With huge thanks to Official Nintendo Magazine and Disney Screenings, today me, my Mum and younger brother had a chance to see Disney’s Wreck-It Ralph for free (barring refreshments) at our local Cineworld. To sum it up bluntly before I start picking at every little thing: it was a very enjoyable film. Obviously, due to the amount of hype it has received, individual people may see it differently depending on any preconceptions they had of the film before seeing it. My Mum loved it, my little brother loved it and I thought it did what it did very well and was a really sweet film; I liked it too.
A lot of the PR for this movie was focused a lot on the video game cameos as opposed to the plot, so I might as well give a vague description here: Ralph is a villain of a 30-year old Arcade game called “Fix-It Felix Jr.“, which stars Fix-It Felix Jr. (No. Freakin’. Way!). Ralph starts to get fed up of being the bad guy because it’s lead to him being stigmatised – even though he’s only playing a part (much like Shigeru Miyamoto recently said Mario and Bowser do in the Mario games), outside of the game he’s still feared as a villain. The straw that breaks the camel’s back is when a party is held to celebrate the game’s 30th anniversary…and he’s not invited. He’s left in his brick-pile of a dump home to watch Fix-It Felix. Jr, the residents of Niceland and even Pac-Man partying. He goes over and really hints for an invitation from Felix, who to be fair to him, is really left in a tight spot because while the other towns-folk really ostracise Ralph for being a villain, Felix doesn’t. He compromises and invites him in for a slice of cake, but that causes an argument when Ralph sees that the townspeople have portrayed him as a demonic creature on said cake. During the argument, a wager is made between him and the apartment building’s owner that if he can win a medal from one of the Arcade Games, he will be given the pent house suite. So Ralph decides to “game jump” to Hero’s Duty – a futuristic First-Person-Shooter arcade game. After being left scared by the futuristic graphics, the violence and scariness of the game, Ralph decides to climb to the top of the game’s tower and gets the medal he wanted so much. However, as a result of his clumsiness, he and a Cy-Bug (Hero Duty‘s drone-like enemies) end up being blasted into Sugar Rush, a sweet filled kart racer game. However, said Cy-Bug gets away and lays its eggs inside the Sugar Rush game, creating a crisis that could put every game in the arcade in danger.
Due to the way this game has been advertised, you would think that the majority of the game is video game cameos – it’s not. The support group scene seen in the trailer is pretty much the entire scene. The references are really blatant at the beginning of the film (and the ending credits, which is one of the reasons I sat through all of them. Other than that, the references are rather hidden (like a segment of the Sugar Rush stage being inspired by Rainbow Road from Mario Kart). There were also probably just as many sweet references as video game references (Such as the Mentos-in-Diet Coke eruptions, Nesquik Sand and Oreos being palace guards). After the first part of the film, the references are moved more to the background, which does make it feel more natural to the film’s setting.
I felt that this was a good thing though, as the lack of focus on the cameos let the film tackle its main theme – that no matter what you are, that does not change who you are. This main theme is presented both by Ralph and his role as a game antagonist, as well as Vanellope von Schweez, a girl considered to be a glitch in the Sugar Rush game. Being a kid’s film, the theme did have to be made rather obvious, but thankfully it wasn’t shoved down our throats. Unfortunately though, I do think the story did suffer. In particular, the romantic sub-plot between Felix Jr. and Hero Duty‘s Sergeant Tamora Jean Calhoun was really forced (Heck, I had to use Wikipedia to find Tamora’s name. That’s how important she was to the film xD). However, I can forgive the story lacking much depth because the characters had a lot depth to them – particularly Ralph and Vanellope. The characterisation of even the smaller, yet still important characters was done very well too – I particularly liked how clearly the dilemma Fix-It Felix Jr. had with Ralph wanting to attend the party was shown; he was a sweet, bashful guy who wanted to appease the residents of Niceland, but he also wanted to be kind to Ralph (and also, he might like strict ladies ;). Then we have Vanellope, who is adorably cute, but due to being pushed aside by the characters of Sugar Rush, has developed a potty mouth and a sharp tongue. The dynamic between Ralph and Vanellope was wonderfully done; you could tell that Ralph cared a lot for Vanellope, even if he did find her annoying at times (I think any older brother can agree that they got the surrogate older-sibling feeling perfect here!), which leads to one particularly painful scene to watch when Ralph is tricked into doing something bad to her under the false pretence that it was helping her in the long-run.
I did like how they gave Tamora a really melodramatic back story though; I saw it as a jab at how everyone in more “mature” games needs to have a jaded past (and I loved how ridiculous it was). I will give the film some credit in that I could not predict a single plot twist (and people who know me will know how I love to do that and am often accurate in my predictions). I felt the big twist reveal at the end regarding the villain was unexpected, but I frankly didn’t care much for it – Vanellope’s back story was much more engaging. Speaking of subtle jabs, I think one of my favourites was a joke at how Nintendo are often slow in console battles, with Felix. Jr. saying that “Mario’s late, as usual”.
One thing I will heavily criticise about this film though is the 3D – it was completely unnecessary and added nothing to the movie. The problem with the 3D film boom is that so many films are now having 3D slapped on to try and shift more tickets (at higher costs) when really, the only movie I’ve seen where the 3D was actually used well was Coraline. If you see this movie, you might as well see it in 2D – you don’t miss out on much at all and the tickets will be cheaper.
The film’s animation was a standard CGI flare. However, the attention to detail was really nice (such as the hub stations having graffiti displaying more game references like Aerith Lives! and Leeroy Jenkins!) and the colourful Sugar Rush. During the film, I never found my attention being drawn to the soundtrack (other than AKB48’s Sugar Rush song that I mentioned earlier, because it’s a good song and it’s rare to see a JPop song in an American film. I even ended up buying on iTunes when I got home).
Overall, Wreck-It Ralph is a fun, enjoyable film. I doubt it will be remembered as a cult classic in the years to come, but it certainly is another hit from Disney. Personally, I would give it a 7.5/10. So, in regards to the big question of whether to snog, marry or avoid, I’d say snog. And as Ralph’s bad breath is constantly pointed out in the film, have fun with that =3.
Also, we totally need Vanllope and Sugar Rush to be made available as downloadable content in Sonic & All Stars Racing Transformed. Make it happen SUMO Digital!