Even the bad guys are good – ★★★
Wreck-It Ralph is tired of being the bad guy, he wants some of the glory or at least to be included in the fun. Feeling the only way to be accepted is by acquiring a medal, he sets out on journey in which we learn he isn’t so bad after all.
Ralph, excellently voiced by John C. Reilly, is the melancholic villain of Wreck-It Ralph, an arcade game which he has been part of for the last thirty years. Day in day out he tears down an apartment block while Felix (Jack McBrayer) predictably fixes it. Tired of being excluded and sleeping in the dump, Ralph wants to be the good guy. He leaves the familiar surroundings in search of an elusive medal usually reserved for heroes. Here he comes across Vanellope von Schweetz (Sarah Silverman) who melts his big gruff heart.
The film contrasts the old and new in video game terms with Ralph a memory of the old 8-bit arcade games of old. We also see nods to other classics such as Street Fighter and Pong peppered throughout the background. It’s a pity they didn’t get the rights to some of the big characters, or maybe they just didn’t want to fork out the money with many notable omissions. The second half of the film takes place in Sugar Rush which is an obvious homage to (or rip off of) Mario Kart. Bright colours and fast kooky cars are what the younger audience members in attendance will be familiar with. Like all good children’s films, the film-makers are trying to capture everybody but it feels as if they haven’t blended things together sufficiently. The first act will appeal to adults, the second to teenage boy “first-person shooter” fans and the third act to young children. So you’ll fall into one of these categories and be left wanting when it meanders into the other roles.
The core concept that Ralph is a bad guy doesn’t really work either, he’s too nice, merely a Shrek type figure. An oddity and loner who just wants to be invited to the party. A villain does rear its head in the form of Turbo which is an interesting plot development for the film. All actors perform their voice duties to great effect with Jane Lynch standing out as Calhoun, the leader of a platoon of Call of Duty type soldiers. Silverman is good at imparting as much cuteness to her character and is the moral core of the film making children and adults alike realise that their difference is what makes them strong, awh shucks.
The film comes from Walt Disney Animation Studios and lacks the sharpness of a true Pixar film and while John Lasseter executive produced it, you can imagine it didn’t take as much of his time as a Pixar film would. It’s nominated alongside Pixar’s Brave for the best animated feature at this year’s Oscars but it really isn’t presenting much novelty with its animation, hopefully the academy will break with tradition and go with Frankenweenie. With enough humour to make it bearable for repeat viewings by parents when it lands on DVD, Wreck-It Ralph ultimately doesn’t have the endurance to make it a beloved classic. Toy Story is still king of the castle.
USA / Directed By: Rich Moore / Written By: Phil Johnston, Jennifer Lee / Starring (voices): John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman, Jack McBrayer, Jane Lynch / 108min / Animation, Adventure / Release: 8 February 2013 (Ireland, UK), 2 November 2012 (USA, Canada)