Review: Wreck It Ralph

Directed by: Rich Moore.

Starring: John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman, Jack McBrayer, Jane Lynch, Alan Tudyk, Mindy Kaling, Dennis Haysbert.

Rating:  BBFC-PG Running Time: 108 mins.

In the world of arcade games, when the arcades close for the night, all of the characters come to life and through their extension cords, are able to transfer between the game units that house them. Among the characters is ‘Wreck it’ Ralph (John C Reilly), the villain of a game called Fix it Felix (similar to the classic arcade game Donkey Kong), in which a character named Felix (Jack McBrayer) defeats Ralph and is awarded a medal.

Ralph, discontent with being labeled as the bad guy for the past 30 years, decides that he wants to win the medal for once, and leaves the game, searching through games for a medal and ultimately ending up in racing game (Sugar Rush), where he befriends glitched game character Venelope (Sarah Silverman). Meanwhile, back in his own game, when Ralph doesn’t turn up and his game is marked as out of order, Felix embarks on a mission to bring Ralph back before the game is turned off permanently and all the games characters are lost.

Wreck It Ralph is purely a Disney Studios animation, but it feels like a Pixar animation, thanks to a charming small short that plays before it and I suspect largely due to John Lassiter (director of Toy Story) being involved as a producer of the movie. The animation is as good as anything seen in a Pixar movie, and has been done with an attention to detail for all things gaming related. Lower priority characters from the older games move as you would have seen them move in the older games of the 80’s.

There’s an insane amount of detail that’s been packed into this movie that anyone who has been remotely interested in gaming for the past 20 years will spot something at some point that they will remember from the past. Hardcore gamers will get an absolute kick out of some of these in particular. There’s some subtle references (like a well known controller hack for a certain arcade game that anyone who ever used it will recognise instantly, to some not so subtle and direct references such as characters from well known arcade classics like Street Fighter II, Mortal Kombat, The Super Mario Bros, Sonic the Hedgehog, Pac-Man, Qbert, and many more.

That is one thing that Disney have gotten right in this movie, but thankfully the other main thing that they have focused on is the characters. The character of Wreck It Ralph is a lovable villain, who, due to his nature, is a big lumbering character, who cannot help but to wreck things, even when he’s trying to be a nice guy. The other main character of the movie, Venelope is also a great counterpoint to his character, and quote often the source of several moments of non-gaming humour. The one thing that feels slightly out of place is a sub-plot involving an element from another game that hitches a ride with Ralph into Sugar Rush. It’s something that seems to disappear and then suddenly towards the movie’s end seems to become a great threat to our characters. This leads into another slight niggle about the movie, and that is the running time. This is 108 minutes long when it really didn’t need to be. There is a point in the middle of the movie where the pace slows considerably, and with a little trimming, this could have easily lost 10 minutes to have been a smoother ride.

With regards to 3D, considering it is a CGI animated movie, which are normally the type of movies that 3D works best in, there isn’t anything in particularly memorable or worthy of praise, which is a shame (and that’s coming from a strong supporter of 3D – when done right). It’s unfortunate, as there are moments when great use could have been made of the effect, but it sadly feels more like an afterthought rather than something that was planned.

Don’t let that put you off though, Wreck It Ralph is a fun, entertaining movie that gamers and non-gamers will enjoy, and a movie in which both younger and older audiences will find something to like. It’s not hitting it out of the park like the movie it’s trying to emulate (the already mentioned fantastic Pixar movie Toy Story), but it does a good enough job of it that you’ll be glad you saw it.

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Posted on January 27, 2013, in Reviews and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Good review. Wreck-It Ralph is the kind of blissful creation of family-friendly filmmaking that is too often missing in that market. It’s fun, sweet, nostalgic, and endearing as it shows us what these goofy video-game characters do in their spare-time. Just a fun movie to watch and I would like to know the person that doesn’t enjoy it.

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