Wreck-It Ralph

Wreck-It Ralph could have carried the Pixar badge with pride, but the fact that it comes from Disney makes it all the more impressive.

Featuring well-known faces from many popular video games (from Street Fighter to Pac-Man), Wreck-It Ralph is actually the quintessential animated movie that continues to build upon the repertoire of a rejuvenated and modern Disney (special mention: 2010′s wonderful Tangled). Working off our familiarity of video games, the film goes for a classical setup of memorable characters, an interesting storyline and, most importantly, an emphatic motivation for its eponymous character. A big heart and lovable characters endear it above all else.

The movie is set in a video-game arcade, where an old-school game Wreck-It Ralph contains a bad guy (John C. Reilly) who damages a building. Players control the good guy, Fix-It Felix (Jack McBrayer), who repairs the damage to win a medal. But by the 30th anniversary of the game, Ralph is tired of being a villain and is shunned by all “good” video-game characters. He thus takes it upon himself to head out and win himself a hero’s medal, a quest that will take him to “Sugar Rush”, a candy-based racing game, where he befriends the outcast racer Vanellope von Schweetz (Sarah Silverman). Unknowingly Ralph will start a chain of events that may doom all video games in the arcade.

Director Rich Moore’s feature film debut, Wreck-It Ralph is an impressive accomplishment. It features wonderful animation, as can be expected from Disney, but Moore must be commended for winning the audience with a simple yet well-developed story. Unlike most present-day animation which rely on a gimmick (think Frankenweenie or Hotel Transylvania), Wreck-It Ralph’s video-game world is quite sincere and sophisticated: old-school pixelated games (even a cake-smudge has jagged 90-degree edges!), well-known characters’ familiar moves (Pac-Man loves eating) and original ideas (Sugar-Rush is rich in detail and imagination) give the movie a depth that makes for a wonderful backdrop to its characters, the film’s biggest asset.

For a movie that runs just 108 minutes, it features four well-defined major characters apart from the antagonist. Over the course of the film, we learn the back-stories of Ralph, Vanellope, Felix and Jane Lynch‘s gun-toting character from “Hero’s Duty”, Sergeant Tamora Jean Calhoun. They go on their individual journeys that open their eyes to a world beyond their own. We understand them and root for them. By the end, we see growth in these same characters. Wreck-It Ralph primarily entertains as a comedy without stooping for cheap laughs. It gets the emotions right, never looking down on its characters or having them resort to melodrama.

Wreck-It Ralph could have carried the Pixar badge with pride, but the fact that it comes from Disney makes it all the more impressive. It raises the bar further for Disney and animated movies in general. Technology can only enhance a movie to a point, after which it comes down to the basics of good story-telling. While not a game-changer, Wreck-It Ralph is a winner.

Rating: ★★★★½

p.s.: Similar to Pixar screenings, Wreck-It Ralph is also preceded by an animated short. Paperman is a lovely little story that reminds of innocent love from Disney’s classics.


About Shariq Madani

Shariq is a social, talkative, fun-loving guy who enjoys books, food and a long drive. But his real joy is in the comfortable darkness of a cinema, watching a good movie, and later spending hours discussing it.