Equally entertaining for both children and parents who will catch the many references to classic arcade games, ‘Wreck-It Ralph’ is a funny, colourful and exciting adventure from Walt Disney Animation Studios. Directed by Rich Moore, most known for his work-on ‘The Simpsons’ in addition to some other recent Disney flicks. This eight-bit odyssey may not quite match-up to some of the other iconic films Disney has released in its many years of crafting animated stories, yet is still sure to please any game-enthusiasts in search of a new favourite.
After many years of being the bad guy and being defeated in his own game day-after-day, ‘Wreck-It Ralph’ longs to be as beloved as his game’s perfect protagonist: ‘Fix-It Felix’. So when a modern, first-person shooter arrives in his arcade, ‘Ralph’ sees his opportunity for heroism and happiness. But now, with his game at risk of being put out-of-order due to his disappearance, ‘Ralph’ must quickly return home before its game-over for everyone.
From the get-go, one of the best elements of: ‘Wreck-It Ralph’ has to be its initial concept, as the film portrays the idea of video game characters coming-to-life in a similar fashion to the ‘Toy Story’ series, but also adds a living virtual world alongside. Interestingly, Disney first began developing an animated film based-around a world of video game characters in the 1980s. At that time, the project was titled: ‘High Score’, it was then changed to ‘Joe Jump’ in the 1990s. Until in the late 2000s, when the film was finally pushed forward, the first two months of story development focused-on ‘Fix-It Felix Jr.’ as the protagonist, which eventually lead-on to the film we received.
John C. Riley and Sarah Silverman lead the cast as the titular characters: ‘Wreck-It Ralph’ and ‘Vanellope Von Schweetz’ superbly, as unlike most animated films, the main group of actors regularly recorded their sessions together in the same room, a situation which led to large amounts of improvising and gave the cast a real sense of chemistry. But regardless of how much of his dialogue was improvised, ‘Ralph’ still remains in my opinion, one of the most memorable and likeable characters Disney has created in their more modern animations, mostly due to his design and understandable motivation of wanting to be seen as a hero. Jack McBrayer, Jane Lynch and Alan Tudyk make-up the remainder of the cast, who are all also wonderful within their roles as ‘Fix-It Felix’, ‘Calhoun’ and ‘King Candy’ respectively, as each actor plays into whichever type of game they originate from, e.g. intense sci-fi solider or cartoonish kart-racer.
An area ‘Wreck-It Ralph’ is lacking however, its on the promise of exploring the many different game worlds its story implies. As while the film does explore its two signature worlds of: ‘Hero’s Duty’ and ‘Sugar Rush’ well, ensuring each location feels vastly different in terms of both its design, animated cinematography and colour palette. The film is limited in how many video games its characters actually explore, which is a shame when considering the many possible adventures its different arcade worlds could contain. Especially when taking into account the huge number of cameos from video game icons like ‘Pac-Man’, ‘Q’bert’ and ‘Sonic the Hedgehog’.
Although the original score by Henry Jackman is a slightly missed opportunity to have a classic eight-bit score to further fit with the video game narrative, the film’s soundtrack still features plenty of great tracks, which just like the film’s visuals, alter depending-on which video game world the characters are currently inside. As outside of the enjoyable tracks: ‘Wreck-It Ralph’ and ‘Messing with the Program’, the score occasionally gets quite creative, even having an original theme created for the kart-racing game: ‘Sugar Rush’ by J-pop band: ‘AKB48’, (as the fictional video game is manufactured in Japan).
Whilst the animation itself is visually stunning and brimming with small details as with nearly every animated Disney film, the main flaw ‘Wreck-It Ralph’ suffers from its without a doubt its story structure. As what may throw many viewers-off is that the film begins focused entirely-on ‘Ralph’ and his journey, before then quickly and drastically changing direction to focus more-on ‘Vanellope’ and her desire to become a playable ‘Sugar Rush’ racer, which can be a little jolting when recalling the film’s first act.
Overall, ‘Wreck-It Ralph’ may not always use its concept to its best extent, and can often go too far when it comes to some of its immature or video game-related humour. Yet the film’s delightful characters, gorgeous and distinctive locations and beautiful animation all manage to save the film from its faults. A 7/10 in total. Despite not going-down as successfully with audiences as ‘Frozen’ or ‘Zootropolis’ for example, I still feel ‘Wreck-It Ralph’ is worth grabbing a joystick for if you get the chance.