Wreck-It Ralph

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A very quick review here – something you may have to get used to. They can’t all be 2,000 word essays like the Django one after all. I can hear you say woohoo.

Anyway, brief outline. Wreck-It Ralph is a Disney computer animated film produced by John Lassiter. However, it’s not a Pixar film, which is a bit strange. Pixar is clearly where the comparisons are going to lie, and specifically Toy Story.

Where Toy Story focused on the inner life of Toys when you shut the bedroom door, here we’re dealing with the secret lives on videogame characters (or, more particularly, arcade machines). The world is populated with a mixture of genuine VG characters (Rui and Ken from Street Fighter, Sonic, a ghost from Pacman all make an appearance) and those invented for the film – in the same way that Toy Story had real and invented toys. Our focus is Wreck-It Ralph (if you hadn’t guessed) – the bad guy form the 30 year old arcade favourite Fix-It Felix (invented for the film, lest you be confused).

[Sorry all for all the parentheses there]

Ralph has grown tired of being treated as a bad guy when he’s “off-stage” as well as in the game itself. Like a traffic warden, he’s just doing his job. Or to put it in the terms of the film:

Just because you’re the bad-guy, doesn’t mean you’re a bad guy.

When Ralph is left out of the celebrations of the game’s 30th anniversary he runs off on a quest to gain a medal in another game to prove he can be a hero too. He’s adventure takes him first to a Call Of Duty-style first person shooter (“Hero’s Duty”) and then to a Sugar Rush, a candy-themed racing game where he meets Vanellope von Schweetz a glitching character who wants to take part in just one race.

It’s a thoroughly entertaining film, good fun throughout, and will no doubt be enjoyed by both kids and the adults who take them (or, like me, go without any). There are plenty of in-jokes for gamers to enjoy, but nothing too nerdy to put off people who don’t play games.

However, the real question is where does it stand against Pixar? That’s always going to be the question with any computer animation. Last year Pixar couldn’t live up to their own billing with the good-but-not-great Brave, but it’s not like any other computer animation stood up to take the top spot. Wreck-It Ralph is a better film than Brave, if only because it doesn’t have a jarring plot twist halfway through, but it suffers by way of comparison to the upper echelon of Pixar classics – the Toy Stories, Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, Wall-E. That’s not necessarily because it’s story isn’t as fun and engrossing, but it lacks the depth of those films. Where the Toy Story films have a variety of things to say about growing up and about our relationships with our families, Wreck-It Ralph is what it is, no more, no less.

Great fun, but not quite great.

8/10 (4 stars)


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