WARNING: This is a post from my high school blog. I cannot vouch for its quality but I wanted to give people an idea of how my writing has developed over the years. Yes, I’m padding my site.
Dir. Rich Moore
Wr. Phil Johnston, Jennifer Lee
Prod. Clark Spencer
Str. John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman, Jack McBrayer
I’m not a huge fan of animated movies. It’s not that I can’t appreciate them, but I tend to find myself getting bored midway through, after the initial rush of exposure to the world and the style wears off. And rewatching them a second time? Forget it. The one exception of this rule so far is The Lego Movie. But, I will say firmly, that Wreck-It Ralph is one of the best animated movies to come out of late.
Especially in this Pixar drought, it’s wonderful to see an animated movie that so confidently builds its universe and its characters to such a satisfying degree. The story is one we’ve seen before, sure, but it’s in a place that’s never been imagined on screen before: the hidden world of videogame characters, all coexisting in a rinse-repeat lifestyle, in and between their arcade cabinets.
I won’t go too in-depth with this review, because I think it’s a clever movie that merely needs to be seen and enjoyed to really understand why it’s so good.
In essence, our main character Ralph is the archetypal soft-hearted monster. Voiced by a lovable John C. Reilly, we can already expect walking in just how he is going to change. But that’s more than okay, because the movie manages to do it in a fun, engaging way. Ralph eventually embraces who he is, and becomes accepted by others, but he does so with trouble, it doesn’t just happen because someone told him to accept himself. He learns and subsequently demonstrates his inner changing through his actions, including a chilling attempt at self-sacrifice. It doesn’t mess with the formula here, but it’s like when Mom makes the store bought brownie mix- you know there’s an exact outcome, but somehow it’s better when she does it. The formula is followed with passion, and the characters’ arcs are made to be convincing.
That using-the-recipe-with-passion is employed in many core elements of the movie, but what ensures the its freshness is the dedication to world-building. Each character serves a function and allows us to understand the way this 8-bit world works. We have Ralph, the “villian” of his game, and the “hero,” Fix-It Felix. The breaking of the roles works because we first understand their pre-determined meaning in the context of the world. Felix is the guy you play as in a videogame, and Ralph is the guy you try to kill or get rid of.
The world also has many nuances to its conception, some of which, to be honest, can get overwhelming trying to remember. Rules about what the videogame characters can and cannot do are a little unclear at moments. But it’s only a show of the dedication put into crafting it.
Speaking of videogame characters, there are many guest appearances from famous real-life gaming icons. Bowser, Robotnik, Sonic, Ryu, and Q-Bert all get a little moment to show. They are fun gags and by now means detract from the movie. And if they weren’t there, it wouldn’t detract either, which is how it should be, the story is about Ralph after all.
Watch it! It is a nice surprise, and deserves your attention. There are some clear similarities to Shrek, but I would go so far as to say that Wreck-It Ralph is a more clever, emotional experience. It doesn’t have the darker, grungier feel that Shrek does, but it definitely has much to offer in terms of developing the medium of animation in film. Check it out!
Thank you for reading this short, babbly review of Wreck-It Ralph.