I’m back! I took an extended hiatus while this semester proceeded to pummel me into a meaty pile of scholastic achievement. It’s not over for another three weeks or so, but I feel the need to do something productive.
Wreck-It Ralph Impressions -
Wreck-It Ralph is one of those movies that I had heard pretty much nothing about before it came out, and after it’s release I realized I was pretty much alone in my ignorance. At a glance, it just looked like another Disney movie, but the constant coverage within the gaming sphere made me take another look. I began hearing things like “licensed video game characters” and “kid’s movie”, and despite the vitriol that combination of words tends to create the praise continued. So, I went and saw it last night.
From the get go it’s obvious that it’s trying to answer the same question that Toy Story did back in 1995: what happens to our favorite toys when we leave the room? Of course, the favorite toys among kids today are video games, so Wreck-It Ralph takes us to a small arcade where all our favorite video game characters lead exciting lives outside the confines of their respective arcade cabinets.
Immediately we’re assailed with a spinning vortex of video game references, a fantastic panning shot transitioning from pixels to bright CG animation, and a very heartfelt monologue from Wreck-It Ralph himself. The introduction draws to a close and we find the very unsatisfied Ralph doing what any good video game character does: continue executing the programming within the game to avoid getting the dreaded “Out of Order” sign.
The fun begins when Ralph goes to his first villain support group populated by several of the most identifiable icons in all of gaming. The kid in me was going wild at this point watching Zangief share his woes next to a silent Bowser was the realization of a hundred video games I wished existed when I was twelve. The licensing alone must have been a nightmare, but these beginning scenes will draw in anyone that has enjoyed a video game in the last twenty years.
Several scenes are so jam packed with characters that I’m dying to scoop this up on DVD just to pause them and pick out all my favorite gaming personalities. The hub world between the arcade machines, housed within the power strip they’re all plugged into, is a hilarious who’s who of classic gaming. This doesn’t mean that Wreck-It Ralph doesn’t have personality of it’s own.
The story begins to hit its stride after some fun misadventures, and Ralph finds himself planted firmly within the game Sugar Rush. We’re introduced to Ralph’s sidekick Vanillope, who never ceases to be a mixture of unbearable cuteness and hilarious childlike insults. This is where the movie begins to hone it’s own identity without the help of established video game characters.
I will admit to being slightly disappointed when I realized that the bulk of the movie will take place in Sugar Rush, but it was a feeling that quickly subsided when the movie’s dialogue and characters began to charm me in lieu of the constant references and in-jokes.
Overall I laughed quite a bit throughout the movie, even after the onslaught of reference humor died down. Much of the humor and fun comes from the relationship between Vanillope and Ralph, and the voice actors (Sarah Silverman and John C. Reilly) deliver their roles spectacularly. In fact, the entire cast does a great job of bringing to life what could have been a dopey kids movie. While I won’t lie and say that I wouldn’t enjoy a two hour video game in-joke extravaganza, Wreck-It Ralph turned out to be one of my favorite movies of the year.
If you’re a fan of gaming culture then you’ll find plenty to enjoy here, and likewise if you’re looking for a well written kid friendly movie that does a great job of drawing you in then, you’ll have one hell of a time.