Sunday, March 3, 2013

Movie Review: Wreck-It Ralph

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Great characters in a very fun, entertaining story
Cons: It will make you very hungry
The Bottom Line
Entertaining look
At life of video games
Is a sure fire hit

"This Game Just Got Interesting."

When I started seeing previews of Disney's new computer animated movie Wreck-It Ralph, I couldn't wait.  I love classic video games, and this looked like a fun adventure with cameos by some of my "friends" from those games.  So naturally I rushed right out to see it.  And it was everything I hoped it would be.

It is the 30th anniversary of the video game Fix-It Felix, Jr.  But instead of feeling like celebrating, villain Wreck-It Ralph (voiced by John C. Reilly) is feeling down.  Yes, he's the villain who destroys the house that Felix (Jack McBrayer) has to fix, but no one in the game seems to appreciate him.  This is driven home when he realizes the rest of the gang is having a party to celebrate their anniversary without him.

And so Ralph sets out to win a medal and prove he can be a hero, too.  His efforts at game jumping take him first to Hero's Duty, a first person shooter where he meets Calhoun (Jane Lynch), the captain in this game fighting off an alien invasion.  But then he winds up in Sugar Rush, a cart racing game with a sweets theme, where he meets Vanellope (Sarah Silverman).  Will all this game jumping turn him into a hero?  Or will it have devastating consequences for the entire arcade?

I'll admit that even from the previews I had some idea where the movie was going, and I was right.  But that's doesn't mean I had the entire plot figured out.  There were actually some surprises along the way, and I enjoyed that greatly.

Even with a predictable plot, I was pulled into the story.  At first, it was looking for cameos from so many old time games (and let me tell you, Disney must have paid through the nose for the rights to use them).  Then it was the humor.  And believe me, there are plenty of laughs in the film, although I could have done without some of the predictable crude humor.  Fortunately, that is kept to just a few scenes.

But somewhere along the way, the characters really snuck up on me.  When things slow down and get more serious, I truly felt for them.  I truly love all the four leads and even the supporting cast is very endearing.  That makes it so much easier to root for the characters to win even if you have a general idea what's going to happen.  Along the way, we get some organic lessons about being yourself and accepting yourself and those around you for who they are.

It is easy to compare this film to early Pixar, and I would say this film stacks up with the best from that company.  If nothing else, this movie employs Pixar's patented climax-that-does-not-quit.

But there's also the creativity and attention to detail.  The supporting characters in Fix-It Felix, for example, move is jerky motion just like you would expect for an early 80's era video game.  Why Ralph and Felix move more freely is a little beyond me, but every so often they do something that feels like a video game character from that era.  Much of the movie is set inside the Sugar Rush game, and the jokes and details here are so clever and funny I'm sure I missed some of them.

The down side of all the time spent in Sugar Rush is it is sure to leave you hungry for sweets of all kinds.

The animation here is great.  It's not realistic or breath taking, but it perfectly captures what I would expect the world of video games to really look like, and that's more important in this case.

Likewise, the voice cast is perfect.  I can't imagine anyone doing a better job bringing this all to life.

Before the film, there is a short called "Paper Man."  Once again, we get proof that a wonderful story can be told in seven minutes using just animation and music.  And I must not have been the only one who thought so since it won the Oscar for best animated short this year.

Disney has once again captured pure magic with Wreck-It Ralph.  It's a film all ages will enjoy again and again.


  1. Great review Mark. It's a conventional story, but has plenty of heart and fun for it's characters that it's almost too hard to not have a good time with it all.

  2. I think it's the heart that really made it appeal to me.