Having seen Wreck-It Ralph on bill boards every where I turn and reading reviews from those lucky people in the States, the need to see this film has been fueled for what feels like a very long time!!
So Ralph is the villain in an arcade game Fix-It Felix. (Not the strongest idea for a game I might add – Wreck-It Ralph smashes up a building and Fix-It Felix bounces in with his hammer and you use him to fix all the windows…) It has proved popular though, and on the games 30th anniversary Ralph begins to get the feeling he is under-appreciated and goes in search of proving himself, consequently causing havoc in his game and others. It could go anyway once Ralph leaves his game, so what came next was all unexpected – how I think a trailer should be left!! (Not like the bloomin’ new Fast and Furious 6 trailer where deceased characters pop up – that should have been a surprise for the film!!)
What audiences are anticipating in this film are all the old school gaming references. With the amount of licence fee’s they would have had to pay no wonder the estimated budget for this film was $165,000,000. It was all worth while though because even a novice gamer like myself could recognise many of the cameo appearances and feel all nostalgic. Those I can remember include Sonic, Dr. Robotnik, Pac-Man and the Pac-Man Ghost, Zangief, M. Bison, Ken and Ryu, a random Super Mushroom from Mario, the Horned Reaper from Dungeon Keeper (many hours spent playing that game – it was so addictive!!) and loads more references that will pop up in the review no doubt.
Like Toy Story, once the people aren’t watching the games in the arcade can interact. The imagination behind the arcade world is great and the creative ideas regarding daily life of a game character are really clever. In the trailer we see a sneak peak of a self-help group full of bad guys from various games, seemingly coaching each other to accept themselves as villains and bad guys. The mantra being “I’m bad, and that’s good. I will never be good, and that’s not bad. There’s no one I’d rather be then me.” Ralph can’t settle with this though – for 30 years the towns people of Fix-It Felix have hated and feared him but Ralph knows he can be a good guy! He just wants to be loved.
The group leaves the meeting, hosted by the Pac-Man Ghost in the center of his maze. I wondered why the Ghost would be hosting, but it was a brilliant idea when the camera zooms out and the pixilated characters make their way through the maze, Ralph grabbing a cherry snack on the way out. The characters then get into a shuttle that whiz’s through the electric cables and stops in the multi plug extension turned Central Station, where you can find your way back to your own game. Brilliant!! It’s details like this that really make the film original, just as Toy Story was when it first came out.
Two games that feature heavily in Wreck-It Ralph’s adventure are Sugar Rush, inspired by Mario Kart and Hero’s Duty, a mix between Call of Duty and Gears of War in my eyes. Polar opposites in every way yet don’t feel out of place in this film, even the characters interact very naturally. Including a very unlikely pair, Felix and Sergeant Calhoun, a feisty and pretty damn hot lead character in Hero’s Duty voiced by Jane Lynch. The dialogue between her and Felix, played by Jack McBrayer (of 30 Rock fame) was witty and fast paced – each of them bringing their character to life and giving them a really individual and likable personality.
“This is it, ladies! The kitten whispers and tickle fights end now!”
We first meet Calhoun when Ralph enters Hero’s Duty on a mission to prove himself as a good guy. Characteristically Ralph messes up and accidentally uses the first person shooter as a human shield and causes game over for the very confused player on the other side of the screen. Calhoun quickly asserts her authority and puts Ralph in his place – I instantly liked this character! And this scene makes for some great one liners.
Calhoun: “Do you know what the first rule of Hero’s Duty is, soldier?”
Ralph: “No cuts, no buts, no coconuts?”
Ralph himself is voiced by John C Reilly (best known for Talledaga Nights and Step Brothers probably). His delivery is fantastic, Ralph is a completely lovable and funny character from the start. In the story, Ralph finds his way into the game Sugar Rush and meets the wanna-be racer and outcast, Vanellope. Sarah Silverman voices this character and I warmed to her a lot during the film. She brings some great comedy to the film, but I did end up finding Vanellope adorable as well and was really routing for her towards the finale. The bond that Ralph and Vanellope develop is really quite heart warming and put a big smile on my face.
Ralph: “You’re a winner!”
Vanellope: “I’m a winner… “
Ralph: “And you’re adorable!”
Vanellope: “I’m ADORABLE!”
The world of Sugar Rush is made of sweets and candy with some great game inspired attributes – e.g. double striped candy branches disappear, and there are pools of chocolate Nes-quick sand to get stuck in. All the go karts used by the racers are made of sweet treats like biscuits and liquorish, and the towns people that watch the races are too. The Sugar Rush game was an original invention for this film, but it was clearly heavily inspired by Mario Kart. Even the start of the race begins with a view from behind the kart with the countdown above your head, and some of the tracks resembled those of Mario (look out for Rainbow Road!).
The big man in Sugar Rush is King Candy, the eccentric ruler of the races with a hidden agenda. He is voiced by the brilliant Alan Tudyk (Steve the Pirate/Firefly’s Wash) who does a fine job playing the unhinged and very camp King! King Candy’s side kick Sour Bill was one of the best supporting characters. As you can probably guess he is made up of a sour ball, but his sour attitude and independent floating hands and feet make him a brilliant little character.
The attention to detail in the arcade world was the stand out factor for me in this movie. Even the towns people in Fix-It Felix moved like little pixilated characters in an old school arcade game. Plus all the references to already well loved characters and games. As well as this the visuals are stunning, really crisp and so bright (hence all the pictures)! But the cherry on top is that the story is really strong and thoroughly enjoyable. I did a little clap when the film finished, that’s how impressed I was. Totally recommend this if you enjoy Disney’s animated films already – its definitely a winner.