Starring: John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman, Jack McBrayer
You may like this if you liked: Toy Story 1-3 (1995 – 2010), Rise of the Guardians (Peter Ramsey, 2012), How to Train Your Dragon (Dean DeBois and Chris Sanders, 2010)
Ralph (Reilly) is the villain in the video game Fix – it Felix and is tired of always being the bad guy as he wants to be popular and receive medals just like Felix (McBrayer), who is nothing like Super Mario at all (!), the game’s good guy. Desperate to be the good guy and receive a medal, Ralph goes ‘turbo’ and enters a different game called Heroes Duty (basically Halo) containing soldiers lead by the hard talking Sergeant Calhoun (Jane Lynch). Things go slightly wrong which lead to Ralph and one of the multiplying ‘aliens’ from Heroes Duty landing in a candy themed racing game called Sugar Rush. Now in a different game and no soldiers to stop them, these aliens will only do what they are programmed to do, which threatens to destroy every game. Once these games develop these apparently unfixable glitches they will be switched off, leaving all the characters without a game and therefore home. To earn a medal and save the day Ralph must help wannabe racer and glitch, Vanollepe Von Schweetz (Silverman). Meanwhile Felix and Calhoun travel to Sugar Rush to kill the alien before it destroys all the games.
For me, Disney set a high standard with Tangled and then after seeing the first trailers for this, this was always going to be a great concept, but could so easily be a complete disaster. Thankfully the House of Mouse have in my view utilised this concept to produce an absolute gem that will appeal to children and adults alike. Disney have really taken advantage of the natural nostalgia those of my age will get with all the subtle game references (the Metal Gear Solid reference was a personal favourite of mine) and the landscapes appear to be crafted with genuine passion for this world. However they thankfully do not over do it and though all these references are tremendous fun if constantly there, they would have quickly turned tiresome. Thankfully most characters or games are referenced just the once which for me was just right, allowing the story to still dominate but present perfect nostalgic winks and nods that provide some genuinely funny moments.
The story itself is once again one of universal appeal providing a perfect balance of humour, morality and heart. John C. Reilly’s voice is perfectly suited to the character of Ralph, and the dilemma he and Von Schweetz, face as well as the developments in their relationship portray all the usual themes of self acceptance and sacrifice that are to be expected from a Disney film. Thankfully these are never over done and the temptation to be become over sentimental or over schmaltzy is always avoided. The primary purpose of computer games is to be ‘fun’, and Wreck – it Ralph is in that spirit throughout the narrative. Even at a running time of over 100 minutes, the pace never starts to slow down. The only aspect that becomes slightly tiring is the character of Von Schweetz as her character verges on a little irritating at times and maybe some of her dialogue should have been cut, but she more than redeems for it in the end. Apart from that the script itself is very witty and sharp, allowing both moments of genuine humour and sentiment.
The animation itself is as good as anything Pixar have ever done with lovingly created landscapes and some breathtaking action set pieces. The excellent Tangled for me was a perfect mix of modern animation with a traditional feel, and here the animation is perfect for the context of the story and truly brings it to life.
Disney have once again for me proved they can cut it in the 21st century. Wreck – it Ralph is a well written and beautifully crafted film that takes advantage of a great concept to combine perfectly the humour and heart needed to produce a film that appeals to kids, adults and even game geeks.