Wreck-It Ralph (Cert PG)
1 Disc (Distributor: Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment) Running Time: 101 minutes approx.
When the lights go at night time at Litwak’s Fun Centre the characters of the arcade games exist in their own world called Games Central. It is here that the villain of Fix It Felix Wreck-It Ralph, a brutish mountain of a man, tires of being the bad guy and having to live alone as per his anti-social character. When he learns that he hasn’t been invited to an thirtieth anniversary party held by his good guy nemesis Felix, Ralph gatecrashes the gathering and when, taunted by the other characters, vows to win a hero medal and prove he is a good guy. To do so he illegally enters another game, Hero’s Duty, and accidentally releases a dangerous Cy-Bug into the Sugar Rush racing game. While the Cy-Bug runs riot here, Ralph meets Vanellope von Sweetz, a young glitch who like Ralph, is treated as a pariah by her fellow characters. The pair team up in order for Vanellope to win the big cart race, but the villainous King Candy has other plans.
Since the falling out with Pixar, Disney has been keen to show that they can still hang with the current CGI crowd and after a few comparative misses they did this with 2010’s Tangled. And now they solidify this comeback of sorts with this affectionate tribute to along lasting pastime and cultural rite of passage for many a generation – video games! Serving two masters, Wreck-It Ralph appeals to the fun and colourful humour of the modern CGI weaned game player and film viewer while taking us oldies for a little trip down memory lane to our misspent youths in front of 8-bit games consoles and giant clunky old arcade games, with a typically moral but not too saccharine story to hold things together.
The story is about staying true to yourself and making the best out of your lot in life. Not that one shouldn’t aspire to greater things, but sometimes it’s best to stick what you are good at and use what you have to live a fulfilling life. It seems like an odd message to impart to a younger audience but it is spread across to both Ralph and Vanellope so both are valid. For Ralph it is not so much that he is a “bad guy”, it’s just that he is what he is and this is not making him happy. At the anniversary party to which he was not invited, the other characters openly mock him and tell him to know his place when he says he wants to be a good guy. Thus the challenge is set: gain a hero’s medal and you’ll be accepted into the fold. Unfortunately Ralph isn’t prepared for the modern video game and his time in Hero’s Duty is calamitous to say the least.
In the colourful, sweet festooned candy land of Sugar Rush, the mischievous and bratty Vanellope steals Ralph’s medal to use as the entrance fee for the big Candy Land race but as a glitch she is denied her entrance. Aside from the constant teasing from the other regular characters of the game, it seems that King Candy has a hidden agenda up his sleeve in prohibiting Vanellope from racing. Meanwhile Fix It Felix is on the verge of being shut down without Ralph, so Felix enters Sugar Rush to find Ralph, accompanied by Sergeant Jean Calhoun, the tough commander from Hero’s Duty, who is hunting down the Cy-Bug before it infects the entire games world.
Of course the main draw for a large proportion of the audience would the games references of which there are plenty, including guest appearances from may an iconic game character including Pac-Man, Ryu, Ken and Zangiev from Street Fighter II, Mushroom and Bowser from Super Mario and many others that will be more familiar to hardened gamers (which I am not obviously) – largely Americans one I presume. They are all rendered in 3D outside of their games but in their natural habitat the images are lovingly recreated to the finest degree of accuracy and will strike a happy chord with older viewers. For the younger ones watching it will be the manic chases sequences and comedic set piece that will delight them, rich with the energy and spectacle that we have comes to know from modern CG animation.
While the idea of taking regular inanimate and intangible objects and creating a whole new living world for them is a tried and tested recipe for success for Disney (and Pixar), it doesn’t feel like lazy writing and a plan to capitalise on a winning formula. Instead it offers a welcome chance for us to explore a wonderfully realised and fancifully escapist world that feels delightfully plausible within the context of the story, packed full of in jokes and cute gamer references with a cast of hundreds. Away from their individual game settings, all characters are rendered in CG yet the interaction between old school game heroes and their modern counterparts plays up to the generational differences of both worlds to amusing effect. Ralph’s panicked cry of “When did video games get so violent?” while stuck in Hero’s Duty will no doubt act as a double edged reference for some parents watching.
The best thing about Wreck-It Ralph is that one doesn’t need to be an aficionado of video games to enjoy this film, it works perfectly well as a slice of animated family entertainment. Included on this Blu-ray is a delightfully charming short called Paperman which also warrants a watch. Enjoy.
English, English For Hearing Impaired, Spanish, Portuguese Subtitles
Spanish, Portuguese Language
Short Film: Paperman
Bit By Bit: Creating the Worlds of Wreck-It Ralph
Alternate & Deleted Scenes
Video Game Commercials
Rating – ****
Man In Black