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Wreck-It Ralph [Movie] Review

Posted on November 5, 2012 AT 03:49am

The past year has been pretty eventful for nostalgic gamers. Since last November, we’ve been treated to Halo: Anniversary as well as a handful of Kickstarter projects promising to bring back classic games, such as Leisure Suit Larry, Tex Murphy, Shadowrun, Broken Sword, and more. Let’s not forget also the recent 8-bit styled Retro City Rampage, declaring its love for an entire era of gaming and pop culture. Disney has brought the retro revival to the big screen with Wreck-It Ralph.

The titular Wreck-It Ralph [voiced by John C. Reilly] is the villain from the game Fix-It Felix Jr. [which was, contrary to what Disney's clever advertising may try to tell you, not a real arcade game from the 80's] and he’s grown tired being a bad guy. For nearly thirty years, he’s been wrecking the tallest building in Niceland. The building gets fixed by Felix, and Ralph is summarily tossed off of said building into the mud below by the celebrating Nicelandians. Living in the piles of rubble of the local dump hasn’t done much to help the situation, either. He decides, after attending a support group for bad guys ["just because I'm a bad guy doesn't mean I'm a bad guy"], that he’s fed up and that he wants to be the good guy for once. The process of ‘becoming a hero’ is never an easy one, especially for someone who was never programmed to be one.

He “game jumps” to find his Hero’s Medal, and his (mis-)adventure brings a lot of familiar faces to the screen: Bowser, Sonic the Hedgehog, Q-Bert, Dig Dug, Pong’s Paddles [Appropriately named 'Paddle #1' and 'Paddle #2'], and dozens more. Between the cameos, references, and unique character quirks, it’s obvious that those who put together the film are avid gamers who know their stuff. It goes far beyond flinging nostalgia, working its way to become not just a story about what it is to be a hero, but also one about what it’s like to be on the outside.

Ralph jumps into the game Hero’s Duty, which happily lampoons nearly everything that’s cliché about first person shooters], and briefly joins the anti-Cy-Bug squad headed up by Sergeant Calhoun [vocalized with just the right amount of tough-as-nails snark by Glee's Jane Lynch], who apparently has ‘the most tragic backstory ever‘. After making a mess of their mission, he ends up crashing into the cavity-inducing racing game Sugar Rush. The glitchy, but ever-so-spunky, Vanellope von Schweetz [lent her squeaky cadence by the normally potty-mouthed Sarah Silverman] ends up adding more complications to Ralph’s quest, as well as showing him  isn’t the only one who is having trouble being accepted. An anti-bullying message makes itself pretty clear via the way Ralph and Vanellope are treated by others. It was an unexpected sub-message, though a welcome one.

This movie has scads of humor for both adults and children, making sure that nobody will leave the theater without a few good laughs. It also tugs at the heartstrings by equal measures, but this is coming from a guy who personally identifies with being an outsider, so your mileage my vary. The animation is great, sometimes giving older characters less frames of animation, so to speak. It’s hard to explain, but didn’t fail to make me crack up every time I saw it in motion. Also, the soundtrack is wonderful, showcasing a wide range of video game inspired tunes; simple chiptunes, epic battle themes, and saccharine sweet tunes all suit the game worlds in which they’re heard. [Slight spoiler alert!] I was a touch disappointed by a large amount of the movie taking place in the Sugar Rush world, but the plot as it was laid out might not have worked out as well if Ralph had game jumped too frequently. Regardless of the end result, I feel that the concept of game jumping could’ve been used a little more effectively than it was.[End slightly spoilery thingiebob] With the rich worlds that have been introduced, as well as the ever expanding library of video games that could be released [both in the movie's world and the real one], a sequel could be well at hand. A Hero’s Duty is never done. It’s a big duty. [Insert your own poop joke here]

SUMMARY: There’s something for almost everyone in Wreck-It Ralph. It certainly would help if you’re a fan of older video games, or at least a gamer in general. If you can look beyond the trappings of pop culture and gamer references, there’s a well-told story of how being different is sometimes a good thing. Sure, that particular story has been told thousands of times over, but it’s done so very well here.

  • THE GOOD: A movie the whole family can enjoy. Lots of references to games gone by, as well as some still present. Great animation and soundtrack. Anti-bullying message rings loud and clear.
  • THE BAD: Sticks around a single game world too long when there were so many others that could have been explored.
  • THE UGLY: Cy-Bug guts splattered on the visor of your battle armor. Also, anything Ralph wrecks before Felix can fix it.

SCORE: 9.5

Bryan Todd [aka DieselBT] -- This is where I'm supposed to say something clever about myself. Let's pretend I did, and it conveniently mentions all of my top interests, such as anime, video games, crazy gadgets, electronic music, voice acting, sound editing, and countless other ridiculously fascinating topics. I also like to write stuff about things, which is why I'm here.

...That, and I like your shirt.

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