Saturday, November 10, 2012

Review: Wreck It Ralph

Rick Moore and Disney Animation (not Pixar) have whipped up an interesting concept with Wreck-It Ralph, a computer generated world of video game nostalgia that focus on the under-appreciated villains of the arcade scene.  This film follows in the footsteps of the Pixar concept of making a movie that appeals to both kids and adults.  I went to see this with two kids who are children of the PS3/Wii generation and were glued to their seats throughout, totally enjoying a video game world come to life. I found myself appreciating the movie for a different reason; fond memories of my own childhood, growing up with Nintendo and Atari.

John C. Reilly lends his everyman voice to Wreck-It Ralph, a Donkey Kong style arch enemy of Fix-It Felix, the hero of his own game who ends up fixing all the damage that Ralph causes to an apartment building every time a kid puts the quarter into an arcade machine.  We see Ralph's issues with being the bad guy and never getting any awards or acclaim.  The movie opens with Ralph in a support group for villains including Bowser from Mario Bros., Zangief from Street Fighter and a ghost from Pac Man.  Ralph ends up leaving the confines of the Fix-It Felix world, traveling from game to game in search of a medal that will validate his existence.  In his journey he comes across a gung-ho military leader from a first-person shooter voiced by Jane Lynch, a misfit girl in a candy-themed racing game (Sarah Silverman) and Felix himself, voiced entertainingly by Jack McBrayer (30 Rock).

The animators do a great job of building a believable and immersive video game world complete with 8-bit graphics and numerous nods to the genesis of computer gaming.  Q-Bert himself appears as a lost character in a maze of games that have evolved and left him behind.  I found myself extremely entertained by all the inside references to gaming.  It's clear that the talented computer developers that worked on this film are gamers at heart and bring out their passion in their work.

The only real issue I had with this movie is that it was slow at times in the middle and spent entirely too much attention on the candy-racing world of Sugar Rush.  I would have liked to see other types of games parodied and explored.  Fortunately, Reilly and company have fun with their roles and make the ride worthwhile nevertheless.  With so much to explore in the history of video gaming, it only seems natural that we'll be seeing Wreck-It Ralph 2 sometime in the years to come.  This movie is a visual feast and a must-see for us thirty-somethings that grew up playing Nintendo and Sega.  A solid 4 out of 5 JRs for one of the best animated movies of the year.

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