Almost Super: Wreck-it Ralph
Wreck-It Ralph 2012
So once again this year I made the trek to my local movie theater. More than superheroes, I’ve always been a big fan of animation, and on top of that, I’ve grown up with video games. Starting with a trusty Commodore 64 playing Jumpman, Circus, Snoopy, and other games before moving up to a Coleco Vision. I eventually moved up through the Sega Master System, NES, SNES, Playstation, PS2, and DS before moving onto the PC MMO City of Heroes, heck I even work in an arcade. I recognized many of the video games referenced, especially some of the classic arcade cabinets, as well as the games that inspired the original games featured in this movie. While Fix it Felix Jr. is an original game, it has its roots in Donkey Kong, Crazy Climber, and a touch of Rampage. Sugar Rush which is a candy version of Mario Kart/Nicktoons Racing, and Hero’s Duty is essentially every modern rail shooter ever. This movie was pretty much made for me to like it and I was in from the very opening.
The first part of the movie is where most of the arcade/video game mashups happen, and the mix of visual styles is fun and impressive. When moving out of the villain support group hosted in Pac-Man’s cabinet, you get to see the extremely pixellated versions of the characters heading out through the electrical cord. There are a ton of video game references, and I know that in the theater I was in there were a few jokes where I was the only one who was laughing at a more obscure pull, like when Ralph smashes a cake within his game and the cake even splatters in a subtle pixellated pattern, or the end credits where they reference the Street Fighter car smashing bonus stage. The main cameos come from Street Fighter, Q-Bert, and Pac-Man, as well as plenty of other characters strewn out in background pictures and on the floor of Game Central Station. It’s clear that the creators of the movie have a real love of video games in general and it comes through the screen in a big bad way. Although one running gag in the movie I did misinterpret as a different video game reference. They often talked about “going Turbo”, which I made the connection to Street Fighter II Turbo early on before realizing I was way off once the movie revealed what they really meant.
Once Ralph makes it into the candy coated racing game Sugar Rush, the video game references slow down and it really starts to get into the heart of the movie. And honestly I think it’s one that a lot of hardcore video gamers can relate to. I was lucky enough to never really be an outcast in school, and I never had a problem with bullies, but I was never a social person, and I spent more nights than not staying at home by myself playing Dragon Warrior 4 or Secret of Mana or Final Fantasy 7 or Suikoden 2. And the heart of this movie is centered around two outcasts of society. Ralph, the de-facto villain of the game who spends his nights at the dump while everyone else lives in the penthouse, and Vanellope, the glitching racer who is bullied by all the other racers for being different. Their entire motivation is just to belong, and that’s something that connects to a whole lot of people out there. There are several moments in this movie where that connection hits hard and true. Both John C. Reilly and Sarah Silverman do impressive jobs voicing these characters. Sarah Silverman especially makes you forget that it’s a raunchy comedian doing a little kid voice, and really makes you believe in Vanellope.
The other characters are a lot more fun, Calhoun is the over the top battle hardened soldier with an ultra-tragic backstory and a nonsensical quip for every situation. She’s Lara Croft, Samus, Master Chief, and plenty of other characters all rolled into one and Jane Lynch sounds like she’s having a hell of a fun time with the character. Fix it Felix Jr. is the complete opposite as the goody goody naive character in way out of his element. And King Candy, as the leader of Sugar Rush is a lot of fun as an Ed Wynn-ish character, who was best known as the Mad Hatter in the animated Alice in Wonderland. I also enjoyed the humor in this movie, even some of the more childish gags. It’s such a likable world, it’s hard not to go along with it.
Aside from all the different characters, the plot of the movie followed along some typical paths, but there were enough twists and turns to keep it fresh. And may be because I wasn’t looking out for them, I didn’t see any of them coming, at least none of the major ones. Most of the reviews I read said that they expected one type of movie, and got a different one, but a different one that they enjoyed. And honestly, it’s refreshing to see that kind of surprise still make it into theaters. But at the same time, it doesn’t feel disjointed because the very premise of the world within the movie allows for the variation. And once it falls into its main story, it stays on course until the end. This has quickly become one of my favorite movies of all time. Until next time, this has been Bubbawheat for Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights.
Posted on November 13, 2012, in 10's movies and tagged Almost Super, disney, movies, review. Bookmark the permalink. 10 Comments.
It’s interesting that a full 2/3rds of the movie is focused on Sugar Rush and Venellope’s arc… but it doesn’t feel like it drags, or that the spotlight’s been stolen away. Her story is essentially Ralph’s story, a parallel theme. So, despite the vast majority of the movie devoting itself to her tale, everything syncs up nicely.
It does have a drawback in that the variety of scenery and gaming callouts sharply decline in act 2 onward. The early fun of experiencing this world is replaced by a single focused story. But, I suppose it would’ve been a distraction if they kept ducking back out of Sugar Rush only to make more references and see more sights.
A lot of video game fans have that same complaint that there aren’t enough video game nods in the 2nd & 3rd act (though Roadblasters was an awesome pull), I thought that it actually works better at that point in the story to help ground it to the main characters rather than distracting from them, as you say.
And I imagine that the inevitable sequel (which this is one franchise that screams for a sequel) will have a stronger focus on cameos, I just hope they don’t get bogged down by it too much.
yes! A great review here. Glad you liked it so much. and way to bring out the theme of wanting to belong, cuz you’re right. Nice!
Thanks! I knew I would like it but never knew I would like it so much.
Great review Bubbawheat. I feel a lot the same way as you about this film… hell of a lot of fun, lot of memories and lots of jokes where I felt like I was the only one who really got the reference, right down to recognizing Buckner & Garcia in the credits.
One that someone else pointed out to me, which is sufficiently subtle that it may have been an unintentional coincidence: Ralph was a Bad enough Dude to save the president. 😀
I wasn’t familiar enough with Buckner & Garcia though I did read about their connection to the movie. Listening to their new song now, it’s pretty fun. I think the Bad Dudes reference is reaching a little bit too much.
Yes, probably. But it was still amusing to note. 😀
It’s a conventional story, but has plenty of heart and fun for it’s characters that it’s almost too hard to not have a good time with it all. Great review Bubbawheat.
I at least felt that they also threw in enough variations on the conventional overall story to make it fresh. Thanks.
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