Film Review: Wreck-It Ralph

This column was originally published in the Central Western Daily on Tuesday 18th December 2012.

Aficionados of old school video games have plenty of reasons to hit the cinema this holiday season. Disney’s latest animated feature Wreck-It Ralph takes place inside a traditional video game arcade. Borrowing from the Toy Story trilogy, the film sees the characters of said games come to life when the arcade closes. Linked together by an intricate public transport system (the power supply), the characters interact and mingle inside a central station (a power board).

Ralph is the villain of the video game Fix-It Felix Jnr, a thinly-veiled Donkey Kong clone. Outside business hours, Ralph attends a support group for video game bad guys. Unable to accept his fate, Ralph wants to be become a hero and sets off to make his dreams come true; however, his actions soon threaten the very existence of the video games and their inhabitants.

During the support group scenes, gamers will geek out to cameos from many beloved video game franchise antagonists including Clyde the ghost from Pac-Man, Doctor Robotnik from Sonic the Hedgehog, Kano from Mortal Kombat, Zangief from Street Fighter and Bowser from Super Mario Bros.

From the opening image of the Disney logo rendered in 8 bit, veteran animation director Rich Moore (The Simpsons, Futurama) keeps the in-jokes coming for anyone old enough to remember when arcade games cost 20c, as well as ensuring there is an abundance of slapstick humour for the kiddies.

Like almost every animated feature nowadays, the voice talent for Wreck-It Ralph features several big name actors from the realms of television and film. John C. Reilly lends his dulcet tones (and likeness) to the titular character alongside comedian Sarah Silverman as the precocious kart driver Vanellope, 30 Rock’s Jack McBrayer as Ralph’s nemesis (and Mario clone) Felix and Glee’s Jane Lynch as a battle hardened Halo-ish soldier. Reilly and Silverman are perfectly cast, however, McBrayer and Lynch oddly channel their TV alter egos Kenneth Parcell and Sue Sylvester, respectively. I would have preferred that they try something different.

The visuals are spot-on. The game play of several iconic video games is lovingly recreated when we see them from a player’s perspective, and are beautifully rendered into detailed 3D environments when we enter the “real world” inside the games. The 3D (apparently compulsory for every animated feature nowadays) is fine but certainly not vital to your enjoyment of the film.

Don’t be late for your screening. Wreck-It Ralph is accompanied by Paperman, an excellent romantic animated short in black and white.

Wreck-It Ralph is great fun and easily my favourite animated feature of the year. I have a feeling that it may underperform at the box office this holiday season as it faces stiff competition from hobbits and warbling revolutionaries. Take a child and you’ll both love it for different reasons. Highly recommended.

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Published in: on December 25, 2012 at 08:25  Leave a Comment  
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