Movie Review: Wreck-It Ralph

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Plenty of imagination went into the creation of Disney’s latest animated feature Wreck-It Ralph as the world of video games is brought to life in more ways than one. Digital warriors, racing games and winged alien robots exist not only in their own respective games, but as part of an entire community of digital characters. From Q-Bert to Sonic the Hedgehog, familiar game characters travel between their worlds, whether it’s to get a drink at the bar tending game “Tapper” or to just relax in the digital world of Grand Central Station, the appropriately named Game Central serving as the hub that ties the arcade together.

Similar to the classic arcade game, Wreck-It Ralph revolves around a video game called “Fix-It Felix Jr.” in which the game’s title character (voiced by Jack McBrayer) saves an apartment building from the evil Wreck-It Ralph (voiced by John C. Reilly) by repairing the destruction Ralph causes, gathering the residents and throwing him off the roof at the end of each level.

Day after day this goes on. Gamers navigate Felix from one level to the next and Ralph is continually thrown from the roof. Well, Ralph has had enough. He’s tired of being the bad guy, especially since he doesn’t think he’s a bad guy and wants to prove it by earning a medal in one of the other games in the arcade, showing he too can be a hero.

Ralph decided to take action, and decided to leave his game and explore the other game lands which he thought was an easy task, or so he thought. First stop, Hero’s Duty. This video game is a mixture of games such as “Halo” and “Gears of War” and this film is filled with similarly themed games. There he encounters squad leader Sergeant Calhoun (voiced by Jane Lynch). Another stop is “Sugar Rush”, a “Mario Kart” type game where Ralph meets Vanellope Von Schweetz (voiced by Sarah Silverman), a character looked down upon in her game as a “glitch” and someone Ralph quickly becomes friends with.

The action of the story soon revolves around Vanellope’s attempts to win a race in Sugar Rush, which will also earn Ralph his medal. The problem, however, is the rest of Sugar Rush isn’t so keen on the idea of a “glitch” getting in on the race, particularly the overlord of the game, King Candy who looks similar to the Mad Hatter from Disney’s animated classic Alice in Wonderland.

I won’t go into any more than that, because I don’t want to give away any spoilers, but I will say that this movie is definitely family fun and heartfelt. It had me laughing, and even crying at some points. It’s definitely worth seeing in theaters.

The story is strong enough for all to enjoy. Wreck-It Ralph is an all-out original story, and they’ve managed to dress up familiar storytelling tropes in a new way. That kind of focus, the attitude that no line of dialogue is wasted and no visual detail is unimportant, makes Wreck-It Ralph more than another standard cutesy reference-fest with some exciting chases and an eventual upbeat message.

As a Side Note: Wreck-It Ralph screens with a charming seven-minute animated short, “Paperman.” It’s a strange fit with the feature—a magical-realist, black-and-white romantic fantasy that visually evokes old-school Disney cel animation and ’50s cinema. It’s the proof-of-concept piece for a new software suite that blends CGI modeling and hand-drawn art, producing a classic Disney look, but with beautiful depth and shading. It’s a lovely piece visually, and the innovative technique makes it a likely candidate for this year’s Best Animated Short Oscar.