“Video game movies are never good.”
This is the tired mantra that is recited time and time again when a movie release is on the horizon that is steeped in the video game universe. Is this phrase usually true? Unfortunately, not many offerings in the past few years have proved otherwise. Enter Disney and their play on virtual worlds we’ve come to enjoy. Wreck-It Ralph seems to have been carefully crafted to not disappoint gamers. Its roster sports beloved retro characters such as Sonic, Zangief, and hatchet wielding zombies. The worlds presented in the film are influenced by the time periods of their arcade cabinets. Characters even move in a way authentic to their 2D or 3D counterparts. The big question that comes from all this though: “Is the plot any good?”
Wreck-It Ralph opens with a rather common premise. We learn that Ralph is the town outcast and has the mundane task of playing “the bad guy” every day of his life. The only way for Ralph to improve his status in the community (and his place of residence which is currently the dump) is to be awarded a medal for heroic efforts. While the rags to riches model isn’t groundbreaking per se, the movie eventually starts to tread new path and we are presented with a Disney story that is quite different from the past.
Character development is what sells Wreck-It Ralph’s plot so well. John C. Reilly’s Ralph is far from an oaf or typical strongman. He is a rather endearing character whose talent for “destruction” turns out to be surprisingly healing and heroic. In-game nemesis, Fix-It Felix (Jack McBrayer) seems like your typical goody two shoes but actually has his own set of moral dilemmas to deal with. Felix offers us plenty of charming moments like the predicament of not being able to bust out of a jail cell due to having a hammer that solely fixes. The Halo-esque troop captain Calhoun (Jane Lynch), has plenty of cliché one-liners but you cannot help but giggle at her wedding night tragedy backstory. Sarah Silverman’s Vanellope also deserves recognition for being a jet black haired menace that comes off as adorable as opposed to annoying.
The environments in the film are utterly breathtaking. I find the fact that a power strip is a network of subway tunnels so clever and I loved all the little Easter eggs in the station itself (such as the PSAs being delivered by Sonic the Hedgehog). Sugar Rush is definitely in the forefront of best locales in the movie. No moment is wasted for creatively incorporating candy in treacherous scenarios such as “Nesquik Sand,” “Laffy Taffy vines,” or candy cane trees with trick branches. My only disappointment was that the filmmakers did not squeeze in a few more worlds for Ralph to explore but I guess those are being reserved for potential sequels.
Not every part of the film is coated in sugary goodness though. There are a few lulls in the movie that are mainly a result of scenes with weaker dialogue. A certain escape from doom for Fix-It Felix left me unsettled as it involved Calhoun pummeling him violently to achieve “comedy gold.” Many moments felt wasted due to Disney not capitalizing enough on the wealth of talent Lynch brings to the table. Thankfully, the movie sports so many lives that it never reaches the dreaded GAME OVER screen.
Wreck-It Ralph is a film that will leave longtime thumb jockeys and those just bit by the gaming bug very pleased. Children will enjoy the slapstick moments and parents will laugh at the references to the games of their childhood. Definitely snag the DVD or pop it into your instant movie queue the next time you have a family movie night.
HOLD ON JUST A MINUTE!
We enjoyed Wreck-It Ralph so much that we are participating in giveaway that will reward one lucky reader with a Blu-Ray copy of their very own. Choose the entry methods that you like for a chance to win it. Good luck everyone!