Wreck-It Ralph is awesome. There, I said it. But why? I hear you cry. First of all, it’s a beautiful, stunning film to look at, it features a host of likeable characters, and it’s a film that allows you to revel in a vintage age of retro video-gaming.
The film tells the story of an arcade game, Fix-It Felix Jnr, in which Ralph is a Wrecker, a character who must wreck an apartment building to give Felix (and by extension, the player) something to fix. Ralph isn’t a bad guy, and he’s tired of being the villain, and he decides to prove everyone wrong about him. His plan involves travelling to another game to win a medal, to prove he can be the good guy, and so hopefully change people’s perceptions of him. Things don’t go according to plan (it would be a very short film if they did) and Ralph must prove himself to be a hero to save the world of Sugar Rush, a Mario Kart style racing game.
The film is filled with a host of main characters, from Ralph himself (who we very early on know is not a ‘bad guy’) to Calhoun, the tough female marine in charge of Hero’s Duty, a futuristic first-person-shooter. King Candy is a screwball chap in charge of Sugar Rush who comes across like a male version of Alice in Wonderland‘s Red Queen, and Vanellope Von Schweetz is the kooky glitch Ralph encounters within Sugar Rush. It’s also easy to spend most of the film trying to spot all of the cameos made by classic characters like Street Fighter II‘s Chun Li and Super Mario Bros‘ Bowser. (There is a full list of cameos here)
True, the idea of an underdog triumphing by both accepting his limitations AND turning his negative points into positive ones isn’t exactly a new one, but Wreck-It Ralph manages to tell the story in a way that doesn’t come across as patronising or schmaltzy – it’s easy to root for Ralph not because he’s the underdog, but because he’s a likeable guy. As he says, “I’m bad, and that’s good. I will never be good, and that’s not bad. There’s no one I’d rather be then me”.
It felt more like a Pixar film than the titles Pixar have put out in recent years, but I’d venture to guess that John Lasseter’s involvement as executive producer is a large part of this. I saw it in 2D and the visuals were still tremendous. The jumps between 8-bit pixel art and hi-definition animation felt less jarring than expected, and the whole film felt like a love letter to vintage video games, and the joys of arcades.
5 out of 5!