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“Wreck-It Ralph” – Review (POSITIVE)

November 4, 2012

Walt Disney Animation makes its 52nd entry in the animated feature realm, this time bringing us a movie that explores the world of video games. In a time where originality in kids movies is quite mute, it’s nice to see something fresh and innovative in grand ideas come around. It does share a similarity with “Toy Story”; when the kids/adults are away, and the lights go out, a whole new world takes place right in front of the moviegoer’s eyes. Other than that, “Wreck-It Ralph” takes measures into it’s own hands by becoming a film audiences young and old can connect with.

Ralph (voiced by John C. Reilly) is the villain to 80s 8-bit video game “Fix Felix Jr.”. For 30-years he’s been doing the same old thing; destroying a building and subsequently being thrown off the top of it by the games hero Felix (voiced by Jack McBrayer). Ralph wants to be the hero for a change, he wants a gold medal that reads hero, he wants respect, and he wants to be loved. Ralph decides to game jump, to find his calling as a hero. He makes his way to the new HD video game “Heroes Duty”, an alien-bug infested war zone, led by the strict female commander Calhoun (voiced by Jane Lynch). Ralph barely escapes the mayhem and lands in a racing game called “Sugar Rush”, where he meets an outcast character, Vanellope (voiced by Sarah Silverman) who isn’t allowed to race because she’s a glitch. Ralph & Vanellope form an unlikely friendship and learn how to stick out for one another through thick and thin.

Back in August I had the fortune to attend a private tour with my CalArts character animation majoring little brother, Zack, at the Roy E. Disney (formerly titled Walt Disney) Animation Studios in Burbank. There we had the opportunity to see the last set of post-production work on “Wreck-It Ralph”. Seeing how these animators work, the environment the submerse themselves in, you cannot help but admire the hell out of them. There’s a room there where it’s nothing but old 8-bit arcade games, the love and passion for old school video games was quite apparent on the second floor of the studio, and it shows in the film. When we entered the game central station I found my eyes scattering all over pointing out familiar characters I grew up on, it was a kid in a candy store.

The movies themes about heroism, friendship, and standing up for what you believe in, isn’t something new for Disney, but how it’s presented here couldn’t be more fresh and intelligent. The camaraderie between Vanellope & Ralph is the true heart of the film; their voyage about their own identity is inspiring. There are moments in the film on what constitutes a hero; Ralph is conflicted with this notion near the end of the second act that I found compelling. What does make a hero? A hero is sometimes a person that has to make the most difficult decision for the greater good. Ralph faces this twice, once under false pretenses and lastly in his true final heroic act.

A movie like this needs a talented group of actors to voice such colorful characters; John C. Reilly as always is a charmer in the comedic world, anything he does I’m pretty much there. Sarah Silverman, that snarky tongue she-witch of a comedienne does some of her best vocal work as the loveable Vanellope; she makes it her own, but leaves room for that Disney charm. Supporting players from Jack McBrayer to Jane Lynch to Alan Tudyek, yah, I didn’t expect Alan to be in this movie, but that just added some more awesome points to the scoreboard. The movies only downfall I feel is it’s runtime, it maybe a fun film, but there are brief moments where the pacing slows down where it shouldn’t and it stretches out a tad too long. Also, the 3D is nothing to brag about here, no dimensions, no snazziness.  But, those are brief issues in the grand scheme of it all. “Wreck-It Ralph” will go down in the books as a classic for generations to come, and if it doesn’t get little ones interested in the past gens video games, I don’t know what will.

3D GRADE: C+

MOVIE GRADE: A-

FINAL GRADE: B+

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