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Movie Review: Wreck-It Ralph

November 1, 2012

Wreck-it Ralph – A Walt Disney Pictures’ Release

http://disney.go.com/wreck-it-ralph/

Release Date: November 2nd, 2012

Rated PG for some crude humour and mild action

Running time: 95 minutes

Rich Moore (dir.)

Jennifer Lee (screenplay)

Phil Johnston (screenplay)

Henry Jackman (music)

John C. Reilly as Ralph (voice)

Sarah Silverman as Vanellope (voice)

Jack McBrayer as Felix (voice)

Jane Lynch as Calhoun (voice)

Alan Tudyk as King Candy (voice)

Mindy Kaling as Taffyta Muttonfudge (voice)

Joe Lo Truglio as Markowski (voice)

Ed O’Neill as Mr. Litwak (voice)

Dennis Haysbert as General Hologram (voice)

Edie McClurg as Mary (voice)

©Walt Disney Pictures.  All Rights Reserved.

Ralph (John C. Reily) in Disney’s Wreck-It Ralph.

Our reviews below:

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Wreck-It Ralph Review By John C.

**** (out of 4)

There are so many great things to say about Disney’s Wreck-it Ralph, that it’s hard to know exactly where to start my review.  Perhaps I should start by saying that this incredibly entertaining and surprisingly heartfelt film does for video games what Who Framed Roger Rabbit? did for classic cartoons, and it seems destined to become a modern classic.

Ralph (John C. Reily) lives in the 8-bit world of Fix-It Felix Jr. and is the villain of the classic arcade game.  Felix (Jack McBrayer) is the hero who uses his magic golden hammer to fix the building that gets wrecked by Ralph’s “freakishly big” hands.  But after thirty years, Ralph is tired of being the bad guy and heads out to Game Central Station and finds himself stumbling into the world of the shooter game Hero’s Duty where he meets the tough Sergeant Calhoun (Jane Lynch).  Although no sooner than he can win a coveted medal, he is literally launched out of the battlefield and ends up in the candy world of Sugar Rush, a racing game where the misunderstood Vanellope Von Schweetz (Sarah Silverman) dreams of being a main player.

There is a lot of heart beneath the visuals, and one of the biggest strengths of Wreck-It Ralph lies in the immediately loveable characters.  When we realize Ralph lives in the dump amidst discarded bricks and doesn’t get invited to the game’s thirtieth anniversary party even though he’s never tried cake, we feel sorry for him and understand exactly why he’s so fed up with how he’s been treated.  The bond that forms between Ralph and Vanellope is undeniably sweet, as he becomes somewhat of a protector to her within Sugar Rush where things aren’t exactly what they seem.  Felix is just a genuinely nice guy and there are plenty of laughs to be had when he meets Calhoun, becoming entranced by her “high definition.”

These four characters make up the main cast of Wreck-It Ralph, and they are each completely unique unto themselves but also fit perfectly together.  John C. Reily, Sarah Silverman, Jack McBrayer and Jane Lynch all deliver uniformly excellent voice work, bringing their characters to life in a way that will be instantly recognizable for fans of the actors.  There is also a satisfyingly sophisticated terminology behind the film, and the way director Rich Moore has set up these worlds within the confines of a video game is just brilliant, as the characters talk about the way they have been programmed versus who they actually want to be.  As Ralph comes to understand the role he plays in his game, the question of whether or not they can break free from the coding adds an extra layer to the story and takes it to some surprisingly deep places.

The animation is just brilliant, with a unique style to match each of the game worlds seen in the film, from the jerky animation of the characters in Fix-It Felix Jr. to the realistic battlefield of Hero’s Duty and the candy coloured world of Sugar Rush.  Disney also acquired the rights to characters from such classic games as Pac Man, Q*Bert and even Street Fighter to use in the film, and they have done right by them in a big way.  Just like a real video game, the finale takes place on several levels, with different threats coming from multiple angles.  There are also a lot of great visual gags throughout Wreck-It Ralph, including a fleeting reference to Alien and an animated appearance by Skillrex early in the film.

The musical score by Henry Jackman is also excellent, blending different styles for each of the unique games.  The end credits include the excellent new Owl City song “When Can I See You Again” as well as Buckner & Garcia’s latest video game tribute “Wreck-It, Wreck-It Ralph.”  With humour, heart and a great cast of characters, Wreck-It Ralph offers a complete package of visually stunning animated storytelling that those of all ages can enjoy.

Playing before Wreck-It Ralph is the excellent new Disney short film Paperman.  Beautifully animated in black and white with just a splash of colour, this is a delightful work of art that is directed by John Kahrs and proves chance encounters sometimes have the power to become meaningful connections.  At just under seven minutes, those of us hopeless romantics will be particularly moved by this ingeniously animated short film.  

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Wreck-It Ralph Review by Erin V.  

**** (out of 4)

In the world inside video games, every character has their job to do, preset by their programming.  Wreck-It Ralph (John C. Reilly) is the bad guy in the game Fix-It-Felix Jr., and every single day when the arcade opens, his job is to be inside the game wrecking the buildings that Felix (Jack McBrayer) will then fix.  Felix is the good guy – the guy who gets to live in the penthouse, gets the medals, cake, and friends.  And he really is super nice.  But Ralph is tired of the second-hand treatment to Felix and decides to abandon his game to seek out new games where maybe, just maybe, he can be the hero for once.  But the problem is, if he isn’t in the game, the game of Fix-It-Felix Jr. might get unplugged at the arcade, putting a lot of people out of work, so when he leaves, Felix must leave too and try to convince Ralph to come back home.

At first Ralph ends up in a game called Hero’s Duty – a war-style game where the objective is to destroy these things called ‘Cy-Bugs,’ and get to the top of a building to collect your medal.  The game’s leader is Sergeant Calhoun (Jane Lynch), who is less than pleased to find out that Ralph has infiltrated her game.  But when things go wrong here – so wrong that they could destroy the whole arcade – Ralph finds himself crash-landing into another game called Sugar Rush.  This one is a racing game with bright candy coloured visuals, and populated by a bunch of kid characters, including the misunderstood Vanellope Von Schweetz (Sarah Silverman), and it is here that things are all going to come to a head.  As the film goes along, Ralph learns that if he wants to put things right, maybe his goals have to change and it’s time to think about what he needs to do, for reasons other than recognition for himself.

I just loved this film.  It is fun, entertaining, wonderfully animated, and has a ton of heart.  Each game has its own style of animation – with some characters being given slightly jerkier movements that really work.  The whole premise and rules of the worlds and how they interact together are very well thought out, and accessible for those both in and out of the gaming world.  The characters are very appealing here as well.  The voice cast does an amazing job bringing the very well-written script to screen, and helping us come to care about and actually believe this world.  The score by Henry Jackman is very fitting as well.

Overall, Wreck-It Ralph is one of the best animated films of the year, and very worth seeing on the big screen.  It is available in 2D and 3D, and while the 3D worked quite well, the story is strong enough to take it or leave it.  For kids, teens and adults, this is one that will be immensely enjoyed in my book, and is one that I look forward to seeing again.

ALSO ATTACHED TO THE FILM is the new 6-minute Disney short film Paperman.  This mostly monochromatic romantic tale is told through blended animation styles, and is a short and sweet fantasy tale of love at first sight and chance encounters.  Well worth making sure you’re in the theatre early enough for.  

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Wreck-It Ralph Review by Nicole

**** (out of 4)

Imagine if every arcade game were its own little community of animated people.  In Wreck-It Ralph, each arcade game comes to life in their electronic world.  Ralph (John C. Reilly) lives in a game called Fix-It Felix Junior.  For thirty years, he has been wrecking the same condo, and Felix (Jack McBrayer) fixes it again.  But Ralph is tired of being the bad guy.  While Felix earns medals and lives in a penthouse, Ralph gets thrown around and lives in the dump.

So one day, Ralph decides to “game jump” (travel between games) and ends up in Hero’s Duty, where he meets up with the tough Sergeant Calhoun (Jane Lynch), a no-nonsense woman with a kick-butt attitude.  “When did video games get so violent?” asks Ralph as he gets chased by one of the game’s “cybugs.”  Ralph soon realizes that he can get a medal simply by blasting the cybugs, but when he is unable to do that, he steals the medal.  Escaping Hero’s Duty, Ralph ends up in Sugar Rush, a game for small children existing in a world made entirely of sweets.  Here Ralph meets up with Vanellope Von Shweetz (Sarah Silverman), a young teen who wants to prove she can win the go-kart race despite her handicap.  Meanwhile, Felix is looking for Ralph, with some unexpected and sweet results.

Wreck-It Ralph is easily one of this year’s best animated films.  It is funny, charming, sweet and quite moving.  The attention to detail is incredible.  Every game has a different look, from the pixelated soil and jerky character movements of Fix-It Felix Junior, to the high definition look of Hero’s Duty, to the brightly coloured world of Sugar Rush, where everything from vegetation to cars to natural landmarks is made of sweet things (not unlike the vehicular world of Cars).  Many classic arcade characters have cameos too, eliciting cheers from fans in the audience.  However, even those who aren’t familiar with the classic game characters will get the film.  Wreck-It Ralph is also about the rift between the rich and poor, a valuable message for all ages.  The movie has a lot of heart, much of which I won’t reveal here.

The casting in Wreck-It Ralph is perfect.  Each actor fits his or her animated character perfectly.  The score and original songs in the film also fit, capturing the era and mood of each game.  Wreck-It Ralph is sure to become a classic.  Suitable for all ages, it has everything you want in a film, including romance, action, a good story and lots of heart.  Be sure to see this one.

Created in the style of a silent film, Paperman is a mainly black and white animated short.  The title man, while on a train platform, loses a stack of papers.  A pretty woman finds them, and it is love at first sight.  Wanting to see her again, the man turns the papers into airplanes, intending her to find them.  While he fails when throwing the paper with increasing force, something extraordinary happens when he just lets things unfold.  Paperman is a charming short film with a simple yet profound premise.  

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Wreck-It Ralph Review by Maureen

**** (out of 4)

There’s nothing wrecked or in need of fixing in Disney’s energetic and fun animated feature Wreck-It Ralph.  Set in a lively arcade and video game world, the story centres around the bulky bad guy Ralph (John C. Reilly), in a thirty year old game called Fix-it Felix Jr.  His job in the game is to wreck the buildings and the hero Fix-it Felix’s (Jack McBrayer) job is to use his golden hammer and fix whatever Ralph wrecks.  The problem is, Ralph would like to be the hero rather than the villain, even if just one time.

In one of the funniest opening sequences, Ralph attends Bad-Anon, a support group for video game villains.  It’s the 30th anniversary of Ralph’s game and he just needs some reassurance that just because he’s a “bad guy” it doesn’t mean he’s a “bad” guy.  Hurt that he wasn’t invited to Felix’s anniversary bash, Ralph decides to game jump to earn a medal and come back a hero for his game buddies.

Ralph’s rogue adventures first take him to Hero’s Duty, led by the highly-chiseled and tough as nails Sgt. Calhoun (Jane Lynch) whose mission is to fight off “cybugs.”  Ralph manages to get his medal but rather than heading home he accidentally ends up in a brightly coloured kid’s game called Sugar Rush.  It’s in this candy-coated land that the heart of Wreck-it Ralph takes hold.  Ralph meets an annoying little girl named Vanellope Von Schweetz (Sarah Silverman) who ends up needing his help as much as he needs hers.

The animation in Wreck-it-Ralph is really good.  Each of the video game characters and sets stay true to the look and sound of their actual game.  The animation is especially vibrant in the Sugar Rush world and the attention to detail is wonderful with everything consisting of sweets in one form or another.  The “oreo” guards gag is especially brilliant.  The action and mild suspense really picks up in Sugar Rush.  The bonds that develop between different characters, including a surprise romance, are sweet and touching.  By the end of the movie, Ralph learns what it really means to be a hero and that different is OK.

The appeal of the film isn’t limited to those who are familiar with video games.  The characters and storyline are well written and move along at just the right pace.  Wreck-it-Ralph is one funny movie and a delight to look at from beginning to end.  Gamers and non-gamers, young and old can join in the fun of Wreck-it-Ralph.

Animated in only grey tones with a perfect touch of lipstick red, the short film Paperman is a charming silent love story for us hopeless romantics who believe in the power of something as simple as a paper airplane to make dreams come true.  

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Wreck-It Ralph Review by Tony

**** (out of 4)

Wreck-It Ralph (John C. Reilly) is the Bad Guy in Litwak’s oldest arcade game, Fix-It Felix. Ralph is a giant trashing an apartment building that Felix (Jack McBrayer) then repairs with his magic hammer. After hours, Ralph is shunned by the others in his game, and not even invited to its 30th birthday party. Promised acceptance only through earning a medal, Ralph goes against the advice of his Bad Guy support group and crashes a combat game (Hero’s Duty) commanded by Sergeant Calhoun (Jane Lynch) to acquire one. However, he also ends up in another game (Sugar Rush) with a dangerous cy-bug that could infect the whole arcade. In Sugar Rush, young girls race go-carts around a track run by King Candy (Alan Tudyk). To recover his medal, Ralph reluctantly teams up with the outcast Vanellope von Schweetz (Sarah Silverman) to get her into the next race. Felix and Calhoun join the action to help save the day.

Wreck-It Ralph is an affectionate sendup of the world of arcade games, both from outside and within. Like Enchanted did for princess tales, it has fun with the gaming genre without denigrating it or taking it seriously (like Tron). As seen by outside users, the games Fix-It Felix (early 1980s), Sugar Rush (late 1990s) and Hero’s Duty (present) reflect the technology of their day while the characters within are 3D HD. There are many clever details. The power bar connecting all games is seen from within as “Game Central Station” with the outlets as gates and trains taking characters between games. Inhabitants of Felix’s Niceland apartment block are proportioned like Fisher-Price little people and move in simple steps along one axis at a time. Except for the racers themselves, Sugar Rush is completely populated by sweets (just as Cars has a cast of vehicles) and under the bottle-shaped mountain at the centre is a cave with a pool of diet cola and Mentos stalactites, leading to interesting consequences.

Like all Disney animated features, the film is beautiful to look at with an ideal voice cast. As a bonus, the four leading actors all bear some resemblance to their avatars, while Alan Tudyk as King Candy is an obvious tribute to Ed Wynn as the Mad Hatter in Disney’s 1951 Alice in Wonderland. The story will appeal to all ages, gamers and non-gamers alike, though gamers with a sense of humour will no doubt appreciate it more. In summary, Wreck-It Ralph is a brilliant film, one of Disney’s best.

The short preceding Wreck-It Ralph is Paperman, a beguiling wordless romantic tale set a half century or so back about an office pool worker’s encounter with an attractive woman, that except for lipstick is rendered beautifully in grayscale animation.

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Consensus: Brilliantly animated and filled with likeable characters who are brought to life through an excellent voice cast, Disney’s Wreck-It Ralph is an incredibly entertaining and equally heartfelt film that lovingly pays homage to classic video games.  **** (Out of 4)

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