Wreck It Ralph Review (2012)
- December 5, 2012
- Posted by: Ryan Keyworth
- Category: Uncategorized
I am a video gamer. And judging by many of the articles I have written, that really should not be a huge surprise. I have been playing games my whole life. I have played on nearly every system, from the Atari, all the way to the Xbox 360. I have played every type of game you can imagine. Shooters, racing games, fighters, RPGs, hack and slash, survival horror, platformers, side scrollers, etc. With such a colorful background in gaming, you can imagine my joy when I first saw the trailer for Wreck-it-Ralph.
Wreck-it-Ralph, as you might guess, is about video games, or is perhaps even a celebration of video games. In fact, the story takes place within a video game world. Not a world based on a video game mind you, but an actual world of video games set up in an old arcade. It tells the story of a good natured game villain, Wreck-it-Ralph, whose sole purpose in life is to rampage buildings for his adversary, and hero in the video game they occupy, Fix-it-Felix Jr. Ralph fulfills his daily duties as a villain admirably for all of the hours the arcade is open. There is one problem, however: Ralph doesn’t want to be a bad guy anymore. And so he sets out on a journey to change his life, and maybe even be thought of as a good guy for once.
The world that Ralph inhabits exists within the interconnecting network of arcade games. A world so vast and splendid, that we viewers cannot help but be immersed in its wonder. Imagine a world where every video game you’ve ever played exists in its own “city,” but are all connected to each other in a grander world. Imagine a place where Ryu from Street Fighter and Sonic the Hedgehog can kick back for a cold one at Tapper’s. Tell me that isn’t a place you’d want to spend at least 90 minutes in, if not more. It’s a world that encapsulates our imaginations as well as our nostalgia. This is the backdrop of Wreck-it-Ralph.
The main character, the titular Wreck-it-Ralph, is surprisingly compelling. He’s such a sweet, mild mannered dude that it’s hard for us to believe he is a professional villain. When I see Ralph, I don’t see a bad guy. I see your typical blue collar, middle class, average Joe just trying to get some respect for his hard work. The supporting cast is made up of a ragtag group of video game misfits from all sorts of games. Fix-it-Felix Jr. is the kind and helpful hero of his game, armed with a magic hammer and a can-do attitude. He chases after Ralph to attempt to convince him to return to their game before something bad happens. Sgt. Calhoun (not Commander Shepard) is the tough as nails military commander with one-liners that exceed far beyond the territory of absurd. She comes from the Mass Effect/Gears of War/StarCraft/Call of Duty game known as Hero’s Duty, and chases after Ralph for her own reasons. Reasons that I would file “spoiler territory. “ Then we have King Candy, the whacky and over the top ruler of Sugar Rush, a candy themed racing game similar to Mario Kart or Diddy Kong Racing. Last but not least is the cute as a button racer Vanellope von Schweetz. Also a denizen of Sugar Rush, Venellope finds herself in similar circumstances as Ralph. I won’t go into too much detail, but the two are like minded folks, and the crux of film relies heavily on these two kindred spirits working together.
What impresses me most about these characters is that each of them has their own mission and goals they wish to accomplish throughout the tale. They are not just simple two dimensional characters. They are fully fleshed out and have their own individual desires and problems. This may be one of Wreck-it-Ralphs highlights, but it also contributes to its greatest flaw. The fact the characters are so well developed, and charging out on their own missions creates a sense they are each the main character of their own little story. This is usually a good thing. However, when you feel like you are literally watching six different movies at once, something is off. So much happens over the course of the movie, from so many different perspectives, it sometimes feels as if you accidently dropped into a different story all together. At one point, it even feels as if the main character shifts from Ralph to Venellope. Fortunately, the movie ties all of its plots together quite nicely. It even features a gasp worthy plot twist. Well, I was shocked at least.
Wreck-it-Ralph is one of the most colorful, nostalgic and heartwarming films I’ve seen in a while. From the opening moments of the movie, super-geeks like me are immediately reminded of the days of old, wandering into arcades and wasting countless quarters on pixelated heroes saving dozens of tiny citizens from overgrown villains. But unlike the games of old that I tirelessly played with unwavering determination, Wreck-it-Ralph actually makes me identify with the would-be antagonist. Ralph reminds me of myself, in a way. He’s soft-spoken and well meaning, if a bit stuck in a rut and desperate for change. Not exactly the typical bad guy. But what makes Ralph a truly great character is how well the audience can identify with him, especially in these times. We’ve all felt that way at some point in our lives, and it is this feeling that Wreck-it-Ralph conjures from our past… or perhaps even our present.
All in all, Wreck-it-Ralph is a fun, family-friendly adventure about a guy who just wants a little respect. The animation is great, the action is thrilling, the humor is hilarious, and the characters are deep and compelling… Oh, I could go on all day. Another impressive aspect to Wreck-it-Ralph is that it is also a clever commentary about the times we live in. If you’re a gamer, there is no way you won’t get a kick out all of the game humor and character cameos. Especially Zangief. Scene-stealing Ruskie. If you’re an artist, you’ll be impressed by the striking visuals of the worlds on display. And if you’re just looking for a movie to see that will bring a smile to your face, you will be smiling throughout. It’s made by talented filmmakers, who were obviously gamers, and infused with boatloads of heart and soul. Wreck-it-Ralph may be a bad guy, but it sure ain’t a bad movie. I give Wreck-it-Ralph a 9 out of 10.