Being both a fan of films and a fan of games I’ve been looking forward to Wreck-It Ralph for a while. The basic premise of the world (Toy Story but for games) is one that I’m really surprised wasn’t done already and the sight of all these different game characters all being of the same screen as each other was really exciting to me. Having watched the film, all this stuff was really good with some elements of the film that are really excellent but there are other areas in which the film is a bit lackluster.
The main plot and message of the film is something that I really like in that it’s about a villain’s journey to accept himself and to find his own worth in the world having never gotten the respect he feels he deserves after 30 years, and despite me making the Toy Story comparison, if it should be compared to any film, it’s The Nightmare Before Christmas in that they’re both about characters who feel something is missing, go into other worlds to find themselves and end up making everything a lot worse. Now this lends itself to a lot of creative possibilities in this world, especially considering that any video game can be included but, wisely I think, the big, recognizable video game characters only appear in cameo roles so as to not fully distract the audience away from the more important stuff regarding the character of Ralph. Speaking of which, Ralph is one of the best characters in animated films in recent years. He knows that he is a bad guy in design but he tries really hard to be a good person despite this. The best example of this early on is when he gives the cherry to Q-Bert and this sense of good in Ralph manifests itself throughout the film and even when he does really horrible things, you know that Ralph thinks he is doing something good.
Of course the brilliance of Ralph is helped by John C Reilly providing the voice. Reilly really nails the whole mid-life crisis feel of Ralph and his desire to do good in the game world, despite him being a villain and his fairly straight turn allows him to interact brilliantly with the other characters. This also works for Jack McBrayer as Felix who provides a pretty good straight-man but is also really funny, going as over the top good as possible which can be annoying in the wrong hands but McBrayer really makes it work. On the other end you get the more absurdest character of Calhoun, a brilliant parody of the overblown space marines in games now with the central joke of the character being a woman (a takedown of how badly these charcacters have been cocked up in the past few years) being really funny throughout and Jane Lynch is perfectly cast in the role, and the way in which she interacts with McBrayer in the second half of the film is hilarious. If there is a weak link in the cast it’s Sarah Silverman, I get that the character is supposed to be a parody of the annoying cute characters but there is a line between being a parody and being an example and Silverman is an example and this is one of the most annoying and irritating performances in animation recently and it really dilutes the power that the character should have in the world.
The whole design of the film meanwhile is excellent. The designs for the different worlds are all great parodies of the changing landscape of games, the completely sickly sweet design of the Sugar Rush world being a particular highlight. The whole changing landscape is also brought in through the way in which the characters move in that the characters from the modern games all have fluent movement but the older characters from Fix It Felix all have really limited movements, reminiscent of the limited movements that the older characters had in the 8-Bit days. There are also the little things in the background from the graffiti in Game Central Station to the characters in the background to a safe combination being the Konami Code to the owner of the arcade looking a lot like Walter Day from Twin Galaxies, all of this gives a feel for the full world of the games.
There are some problems though in that the ending feels a bit rushed and out of place considering everythiing that has happened before, the character of Vanellope being incredibly annoying and the whole thing about Turbo and the Cy-Bugs being a bit rushed just to have some villains to fight to fill out the running time of the film.
That said though, Wreck It Ralph is still a really good film and I think that it’ll be one that will work on different levels to all people, even those who don’t know their games can still find something to like in Wreck It Ralph be it the brilliant characters or the sheer creativity of the film.
My Rating: 4/5