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Movie Review: ‘Wreck-It Ralph’ (2nd Opinion)

Posted on the 18 January 2013 by House Of Geekery @houseofgeekery

Wreck-it Ralph PosterDirector: Rich Moore

Cast: John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman, Jack McBrayer, Jane Lynch, Alan Tudyk, Mindy Kaling, Ed O’Neil, John DiMaggio

Synopsis: For thirty years ‘Wreck-it’ Ralph has been the bad guy in an arcade game and it’s starting to get to him. Just for once he wants to be the hero and when the other characters in his game reject him he goes in search of another game where he can save the day.

Review: Disney making a movie set inside a video game? That sounds like a cheap way to cash in on a popular trend. In actuality Disney have been trying to get a movie using this concept off the ground for almost as long as there’s been video games. In the 80s it was called High Score, the 90s had Joe Jump and more recently they worked on Reboot Ralph. After decades of trying to tap into the gaming fad not only have they finally settled on a script and got it made (although originally Fix-it Felix Jr was the main character) but they’ve done a damn good job of it.

Part of the reason why things have turned out so well in what, on paper, seems like a cringe-worthy idea is the involvement of first time film director Rich Moore. If that name doesn’t ring a bell he’s the guy who directed your favorite episode of The Simpsons. ‘Cape Feare’, ‘Marge vs the Monorail’, ‘Itchy & Scratchy: The Movie’, ‘A Streetcar Named Marge’, ‘Flaming Moes’, ‘Bart the Murderer’ and the original Kang and Kudos episode ‘Hungry are the Damned’. Also pretty much every Futurama. What we have here is a genius in the field of animated comedy.

wreck-it ralph

Another big selling point is the inclusion of many well known video game characters. Sonic, Ryu and Bowser will be familiar to most but they’ve included many older and lesser known figures like Digdug, Paperboy and Tapper. Even the games that were created for the film – Fix-It Felix Jr, Hero’s Duty and Sugar Rush – accurately reflect real game genres and ring true. This feels less like a production company taking advantage of a popular trend and more like a genuine ode to gaming. It’s clear that the people behind the game are long term gamers.

The first half of the movie is mainly humor based on the cameos and in jokes while establishing the characters and settings, and whilst it’s very cool it’s pretty shallow. Finding mushrooms and Metal Gear Solid exclamation marks in lost and found is funny but it’s in the second half that the movie really gets its groove on. Only after Ralph finds himself in the ‘Sugar Rush’ game and meets Vanellope and King Candy does the movie find it’s heart and villain. Ralph’s search for self is good viewing but it’s when it is combined with Vanellope’s tragic story that Wreck-It Ralph develops a genuine emotional hook. Vanellope’s existence as a programming glitch is surprisingly emotional and becomes the source of the movie’s strongest scenes.

Wreck-It Ralph - Vanellope

Casting is pitch perfect with Reilly, Silverman, McBrayer, Lynch and Tudyk providing brilliant comedic timing and lending plenty of personality to the characters. Many of the recording sessions had the performers in the same room and the dynamic between them really shows. Some of the dialog is ad-libbed and it fleshes the roles out well. Still, there’s something downright odd about McBrayer playing a love interest to Lynch.

Jane Lynch Jake McBrayer

As already stated the movie is a bit uneven in its pacing with some of the main players only appearing late in the second act. Whilst the video game cameos are very well done there are some notable omissions. Some more characters from modern gaming franchises would help illustrate the world a bit more, and it’s surprising that there are no Final Fantasy or Kingdom Hearts characters since Disney already have a stake in the franchise. Otherwise you’re likely to walk out of the cinema with a big smile on your face. Best animated film in the past year.

Rating: EIGHT outta TEN

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