Wreck-It Ralph Review
Retry Quit is super excited to be bringing you our first ever film review. In an effort to branch out into new, more nerdy exploits, we’re proud to get the ball rolling with a review of the video game-inspired Wreck-It Ralph!
You always have to err on the side of caution when a movie studio tries to do its own take on a video game. Rightfully so of course; look what happened with Tomb Raider, Resident Evil, Super Mario Bros et al. The Uncharted film has barely started filming and already gamers are nervous. We have every right to be disillusioned by the kind of offerings big studios serve to us gamers.
Which is why Wreck-It Ralph is such a refreshing change. The reason the film succeeds where others failed is because Wreck-It Ralph isn’t based on any known video game franchises. In this way, the writers had a clean slate upon which to create this game world and similarly not tread on gamers’ toes for toying with a much-loved character. With additional licensing rights from (mainly) Sega and (to a lesser extent) Nintendo, among a couple of other smaller studios, it’s enough to give the film a little extra burst of life and charm.
The Sega and Nintendo franchises (like Street Fighter, Sonic and Mario) are handled with care, most likely due to a fair amount of over-seeing by the two companies to ensure that Disney didn’t FUCK SHIT UP. As a result, gamers are given quite a treat in the way of video game references, both subtle and not so much (I nearly wet my pants from excitement when King Candy enters the Sugar Rush mainframe… I won’t spoil it, but it’s worth seeing for that moment alone!). The end result is that as the story plays on, you get to see some really funny allusions that justify the cost of your movie ticket.
But then we get to the story. Ralph is the villain in his arcade game, Fix it Felix Jnr. As the 30th anniversary of his game approaches, Ralph falls victim to an identity crisis as he no longer wants to lead the life of a bad guy. To that end, he leaves his game world in search of a hero’s medal to prove that he has what it takes to be a good guy. In doing so however, he puts the entire gaming arcade at risk as he ventures into the go-karting land of Sugar Rush to find himself.
The story is the film’s major drawback. Whilst mildly entertaining, there are moments when the plights of the three main protagonists don’t appear to be going anywhere. Ralph is trying to become a hero while Felix Jnr is on the search to find him, meanwhile the glitched character Vanellope from Sugar Rush wants to win a race? For much of the film, the focus is on the latter which overshadows Ralph’s motivation to become a hero and Felix’ retrieval of Ralph, which isn’t given the tension it needs to drive the plot fast enough. The lack of a proper pacing for most of the film has you questioning in what direction the film is headed, and then like in all Disney films, it’s all tied up far too perfectly, leaving a bad taste in your mouth as you leave the cinema (ironic really given how much of the movie takes place in a delicious, candy-themed world).
Which brings me to the most important point. The story is obviously targeted at children, but most of the video game references will fly completely over the hoodlums’ heads. While the argument could be made that the references are for mum and dad who have to sit through the film’s 93 minutes, I can’t say I agree with that notion. People between the age of 22 and 30 are likely to get the most out of the film’s references but are equally as likely to find the story frustrating and childish. The parallel between Ralph’s identity crisis and the film’s target audience crisis was probably unintentional.
To Disney’s credit however, the animation and special effects are unsurprisingly beautiful and to the highest quality. Vibrant colours decorate the film’s best moments while there’s no shortage of bloom lighting for those darker moments where the 16 bit arcade machines are brought to life. It truly is a treat for your eyes, even while you gag when Ralph and Vanellope first meet.
Similarly, the voice acting of John Reilly as Ralph and Jane Lynch as Calhoun are stellar, but the incessant screeching of Sarah Silverman’s Vanellope von Schweetz is enough to make your ears bleed. I was also confused with the casting of Felix Jnr voiced by Jack McBrayer, most famous for his character Kenneth in 30 Rock. I get that they were going for the ignorant/innocent vibe with his character but I found his southern accent particularly off-putting.
For what it is though, Wreck-It Ralph is quite enjoyable and it won’t seem like an hour and a half gone to waste. If you can stand to sit amongst crowds of children and teens (maybe find a late showing), I highly recommend you go and see this charming film.
- Plenty of awesome video game references
- High quality graphics
- Voice acting (for the most part)
- Story makes little sense
- Pacing is all wrong
- A cinema full of sugar high children
Have you seen it? What were your thoughts? Tell us your favourite references in the comments or on Facebook!
Studio: Walt Disney Animation Studio
Distributor: Walt Disney Pictures
Director: Rich Moore
Cast: John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman, Jack McBrayer, Jane Lynch