Friday, 8 February 2013

No.170 : Wreck It Ralph



Wreck It Ralph on IMDb

We conclude your exhaustive review of all the ‘W’ movies at this year’s Oscars with ‘Wreck It Ralph’ which is up for ‘Best Animated Feature’.

The titular character is the villain in an 1980’s video game called ‘Fix-It Felix Jnr’. Ralph’s job, as you may have guessed, is to wreck a building which is then fixed by Felix and his magic hammer. It’s a kind of ‘Donkey Kong’ rip off in its full 16 bit glory.

The game is one of many in an arcade and, as the venue closes, the video game characters go about their everyday lives before it all starts up again the next day. Ralph however isn’t happy. His game is 30 years old and all the residents of the building hate him due to all the wrecking. He lives in a tip and his issues are such that he attends a bad guys anonymous meeting along with Dr Robotnik and a ‘Pac-Man’ ghost, among others. Taking inspiration from his meeting he confronts the residents who advise that if he proved himself to be a hero by getting a medal he can move away from his dump and take residence in the building.

Of course they are humouring him but Ralph sets out on a quest to gain their acceptance. The characters can travel through the electricity cable to the central junction box where they can visit other games. The ‘Bad Guys’ meeting for example is hosted by ‘Pac-man’ and the characters take on the graphics of the host system, leading to some cracking retro fun - and a nice cherry for the homeless Q*Bert.

Anyway, Ralph  first makes his way into ‘Hero’s Duty’ a kind of ‘Gears of War’ shoot em up and meets the foxy Calhoun (Jane Lynch) who yells him through her game. He manages to secure a medal but it’s quickly lost, meaning a trip to the neighbouring ‘Sugar Rush’ racing game cabinet. Unfortunately, Ralph unwittingly takes an alien 'psy bug' with him and this could spell disaster for the candy land of ‘Sugar Rush’ and maybe the arcade in general.

This plot point is parked for a while as Ralph meets Vanellope a cute wannabe racer. She is a ‘Glitch’ who crackles occasionally and is a pariah of the bitchy racers. She has Ralph’s medal and uses it to gain entry to the big race that will determine tomorrow’s grid line up. Ralph helps her build a car but they must also deal with King Candy who wants to keep her out at all costs. Meanwhile Felix and Calhoun have a twin mission of finding Ralph, who has gone AWOL from his game, and the alien bug that Calhoun has to destroy.

Can Vanellope win the race and gain acceptance? Can Ralph break his ‘bad guy’ shackles and become a hero and will Felix and Calhoun sort out their problems and maybe each other? Let’s hope so!

The idea of retro video games being the backdrop drew me to this film but it was so much better than I expected and it must be the best animated feature since ‘The Incredibles’.

The level of detail and affection shown by the creators for the subject matter is amazing. I’m sure I missed loads of references but even small things like Sonic the Hedgehog spilling a load of golden rings when he’s bumped into was great. When Ralph needs a beer he heads to the ‘Beer Tapper' machine and Q*Bert maintains his strange dialogue of  #%! - so that what that sounds like!

The characters were all great fun and fully rounded. Calhoun’s horrific back-story was cracking and had a brilliant call back at the end. I did feel using John C Reilly to voice Ralph was a bit invasive given he’s so familiar sounding but Jane Lynch and especially Sarah Silverman were excellent as Calhoun and Vanellope.

The animation was flawless and the changing styles were a joy. Ralph looks ‘normal’ when off duty but is a boxy 16 bitter when in game. The characters, all from different genres, should look daft together but it works wonderfully especially in the rich sweet vistas of ‘Sugar Rush’. There is also an excellent and energetic soundtrack and a pretty detailed plot that needs your attention. The big surprise at the end was expertly forshadowed in one of the film’s funniest scenes and it all came together in a clever and satisfying manner.

I ‘d find it hard to find any fault with this film and would recommend it to all - well kids and immature men with an 1980’s video game fixation at any rate!

W Score 22/23        Best Bit : Who’s that in Roadblasters?


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