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Wreck-It Ralph

by on March 3, 2013
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What do our toys do when we turn off the lights? Wreck-It Ralph takes the classic premise into the digital age. The result is a beautiful, imaginative kid’s adventure film with plenty of memorable characters and concepts.

Ralph - InsideRalph (John C. Reilly) is the villain of an arcade game, “Wreck-It Ralph.” He spends his days smashing the same building over and over again, only to be thwarted by his nemesis, Fix-It Felix, Jr. (Jack McBrayer). Felix seems to have the good life: the adoration of their innocent bystanders, a nice home in their game space, and most of all, the status of ‘hero.’ Ralph, kind at heart, only wants some positive attention thrown his way, so he sets out across the realms of his arcade to become a hero.

The story is pretty run-of-the-mill, but the different realms Ralph experiences are really something to behold. In an attempt to become a hero, Ralph chooses to enter the newest game in the arcade, “Hero’s Duty.” “Duty” is a first-person shooter with a grim and gritty atmosphere. Catwalks, grey stone, and spires of infinite size and spikes dominate the screen. From “Hero’s Duty,’ Ralph crash lands in a candy – themed racing game called “Sugar Rush.” The visuals of “Rush” almost appetite-stimulating. Trees made of candy canes, gumdrop stones, and sugar cars are renders so, so, so gorgeously.

Several companions join Ralph throughout his journey. Vanellope Von Schweetz (Sarah Silverman) is wild glitch in the “Sugar Rush” system whose interests correspond with Ralph’s, while Sergeant Tamora Jean Calhoun (Jane Lynch) is the hard-as-nails protagonist of “Hero’s Duty.” Alan Tudyk rounds out the cast as King Candy, a “Sugar Rush” character who might have ulterior motives. While Lynch and Silverman put on their usual performances, Tudyk brings out his best Roger Rabbit impersonation. It’s a bit jarring at first.

A lot has been made of Wreck-It Ralph’s product placement, and it’s really worth noting. Not only are characters from famous video games like Street Fighter and Pac Man present, but most of “Sugar Rush” involves branded theme areas. Nesquick and Oreos in particular recieve prominent name-drops. Whereas the video game characters form almost a game-within-the film for parents watching with their children, the food placement is a bit jarring.

Overall, the film is pretty good. The characters are funny and endearing, the worlds mesmerizing and as good an argument for fully CGI animation I’ve ever watched. Adults should be entertained by the ‘where’s waldo?’ presence of their own childhood toys on screen.

The home video editions of Wreck – It Ralph contain a bevy of special features. “Paperman” is a short cartoon that ran along with Ralph in theaters. It’s a hoot. “Bit By Bit” is a look into how the animators created the various stages of the film, from concept to product. Finally, Chris Hardwick hosts a ‘Disney Intermission,’ which plays when you pause the film. This feature is a tour through the movie’s various hidden video game references.