Friday, November 2, 2012

Movie Review: Wreck-It Ralph

 (This review is spoiler-free. Also quick and hastily written.)
Let me start by saying that if you're expecting a hardcore movie all about video games then you'll be disappointed. Actually, you shouldn't be because its still a good movie. Its about a single character and for once its not a Disney princess. Also Pixar was NOT involved in this, its all Disney, so don't go looking for the Pizza Planet truck.

Should you set your mind to see it, you should try and imagine yourself as a kid again. Don't be so serious about video games and if you are then try to have a little fun with it. I say little because most of the humor is childish and never even once borders near adult. Its also never spoon feeds a "retro is better" message to the audience.

The plotline is well written, not all about video games. While it is shallow its never too complicated to follow. Some kids might not understand a few things and it won't dwell to explain them. It doesn't jump from game to game and try to cash in on licenses either. The special characters are guests and never main, never distractions. It shows a few memorable moments in the credits such as Sonic in Chemical Plant Zone. For a Disney movie its the typical fare of "underdog saves the day." There are few too many lingering poop jokes and the name calling at one point will probably make you wish they'd just stop.

Animation is sort of lacking in the texture department, don't expect it to look like a AAA game but there are moments where you notice the digitized textures on a few things and can only chuckle about the nod to the olden days of gaming. The big "violent" or scary moment comes during the Heros Duty segment, which lasts about 10 minutes. Another moment comes from one character repeatedly slapping another. Its comedic humor with an air of goofiness and will get the kids laughing. I noticed a moment in the first part of the movie where a reflective wall texture showed the image that was through the wall. Character designs are reflective of their games: Ralph and Felix are simple due to their primitive game, Sergeant Calhoun is intricately textured, the people of Sugar Rush are kids in a kid's game. Most of the movie takes place in the game Sugar Rush and at one point I found myself wondering if they were just going to end the movie with Ralph staying there.

Voice acting is superb with John C. Reilly playing the part of Ralph as a big, lumbering man. He's never dumbed down or flat-toned due to his size. It took me a long while to place Jack McBrayer as who he was, and playing Felix he can't escape that slight southern drawl he has. Sarah Silverman as Vanellope von Schweetz is probably one of the better characters as she plays the part so well, childish insults and high energy. Jane Lynch as Sergeant Calhoun brings a toughness to the character, no-nonsense, but she's never gentle.
The music soundtrack, to me anyway, was a little bit of a let down. It could have used less Owl City and more chiptunes music. Artists such as I Fight Dragons or Animaniguchi would have been a better choice.

Plot villain almost smacks you right in the face upon the explanation of something. I won't spoil it but you should be able to see it coming. When it does show you'll understand that some decent thought went into it. However the villain is never really a major part, even near the end. Its more of a minor inconvenience when compared to a bigger threat.

Just about the only gripe you might come up with is that it uses up its bag of guest appearances in the first 45-50 minutes. Pac-Man and Sonic are good and all, but a few more minutes screen time wouldn't have hurt. Don't discard that as a bad move: its a movie about Ralph, not about the other star characters. They're never shoe-horned in and are mainly background filler. Moments where you can point out who is who. Don't expect to see Mario anywhere besides being mentioned. Nintendo wanted too much money for his appearance and they probably would have wanted more screen time. While Bowser does make an appearance its understandable with the "Bad-Anon" meeting that takes place at the beginning.

Should you see it? Of course.
Should you get the DVD/Blu-Ray. Yeah.
Should you get the game? No. They're cash-ins with little imagination to them anyway.
Just remember, if you do go see it: put your Modern Warfare attitude on pause and go back to the days when you played NES.