Director: Rich Moore
Starring: John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman, Jack McBrayer, Jane Lynch, Alan Tudyk
Written by: Phil Johnston, Jennifer Lee, (story) Rich Moore and Phil Reardon.
Running Time: 108 mins
Release date: 8th February 2013
It seems mightily appropriate that Walt Disney, who recently acquired LucasFilms and the Star Wars franchise, along with Marvel, should produce an animated adventure based on an 80s video game. It also seems appropriate that it’s possibly the best computer game to movie crossover that has been, showing the likes of Super Mario Bros, Resident Evil and the rest of those terrible films how to do it and do with with aplomb. This manages to do for computer games what Toy Story did for, well, toys!
Wreck-It Ralph is a demolition character in the popular 80s arcade game, Fix-It Felix Jr. His job is to destroy an apartment building while Felix, with his magic golden hammer, fixes it. Ralph, though, wants more from life than just being a bad guy and when he isn’t even invited to a 30th anniversary party, he wants to prove to everyone that he can be good, by getting himself a medal.
Jumping into Games Central, he finds himself in a shoot-’em up game, battling alien bugs but the chance of winning getting a medal leads to disaster when he accidentally transports an alien into another game, a brightly-coloured cart racing game called Sugar Rush. There he meets the annoying Vanellope, a squeaky-voiced glitch who has been banned from ever entering the race. Vanellope could be Ralph’s last hope of being a hero.
The first thing that you notice about this fun, inventive animation is the attention to detail. This has been made by people who genuinely love the arcade games of the past. When we enter Fix-It Felix’s world, the characters, even though are nicely crisp CGI animations, move with jerky actions like a pixelated creation. The colours also play an important part. Sugar Rush looks exactly like that, a candy-coated explosion, as if someone had a paint palate of every possible colour and threw it at the screen. Even under the 30% light loss you get for wearing 3D glasses, it still looks impressive.
The other thing that stands out is how complex the story is considering this is a family orientated film. Layer after layer of story is piled upon the central storyline of a bad guy wanting acceptance. It’s a brave move by the writers and director Rich Moore but luckily for them, it works and works well. It doesn’t talk down to its audience, particularly the younger ones and its still easy to follow.
Throw into the pot some very funny visual and verbal gags, with plenty of references to other video games that we have grown up with. The AA style meeting of bad guys, each sharing their stories of being bad in their own individual games, is a hoot. Following the various characters in Games Central, a kind of massive train station for computer games characters to travel from one to another when the arcade is closed, is both incredibly inventive and a feast for the eyes.
Vocal talents abound, with John C. Reilly perfectly cast as the heavy-handed yet sweet-hearted Ralph, while Jack McBrayer has the right level of niceness for his voicing of Felix. Jane Lynch, whose character Calhoun looks like the actress, is authoritative as an army sergeant should be but the film’s ace is having Sarah Silverman voice the glitch girl, Vanellope. She gets some of the funnier lines and even though there is a level of annoyance, it injects the right amount of fun into the piece. Her relationship with Ralph actually becomes rather touching.
If there was one small criticism, it is slightly too long and in places the pace slows down but this is a minor dud in an otherwise warm, funny and imaginative family comedy that has enough for the kids to like and plenty for the adults, especially those who loved computer games of old.
P.S: Make sure you get there nice and early so you can catch the charming short, Paperman, that supports Wreck-It Ralph. It’s a very sweet little five minute gem.