TITLE: “Wreck-It Ralph”
STUDIO: Walt Disney Animation Studio
RELEASE DATE: November 2, 2012 (United States)
RUNNING TIME: 101 Minutes
Being that Anjel Syndicate is, you know, a site about video gaming and gaming culture, it seems that it would prove unwise for us to pass up talking about “Wreck-It Ralph” – a film that takes paying homage to video games to a whole new level. Indeed, to say that the movie is merely a tribute to video games and gamers everywhere would be a gross understatement. Instead, let’s say that the movie is almost like a true gamer’s wet dream. Why? Because not only does it have a large emphasis on older titles from the 1980s and 1990s, but the writers also did some takes on modern games like the “Halo” series.
The basic premise of the movie is essentially “What if all the video game characters were real and existed in their own digital world inside their respective games?” In some ways, this is a question that most kids have probably asked themselves. Indeed, it’s fun to image what life would be like if some of these fantastical characters actually existed somewhere in our world and most gamers cannot help but imagine what they would do in the roles of these different characters. Disney, of course, much in the style of works like “Toy Story,” takes these ideas and really brings them to life, painting for the viewer a picture of what actually happens when the lights go out at the arcade at the end of the day.
Wreck-It Ralph, played by John C. Reilly, is a play off of Donkey Kong and the creatures from the Rampage series who has grown tired of the idea of always being the bad guy. Ralph attends a villain support group where he shares these feelings with the likes of the Pac-Man ghost, Zangief, M. Bison, Dr. Robotnik (Eggman), Bowser, Smoke (MK), Kano (MK), and even a zombie from “House of the Dead,” and their general idea is that being a villain doesn’t have to define who you are. Yet, Ralph doesn’t like this idea and instead wants to make something of himself – become someone who others appreciate and win a medal of his own. Indeed, who can blame him? Even in Niceland, the world of his own game, when the game itself shuts down he isn’t greeted with the warmth and respect that Fix-It Felix, Jr. seems to get, even getting shunned on the occasion of his game’s 30th anniversary party. Thus, Ralph elects to go and seek fun and adventure elsewhere, and win a medal of his own.
At the risk of spoiling the story any further than that (as I feel this is a movie that any fan of video games owes it to themselves to go and see), I won’t talk about the plot any more than that. However, I will tell you that there are so many references to games in this movie that it is something you will want to watch again and again just to see the finer details. Nintendo, Namco, Acclaim, Capcom, and Sega all allowed for the use of some of their characters in the movie itself while other companies (like Microsoft) were a bit frugal with licensing (yet, this didn’t stop the creators from parodying their works for the sake of the movie). It’s great to see characters like Q*Bert, Sonic the Hedgehog, Paper Boy, and many others brought to life in such a fashion, with the lesser-known characters (like Paper Boy, perhaps), just being fun to spot during the film.
Some critics have claimed that the focus of a good chunk of the film on Sarah Silverman’s character in the confection-themed arcade racing title “Sugar Rush” (an obvious play off of “Mario Kart”) went on a bit long and detracted from the story itself, yet I disagree and feel that the story arc provided some solid direction for the movie. Those wishing that the story would have taken a turn in different directions probably simply wanted to see even more gaming cameos, but who is to say that another film along these lines won’t happen in the future?
The movie has a great soundtrack, superb acting, and offers a fresh story that really is a joy to watch. I can only hope that other studios are more open to making good video game films and that this can open the door to more companies licensing out their characters for quality film-making.