Sunday, November 4, 2012

"Wreck-It Ralph": Funny, Clever, and Full of Nostalgia

Wreck-It Ralph 
Directed by Rich Moore
Produced by Clark Spencer
Written by Jennifer Lee and Phil Johnston 
Composed by Henry Jackman
Distributed by Walt Disney Pictures
Studio: Walt Disney Animation Studios 

Warning: If you have not seen the film, please DO NOT read any further. There are some mild spoilers below. 

Ever since 2007, Walt Disney Animation Studios has truly gotten better. Meet the Robinsons was a pretty good movie and a step in the right direction for the studio. Bolt was great, too. Princess and the Frog and Tangled were certainly worthy of Walt's classics. Winnie the Pooh, while only being a gap filler, was still a fantastic movie. There was a lot of enthusiasm surrounding Wreck-It Ralph after the first trailer premiered, even from myself. Some even thought that Disney only made this movie to reel in the dough. As a Disney fanatic, what do I say? I'm happy to say, this movie blows expectations away. 

Wreck-It Ralph is the story of a video game villain who is fed up about being the bad guy in the game Fix it Felix Jr. Ralph's job in this game is to demolish the building. Felix and the player's job is to fix the building that Ralph had demolished. The game is won after Felix fixes Ralph's damage all the way to the top of the building. After this, Ralph is swarmed by the game's residents, the Nicelanders, and is unceremoniously tossed off the top of the building into a bed of mud. 

Determined to prove he can be a good guy, Ralph abandons his game. This causes a real problem for Fix-It Felix and the Nicelanders. With no bad guy, the game is placed "Out of Order" by the arcade's owner, Mr. Litwak. Fearing this fate, Felix, with some encouragement from the Nicelanders, sets off to find Ralph. 

Ralph's adventure takes him through a modern first-person shooter game called Heroes Duty and an candy coated racing game called Sugar Rush. During this adventure, Ralph quickly learns that all is not well in the arcade. 

The voice casting in Wreck-It Ralph is wonderful. John C. Reilly gives the right amount of bad guy angst and is lovable as the title character. Jack McBrayer is pitch perfect and is also squeaky clean as Fix it Felix Jr. Jane Lynch is solid as Sergeant Calhoun. Sarah Silverman was a pleasant surprise as Vanellope Von Schweetz. She comes off as annoying at first, but she becomes tolerable once we get to know about her and her past. In fact, she holds the key to the emotional core of the movie. She is a loner, like Ralph because she is a glitch in the game. No one remembers why she's that way but they know if she finishes the race, the game will meet its end. Since her backstory caries the emotional core of the story, it was important for her character to be likable and she was. Of course, the person who stole the movie was Alan Tudyak as the film's antagonist, King Candy. The character is a complete hoot and an awesome throwback to The Mad Hatter from Alice in Wonderland. 

This film is very funny. The video game references (particularly in the film's first act) were hilarious. I had a huge grin on my face after every joke. The sweet references were funny too, which got more of a reaction then anything else. Most of those references are just laugh out loud funny, like the Oreo reference. I think it's enough to rival the likes of Emperor's New Groove and Shrek as some of the most funniest movies I have seen. 

The different video game worlds in Wreck-It Ralph are incredibly conceptualized. One does not simply underestimate Disney's attention to detail. Every world in this movie is unique and deviating. Heroes Duty has a more realistic feel to it like a modern first person shooter game would, while Sugar Rush has a more cartoony look to it while being a visual showcase. Fix-It Felix Jr. has a more retro feel to it, especially with the movements of the Nicelanders. The character designs are also well done. They fit in extremely well with their environments. 

As you could tell by the trailers, this film was going to be loaded with lots of cameos and references. My eyes had a field day trying to spot the different games and all in the opening montage. There were even some cameos I didn't even expect like Frogger and Pac-Man. Seeing all of the different cameos in Game Central Station put a huge smile on my face. 

The moral of the story was also a lovely bonus. It's all about acceptance, and how you have to accept yourself, flaws or not. No matter if you were destined to be the bad guy or have glitches, because you never know if those flaws will become your strengths. 

There were a couple minor flaws I had with this movie. The first one was with some of the more crude humor. I mean, "Heroes Doody" is one thing, but the writers tend to overuse this kind of humor with Vanellope and the other characters. Thankfully, some of that humor is toned down in the film's third act with some somber moments. 

Like other animated films, the story tends to be familiar. The whole premise of a bad guy wanting to be a good guy sounded a bit too much like Despicable Me and Megamind. Thankfully, the other elements of the story aren't a complete re-trend of those mentioned movies. 

A While it's funny, clever, and nostalgic, Wreck-It Ralph is a lot of fun and continues the rebirth of Walt Disney Animation Studios. It's worthy of  some of Walt's finest achievements and definitely worth another go at the theater. You don't have to be a gamer to appreciate this movie. Don't miss out! 

Lets not forget about the short film that was attached to the movie, Paperman. Paperman was a lot of fun and a nice little treat before the movie began. The art direction was fantastic, and I hope the upcoming Ron and John project uses this style. It will certainly help bring back hand-drawn animation to the studio who defined it here in America. 

Trailer Time: I saw this at an 8:25 showing with my father and the theater was packed. The video game references seemed to go over the audience's heads, but they laughed at most of the sweet puns. They even applauded at the end. We got six trailers before the movie began. 

Monsters Inc 3D: I'm not sure if I'm going to check this out or not. I wasn't too crazy that this trailer focused more of the comedy, but we already know how great the movie is. Opens December 19th 

Rise of the Guardians: Never a big fan of trailers being attached to movies when they're only a couple weeks away from release. Anyway, we got a more recent trailer. It looks great, and I'm definitely willing to check it out. Dreamworks is truly getting better. Opens November 21st 

Oz: The Great and Powerful: It looks fantastic. Got a Tim Burton vibe while looking at the visual style. Here's hoping it turns out to be a great movie. Opens March 8th, 2013 

Despicable Me 2: Finally, we got a new trailer for this movie. The trailer was just harmless fun, which I'm hoping the movie will turn out to be. This one got the most reaction out of the audience. Looking forward to checking this one out next summer. Opens July 3rd, 2013 

Escape from Planet Earth: Not too sure about this one. It looks like it could be fun, but this looks like something that'll appeal to the younger demographic. Then again, I could be a bit biased since I'm not a fan of anything Weinstein has released. Opens February 14th , 2013 

Dino Time: Screw this crap. That's all I have to say. Should of been released straight to video. Opens December 7th 

So there you have it. Next review? Probably Brave when that comes to Blu-Ray next week. After that, maybe Rise of the Guardians if I get around to seeing it. 

1 comment:

  1. Good review Jordan. This flick is a whole lot of fun and even if it is mostly based on nostalgia, well then it's still good nostalgia none the less.