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Wreck-It Ralph (A Movie Review)


Wreck-It Ralph

Wreck-It Ralph satisfies the all-too-well known Disney recipe of a protagonist who must discover his inner hero to overcome adversity. Even still, the film charms viewers young and old as it brings generations of video games to life.  With cameo appearances from the pixilated orange Pac Man to the spiky-shelled Bowzer of “Mario Party” and iconic Sonic, the movie it truly credits the characters that established the gaming industry.

Ralph, read by John C. Reilly, is a grizzly video game character whose job is to demolish stuff in the vintage game called “Fix-It-Felix.” Jack McBrayer provides the cheerful voice of Ralph’s nemesis, Felix, who protects the town from Ralph’s destruction and earns a gold medal in return for his good work.

Closing time for the film’s world – an old-school video arcade called Litwak’s Family Fun Center – signifies the end of the work day for the video-game characters. Much like in Toy Story, after lock-up when the humans aren’t looking, the video characters are free to roam their games until morning. For Ralph, this has always meant sitting atop his hill of bricks as he forlornly watches the townspeople praise Felix for his service.

On the night of the game’s 30th anniversary at the arcade, Ralph reasons that he deserves to join in on the celebration – after all, without Ralph, Felix wouldn’t have a purpose. Yet when Ralph comes down the hill and enters the pixilated building where the game characters are partying, he is greeted unfavorably by his fellow gamers, who narrow-mindedly see him as nothing but a villain.

Ralph decides that he no longer wants to be the bad guy. Instead, he abandons his game in search of a medal of his own. He comes across exactly that in the game “Hero’s Duty,” where he finds himself part of an army led by the ardent Sergeant Calhoun. Calhoun is just as bold (and curvaceous) as the woman who reads the part, Jane Lynch, who possesses similar characteristics as her Glee alter ego Sue Sylvester.

After escaping a deadly virus, Ralph finds himself stranded amongst trees made of candy canes in the racing game “Sugar Rush.” His medal is stolen by the deviant little Vanellope von Schweetz (Sarah Silverman), who turns out to be just as lost and misunderstood as Ralph. When secrets emerge, Ralph is faced with a tough decision that could change Vanellope’s fate.

However, it’s a little disappointing that Ralph only “game hopped” to two other games. Although both portrayed different levels of artwork, you’d expect from the previews for Ralph to do more exploring. “Hero’s Duty” resembled many of the new-age war games that employ sharp angles and shading, with blazing graphics during scenes of action. In contrast, “Sugar Rush” had a much simpler composition; it was a colorful land with a cartoon-like composition.

Still the film really embraced the separation of the human and game worlds. At moments viewers would see the games from the perspective of the game players, where Wreck-It Ralph appears as a pixilate instead of the animated film version from within the game.

My favorite moments, in fact, are when the video game characters look out into the arcade, beyond the glass wall that separates them from the gamers. It was very thrilling to feel as though you are inside of the game looking out.

Although the film may not be an instant classic, it is a heart-warming film that delivers a classic message with a slightly new twist. Instead of trying to reinvent oneself, Ralph’s journey demonstrates that self-acceptance can result in a change for the better. Even though the movie involved less adventure than hoped for, the overall emotional journey compensated for the lack of a visual journey.

Kelly Ratka

Copyright ©2012 All rights reserved. Posted: December 6, 2012.

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