Wreck-It Ralph: A Movie Review

by Zack Kaplan - November 12, 2012, 4:12 pm PST
Total comments: 9

In no need of fixing.

What comes to mind when you think of video game movies? Poor writing, cheesy action scenes, and an all-around terrible experience? Maybe, but this stigma doesn’t apply to Wreck-it Ralph, the best animated movie you will see this year.

Set in an arcade, the story centers on gaming villain Wreck-It Ralph, who works in a fictional arcade game, Fix-It Felix Jr. His job as the bad guy involves him destroying an apartment building only to be foiled by Fix-it Felix Jr., the Mario to Ralph’s Donkey Kong. Every time Felix makes it to the top of the building he wins a medal, while Ralph get thrown into a pool of mud.

Though Ralph wants to be liked, he must continue on in his sad fate of wrecking a building. Following Toy Story rules, Ralph must be a villain as Woody must be a toy. On the thirtieth anniversary of the game, a celebration is held in the apartment building. Ralph, of course, is not invited. The citizens of the building, the Nicelanders, are anything but, and treat Ralph like a monster. Felix has empathy for Ralph and lets him in to the penthouse to eat cake, only to be chastised by the Nicelanders.

When Ralph tries to change the cake to make it him on the top with the medal, he is rejected by the Nicelanders. They say he can never have a medal—only heroes get medals. This sets him on his journey to win a medal in FPS game, Hero’s Duty. From there he ends up in Mario Kart-like Sugar Rush where he meets the little girl Vanellope von Schweetz, who is a cast out for being a glitch.

Its setting of different video game worlds gives the movie opportunities to make many references to real games. My personal favorite is when Ralph looks through a lost and found box and finds a Metal Gear-esque exclamation point. Each reference comes across as a pleasant homage with appearances from iconic characters and references to obscure games, odds are something you like is referenced.

However, the movie doesn’t coast on its references, instead relying on strong characterization and witty writing. Many of its best moments are non-specific references to classic gaming staples like glitches and unfinished hidden areas, but you shouldn’t be worried about seeing this movie with a non-gaming friend, spouse, parent etc.

The otherwise exceptional movie has some hang-ups. The world the movie spends the most time in, Sugar Rush, has a strong candy focus, and as pleasant as that setting can be, I would have rather seen one or two more to represent other genres of games. Some of the humor also felt a little too immature.

As a Disney fan, I applaud this movie for continuing the resurgence of their digital animation efforts outside Pixar. It makes for an entertaining viewing experience, and a fun interpretation of games and their history.

 

Talkback

Austin ClarkNovember 13, 2012

I agree that the movie spends too much time in Sugar Rush but in the end, it fits the story well enough so I could forgive it.  The biggest disappointment is that the beginning of the movie spends so much time playing around with these video game references that it almost feels awkward that the second half of the movie almost does away with them completely.

It's still a terrific movie and like the guys on Connectivity were saying, watch the credits.  They pay homage to a lot of different games too in a pretty fun way.  Last thing, Henry Jackman's score for the movie was great too.

AVNovember 13, 2012

I would have liked to see more game jumps but I see why they focused the movie on the games they did. I loved this movie and even the kiddie jokes I didn't mind

StrawHousePigNovember 13, 2012

My kids loved it. Definitely a must-see for them. For me I'd call it 'worth it'.

Was kinda stoked to check out the movie game because I figured it'd be like the old Tron arcade game with different modes based on the movie, but apparently not. :|

OblivionNovember 13, 2012

I really didn't like it. It was the typical Disney fluff you see every year, but with a slight video game twist.

azekeNovember 13, 2012

Probably my favourite movie i've seen this year.

Game references were pretty shallow but i think it's for the better that movie could stand on it's own plot and characters without being just a reference pool.

TJ SpykeNovember 13, 2012

Oblivion, I think you are in the very small minority as you are the first person I have seen that didn't like it. I loved the movie, and thought it was easily one of the best of the year. I wish the video game cameos were longer (in the second half of the movie you really only see them a handful of times), but I liked it and thought it was sweet. I also liked how they dealt with what can happen to video game characters when they start seeing another game become more popular than them.

Oh, and the mayor in Fix-It Felix Jr. is an a-hole.

OblivionNovember 14, 2012

Meh. There's been way too many good films this year to call it the best. Not even the top five.

TJ SpykeNovember 14, 2012

I didn't say the best, I said one of the best. It is at least in the top 10, I would have to look back to see if I would put it in the top 5. Either way, I would say it is easily the best animated movie this year.

OblivionNovember 14, 2012

I really wasn't talking about what you said, but what other's on this site and what my friends have said about the movie. There's just something about it that made me feel ho hum and almost like I've seen it before.

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