I’m going to be honest here: I’ve been a Wreck-It Ralph fangirl ever since I went to the test screening months before the film was officially released. Even in its rough, unfinished form, I was blown away with its premise, cleverness, execution, and heart.
The Film ★★★★★
Wreck-It Ralph tells the story of an old-school arcade bad guy Ralph, who decides that after 30 years of wrecking and smashing buildings, he doesn’t want to be a bad guy anymore. Ralph (John C. Reilly) is the antagonist of Fix-It Felix, Jr., a fictional 1980s arcade game at Litwak’s Arcade that has remained semi-popular over the years despite newer, bigger and better games taking over the arcade’s real estate.
To prove to denizens of Fix-It Felix, Jr that he’s a good guy, Ralph goes on a quest to obtain a shiny medal—the badge of all heroes and good guys. Ralph then stumbles into a Halo-esque first person shooter called Hero’s Duty and “earns” his long-awaited medal, but with it accidentally unleashes a deadly threat into the girly Japanese go-kart game Sugar Rush. Stranded in Sugar Rush, Ralph meets a Vanellope von Schweetz (Sarah Silverman), an annoying glitch who becomes a thorn in Ralph’s side. It’s up to Fix-It Felix Jr. (Jack McBrayer) and Sergeant Calhoun (Jane Lynch) to find Ralph and bring him back to his game before it’s too late, while Ralph and Vanellope have their own issues to deal with.
Director Rich Moore did a great job pandering to gamers. If you’ve ever spent time in an arcade, in front of an Nintendo, or played any other gaming device for hours on end, you’ll love this movie. You’ll wish you had a pause button so you could scan through the bustling Game Central Station, hoping to catch a glimpse of your favorite childhood video game character. Because Ralph is filled with so many nostalgic moments, adults will find the movie just as enjoyable as the kids.
The characters are memorable and unique. Vanellope is the star of the film, stealing your heart with her sugar and spice, and wins my vote for breakout animation character of the year. You really feel for Ralph, whose internal struggle of breaking the “bad guy” mold propels the entire film. The actors recorded most of their dialogue together in the same room (a practice now uncommon in animation) and I feel it really helped create great chemistry for the ensemble.
In the end, I can’t give this film enough praise. It has great character, a unique story (that works!), and, like I said before, heart.
The Features ★★★ 1/2
If you loved this movie as much as me, you are excited to dive deep into the bonus and behind-the-scenes features on the blu-ray. Unfortunately, they features are pretty standard and nothing special.
The main featurette is called “Bit By Bit: Creating The Worlds Of Wreck-It Ralph“. This is a nice little spot where Director Rich Moore and other key members of the production crew talk about Ralph‘s origins, development and creation. It’s pretty standard and expected; however, I appreciated that it was created and included nonetheless. There’s also some fun deleted and additional scenes hosted by 8-bit versions of Moore and other producers.
Also included is the Academy Award-winning animated short Paperman, which made its big-screen debut before Ralph in theatres. I’m glad its on here because it’s a ground-breaking piece of animation and just as spectacular as Wreck-It Ralph.
The next features include some of the promotional mock advertisements for Litwak’s Arcade, the fictional arcade where the Ralph universe is set. There are three commercials for each of the three worlds–Fix-It Felix, Jr., Hero’s Duty, and Sugar Rush–from when each was originally released in 1982, 1997, and 2012, respectively. It’s fun to see the evolution of the video games and arcade of the decades. The last commercial is an infomercial for Fix-It Felix’s Hammer, which magically will repair anything in real life!
Notably missing from the set is a director’s commentary track. I know that Rich Moore is passionate about this film and has lots to say, so its absence is a real disappointment. (How hard is it to wrangle Moore into a recording booth for 2 hours?) I also would have liked to have seen some concept art galleries, but Disney might be savings those solely for The Art of Wreck-It Ralph book in order to better capitalize on the film.
If Wreck-It Ralph and Paperman are any indication of where Walt Disney Animation Studios is headed in the future, then I’m anxiously anticipating what they release next. Both are fantastic additions to the Walt Disney animation family.
Wreck-It Ralph is not one of the best video games films of all time, it’s also only the best animated film of 2012 (and was robbed of the Oscar) and one of the best films of 2012 in general!