Video games haven’t received much respect on the silver screen. Whether it has involved adapting properties with very little to offer
dramatically (Super Mario Bros.) or simply slapping a franchise tag on screenplays with almost no connection to the source material
(Resident Evil), video game films have been uniformly atrocious. Hack filmmakers and producers just trying to make a quick buck off name
recognition have plagued the industry for years.
Even the more respectable productions, such as Disney’s Prince of Persia film, have been major disappointments.
While Wreck-It Ralph may not strictly count as an adaptation, it is perhaps the first good film to directly involve and pay tribute to gaming.
Think of it as Toy Story for game characters. These characters inhabit their various arcade cabinets, live their lives after the game is over
and populate a connected hub world.
Ralph is the bad guy in Fix-It Felix (An obvious Donkey Kong clone). Ralph wrecks the building and Felix fixes it. But Ralph doesn’t want to
be a bad guy anymore. He gets thrown off of buildings, is shunned by the rest of the game’s population and is even forced to live in a dump
all by his lonesome.
Ralph decides that in order to win the love and admiration of his fellow characters, he needs to win a medal by ‘game-jumping.’ He
infiltrates modern day sci-fi first-person shooter Hero’s Duty to disastrous results and eventually ends up in arcade racer Sugar Rush
(Basically Mario Kart in Candy Land).
Up to this point, Wreck-It Ralph is a fun film with a handful of cool gaming references and cameos. But it’s here that it becomes its own
story and even grows a heart.
After crash-landing in Sugar Rush, Ralph teams up with a mischievous glitch named Vanellope.
Vanellope skips across the screen as if permanently plagued by a laggy internet connection.
Obviously both are outcasts and they form an alliance to enter the race and earn Ralph’s medal.
Their relationship is the core of this film and it makes Wreck-It Ralph a legitimate story. Their chemistry is funny and heartwarming at the
same time and is really quite excellent.
John C. Reilly is good as Ralph, but Sarah Silverman is exceptional. Her girly tone and excellent comic timing make Vanellope a hilarious
and adorable little scamp.
Director Rich Moore infuses great energy and pacing throughout the film and the climactic race sequence is well-executed and pretty
While all these triumphs elevate Wreck-It Ralph, it’s also held back by its less successful threads.
The plotline involving Sugar Rush’s power-hungry mayor is a bit forced and feels unnecessary. Meanwhile, the subplot featuring Felix and
Sergeant Calhoun from the Hero’s Duty game is tacked-on to say the least.
The animation is quite good and while Henry Jackman’s score isn’t anything exceptional, it does have a cool 8-bit sound.
Wreck-It Ralph is a briskly-paced, consistently entertaining film. It’s funny, has a clever sense of nostalgia and, best of all, it has a heart.
Whether you’re a hardcore gamer or a newb, Wreck-It Ralph comes recommended.
* * *
(out of four)
Directed by: Rich Moore
Written by: Phil Johnston and Jennifer Lee
Starring: John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman, Jack
McBrayer, Jane Lynch, Adam Carolla, Alan Tudyk
Music by: Henry Jackman
Released: November 2, 2012; 101 Minutes