2012-11-02

Wreck-It Ralph – Best Video Game Movie Ever?

by Yo Snyder

Part of what makes Who Framed Roger Rabbit one of my all-time
favorite movies is the way it celebrates being a fan of classic
animation by having cameos from some of the most recognizable characters
of classic animation. Bugs Bunny, Mickey Mouse, Yosemite Sam and many
more, and many more obscure, cartoon characters populate that world –
often just in the background – which helps create a rich, fully-realized
world for the story to take place in. It’s just easier to believe that
cartoon characters are actors going to work just like everyone else when
they’re cartoon characters we recognize. Wreck-It Ralph wisely
follows this formula, populating it’s world with all sort of video game
icons that gaming fans of every age are sure to recognize. But, like
Roger Rabbit, the story isn’t focused on the cameos, they just help
fill-out the world in which some new characters enjoy their adventure.
While not quite reaching the same lofty heights as Roger and co., Wreck-It Ralph is the Who Framed Roger Rabbit for the gaming generation; and it’s one fun film.

I think Disney is benefiting quite a bit from having Pixar under their umbrella. Wreck-It Ralph
could have easily been a string of in-jokes, pop culture references,
and gaming jargon, but they wisely kept all of that to a minimum.
Instead, we’re given some well developed characters we actually care
about, and though their story is a pretty standard “be happy with who
you are” type journey, it still works because you do care about these
characters. Ralph is a bad guy who really isn’t a bad guy. He’s someone
who wants to be more than the role defined for him, and his quest to
find that role is what sparks this journey. John C. Reilly perfectly
captures the character with his performance, and is yet another example
of Disney learning from Pixar’s excellence; sometimes it’s more
important to get the right person to voice a role instead of the most
recognizable person. Vanellope, voiced by Sarah Silverman, is the type
of character that could have easily been annoying, but instead is rather
endearing. Yeah, she can be obnoxious, but in that playful, innocent
way that makes her adorableness hard to resist. She’s the perfect foil
for Reilly’s Ralph, and it’s because these two characters work so well
that the rest of movie works as well as it does. I also have to give a
shout-out for Alan Tudyk’s performance as King Candy, who channels his
inner Ed Wynn (who played the Mad Hatter in Disney’s 1951 animated
version of Alice in Wonderland) to great effect. It’s just
awesome. Finally, I have to say that Jack McBrayer as Fix-It Felix
pretty much just plays an animated version of his character from 30 Rock. Jane Lynch is also pretty much her character from Glee, but somehow that works better for her in this movie than it does for McBrayer.

The
other big star of the movie is the world it’s set in. Not just because
of the all the fun cameos from various gaming icons such as Bowser,
Sonic and Pac-Man, but because of the wonderful attention to detail
given to this world. Characters from the 8-bit Wreck-It Ralph game move much more stiffly and their animation isn’t quite as fluid as the one’s from the hi-def world of Hero’s Duty.
Even the way the speak shows that they’re from an older game. The movie
does a great job of giving each game world it’s own distinct feel; from
the Pleasantville world of Wreck-It Ralph to the darker, more intense combat world of Hero’s Duty, to the brightly colored world of Sugar Rush
that’s a mix of Candyland and Mario Kart. I look forward to seeing more
of these worlds should Ralph get a well deserved sequel. I’ve heard
some complain that too much time is spent in the world of Sugar Rush,
and I get that; it would be fun to see more games. However, I think the
decision to spend as much time as the film does in this setting serves
the story well, so it never really bothered me.

Ralph’s journey
to try and become a hero instead of a bad guy leads to a very poignant
moment when he’s told that if he really wants to be a hero, he needs to
make the tough choices. That’s what heroes do. Unfortunately this plot
point, which could have taken the movie is a pretty cool direction is
really a red herring to throw you off the trail of where it actually
ends up going, which while still good, is pretty standard and safe, but
that’s beside the point. The point is heroes make the tough decisions.
That’s true. When we hear people talk about Jesus dying on a cross for
our sins, just the way it’s talked about makes it sound like it wasn’t
that big of a deal; it’s just something he did. However, make no
mistake; it was a very tough choice. I mean think about, if you could
step-in and take the sever beating, torture, pain and suffering for
someone – who’s absolutely guilty and deserving of such punishment –
despite the fact that you’re completely innocent and don’t really have
to, but if you do it will provide that person with the option, not the
guarantee, but at lest the chance of changing their ways and leading a
better life; would you? Would you do it just because it’s the right
thing to do? That’s not an easy choice, and it wasn’t an easy one for
Jesus either. In fact, it stressed him out so much he started sweating
blood over it. He even begged God to not have to do it. Yet in the end,
he did. Why? Because it was the right thing to do, because it was the
heroic thing to do, and Jesus was a true hero. A hero who loved you,
which in his mind made his sacrifice well worth it. Heroes don’t get to
make the easy decisions or take the easy way out, but the choices they
make can change lives forever; just look at what Jesus did.

Wreck-It Ralph
is a movie with a big heart, great characters, a solid if standard
story, lots of fun easter eggs for gaming fans to enjoy, and plenty of
laughs for everyone of all ages. It’s not as great as Who Framed Roger Rabbit,
but it’s the best movie of that type to come along in a long time, and
one of the better animated movies out this year. You don’t even really
have to be a big gaming fan to enjoy it. The movie, wisely, isn’t about
knowing all the gaming in-jokes, it’s about themes that resonate with
just about everyone. Plus, most of the jokes don’t depend on your
knowledge of video games and pop culture, but just having a funny bone.
So whether you have gaming fans in your family or not, this is a movie
that’s enjoyable for all.

Oh, and the animated short at the
beginning is a great example of that magical, Disney touch when it comes
to animation, which they’ve been missing in past years. It’s nice to
see it return, and honestly the short was one of the better parts of the
movie.

Score: 5 of 7