Though this year’s Philadelphia Film Festival featured many smaller movies that one wouldn’t normally get to see, it was a bit of a surprise, albeit a pleasant one, to see ‘Wreck-It Ralph’, the new computer-animated comedy from Disney about a video game villain who’s looking to get a hero’s welcome for once, on the schedule.
In this movie, we follow Ralph (John C. Reilly), the villain from the game ‘Fix-It Felix Jr.’, as he leaves his retro 8-bit game with the hopes of earning a medal to bring back to his game so that he’ll be liked by the inhabitants of his game instead of just being treated as a no good home wrecking brute for once. However, when he leaves, he disrupts the natural order of the game and makes the arcade owner label the console as out of order, putting it well on it’s way to being unplugged. As Ralph continues his journey to earn a medal by jumping from game to game, Fix-It Felix (Jack McBrayer) must track down his nemesis and bring him back to their game or risk losing their home forever.
To begin with, this film exceeded my expectations. I loved seeing characters from the video games that I played as kid on the big screen, such as Bowser from ‘Super Mario Bros.’, Ken and Ryu from ‘Street Fighter’, and Sonic the Hedgehog, but like ‘Who Framed Roger Rabbit?’ the cameos weren’t the main focus of the film. It was a story unique take on the message of “Don’t judge a book by it’s cover,” with an all-star cast of hilarious people including Reilly McBrayer, Sarah Silverman, and Jane Lynch, so it was hard not to find enjoyment in this tale about a “bad guy” who’s not really a bad guy. And then when I realized that Alan Tudyk of ‘Firefly’ fame was King Candy, I smiled even more because he really should be put in more things.
In terms of CG, ‘Ralph’ proved that Disney doesn’t need Pixar to create good computer animation. There were so many different styles that the animators needed to utilize because of the different games showcased in the film. Not only were the different style of games and characters done well, but also there were several little things that I appreciated, the biggest thing being the 8-bit characters in Ralph’s world of ‘Fix-It Felix Jr.’. The citizens of Niceland all moved in stiff motions, as they would in a real 8-bit game. Along with that, there were a lot of small references to other games thrown into the dialogue and in the background that were just fun to look for.
If there was one misstep in the movie, it was that Ralph achieved his goals too early in the movie. The story might have been enhanced if he had to work a little harder to get his medal instead of getting it right away and then trying to keep it for the duration of the story. Maybe he could’ve ventured into a few more games before entering ‘Hero’s Duty’. Not to say that the story was badly formed or anything like that, but there was more potentially there that could’ve been explored more.
Overall, ‘Wreck-It Ralph’ was a good time for the whole family. One might even go so far as to say that this might be one of the best video game movies ever, despite not being based on an actual game. If you’re looking for a good film to see with the family during this upcoming holiday season, this is it. Not only is it good for the little ones, but also the teenagers and parents who might have played a lot of the games referenced. Though nostalgia is strong in this one, there’s a lot more here than just a walk down memory lane.