Video game movies are famous (or should I say infamous) for their obvious lack of quality. So many filmmakers try and cash in on the newest gaming trends that their films end up missing nearly all the marks, and normally end up doing the source material injustice.
Wreck-It-Ralph is one of those rare films that not only perfectly captures the essence of gaming, but also delivers as a greatly entertaining movie in its own right.
The movie stars John C. Reilly as video-game baddie Wreck-It-Ralph; a ‘bad guy’ who isn’t a bad guy. Ralph is tired of playing the villain, and for once just wants to be accepted as a normal person. But, who wants to hang out with a known video-game bad guy?
After being kicked out of the thirtieth-anniversary party for his game, Ralph sets out on a journey to win a gold medal in one of the other games located in the arcade where his game resides. What follows is a classic tale of a hero searching for what it is he truly wants, and discovering that what he really wanted wasn’t as far away as he suspected.
Although the story is very familiar, and quite predictable, I enjoyed seeing Ralph hop from his retro, 8-Bit game into the high definition game Hero’s Duty (an obvious mash up of Call of Duty and Halo), and then the movie’s Mario Kart clone Sugar Rush.
Part of what makes Wreck-It-Ralph so enjoyable is the visuals. I’m a sucker for pretty graphics, and Wreck-It-Ralph delivers in that front. The animation is colorful, crisp, and oh so pretty to watch. I thought Hotel Transylvania had some good animation, but it just can’t compare to Wreck-It-Ralph, which is at times just dazzling.
My only complaint I have with the visuals is that I wish there was more variety. We only get to see three game worlds, and I would’ve absolutely loved to see the movie’s interpretation of other games. Still, the three environments we get are fun and varied enough to hold your interest, but some added variation would’ve been appreciated.
As any film-goer knows, a film can look great, but without a good story and characters to hold it up, will falter from being anything above average (I’m looking at you Battleship!). Thankfully, Wreck-It-Ralph’s narrative is a fun, very classic ode to storytelling that holds the viewers interest, even if it is pretty cut and dry.
The film contains the immediately recognizable protagonist who isn’t happy with his life and goes in search of better, the chirpy sidekick, eccentric antagonist, the soft but good hearted friend, and touch-as-nails chick.
Even though the characters are all cut from different stereotypes, I found that the actors did a great job in giving life to these characters and making them their own. Reilly is absolutely perfect as Ralph, and is by the far the best in the film. Coming in at a close second is Alan Tudyk, who plays the absolutely delightful villain of the film.
Along with those two stand-outs, I found Jane Lynch to be very entertaining as the no-nonsense soldier Tamora Jean Calhoun and Jack McBrayer as fun but unoriginal as Fix-It-Felix. Sarah Silverman plays the cutesy sidekick Venelope, but she doesn’t come off near as strong as the other actors.
Most of the film’s eye-rolling, juvenile humor comes from little Venelope, but she does become more entertaining as the movie near its end. She’s obviously her to appeal to the child crowd, but still comes off as a little to immature
While the characters serve to inject some life into somewhat cliched stereotypes, the film’s main story unfortunately doesn’t. Although enjoyable, Wreck-It-Ralph’s plot is something everyone has seen dozens of times, and really doesn’t do anything drastically new with it outside of its visuals and premise.
I probably would’ve enjoyed Wreck-It-Ralph more if the story branched out a little more, and didn’t try so hard to hit all the same notes as almost every other animated ‘kid’s flick’ out there. Some side-plots are unneeded and silly, and I felt like the main antagonist (as great as he was) deserved more screen time.
With that said, I still vastly enjoyed Wreck-It-Ralph, and there is little doubt that it’s the best animated film of the year. Even though it’s not doing anything drastically new, it’s entertaining and heartfelt from beginning to end and is fun for kids and adults alike. I definitely recommend you see it in theaters.