James Johnston ’15 / Emertainment Monthly Editor
Remember video games like Pac-Man or Q*bert? No? …Maybe? Disney’s Wreck-It-Ralph has been getting a lot of positive media buzz, mainly from adults who were old enough to know the value of a quarter, along with kids who were too young to pick up a Super Nintendo. We will be honest, we liked the movie. We just did not love it.
The main character Ralph is a big, cuddly, lovable loser looking for recognition for all his hard work being the villain of his game, Fix-It Felix (Jr.!). On the 30th anniversary of his game’s release, all the characters including Felix throw a huge party without Ralph. Ralph takes this very personally and leaves the world of Fix-It Felix Jr. to find a medal to become a hero. Makes sense in a video-game-sort-of-way.
This is where the movie decides to dump the majority of its references. Ralph leaves his own game and journeys to the hub of every game in his arcade, where the locals are out in droves. There’s Sonic, Bowser, the guy from Root Beer Tapper, and some Street Fighter characters. From what I heard in the audience, no children chuckled at the sight of Pac-Man, but hey- that’s not their childhood, right?
After the movie finishes name-dropping, the real story begins. Ralph ends up in the fictional game of Sugar Rush, the movie’s candy-coated Mario Kart clone. He has to help an adorable tiny glitch girl win the big race in order to gain love and respect from all her peers (spoilers: In typical Disney fashion, she’s secretly a princess).
Hmm, instead of a video game-themed adventure m
vie, now we are a racing movie? It is quite a girly racing movie at that, what with all the bright colors and J-pop playing. We have not been children for years, but if we had to choose between seeing Wreck-It-Ralph smash aliens or help a girl gain self-respect by winning a brightly-colored candy race, we think we would go for the alien fights. The candy-race takes up a good chunk of the movie, with Ralph and Vanellope the glitch girl preparing for and finally racing the race. The movie shifted gears so unexpectedly that it pulled us out of the experience a bit.
Meanwhile in the B-plot, Fix-It Felix Jr. and the tough-as-nails Marine woman from the modern “Hero’s Duty” arcade game are looking to find Felix and right his wrongs. They have a few romantic moments to keep things interesting, because there has to be a bit of romance in there somewhere. They even get married at the end for kicks, bringing all the separate games closer together.
At the end, multiple games clash together and chaos erupts, and Ralph finally get his chance to wreck things…for good. There is a teary moment and then everything is back to normal. The video game-themed rollercoaster ride comes to a close, and everyone gets their happy ending. It is standard movie material, told through Disney’s expertise in the field.
All the voice acting in the film is expertly performed, with stars like Jack McBrayer of 30 Rock and Jane Lynch from Glee. There’s a lot of great chemistry between Ralph and Vanellope, voiced by John C. Reilly and Sarah Silverman, respectively.
All the CGI had a high level of polish, with textures ranging from fat candy cane forests to evil alien landscapes. Each world had its own unique feel, and although characters from other worlds were placed together, no one character felt out of place. The 3D in the film is also skillfully handled. Certain scenes really pop, especially during the big race.
Unless you are a gamer who is starving for mainstream culture recognition, you will not be wowed by Wreck-It-Ralph. Much like how Madagascar used animals to tell its story, Wreck-It-Ralph lucked out by choosing video games. It is a fun kid’s movie. If you want to be the target of all its references and not-so-subtle nods to pop culture, go see it. Just don’t expect anything above and beyond.