Wreck-It Ralph, 2012.
Directed by Rich Moore.
Featuring the voice talents of John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman, Jane Lynch, Mindy Kaling, Alan Tudyk, Jack McBrayer, Joe Lo Truglio, Ed O’Neill and Dennis Haysbert.
A video game character looks to change his image as he tires of being “the bad guy”.
When I saw the trailers for Wreck-It Ralph it seemed fun, but not overwhelmingly ‘funny’, and whilst it isn’t the funniest animated film I’ve seen there are a great number of laughs to be had.
The film follows the title character, Ralph, who is the villain of an 80s arcade game, ‘Fix-It Felix, Jr’. Ralph feels unappreciated in his role as once the arcade closes down for the evening, Felix is championed by the games other characters whilst Ralph is shunned and lives in the garbage heap. After a party is held in Felix’s honour on the game’s anniversary and Ralph isn’t invited, he decides to prove everyone wrong and seeks to change his image and earn a ‘winner’s medal’, which all the heroes of their respective games receive. And so Ralph leaves the ‘Fix-It Felix, Jr’ game and heads off in search of a new life in another game to earn his medal. Which is the start of much chaos – you can die and regenerate in your own game, but die in another game and your code is history.
A lot of the game references and the concept for the film in general is pretty genius – how the characters transport out of their games and to others is a great little touch. Game Central (a play on Grand Central Station) is the main hub where the game characters from all of the arcades games meet and go to visit other worlds and so it is from here that Ralph heads off in to new games to try and win himself that hero’s medal. This is where I think the film misses a big trick, as Ralph only visits two other worlds. I was hoping Ralph would visit a greater number of game worlds – or at the least one more – however with just the two I was left a little disappointed. I was picturing Ralph in a game like Crash Bandicoot which would have been brilliant!
The first game Ralph takes off to is a First Person Shooter called ‘Hero’s Duty’. This is where we are introduced to possibly the film’s best character, Calhoun, who is voiced by the endlessly funny Jane Lynch – her backstory reveal will leave you in stitches. Calhoun is the leader of the Hero’s Duty team and her job is to lead the other characters of the game through it to aid the real life person actually playing the game. I saw Wreck-It Ralph in 3D, which for the majority of the film added absolutely nothing to it, and was a terrible use of 3D. However for the time we spent in this world the 3D was great as certain scenes showed the HUD as the 3D element with the game action in the background, which really did bring something to the film. But that’s what 3D should be used for – games, not films. But I digress.
After a brief stint as a Ranger in Hero’s Duty, Ralph ends up in ‘Sugar Rush’, a racing car game in the vein of Super Mario Kart. It is here that the main portion of the film takes place and we meet the rather sweet, Vanellope, voiced by Sarah Silverman, who is both adorable and heartwarming and a cool character I imagine everyone will be rooting for. But it is also here that the film really slows down in the second act, and it kind of drags its heels. That being said a friendship is struck up between Vanellope and Ralph which gives the film a lot of heart to take the place of any fun game action we were perhaps expecting. There are actually a lot of twists in the film which I didn’t see coming, expecting the narrative and Ralph and Vanellope’s relationship to go one way when they both went another.
There is a good supporting cast in Wreck-It Ralph; Jack McBrayer as Felix is thoroughly enjoyable along with King Candy, and Turbo-Tastic will provide a guaranteed laugh. There are some genuinely good moments, but not enough I feel to cement this as a really great animated film. There is a nice story in there about acceptance and trying to be a good person, but with some of the developments in the final act I’m not sure I feel it hammered those points home enough.
Regardless, Wreck-It-Ralph is entertaining, charming and will put a smile on your face and quite possibly a tear in your eye too.
Flickering Myth Rating: Film ★ ★ / Movie ★ ★ ★ ★