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Wreck-It Ralph

Wreck-It Ralph

What She said:

She

Wreck-It Ralph takes us into the world of arcade gaming; literally inside the arcade games.  And in doing so it teaching us lessons in understanding and kindness.  It’s technically the 52nd animated feature in the Walt Disney Animated Classics collection, although you may not easily place it next to such powerhouses as The Little Mermaid, Snow White, or The Lion King. 

Poor Ralph just yearns to be loved, but he’s destined to be a villain.  The movie follows Wreck-It Ralph as he struggles with his own identity and being liked.  He lives in the world of Fix-It Felix, Jr., an 80s-style arcade game that remains beloved even today.  Every day, Ralph is tasked with causing havoc, which Felix comes along and cleans up.  That makes Felix a hero, while Ralph has to sleep out in the junk yard.  Ralph wants to prove to everyone that he’s a good guy too, and so he sneaks off to acquire a hero’s medal from another game.  What you have to understand is in this world, characters are able to travel from game to game.  They just have to be back in time for the arcade’s opening, or else.  And that “or else” actually means that they could be placed out of order or worse, their plug could be pulled for good.  When Ralph disappears, the entire Fix-It Felix, Jr. game is put out of order, and panic ensues.  Not to mention the fact that even though he’s good hearted, Ralph is causing problems by being in other games.  Over in the racing game, Sugar Rush, he meets a rambunctious little girl named Vanellope von Schweetz, who is considered by her peers to be a glitch.  Vanellope teaches Ralph about getting your priorities straight and accepting others for who they are.  There’s a bad guy, too, who wants to ruin it all.

Wreck-It Ralph

Honestly, it’s a little hard to describe the storyline of Wreck-It Ralph because a lot happens.  The movie starts in one place, moves another direction, and then hops over somewhere else where it remains for the rest of the film.  At first you think one thing is at stake, then another enters the fold, and then finally you meet the real villain…or is he?  I would say that the jumpy story is probably my number one gripe about this movie.  Not to mention the fact that it, at times, feels like an uncontrollable sugar rush (just like the game).  I can imagine children instantly becoming hyper in theaters as their parents expose them to the film.  It’s a lot to take in.

But the visual appeal of the movie is also its strength.  The film does some interesting things with its computer animation.  The older gaming characters look and move differently from the newer characters, a nod to the evolving technology.  The world of Sugar Rush is somewhat overwhelming, but it’s also incredibly colorful and beautiful.  The movie has its clever moments as well—particularly early in the plot.  As the pacing picks up, some of the funny nuances are lost, but it never falls below the above average line.

There is a somewhat notable cast to this film whose voices you may or may not recognize.  John C. Reilly plays Wreck-It Ralph, which seems like a good casting choice.  Jack McBrayer of 30 Rock fame voices Fix-It Felix.  Also, we’ve got a very distinguishable Jane Lynch in the role of Sergeant Tamora Jean Calhoun, an extremely tough lady with an unfortunate past that continues to haunt her.  In addition, we have our main characters from the world of Sugar Rush, which includes Sarah Silverman as Vanellope von Schweetz, and Alan Tudyk as King Candy.  I have to say, I am not a fan of Sarah Silverman.  I find her to be exceedingly annoying, but if ever there was a character that she was made to play it’s Vanellope, who is and of herself, exceedingly annoying.  I just tried to ignore her voice for most of the movie.  On the other hand, I think Tudyk did a fantastic job as King Candy.  You would not have even recognized his voice at all.  Kudos to him for giving the character a lot of personality. 

Overall, while this film is not quite as good as the finest of Disney movies, it’s not that bad.  It’s a lot to take in, and the plot seems to take too much on, but it’s a feast for the eyes, which earns it a recommendation in my book.

Thumbs up.

Wreck-It Ralph

 

What he said:

He

I have seen 3 of the 4 nominees for the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature from this past year. To be completely honest, I’m kind of appalled Brave (review here) won the award. Frankenweenie (review here), ParaNorman (review here), and Wreck-It Ralph are all easily better movies. Brave’s win was nothing more than blatant favoritism. If Pixar wasn’t the studio behind Brave, it wouldn’t have won. Stuff like this is why I don’t watch awards shows. They mean nothing to me. It’s nothing more than opinions of powerful people in the film industry; and with power there’s often politics involved.

When Litwak’s Arcade closes for the night, the action still continues. Video game characters from all the games converge in a secret world that exists in the power source of the arcade. This world exists “behind” the games if you will. The characters live in their game, but are allowed to travel to places that exist between games, or even to other games in the arcade. The catch is that if you die outside your game, you are dead forever. If you die within your own game, you come back to life.

Wreck-It Ralph is a character in one of the oldest games in the arcade. His game – Fix-It Felix, Jr. – recently celebrated its 30th anniversary and Ralph is kind of excited about it. The problem is that since he’s the bad guy, none of the other characters of the game invite to join in on the celebration. This makes Ralph feel very sad and lonely. So much so, he doesn’t want to be the bad guy anymore, something which he confesses to his support group. Despite this, he decides to try and crash the party.

Wreck-It Ralph

Fix-It Felix, Jr. (Jack MCBrayer) is the star of the game, so the party is at his place. He reluctantly lets Ralph in, but compared to some of the other guests, Felix treats him like royalty. The other members of the game are very rude to Ralph and this lights a fire under him. He has something to prove, so he decides to do the unthinkable and enter another game in an attempt to do something great and prove his worth.

Hero’s Duty is a first person shooter in which the player is a member of some kind of space-based military unit. Their primary mission is to destroy Cy-Bugs. Cy-Bugs are mindless beasts that want nothing more than lay their eggs and destroy everything in their path. The player’s mission – on the first level at least – is to make it through this bug-infested city, destroy all the bugs in your way, and collect a medal that awaits at the top of a very large building. A medal? That’s exactly the kind of thing Ralph could use to show off his worth to those snooty characters from his own game. So Ralph sneaks off and steals the medal, but he accident wakes up some of the bugs. He enters an escape pod and crash-lands into another game called Sugar Rush. The problem is that bug that Ralph woke up hitches a ride and now resides in another game.

Sugar Rush is a go-kart racing game combined the look and feel of something like Candy Land. The entire place is made of candy. It’s bright, edible, and just so cute it’s obnoxious.   It is here he meets Vanellope von Schweetz. Vanellope is not a playable character from the game, though she longs to be She’s a glitch. An “accident’ if you will. She is something that was created in the code of the game that was either leftover or inadvertently created. So like Ralph, she’s a bit of a misfit.

Meanwhile, Felix and Sergeant Calhoun – the leader of the commandos from Hero’s Duty – are on a quest to find Ralph and return him to the game. You see, somebody at the arcade has noticed he’s gone missing from his game, so it’s been labeled as out of order. Games that don’t work are shipped out of the arcade and it’s believed the characters stop existing when the plug is pulled. Sergeant Calhoun (Jane Lynch) just wants her medal back.

Somewhere along the way, they all discover there is a rogue Cy-Bug in Sugar Rush, and the problem must be dealt with.  

I really enjoyed Wreck-It Ralph. It was funny, had some good adventure, and it was all brought together by some great casting. John C. Reilly continues to prove his comedic abilities. He used to do some gritty stuff. Casualties of War, Boogie Nights, and Magnolia are a few that come to mind. But for several years now, he’s been doing comedies, and he’s really good at it. His voice was a perfect choice for Ralph. I have to give that cast folk as well as Sarah Silverman credit for her portrayal as Vanellope. I really don’t like Sarah Silverman. I find her to be extremely annoying. She usually doesn’t make me laugh either. But she was perfect as Vanellope, who I found to be rather sassy and adorable. Job well done. Jack McBrayer was about what I expected as Felix, but he’s also perfect for these kinds of parts. He seems like a nice guy, always plays nice guys, so it works. Alan Tudyk was nearly unrecognizable as King Candy (the ruler of Sugar Rush). I had no idea it was him until the She pointed it out. Some of the casting for the background characters in each of the games was well done too. I also really enjoyed some of the cameos or references to video game characters from some of the classics. Sonic the Hedgehog, Super Mario, Street Fighter, Pacman, and even Q’bert were all referenced. What genius writer decided to make a Q’bert reference? That was brilliant!

Shame on you Academy for giving Pixar the award based on reputation. I’ve yet to see The Pirates! Band of Misfits, so I can’t say every single one of the other nominees were better. But I can say every other one that I saw was.  Brave was not a bad movie, it’s just that Pixar movies were usually very special and Brave was not, and it certainly wasn’t better than the other 3 movies I saw.

Prognosis: Thumbs up.

This movie review was given the He said, She said seal of approval on March 15, 2013.

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