Wreck-it Ralph – Review

by Bret W.

I want to preface this review by saying I hate 3D movies. I absolutely despise the direction that Hollywood has been heading for the past few years. I feel like I’m stuck in the 1950’s. I want to go to California and shout at the top of my lungs, “Hey, Hollywood! Not everything has to be in 3D!”

Apparently it does.

OK so now that I’ve got that out of the way…

Wreck-It Ralph tells the story of a videogame bad guy who is tired of being a bad guy. Not because of what he does or how he acts, but rather, how he’s treated by others. He is excessively jealous of the games protagonist, Fix-It Felix Jr. (I feel I must say at this point that this game is an amalgamation of many popular 8-bit and 16-bit arcade classics, particularly Donkey Kong.)

When Ralph is not invited to the 30th anniversary party of the game, he crashes the party and is told in no uncertain terms that he is not welcome. One of the residents tells him that if he could win a medal (like Felix does when he successfully repairs the apartment building that Ralph, uh, wrecks), not only would he be welcome but he could live in the Penthouse.

This causes Ralph to go on a quest for a medal, by hopping into a bruatl first-person shooter called “Hero’s Duty.” Don’t worry, the writers did not miss the double-entendre and go to great lengths to milk it for all it’s worth – much hilarity ensues. Although he does win a medal, he accidentally awakens a cyberbug, falls into a rocket, and is shot – with the bug – into the sickeningly sweet racing game Sugar Rush.

This causes quite the conundrum for all. The cyberbugs do not know they are in a videogame, and whatever they consume they become. They are like a virus, which means it could be curtains for Sugar Rush and every other game in the arcade if they are not stopped.

I don’t want to give too much of the plot away. Suffice to say that Ralph meets some interesting people along the way, and even Felix has a little romantic twinge for Sergeant Calhoun, the female non-com from Hero’s Duty who is trying to find the cyberbug and destroy it before it’s too late.

So, like I said at the outset, I hate 3D movies, and I only went to this one because my son loves them. Thing is, the 3D was so well-done in this film (give Disney some credit) that I found it quite enjoyable. Maybe it didn’t add anything to the story but visually it made it rather appealing.

As for the story – it was compelling. There was some mystery and intrigue among the characters in Sugar Rush, particularly between King Candy and Ralph’s new friend, Vanelope von Schweetz. Plus there was the aforementioned romantic interest between Fix-It Felix Jr. and Sgt. Calhoun.

As for the acting – it was convincing. Voice-acting has always been something of an art form but the trend as of late has been to use big-name actors to voice animated parts. While it wouldn’t seem too wise for an actor to be heard and not seen, it has certainly boosted some careers. You might think that there would be less demand on a voice-actor. You would be wrong. In fact, it’s harder, I think, to convey emotion when you don’t have body language to use. That’s up to the animator. But the voice actor has to bring their character depth, and this is quite convincingly done by John C. Reilly in his first voice-acting foray. The rest of the cast are equally good – hats off especially to Jane Lynch as Sgt. Calhoun and Sarah Silverman as Vanelope. And I loved Alan Tudyk as King Candy. You may remember him as Noah Werner in Suburgatory, or as Gerhard in 20 Days, or my favorite, Wat in A Knight’s Tale. When I heard Tudyk’s King Candy, I thought they had resurrected Ed Wynn, one of the foremost actor/voice actor crossovers of his day (as The Mad Hatter from Disney’s Alice in Wonderland).

From start to finish, Wreck-It Ralph was touching, funny, and clever. It made me think of a video game version of Toy Story. Being a Disney film, it’s probably no spoiler to say that there’s a happy ending. But the way it resolved itself had me guessing right until the very end. Suffice to say, I have an easier time guessing the end of M. Night Shyamlan films than this one.

If you haven’t seen Wreck-It Ralph, do yourself a huge solid and go see it. And if you want a real treat, go see it (I can’t believe I’m saying this) in 3D. It’s well worth the extra money.