Review: Wreck-It Ralph
PLOT: For thirty years, Wreck-It Ralph (John C. Reilly)has been one of the most popular video game villains in the arcade. Thing is- the sensitive Ralph is tired of being taken for granted by the game's hero- Fix-It Felix (Jack McBrayer) and yearns for the day he can be considered a hero in his own right. As so- Ralph goes “turbo”- quitting his own game, and wandering into the other- more dangerous, games in the arcade.
REVIEW: WRECK-IT RALPH was a film that alternately delighted me, and drove me absolutely bonkers. For the first forty minutes or so, I thought I was watching a truly great CG-animated film, which perfectly married the retro appeal of the video games many of us grew-up with, to a modern big-budget Disney movie that's wildly entertaining even if you never played a video game in your life. But- about half-way through, WRECK-IT RALPH settles into the old Disney formula and never bounces back, although even at it's worst, it's still pretty good.
Of course, most of the ads are playing up the retro video game vibe, and if you hit the arcades in the eighties, and played your share of Nintendo and Sega Genesis as a kid, you'll see many of your old favorites pop up. The premise of WRECK-IT RALPH involves the arcade being some kind of video game society, where characters from each game are free to wander from one game to another through a mainframe, although the catch is, if they get killed outside their game they die for real. Also- if they fail to show up for work, the arcade owners will assume the game is on the fritz, and you run the risk of being unplugged, leaving you homeless (as poor Q*bert finds out). Disney somehow got the rights to show many video game classics, ranging from SONIC THE HEDGEHOG, to the cast of STREET FIGHTER 2 (watch out for Ryu hitting the bottle hard at the resident bar- which, of course, is TAPPERS). The bad-a-non scene, featuring a sensitive Zagnief, Bowser from SUPER MARIO (Mario is MIA), and the ghost from PAC-MAN is probably an instant classic, and for a while I honestly thought I was watching the WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT of the gamer generation.
Too bad that once the actual plot kicks in, with Ralph spending a chunk of time in a CALL OF DUTY style game called “Hero's Duty” before high-tailing it to the girly race game “Sugar-Rush”, the film gets to be a little ho-hum. Eventually, Fix-It Felix has to go find Ralph, and he teams with the Hero's Duty heroine- Sergeant Calhoun (Jane Lynch) to find Ralph, who may have brought a game-devouring bug into Sugar-Rush.
From this point on, most of the film revolves around Ralph's relationship with that game's glitch, Vanellope, a bratty little girl voiced by an often grating Sarah Silverman, who wants to be a racer. This follows the Disney formula to a “T”, with the typical “being yourself is what counts” storyline, ditching the edgier humour of the first half. Still, even here WRECK-IT RALPH is pretty decent. O'Reilly's voicework, not to mention Jack McBrayer and the fabulous Jane Lynch are dead-on. Especially good is Alan Tudyk as the Sugar-Rush ruler, King Candy, played in a lisping- Charles Nelson Reilly-style that might annoy some, but that I found really funny.
Additionally, the CG-animation is terrific, jumping back and forth from the 8-bit land of WRECK-IT RALPH (right down to their jerky movements), to the slick HD graphics of Hero's Duty (Fix-It Felix even hits on Calhoun by admiring her HD display), and the candy-coated world of Sugar-Rush. Each game has it's own distinct style, and is complemented nicely by the terrific score by Henry Jackman.
So- while it's a letdown, mostly due to the fact that the first half sets the bar so damn high, WRECK-IT RALPH is still a far above-average piece of animated fun. It can't be denied that it falls short of classic status, but at times it comes pretty close, which is something that shouldn't be shrugged-off.
|Extra Tidbit:||A nifty little animated short, PAPER MAN, is attached to the movie.|