'Wreck-It Ralph': Is the video game send-up worth seeing?
'Wreck-It Ralph' is Disney's newest animated offering. Check out our full review.
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As mentioned, the core storyline is straightforward and, without the video game setup, Wreck-It-Ralph would tell a pretty traditional Disney tale about rejecting established identities and discovering true heroism through adversity. The central character journey follows a number of recognizable beats, and some viewers will find certain developments predictable, but familiarity doesn’t detract from the overall enjoyment that the movie supplies moment to moment. Rich setpieces and a mix of intriguing game environments allow for a range of interesting visuals and, subsequently, varied action and comedy beats. Unfortunately, even though there are countless arcade cabinets shown in the film, Wreck-It-Ralph only explores a tiny fraction of the available game worlds – leaving plenty of room for further franchise misadventures. The plot permits a few entertaining insights into the interconnected arcade world (such as Ralph’s Bad-Anon support group) but gaming fans looking to be inundated with cameos and other iconic gaming culture hat tips may find that the larger Wreck-It-Ralph story doesn’t include quite as much fan service as they might expect. However, even though some viewers might have hoped for a game-hopping adventure, the limited scope ultimately keeps everything tight – in service of a sharp character-focused story.Skip to next paragraph
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Ralph and Vanellope, like any good animated buddy film stars, create a smart mix of tenderness and humor – with a fun chemistry that both adults and children will be able to appreciate (even if the characters are surrounded by tongue-in-cheek setups like Nestle Quik-sand and Laffy Taffy tree vines). Regardless of the self-centered motivations in their initial encounter, and plenty of campy lessons about friendship, the two main players contain a surprising amount of depth – imparting a worthwhile and fitting commentary about acceptance and personal identity. Even if the overarching narrative is cut from a familiar Disney fairytale cloth, the video game backdrop breathes a lot of life into what would otherwise be tired character tropes – presenting a surprisingly unique, and amusing to watch, pair of underdogs.
The rich cast of supporting players, riffing on a diverse set of notable game inspirations, provide clever interpersonal drama and fun juxtapositions that compliment the main storyline – best exemplified by the oddball pairing of 8-Bit Felix, Jr. and Hero’s Duty heroine, Sergeant Tamora Jean Calhoun (Jane Lynch). Not only do the characters allow for a humorous glimpse into the evolution of game design, their varied personalities supply an compelling range of conflicts and humorous interactions. As mentioned, even though there are plenty of smaller cameos, none of the iconic franchise faces distract from the primary story beats – serving to add additional humor and immersion without taking anything away from the main plot.
A lot of moviegoers still believe that low quality CGI toon projects should get a pass because they’re just “kid movies” but films like Wreck-It-Ralph remind us that superior animated pictures are more than just cheep gags and one-note cliches – considering the film puts a new spin on tried-and-true stories about friendship and heroism. Not every element of Wreck-It-Ralph is entirely fresh, and some audience members may see a few of the twists and turns coming, but the movie excels with charming characters and a unique setting – delivering thoughtful insights for both young and old viewers.
The movie only skims the surface of its rich video game universe, and future installments could provide a more expansive look at the interconnected arcade world (plus make room for new cameos) but Moore shows smart restraint. Wreck-It-Ralph enjoys a healthy ratio of accessible character drama and goofy gaming gags – resulting in an exceptionally entertaining, and heartfelt, animated adventure.
Ben Kendrick blogs at Screen Rant.