I scored some free advanced tickets to Wreck-It Ralph last night. Don't I feel special! It was also the first time I've ever been in a movie and had a trio of security guards threaten the crowd with jail time if they used their phones to capture any of the film.
The film is a definite winner. In a year where I struggle to even think of another good animated film, Wreck-It Ralph stands alone atop its pixelated throne. It tells the story of Ralph, a video game bad guy in the fictional classic arcade game Fix It Felix Jr. Much in the vein of Toy Story, once the arcade closes down and the humans are out of sight, the video game characters come alive and have lives of their own. Ralph, however, remains a bad guy even after the humans leave. The characters in his game don't like him because he's always wrecking things. So Ralph decides to "game jump" in order to prove to everybody that bad guys can achieve something great too.
Based on the trailer, I sort of assumed that the movie would be constantly jumping around between games, and the entire film would just be a hodgepodge of awesome video game references. And while it still kind of did that in some respects, the plot of the film is actually very focused and mainly takes place in just a couple of games. While it was happening I kind of wished the film would jump around more because it was so much fun, but by the end I realized that what they did was for the best.
Because despite the fact that a good chunk of the movie takes place in one particular game, the success of Wreck-It Ralph is in the little things. The world of this film is flooded with recognizable video game faces/references. And a lot of them aren't even the focus of the shot. When scenes take place in the central hub where characters can jump from game to game, I couldn't help but stare at the background the entire time. Just all the little things made me smile so much. Seeing Princess Peach and Daisy from Mario giggling like schoolgirls as they walk past a guy. Seeing Ryu from Street Fighter drinking casually in the background of a bar. There's so much going on in the background, I'm sure I missed a dozen things that I wished I hadn't. I look forward to seeing this again on Blu-ray, and pausing the screen. Maybe someone who isn't as familiar with video games wouldn't care about these things, but I thought they were great touches. Pac-Man gets referred to by Ralph as "that pellet muncher" as an insult. I just thought I should mention that.
The character development was great for most of the characters. Even some of the side characters like Felix and the Sergeant from Hero's Duty. Ralph has a full and satisfying arc. The voice acting from everyone fit in perfectly. John C Reilly embodied Ralph pretty well. Jack McBrayer (who voiced Felix) acted exactly like Kenneth from 30 Rock. I'm now convinced he's not even acting in anything he does, that's just how he is in real life. Jane Lynch is funny as the Hero's Duty Sergeant (with a comically dark history programmed into her character), and Sarah Silverman is both annoying and adorable as her character from Sugar Rush, even if it sounds like he's plugging her nose every time she speaks. The big surprise, though, was Alan Tudyk as King Candy; who did a really fun job with the voice.
The sound design overall was fantastic, and notable enough to notice/care. The soundtrack had some nice 8-bit elements (and is very good overall), and a lot of the sound effects were recognizable from classic video games. Skrillex has a computerized cameo and contributed a song to the movie. That's worth noting, I guess?
The animation was cool, featuring a lot of different styles. Early in the story, the film would shift between 2D and 3D environments. Even when in 3D, the character animation would relate to the 2D game that the character came from. All of the Fix It Felix characters would move in jumpy 8-bit type motions, even when rendered as 3D models, giving them intentionally hilarious body movements. All of the environment designs were very inspired, and looked like a lot of fun to create. There's a lot going on in the design of this movie, and it's all awesome.
I guess this would be considered a children's movie, but the adults were laughing as much as the kids. This film may not have been made by Pixar, but it felt like Disney's got the hang of the Pixar style without them. Wreck-It Ralph out-Pixar'd the Pixar movie from earlier this year (Brave). It didn't just feel like Toy Story in the similar premise, but it was just as clever and funny in all the ways Toy Story was as well. I'm sure they're banking on nostalgia and childlike wonder to drive Wreck-It Ralph into 'classic' territory, but those are the same things that made Toy Story so great too. If Wreck-It Ralph wanted to branch out into some sequels (and it totally has potential to do so) that would be great. The way they set up the open world within the arcade has limitless story possibilities for the future.
The overall message of the film was more cute than anything else. But I got the feeling like they were going for cute, so I didn't hold it against them. It's a cute movie. But the action is also awesome. And very entertaining. And all the humor is clever and witty, while still relatable to kids and people who don't care about video games. I'm saying that the movie is generic enough to please everyone, but has enough in the little details to make some people (like myself) very happy. But still overall it's just really cute.
It was a 3D feature, and like most 3D movies, the gimmick wasn't very worthwhile. I got to see this movie for free, so I can't really complain, but if I were you I wouldn't pay the extra for 3D. Plus, who knows what was lost in the color/brightness levels with those stupid glasses on? This movie is vivid enough to where I wouldn't want to risk losing any of that if I didn't have to.
Wreck-It Ralph is worth your money. The first half is admittedly more mesmerizing than the second half, but for a two-hour animated film, the time flies by pretty quick. I don't think you *need* to stick around until the absolute bitter end of the credits like I did, but if you do, you get to see the Fix It Felix Jr "kill screen." (those of you familiar with King of Kong should know what that is)
8.5 out of 10
I've thought John C. Reilly was awesome ever since "Boogie Nights". Sara Silverman's film choices are all over the map lately, from doing nude scenes to children's film roles.
You know going in that this is a one-joke movie, it takes a carefully honed script and authentic character performances to keep the joke fresh from moment to moment. Like you said, a hack would have just kept giving only the eye candy of the game-jumping, but to have an above- average movie, you have to balance that against a real plot and a character that shows growth and change.
This is also one of the best trailers I've seen: it gives away just enough to inform a choice, without giving too much away, and it really sells the pretty imagery and humor of the performances.
Finally got to see Ralph, and MAN, they did a good job. My kids all pointed knowingly to the obscure gaming references, but I enjoyed the visual tribute to Brad Bird's Iron Giant apotheosis scene.
The animators and character designers did a remarkable job on Silverman's character; the expressions were dead-on. The Sugar Rush game was so deeply thought-out, it made you almost wish the game was playable in real life.
From the script to the design to the acting to the effects and music, this was a perfectly executed package.
Out of the many animated films I've seen, this one comes straight to the top. Loved the story, the characters and their development. Pixar did a pretty good job of showing the many games that I played when I was young. It brought back memories of my childhood.
Life as we know it is full of surprises. Better to color your world with art.
I thought this movie didn't look that great. I was pleasantly surprised. I think this film is fantastic and I hope more people go to the theater to see it so they'll make more films like this one. I agree that this film felt more like a Pixar film then Brave did. There where so many layers to the story I really loved it.
I'm sure I missed a dozen things that I wished I hadn't. I look forward to seeing this again on Blu-ray, and pausing the screen.
I missed a lot of what was going on in the background as well. Yeah I really want to see it again and just look at what is going on in the Hub. I wonder if there are still grabs online?
I loved Hero's Duty Sergeant's (Calhoun) back story and when she is at the ice cream parlor I laughed so hard. I think the jokes where just so clever. The Nesquik Sand was a nice touch as well. This is a great film and worth watching.
Release the Devil Dogs.
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Be sure to check out the Fix-it Felix Jr. app that is free on iTunes. Unfortunately you never see or hear "I'm gonna wreck it." But it still was fun.
Also, I made it to level 11 and still have not seen any bonus level with the other charters, I imagine all of that stuff is missing since it would cost more money.
Utah Video Productions
Check out my Motion Training DVD
Check out my Vimeo page