Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Wreck-It Ralph

Year: 2012
Director: Rich Moore
Voice cast: John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman, Jane Lynch, Jack McBrayer

Plot: Ralph has been the bad guy in the game Fix It Felix Jr for 30 years, but he feels under-appreciated by his fellow game characters. So he ventures out to another video game to get a medal which he believes will make him a hero, and in the process endangers the lives of the other video games and their characters in the arcade.

Review: If you're like me, a person who spent his childhood visiting the arcade and put in tons of coins in the machines for some video game excitement, then you're bound to have loads of fun watching Wreck-It Ralph.

I had a ball of a time seeing the filmmakers pay tribute to some video games that have stood the test of time till now, like Street Fighter, Sonic The Hedgehog, Pac Man and even Tapper (remember the bartender guy who had to serve beer down the counter over and over?). Even the Fix It Felix Jr video game is based on Donkey Kong, where Felix has to repair whatever damage Ralph causes to an apartment building.

So as the story goes, Ralph is a video game villain who is tired of being the outcast in his own game, simply because he's the bad guy. The last straw comes when Felix and the other characters throw an anniversary party without inviting him, so he sets out to find a gold medal, which he believes will turn him into a hero. Naturally, things go wrong and he ends up in Sugar Rush, a go-karting game where he meets Vanellope, a character who isn't allowed to become a playable avatar in her own game because she's considered a 'glitch', i.e. isn't supposed to exist. Ralph and Vanellope become unlikely friends, and it's their friendship that becomes the centre of the story.

But then you might wonder, how do the video games connect to each other? Well, there is a place called Grand Central Station, where video game characters can meet each other after the arcade closes (on the outside, this place is the portable plug sockets arcade owners use to power the games). There are rules though, like certain times where the characters have to return to their games when the arcade opens, and they cannot die in any other game besides their own, or they die for real. Characters have to be in their games as long as they're operational, or the game won't work and the arcade owner unplugs the game, thereby leaving the characters without a home. So guess what happens when Ralph walks out of his own game?

Director and writer Rich Moore does a tremendous job in creating this video game world so convincingly and makes every character stand out. He pays a lot of attention to detail, the best example being the Fix It Felix Jr game, which is an old fashioned 8 bit game. Even in this game itself, when the characters mingle, and are animated in the usual three dimensional style, they move like 8 bit characters, with the glitchy stop and go motions. It's amazing really. Then there's the Hero's Duty game, where a first person shooter game is presented really well for the audience. Inside the game, the player is essentially a computer screen with arms, legs and a gun, controlled by the kid on the outside. I can go on, but I think you get the picture.

Anyway, the story itself is as heartwarming as Disney can get. Ralph and Vanellope are basically outcasts who are struggling to find their place in their respective games, and attempt to help each other achieve that. I can totally relate to Ralph, a misunderstood guy who just wants to be the hero for once. Vanellope may seem annoying at first but she slowly grows on you as the story progresses. Calhoun, the tough as nails chick from Hero's Duty (voiced by Jane Lynch no less) is pretty amazing too. And it's a hoot seeing Ralph attend a Bad Guys Group meeting with Street Fighter's Zangief & M.Bison, Pac Man's Clyde and a whole bunch of others.

The only thing I didn't like was the subplot featuring a romance between Felix and Calhoun, which I thought was just weird. Other than that, I can't think of anything else I disagreed with.

All I can say is, if you've played even one video game when you grew up, you can't go wrong with this film. Heck, if you love great stories about friendship and heroism, and you've never played video games before, you'll love this too. Recommended. (4/5)

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