Wreck-It Ralph (2012)

“I don’t think you know how long everybody has been waiting for a film like this to be released!” Well that’s what I (and many others) said when we first saw the trailer (below). But was it going to be as awesome as we all hoped? A film full of nostalgic video games, that would appeal to our youth, our parent’s youth but still be relevant to today? HELL YEAH!

When you watch it you will feel so… so… “UP, UP, DOWN, DOWN, LEFT, RIGHT, LEFT, RIGHT, B, A, START”! Okay, so it’s a pretty cool film with all the necessities to make gamers happy, as well as not excluding the general public but there’s more to it than just bringing us to a nostalgic arcade time.

We follow the story of Ralph (voiced by John C. Reilly) who is a bad guy by trade. His job is to wreck things in a video arcade machine called Fix-It Felix, Jr. named after the good guy Fix-It Felix, Jr. (voiced by Jack McBrayer). However, Ralph doesn’t want to be the bad guy anymore and wants to have friends, be surrounded by company, and that penthouse (opposed to his dump dwelling). But you cannot just change. You’re programmed to be good or bad, no matter how hard you try you always are who you are meant to be.

But on Ralph’s journey to become a hero, and defy all odds he finds himself in another arcade machine – Sugar Rush. This is something I quite liked about the film dynamics. The fact that each game ports into a “Game Central Station” where you can catch a train into any other game. The notion that each arcade character has friends, and parties when the kids all go home is nostalgic to the original Toy Story days.

Here at Sugar Rush we meet Vanellope (voiced by Sarah Silverman). She is a glitch in the game, and an outcast like Ralph. She drives the film (sorry), and makes Ralph become more of a hero than he’ll ever be known for. I really don’t want to ruin the film by expressing Vanellope’s involvement, but I did enjoy the fact Silverman is the basis of the character after her book The Bedwetter: Stories of Courage, Redemption and Pee.

The film is riddled with easter eggs and in-jokes that will make every game enthusiast wet their pants. But don’t feel that this film isn’t for you if you don’t game. Disney made sure that the film wasn’t subjective to the knowledged, but rather open to everyone – young, old, gamer, and non-gamer.

Sergeant Calhoun looking a lot like her voice actor, Jane Lynch.

And this comes as no surprise really. As we saw with The Avengers, (and Joss Whedon) when you put a director with the knowledge of the genre film it will be a success. Wreck-It Ralph’s director Rich Moore knows video games, and makes the characters conscious of it. There isn’t that cliché, “Wow you’re old 8-bit, you are sooo old!” Rather you have a cute, and active encounter between 8-bit and High Definition characters. You’ll find the engagement between Fix-It Felix, Jr. and Sergeant Tamora Jean Calhoun (voiced by Jane Lynch) to be the greatest “high definition complexion” awestruck conversation ever.

Moore even told the animators to make the Niceland residents (from the game Fix-It Felix, Jr.) to have the same stilted, staccato movement as in the game to their “real life”. The animators felt this went against everything they learnt in making “good animation” but Moore simply said, “It’s going to work out great. Just trust me.” He was right. The stilted movements were better than realistic movements, opposed to the characters from Hero’s Duty (a newer, HD game) where they felt better with the natural movements we expect.

Further to the film is the ability to (like in the opening quote) be as good of a film as everybody expected (and hyped it to be). The cameo appearances from a multitude of games is well used. Apart from the bulk being in Bad-Anon (read Bad Character’s Anonymous), the way the film uses “real life” and 8-bit representations is clever and fresh. Take note to the bar scene where we visit the old game Tapper (now Root Beer Tapper) with the cuts between conversation and the shot of the arcade machine. Simply brilliant.

Without giving too much of the story away because I think it is actually a film that should be seen than read about. Who knows you might actually know a lot of the characters subconsciously from your children!


Fun Fact

The character Vanellope is depicted as a glitch in the game who is not supposed to play in the game. This is actually very common in video games. Developers will often create characters and other elements but decide not to include them in the end. It is actually more trouble to delete the code that contains the character because it may cause a chain reaction that glitches into other things, so the characters are simply “locked away” into the code.