good, being that it's directed at kids.

The plot isn't anything surprising really. It's typical Disney plot, but it's charming and adventurous enough to hold anyone's interest.

Wreck-It Ralph and Fix-it Felix

Though it's still a highly enjoyable film for non-gamers, it is especially rewarding for those who are. Just as the funnest part of watching The Cabin in the Woods for horror fans is noticing all the references, the same goes for Wreck-It Ralph and gamers. There are tons of nods and references and even mockeries to video games of all generations. It's tons of fun just watching the background to catch glimpses of your favorite video game characters. 

None of the real-life video game characters play a large role, which is good, they all just make brief, yet memorable cameos. You have Sonic the Hedgehog, Doctor Eggman, Q*bert, Bowser, numerous Street Fighter characters, Mortal Kombat characters, Pac-Man, Dig Dug, and tons of others. There's nods to Gears of War, Call of Duty, and countless others. I'm tempted to, when the DVD comes out, to watch it over and over again and compile a massive list of all the cameos, references, nods, and easter eggs within Wreck-It Ralph. And perhaps I will.

Wreck-It Ralph and video game cameos

It will appeal to new school gamers but I think it will be especially enjoyable and nostalgic for those who grew up in the '80s and '90s with Nintendo and Sega consoles and Arcade Rooms. There's plenty of arcade cabinets in Wreck-It Ralph that any kid who has spent their share of coins at the arcade will recognize.

But Wreck-It Ralph isn't just a film that relies on references, nostalgia, and clever cameos. No, it also has a lot of other things going for it. 

8-bit Wreck-It Ralph game

All of the film's original characters are awesome. Many films and shows tend to have trouble creating cool and believable fictional games within something that itself is fictional. This film manages to have awesome characters, all of which seem to be inspired by real life characters. Perhaps most importantly they're all likable and easy to sympathize with. Who hasn't dealt with being outcasted and ignored? especially if you're a gamer. So the characters and their situations are easily relatable and portrayed believably. 

The characters are complimented by a great cast of voices. John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman, Jack McBrayer, Jane Lynch, and more all lend their talents wonderfully.

The animation is what you'd expect from a Disney film. I've always preferred 2D animation but there's really nothing bad I can say about the computer animation here. It looks very nice.

Sarah SIlverman as Venellope in Wreck-It Ralph

As you can imagine it's a film filled with adventure. How could a film about video games not be? The film seems to follow common video game rules and the story kind of progresses as if it were going from level to level. You have Ralph in his world; you have the dark, science fiction first person shooter world where there are plenty of giant bugs to be slaughtered; you have the bright and colorful Mario Kart esque racing world. It would have been nice to see a few more settings but it satisfied.

A Gears of War type fps part in Wreck-It Ralph, Hero's Duty

Is Wreck-It Ralph to video games as Who Framed Roger Rabbit is to cartoons? Is it Toy Story for gamers? Is it The Cabin in the Woods with video games references? In a way, yes. Not to generalize Wreck-It Ralph, because it truly is a film that stands on its own, but it's hard to avoid comparison.

An enjoyable film for old-school gamers, new-school gamers, casual gamers, and even for people who never played a video game in their life. A film worth watching no matter your age. I don't say this about many films, but I hope to see some sequels to this. The possibilities are endless and even I myself have ideas on what future Wreck-It Ralph films could do. A franchise I'd love to see more of. 

Q*bert characters in Wreck-It Ralph

I think that Wreck-It Ralph is the greatest gamer movie hitherto. A must see for gamers and recommended for everybody. 

4/5 stars

Purchase Wreck-It Ralph on Amazon: Blu-Ray - DVD
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